self-help

Being Open To The Opposition

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there is always a reason for opposition in our lives. It doesn’t mean that opposition is always bad, it means we have to be wise in our decision making to understand that opposition comes to re-direct us, not to stop us.
— Elo Copeland

Let’s delve right into it shall we! What I mean by opposition is that focal point of life’s balances can differ in quantity, quality, or both. There are usually two ways to live life; the easy way or the hard way. But who determines which path we take? We do! I’ve learned in living my life that there are so many doors that I could have left closed and so many doors that I should have opened that determined the quantity and quality of my life’s balance.

I can remember just a year ago, moving to Atlanta, GA. There were so many oppositions that I had experienced before moving, even up to the day of me moving. So, let’s go back a moment. I’ll begin by first breaking up with my boyfriend in whom I was moving to Atlanta to be closer to. Of course, everyone has always heard someone say “you should never move for a man”. But I was determined to do so anyway, however, in the process of finalizing plans we broke up. This did not stop my move though. I had already made up in my mind I was leaving Florida regardless.

The next opposing factor was the move...I had my last payroll check and a little savings, had no one to move me; meaning help me pack all my things, load one of the largest U- Haul trucks and put my car on the trailer to deliver all of my belongings to Atlanta. Nope, it was just me and my dog Kobe. As we are traveling, we have to make a stop somewhere in Georgia to check into a pet-friendly hotel, and then bam! I run over some scrubs with the U-Haul truck. Just my luck to damage something at a hotel I had to stay overnight it. Thankfully, they didn’t charge me or contact the insurance company because it was only trees.

Following that situation, I finally arrive to Atlanta to my apartment that I paid a security deposit and first and last month’s rent for. What do I find? The apartment was in no way, shape, or form the same type of apartment I saw online or came to view the model for. So there I was stuck...stuck with only one paycheck, a raggedy apartment, no boyfriend, and I didn’t start my new job for another 2 weeks. The first month or two in Atlanta I was miserable and felt like the move was a huge mistake and that I should have waited to make such a life-changing decision.

Here are a few things that I learned; I could have waited to make the move, but I would have still be dissatisfied in Florida; I could have contacted some family in Georgia to assist in living arrangements while I found another apartment, but I hadn’t spoken to that side of my family in decades; I could have just turned around and went back to the familiar, but I wouldn’t have the opportunities I have today. After looking back at it all, if I would have given up, I wouldn’t be an actress, I wouldn’t be a radio host, I wouldn’t be a writer, I wouldn’t be an editor, and so on. I’ve been apart of so many wonderful things in the last year than I have been in my entire life. And I’ve enjoyed every moment of it.

I said all of that to say this; there is always a reason for opposition in our lives. It doesn’t mean that opposition is always bad, it means we have to be wise in our decision making to understand that opposition comes to re-direct us, not to stop us. So the next time you find there are opposing factors in your decision-making, be open to it and discover what you should do to have a better quality of life.

-Elo Copeland

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The waiting game

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The waiting game may not be fun but believe me it is worth it, you don’t ever want to lose at the waiting game.
— Niamey Thomas

As I write this I am waiting at the Phoenix Market Café for a lunch meeting and have been waiting for an hour, great! My name is Niamey Thomas, I am a Creative, Storyteller, and a Follower of Christ. I am currently in a season of my life where I am patiently waiting on the Lord. I quit my full time, secure job in March of this year to pursue my art and to establish my own nonprofit full time. When I tell you I have been patiently waiting you have no idea. I am very much so a type A personality, as fluid and spontaneous as I am, I am equally organized, structured, and love control. So anytime something is out of my control it triggers me, I have been triggered too many times to count as of lately.

Entering into this season where everything is unknown, all over the place, and last minute, has rocked my world. Yet, while this season has been a headache it has challenged me in such good ways that has stretched my character for the better. This post is not tips on how to wait patiently because I have yet to master this. Instead, this will be my transparency on my journey with patience. The best way to share is through a story. Enjoy!

A good friend (let’s call him Dre) notices the front bumper of my car, I got into a car accident in 2015 and did not have the resources to fix it. He says that he has a guy (let’s call him Deon) who can fix my bumper for cheap. I get Deon’s number and we agree when I get back from traveling that he will take a look at my car. Now this was in April after I quit my job and money was still flowing.

After returning back from AZ I drove to Deon’s house, however when I get there no one answers the door, I call Deon and he does not answer and after waiting 30 minutes I decided to leave. I put the whole situation at the back of my mind and didn’t think about it again until a month later Dre notices that my bumper is still not fix. I tell Dre that his buddy Deon didn’t show up and had wasted my time. The next day Dre calls me letting me know that both he and Deon would like to take a look at my car the next day. I agree to give Deon one more shot. 

I get to the house the next day and again no one is there. There is a man in an electric company truck, he tells me he has been waiting for someone to answer the door for 30 minutes. Now imagine, this happening once before and now a second time. Politely I knock on the door. Nothing! A little more aggressively I knock on the door. Nothing! Like a girl catching her man cheating, I banged on the door. Nothing!

