Energy Gets Results

Be the Energy

By Dawn Onley

“Energy gets results.” These words come from my mentor, Glenn Proctor. Although I find the words to be true, the older I get, I also find it tougher to sustain high levels of energy throughout the day.

Tougher, that is, without assistance.

Cue one-a-day vitamins, wheatgrass shots, brief bursts of high-intensity workouts, a steady stream of fun experiences to keep me motivated and loving life, plenty of water and leafy veggies, casual daily nature walks, a sheer desire to want to succeed, and my 3-year-old son, who, admittedly, I struggle to keep up with at times.

Absent all of that, and my 46-year-old body might want to sleep all day.

It takes energy to get things done. It’s one thing many effective leaders have in common. They have the energy it takes to lead, to keep pushing, to get results. It takes energy to rise to the top and it takes energy to stay there. It takes energy to accomplish anything worth accomplishing. When I consider the things where I’ve put maximum effort into — like training to run the New York City Marathon a few years ago — I reaped maximum reward.

New