I walk back to my car and call Dre, I told him what was going on, he said he was close by and would be there soon. I tell Dre that he might as well turn around because it isn’t looking good and that Deon wasn’t answering his phone either. Dre assured me he was still on the way and if anything we would wait together. I literally remember rolling my eyes thinking, “Yeah right playboy, I’ll be leaving within the next 20 minutes.” However, I promised Dre I would wait and that’s what I did.

45 minutes go by and the man in the truck looks at me and says, “sorry little lady, you should probably just go home,” As he waves his farewell and leaves. I call Dre who then proceeds to tell me how sorry he was that he went to Deon’s old home and was 30 mins out. I had already waited for 45 mins and now he added another 30 minutes because of the delay. I was past annoyed, I went straight to Instagram to complain on my story. And complaining I did. Yet, I still waited. I made a commitment to Dre that I would wait for him, so I did. An hour and fifteen minutes go by, I look at the house and see a man coming out the front door. Now I am shocked, I hadn’t seen anyone go in or drive up so that had to mean that this guy had been in the house this whole time. 

I get out my car and charge up to him, sure enough he was Deon. I introduce myself and jokingly yet seriously tell him how he has kept me waiting and he better be real good at what he does. Now to interject, it has been a month and a half since our initial conversation. It is now June and if you remember from the beginning I left my job and have been living on my savings. I no longer had the money to get my bumper fix, I was just there to get a quote. 

Deon invites me into his home as we wait for Dre, who still is not there. Deon and I started to talk and I share that I left my job recently to start a nonprofit. We talked about his business, we talked about the goodness of God and all the things he has done. It was a great conversation that I will cherish forever. 

Dre finally gets there and they ask me to wait inside because it’s a hot day. I go inside and start doing some work and a few moments go by and I realize that they have been outside for a while. I come out and see them working on my car. I panicked and rush back inside. I could not pay Deon for his work. I started devising a plan on how I was going to pay him back, where I was getting the money from, and how to have that conversation. 

Both Deon and Dre ask me to come out and to take a look at their work. The car looked good as new and I was over joyed! Then, anxiety took over as reality sunk in. I did not have the money to pay Deon. I slowly turn to Deon and ask, “How much.” He smiles and tells me it’s on the house. I immediately start CRYING! This man did all this hard work for free and I could not believe it. I was blessed by having my bumper fixed all because I waited. 

If nothing else, I hope this story encourages you to wait patiently for the small and for the big things. No matter how difficult it looks or annoying it may be. Wait! Some things take time. Some things need the preparation. Some things are worth the wait, but you won’t know until you wait. Plus in the wait is where your character is built. The waiting game may not be fun but believe me it is worth it, you don’t ever want to lose at the waiting game.

-Niamey Thomas

Follow up with Niamey here:

Twitter: @Nniiamey

Instagram: @Nniiamey

Youtube: Niamey Thomas

Podcast: Diggin in W'/ Niamey

Be Faithful Over Few

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Find something you’re truly passionate about.  I’m not talking about those fake passions where you do it when you feel like it.  I’m talking about that passion that represents your gift, that gift you do effortlessly without even thinking about it. 
— Akeem Haynes

 

There are times when we get caught up in the comparison complex. 

You know, that moment when it seems like things aren’t happening for you, or when you feel like you’re making no headway despite how much effort you’re putting in.

 That in and of itself can be draining and have you feeling discouraged.  There are many feelings in this world that can have us feeling down, and discouragement is definitely one of them.  When we become discouraged, we often suppress our feelings, and that discouragement can easily turn into bitterness and anger.   And, no matter where we direct these emotions, they always seem to come back to us and leave us feeling even worse.

 

How does one avoid this?

I’m glad you asked.  Great question by the way!

 

“Be faithful with a few things, and I will put you in charge of many things.” 

– MT 25:23

 

 —>

Before good things can come into your life, you must first be grateful for all that you already have.  Literally, take a moment, and look at what you have.  Whether you’re starting a business or trying to expand in an area or pursuing a dream, whatever aspiration that you have, you must first appreciate where you’re currently at in your journey.  

 

Once you acknowledge where you are, don’t look at the huge mountain in front of you.  Think about what the first few steps up the mountain will look like and be courageous enough to take them.   Break down that mountain and start climbing it one step at a time.

 

Trying to start a podcast?  You don’t need a mic to start.  Get some headphones, find a quiet space, and start speaking into your phone as if thousands are listening.

 

Trying to write a book?– Start with writing a page a day. Just one.  If you’re having a hard time committing to one page, write half a page. If that’s tough as well, commit to writing two or three times a week.  Be consistent and watch how much it adds up over time.

 

Trying to start a business?– Find something you’re truly passionate about.  I’m not talking about those fake passions where you do it when you feel like it.  I’m talking about that passion that represents your gift, that gift you do effortlessly without even thinking about it. Figure out what that gift is for you, develop a plan around it, and then figure out how you can turn it into a business. 

 

I could go on and on, but here’s my point:

 

Before anything can grow, you have to water the soil that’s in front of you.   You have to keep your ears open, your eyes locked in, and your head up so you can see where you’re going.

 

In due time, because you have been faithful with growing what you have, the Good Lord will elevate you to the level you’ve always dreamed of. 

 

You got this. 

 

Love, 

 

AK

 

You Can't Fall Off The Floor

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I’ve realized it’s not the initial hit in life that keeps people stuck on the floor.  It’s the redundant thought of getting back up over and over and over again and possibly not have anything to show for it.
— Akeem Haynes

I was listening to a podcast featuring the CEO of Atom Factory, Troy Carter.  At one point, Troy was also the manager for hip-hop artist Eve and pop artist Lady Gaga.

 He’s a pretty well-known guy in the grand scheme of things.

 While his success was highlighted on the podcast, I drew towards his struggle and the moments that almost broke him.

 There was a part where he said, “My mother-in-law and my wife pawned their wedding rings so we could keep the house.”

 I felt every piece of that! 

 But what he said next made me reflect back on my own life.

 “It’s hard to fall lower than rock bottom.  After a certain point you realize that you can’t fall off the floor.”

 Powerful stuff.

 You may be on the floor right now, like really be on the floor. 

 I’m not sure what you’re going through or what you’re dealing with at this present season in your life.

 But let me share this- in order to physically get up you must first get up mentally and then emotionally.  Life often hits you without sending warning shots, and life’s blows don’t compromise any power.  Have you ever taken a blow so bad it felt like Mike Tyson himself delivered the blow?  I haven’t taken a hit by Mike, but I’ve seen videos . . . and it looks bad . . . realllllll bad.  

 Just like any blow, how do you pick yourself up after that?!

 I’ve realized it’s not the initial hit in life that keeps people stuck on the floor.  It’s the redundant thought of getting back up over and over and over again and possibly not have anything to show for it.

 I get it.   I wouldn’t blame anyone for stopping or letting the fight go. 

 However, I’ve also realized that more times than none, if you can find a way to be steadfast in your preparation and envision endless possibilities of what’s to come, you can keep finding a reason to get back up.  You don’t have to win every round to win the fight. 

 Take a breath.  Take a moment to be aware of everything around you.

 

Don’t focus on how much more you have to go.  Rather, focus on the strength you have and the direction you intend to move toward for the day. 

 

Every stage is necessary.  Even the toughest days we face serve a purpose for the next chapter in our lives.

 

Sometimes the only way to get ahead is to take a step backwards.  Oftentimes we just need a change of perspective to re-adjust the plan and press forward in a new direction. The plan may change, but the mission is still the same.

 

Keep pushing, keep striving, and fight the battles of today.

 

 

 

 

After all, you can’t fall off the floor.

8 Daily Affirmations

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Sometimes it’s tough to “stay positive.”

Some days it’s easier to stay in bed rather than face reality.

Sometimes you just want to grab a tub of ice cream and stay on the couch and watch the Harry Potter series all day. 

Okay, it may not be Harry Potter for you. Maybe it’s Disney movies or Real Housewives of Atlanta. And maybe it’s not ice cream for you. Maybe it’s pizza or candy. My point is that it’s hard to stay positive every single day. 

Zig Ziglar once said, “People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily.”

How you start your day is extremely important. And what you tell yourself each day shapes the direction of your life. If you can think positively on a consistent basis, you will train your mind to find the good in every moment, even the moments when it seems impossible to do so.

I decided to hit up my lady and compile a list of the daily affirmations that help us get through our days.

With that being said,

Let’s get into it ! 


 

1)   I WILL - Get up and show up 

You’re going to have to pay your dues.  Anything worth having is going to take time to get which means there are going to be times when your emotions get the best of you.  Some days you’ll be more tired than others; some days you won’t feel as creative or as productive as other days.  But no matter how you feel, pick yourself up and show up for that day.  Whatever tasks you have to tackle, find the strength to make it happen.  Get it done.  Because one thing I’ve realized is that the days you don’t feel like doing something are the days when you probably need to do it the most, especially if it’s going to get you closer to your dreams, goals and aspirations.  Do your best not to count the days; focus on making each day count. 

2). I am IMPORTANT  

Do you know you’re here for a reason?  Every single person on this planet has a purpose, including you!  Yes, YOU.  You may not feel like it.   You may not know what it is.  But I need you to understand, and I mean REALLY understand, that you are important. You are here to accomplish something no one else in this world can accomplish.  The very fact that you are alive right now reading this means God is not finished with you yet.  You matter. I don’t care what anyone else has told you, or even what you’ve told yourself.  From this second moving forward, I need you to know you are special. SO special.  There are gifts, talents, visions, ideas, goals, and dreams inside of you ready to unfold.  Take the time to figure out what they are.  Please!  The world needs what you have to offer. 

3). I MUST – Breathe

Sometimes we forget to breathe.  You might say, “How do we forget to breathe when that’s literally what gives us oxygen?”  What I mean is that we breathe for survival but not always to analyze our next move.  Oftentimes, life can become a lot to handle.  Oftentimes, life has a grip on us and we’re just trying to hold on, just trying to keep our heads above water and catch our breath.  I’ve realized that in the midst of these chaotic moments, if we can find a way to breathe, we eventually calm down and can figure out a solution to our problems.  It’s kind of like quicksand.  The more you fight, the quicker you sink.  But if you calm down, it takes the sand longer to overtake you. Don’t let life overtake you.  Take a deep breath, analyze the root of your problem, shift your perspective, and find a solution. 

4). I am LOVED 

Another way to say this affirmation is, “I love myself.”  Self-love is crucial.  CRUCIAL. You cannot receive or give love to others until you first learn to love yourself.  How do you fall in love with yourself?  By working on the second affirmation- I am important.  If you repeatedly remind yourself that God has a plan for your life; that you are here for a reason; that there is greatness inside of you; that you are amazing and special; that YOU ARE IMPORTANT, your self-love will slowly begin to grow and grow.  You can tell when you REALLY love yourself because everything about you changes. Your swag is different.  Your confidence is on a whole other level. You talk different.  You walk different.  You don’t care what other people think about you.  You don’t need compliments from other people to feel good about yourself.  You don’t need likes and comments under your Instagram posts to feel validated.  You don’t settle for less than what you deserve. You eliminate the people and things in your life that are distracting you from your purpose.  Because when you fall in love with yourself, you realize you deserve to live the BEST life you could possibly live.  Mannnnnn, let me tell you.  Do not take this affirmation lightly!  Work on it until you start to see some changes.  Self-love is not going to happen overnight, but it is SO worth the process.    

5). I WILL - Fully commit to it 

I’ve always been a forward thinker.  I’m always thinking long term, which has its advantages and disadvantages.   One advantage is that I can see my vision very clearly.  The dream. The final product.   I see it as clear as day.  It’s so clear I can grab it!  However, the disadvantage to this is that I often overlook certain steps.

I don’t believe starting is the hard part.  I think having the right emotional state and the right people around you will give you the boost you need to start whatever it is you want to do.   The hard part is finishing.  It’s hard to finish anything.  Not because we can’t, but because when we embark on a journey, life has a way of happening.  The moment you make up your mind to do something, life is going to test you to see how bad you really want it.   And it’s not always easy to fight when you have no fight left in you.  It’s not always easy to get back up when you’ve had countless setbacks.

Doubt and fear are always near us.  But you owe it to yourself to see how far you can go in this life, not for anybody else but yourself. You need to finish whatever it is that you’re doing.   It’s not even about the destination.  It’s about who you are as a person day in and day out.  Your character will always overshadow whether you reach it to the top or not.  I’ve climbed many mountains and fell short on a bunch of them.   But no matter how many times I fall short, I’ll never stop climbing.  I owe it to myself to finish whatever it is that I start. I dare you to finish. I dare you! See it all the way through, and watch what it does to your character along the way. 

6). I am STRONG

“But Chanelle, I don’t feel strong.”  I get it. Trust me.  I get it!  Life has a way of making us feel weak.  Tragedy, disappointment, pain, suffering, trial, tribulation- we all experience difficult circumstances.  And sometimes the burden feels too heavy to carry.  Job loss, a death in the family, a bad health diagnosis, financial hardship, marital problems, a disobedient child- the list of challenges we experience is endless.  But guess how I know you’re strong?  Because you’re here right now reading this.  When life knocked you down, you got back up.  Being strong doesn’t mean you won’t ever fall.  Being strong doesn’t mean you won’t ever feel like quitting.  The true sign of strength is getting up when everything in you wants to throw in the towel. The next time life throws you a curveball and you don’t know how you’re going to make it through, remind yourself of all the things in your life you’ve overcome.  You’ve gotten stronger and stronger because of everything you’ve been through.  Your strength is at a higher level than it was a few years ago, a few months ago, a few weeks ago, even a few days ago.  Stop believing the lies that you’re too weak to get through whatever you’re facing, that you can’t handle anymore hardship.  You CAN and you WILL. 

7). I MUST - Do better when I know better

I remember when I finished university at 22, and I had just written my first book.  After I got the physical copy of the book and saw all the mistakes in it, I thought, “Wow, I had no idea what I was doing.”  See, I didn’t get a professional editor.  I was trying to save money so I went with someone I knew had been an English teacher for decades.  Even though she did a good job editing my book, she didn’t have that professional eye for book editing, and that showed in my end product. 

For my second book, I hired a professional editor, and the result was a night and day difference.  All I did was make one small adjustment, and it made a huge impact.  Am I a genius?  Heck no.   I just learned from my experience.  I knew better, so I made a better choice.  It’s okay to make mistakes.  It’s okay to get it wrong.  We’re human. That’s going to happen.  Very few times do we ever get it right the first time.   Don’t take it to heart.  Progress with the knowledge you have.  Make better decisions with the lessons you’ve learned.  Once you know better, do better. 

8). I am BEAUTIFUL 

This affirmation is a little cheesy, but it’s one of my favorite, probably because it’s the one I struggle with most.  I have a hard time looking myself in the mirror and saying, “I am beautiful.” Like most people, when I look in the mirror, I focus on my flaws.  I focus on everything about myself I wish was different.  But recently I got fed up with myself.  “Chanelle, wishing you could change certain things about yourself is such a waste of time.  You are beautiful just the way you are.”  And I’m going to tell you the same thing:  You are beautiful just the way you are! It’s hard for us to recognize our own beauty because we are constantly comparing how we look to how other people look.   Nowadays, the comparison trap is so easy to fall into with social media.  It’s SO important to remember that another person’s beauty is not the absence of your own beauty.  And, this may sound a little cliché, but true beauty is found within.  A woman can be the most beautiful person in the world on the outside, but if she has a nasty personality, she’s ugly in my book.  Imagine a young boy coming up to you and asking, “Why am I so ugly.”  What would you say?   I imagine you would tell him he’s not ugly, that everyone is beautiful in their own special way, and that true beauty is determined by how you treat others.  I think it’s time for all of us to start taking our own advice.

  

Maybe you have some affirmations of your own. I would love to hear about them and see what type of thoughts get you through each day. Feel free to leave a comment below and let me know! 

Co-Written with Chanelle Price

 

 

 

Into The Mind - Part 1

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It’s cold.

 Not the, “Yeah, stupid, cause it’s winter time,” cold.

 It’s that, “Someone forgot to turn up the heat last night,” type of cold. 

 As I made my way down to the thermostat to confirm what I already knew, I moved the switch to turn up the heat.  

 The moment I finished doing so, my stomach started growling. 

 “Hmm…,” I thought. “Let me see what I have in this place to eat.  Some eggs, potatoes and toast sound wicked right now.”

 “But I probably shouldn’t because it’s 4:30 a.m.  I’ll just make some tea and eat some of these soda crackers.”

 “Wait…What’s the date? It’s the first of a new month, isn’t it?”

“Shoot.  Guess I’m not eating anytime soon.”

 “Why did I choose to fast again?”

 “Be disciplined, Akeem, be disciplined.”

 

 

What does it mean to be disciplined?

 

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines discipline as the following:  control gained by enforcing obedience or order.

 

That sounds very military esque.  Let’s not use that definition.

 

Let’s use some examples.  

 

I started fasting in September.  I usually fast from the 1stto the 5thof each month.  The time of my fast depends on what time I wake up. But I always fast for at least 12 hours. 

Example:  If I wake up at 4:30 a.m., I fast until at least 4:30pm.  However, I recently realized my math is a little off.  I don’t take into consideration that the last time I eat something is usually around 8:30 p.m. the night before.  So, I’m actually fasting for nearly 20 hours.  But that’s a softer issue. 

 

You may be asking, “Why are you fasting? Why so long?”

 


There are a few reasons, but I’ll drop the main two.

 1). To get closer to the Lord and hopefully hear His voice in my prayers. (I mean, if He fasted for 40 days and 40 nights, I figured the least I could do is five.)

 2). To gain deeper control of my flesh and my mind.  


 

During these 17-18 hours of fasting, some of my days look like this:  I work around food all day; I hit a gym session; I come home and go straight to writing or recording (visual or audio); I help my siblings with their homework; I get them showered up and start cooking while they are in the shower; I serve them their food; I jump in the shower myself, come back to the kitchen, get my food and finish it faster than the both of them. 

 

On these particular days, I wake up at 4:30 a.m. and don’t eat until 6:30 p.m.  And then I do it all over again the next day.  

 

You see, the average person doesn’t have a lot of discipline, not because they can’t have it, but because they don’t “feel like it.”  And when you don’t feel like doing something, every excuse in the book becomes acceptable.

 

But the truth is, you won’t always feel like doing certain things.

 

If you want to get to another level in your life, you can’t always focus on how you feel.  There are going to be some days when you just have to grind it out and get the task done. 

 

I remember training in Phoenix, and some days it would be so hot it didn’t make sense.  Not the type of heat that’s refreshing.   It was the type of heat that makes you question why you decided to live in this oven.

We would be doing block starts, and we would all false start after two seconds.  Not because we weren’t listening to the starter, but because our fingers would be on fire from the lava (track).   

 

Why am I telling you this?

 

Because if I did what I “felt like doing,” I wouldn’t have gone to train in that excessive heat.  

 

However, my desire to reach my goal was stronger than how I felt.  I knew if I didn’t train, running fast was not a reality.  

 

 

Some days are going to suck.  And you won’t always feel like doing the task in front of you.  

 

Life happens.  I get it.

 

But the days you don’t feel like doing what you need to do are the days you probably need to double down and do it, especially if it’s going to pay off on the back end.

 

Disciplining yourself isn’t the hard part.  

 

Reminding yourself everyday why it’s important is.

- Akeem

Blog edited by: Chanelle Price

Find the Collateral Beauty

 

I woke up one Saturday, sat up in bed, looked at my night table, and glanced at my phone’s display clock.

“3:13 a.m.”

One hour and thirty-five minutes before my alarm was set to go off.

 3:13 a.m.?  What a strange time to wake up.

 I tried to force myself back to sleep for a little longer, but I made it to 3:20 a.m. and said, “Well, I might as well get up.”

 I turned off my alarm and started my normal morning routine.

 Around 7:00 a.m., I opened my window and looked out only to see it was snowing.  This was interesting because the weather forecast did not call for snow that day. But then again, Calgary weather is often unpredictable.   I really don’t mind the snow, when I’m inside that is.

 I said to myself, “Well, if it’s snowing, I don’t plan on going outside today.”  I decided to find a movie to watch.  From the title of this piece, I’m sure you’ve guessed what movie I chose.

 It’s funny how you never really know you need something until after you receive it.  Collateral Beauty-was a much-needed reminder for me on this particular day.

With that being said, here are a few of my favorite moments from the movie.

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1). “I’m time.  You wrote me because you need me.  I’m a gift, and you’re wasting it!”

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This was a conversation Howard (the main character in the movie) had with “Time” who he’s been writing.

 

Meaning:

 Time. 

 

It’s the one thing we can never get back.  It’s the one thing we should cherish every moment of.  Yet, it’s not always easy to appreciate time, especially when we are going through trials and tribulations.  It’s important to evaluate where and how we are spending our time and energy.

We can always find time to do something depending on what we prioritize.  The things and areas you prioritize are what your time and energy will flow toward.

Like Solomon wrote in the bible:

There’s a time for everything. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

 

Someone once told me: “Time is currency, and it will put you in debt if you don’t appreciate the voices when they are there.”

Whatever season you are currently in, take a moment to figure out what your priorities are and where your energy is going. 

 

Time is only wasted if you don’t find the value in what, who or why you’re spending it. Just going through the motions of life is not the way our time is meant to be spent.

 

 

2).Brigitte: “People write letters to the universe all the time. Most don’t get a personal response, but you are.”

Howard: I don’t want this!

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Meaning: 

Be careful what you ask for.  

 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve prayed to the good Lord for some huge asks; things I know wouldn’t make sense to the average person; things that may seem impossible to some, but are more than possible to Him. 

Maybe you’ve asked for more patience, and then someone or something comes to stretch your patience. 

Maybe you’ve asked for a financial breakthrough, and then you get a notification that your credit card limit has been increased. 

Maybe you’ve asked for a huge amount of success in one area, and then you have to pick something in another area to sacrifice.

The point is, in order to attain what we ask for, we first have to go through certain tests. These tests develop our character and prepare us to keep what it is that we asked for.  

Continue to pray and ask for the things you desire; just make sure your motives and your heart are aligned as one.

 

 

3). Madeline: [to Howard] “You’ve been given a gift, this profound connection to everything. Just look for it, and I promise you it’s there, the collateral beauty.”

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Meaning:

 

We all have a God-given gift.  Every single one of us.  I’m not sure who’s going to read this today, but you have a gift. It’s hard to notice your gift when it’s not clear to see.  How do you find your gift?

 


Start with these three questions:

1). What’s the one thing I’m good at that comes easily to me?

2). What makes me different?

3). What’s the one common comment my friends/close circle say about me? (sometimes you don’t know what you’re good at until someone tells you)


 

I’ve heard so many people say, “I don’t have a gift.”

 

 I’ve never liked that statement.  Just because it can be hard to find something doesn’t mean it’s nonexistent. So, if you’ve said that before, don’t say it again.

 

Finding your gift will take time and patience.  Cultivating your gift will take effort and discipline.  I believe we are all called by the Creator to do something, and in order to operate in our calling, we first have to seek and find the gift inside of us.  When you find your gift, you will be called to leave a place of comfort.  In discomfort is where you truly figure out what you’ve been called to do.

 

The seed of my gift was planted when I was thirteen.  My gift became apparent when I was twenty.  I stepped into my calling at twenty-six.

 

Keep searching, keep listening, keep digging.

Your gift will make itself apparent in due time, if you haven’t found it already.

 

So... what is the meaning of collateral beauty?

 

 

I think it means no matter what goes on in our lives, if we search deep enough, there is always something to be grateful for, even when it hurts.

If you’ve seen the movie, What are some of the scenes or quotes that stuck out to you? Comment below and please let me know!

-Akeem

Blog Edited by: Chanelle Price

8 Tips to Start The New Year Right

Yeah.

So…

Okay,

I don’t really have an intro…let’s just get into it.

 

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1)  Don’t say, “New year, new me.”

 

Chances are if you’ve said this, in about a month or so you’ll probably go back to the old you.  Don’t be ashamed.  Just acknowledge this truth and find a way to fix it.

 

Fixing it:  FULLY commit to your goal for the new year.  It’s important to commit to it even on the days you don’t feel like it. It’s not always about what you feel like doing; it’s about committing to what you said you were going to do long after that good, motivating feeling is gone. Motivation doesn’t last but habits do.

 

2)  Do something you didn’t do last year.

 

Oftentimes we can catch ourselves saying, “I’ll do it tomorrow, or in a few days, or in a few weeks or months.”  It’s hard to get ahead if you keep putting it off until “tomorrow.”

 Fixing it:  I know it can be tough sometimes, but just be courageous TODAY and do something different.  Start today. Focus on the now, on this present moment.  Then tomorrow, take a deep breath and find that same courage.  And then find it again the day after that.  The time is now, and there is no time like the present to start something new.  In order to get somewhere, you have to leave somewhere. Get out into the unknown and leave the comfort!

 

3)  This is my year!

 

Last year wasn’t your year.  Or the year before that.  But this year!!!  Oh baby, this is the year.  I feel it! 

 Fixing it:  All it takes is a few small things to work in your favor to build that momentum. Once that momentum builds, you’ll start to get some wins in areas you probably didn’t think you would get just yet. That’s all success is- a lot of small wins stacked on top of each other.  You never know when things will come together, but no matter what, you must believe that your time and year is this present one because it is!  If not this year, then best believe 2020 is the one! Expect that breakthrough, believe in that breakthrough, claim that breakthrough.  You don’t have to tell the world, but you have to tell yourself.

 

4)  Know the difference between a need and a want.

 

It’s not always about what you want.  Everybody wants something, but do you need it? How do you know the difference?

Fixing it:  A need is something you cannot live without.  A want is something that will bring you instant joy & temporary happiness (that’s kinda deep and I wasn’t even trying to be).   Needs require a budget.  Wants have no expiration date. A need involves prioritizing your focus; a want involves how big your eyes get when you look at it. Put it this way, if you take care and focus on what you need right now, you’ll have what you want in due time, and probably in abundance because you taught yourself discipline.

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5)  Re-evaluate your circle.

 

Every year there is a meme that says, “If I don’t reply to you, I left you in last year,” (some of the memes are actually kind of funny). It’s not always about cutting people off; it’s about making sure those you surround yourself with aren’t just taking from your energy but are also adding to it.  Sometimes you have to make sure everyone in your circle is on the same page as you. 

Fixing it: Priorities change, you change, your goals and motivation change.  That’s called growth.  As an individual grows, so do certain things in his or her life.  We are a new person every single year which means we should raise our standards.  Oftentimes, when this happens, people naturally drift out of our live, and that’s okay.  Never apologize for growing into your full potential and having to leave some people behind, no matter who they are.   

 

Everybody wants to ride the wagon up the hill until the wheel falls off.  That’s when you’ll find out who’s there to help you push and who’s just there for the transportation.

 

6)  Get your nutrition right.

 

For real.  Don’t play with your body.  Amazon and ebay don’t sell bodies.  Trust me, I’ve checked.  You only get one body.  Just one! So take care of it.  If you take care of your body at the beginning stages of your life, your future body will thank you.

Fixing it:  Drink water, eat your veggies (broccoli won’t kill you).  Get that exercise in, even if you’re not really into exercising.  Just go for a walk.  You’d be surprised how good for your joints just plain walking is.  Don’t wait until it’s too late to realize you should have taken better care of yourself.  Exercise and nutrition are in your control.  Take control of them.  

 

7)  Don’t let your past keep you trapped.

 

“This is how my family has always done it. And this is probably how I’m going to do it.”  There’s nothing wrong with that.  But what if that’s not what’s best for you?

Fixing it:  Going against the grain is always tough. It’s not always comfortable or ideal, especially to those who know you well. (Quick story time!)

 

A few years ago, I was talking to an individual that I will call Achilles, and the conversation went like this: 

Achilles:  Man, I don’t even like what I’m majoring in at school.

Akeem:  You wait until 3 months before you graduate to have these thoughts?  Why’d you choose that major?

 Achilles:  I know right. Because my parents are engineers and so is my brother.  It only makes sense.

Akeem:  I get it. It’s in the family. S what’re you going to do?

 Achilles:  I’m going to finish, and then I’ll probably find a job in that field for a year, and then I’ll quit.  What would you do?

 Akeem:  Well, you should probably take some time and figure out what you really want to do.  Whatever you do, just don’t half-ass it.  People never forget a hard worker. 

 Achilles:  Yeah, that’s a good point. I’ll take some time to figure it out these next few months. You tryna go to Dairy Queen this week, though?

 

I heard Jim Carey once say, “You can fail at doing something you don’t like to do, so why not take a chance on doing something that you love to do?” 

 

8) Unwavering faith. 

 

Faith is believing in something you cannot see.  Faith is finding a reason to keep going even when you can’t see the path.  Faith is practicing your craft every single day when you don’t know when that opportunity might come.  Faith is wiping your tears and smiling at the same time.  Faith is understanding things will get worse before they get better.  Faith is encouraging others when you need encouragement yourself.  Faith is being positive when you don’t see anything to be positive about.  Faith is believing your breakthrough is just around the corner when the corners aren’t very wide.  Faith is believing God is working in your favor when it feels like He’s forgotten about you.


If you are reading this today, I am praying for you.  I hope this is the year you’ve been praying for.  I hope this is the year the seeds you planted will start to bear fruit.  I hope this is the year generational cycles are broken and a new generational cycle begins.  

 

I hope today is the day that it starts.

 

Leave a comment below and let me know which tip spoke to you.

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-Akeem

Blog edited by: Chanelle Price 

 

The Race Is Not Given to The Swift

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There are some things you’re just going to have to find a way to outlast.  And if you can find a way to outlast, you’ll not only come out a better version of yourself, but you’ll also realize you’re much stronger than you think.
— Akeem Haynes

 

I hear this saying often, but I never really understood what it meant.  After searching for the correct context in which this phrase is used, I was able to give meaning to it and put it into my own words.

 


Ecclesiastes 9:11 says: 

I have seen something else under the sun.

The race is not to the swift
    or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
    or wealth to the brilliant
    or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.


 

That man Solomon was deep! 

 

To me, Solomon is saying we need to find the strength and endurance to persevere through the tough times-the times when we feel like breaking, the times when we feel like giving up, the times when our faith is questioned, the times when our backs are up against the wall, the times when we feel alone, the times when we don’t feel like being positive, the times when fear and doubt creep in.

 

Oftentimes, when circumstances aren’t going in our favor, we question if things will ever get better, if things will ever change. 

 

Maybe you’re not where you want to be right now.  Maybe you’ve had a tough year.  I just want to remind you today that, despite what you may be going through, you’re still here.  And because you’re still here, there is a purpose behind your pain, struggle, and hardship. The greater the struggle, the greater the reward.

 

“The race is not given to the swift, only to those who endure it.”

 

There are some things you’re just going to have to find a way to outlast.  And if you can find a way to outlast, you’ll not only come out a better version of yourself, but you’ll also realize you’re much stronger than you think.

-Akeem

Blog Edited by: Chanelle Price

Figure It Out

The truth is we’ll never have it all together.  We’ll never have all the answers no matter what age we are. We just get a little more experienced each day and become better equipped to navigate life through the application of our knowledge and wisdom we’ve gained over the years.
— Akeem Haynes
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I’ve always been a thinker.  I spend a lot more time in my head than I probably should. I’m always searching for the meaning behind certain things in an attempt to define them for myself.  Being open minded towards everything allows me to gain different perspectives.  My beliefs and values are different from most people.  People may not agree with mine and vice versa.  But I’ve always been intrigued by other people’s thought processes.

 

You see, a person doesn’t have to agree with me because at the end of the day we are all entitled to our own opinions.  Nevertheless, it’s important to understand how others come to their different conclusions.

 

I like what Marcus Aurelius says in the book Meditations:

 

“If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right, I will happily change, for I seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed. It is the person who continues in his self-deception and ignorance who is harmed.”

 

Life is about searching and digging deep within yourself to find your truth.  No matter how many opinions you may hear along the way, dare to define what life means to you.

 

Let’s begin, shall we.

 

Experiences + Knowledge + Wisdom + Application =

Every year there’s a special day we celebrate- the day we were born.  When we hit a certain age, our birthday becomes less about celebrating and partying and more about reflecting (nothing wrong with doing both of course!).  While on this day most people think about their success and accomplishments, I spend equal time thinking about the mistakes, failures, and lessons I’ve learned over the years.

 

It doesn’t mean I don’t acknowledge where I am.  I just spend more time acknowledging the fact that I’m not where I once was.  I realized at an early age that you will learn more about life through your pain and hardships than your success will ever teach you. I’m not saying success doesn’t have its advantages. Everyone wants to win.  I’ve never wanted to lose at any point in my life.  We all want to be on top. However, I am saying the mistakes and hardships we experience offer invaluable lessons that we could learn no other way.

 

Have you heard this saying before?

“When you know better, you do better.”

 

It’s crazy when you really think about it.  We are all just trying to figure it out as we go, even if it may seem at times that we have it all together.

 

Let’s do this:

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Think about the people who raised you- your parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, the Gorillas if you’re Tarzan, whomever.  As a child, we probably said to ourselves, “Man those people there, they got all the answers.  They know how to cook.  They clean after me.  They give me snacks.  They know how to speak eloquently.  They read words in those things called books.  Man, they are super people.”  And it may seem as so until you get older and you realize how easy they made it seem to “have all the answers.”

 

The truth is we’ll never have it all together.  We’ll never have all the answers no matter what age we are. We just get a little more experienced each day and become better equipped to navigate life through the application of our knowledge and wisdom we’ve gained over the years.

I had a conversation with a young man who was just about to go to university and he said to me:

“These years are going to be great.  I have everything figured out.   By the time I’m finished man, things are going to be booming!”

 

I smiled and asked him his age.

 

He answered, “Nineteen.”

 

I then said:

 

“Man, the cerebral cortex of a human being isn’t fully developed until around the age of 25.”  (I went to school too, man.)

 

He said, “Wait what?”

 

Learn what you can.   Take that knowledge, mixed with your values, beliefs, and the experiences you’ve had, and go define your truths.  Then, just do your best to make well-educated decisions and solve problems.  You may not have all the answers now, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never find them.  

 

After all, we are all just trying to figure out this thing called life as we go.

- Akeem

Blog Edited by:Chanelle Price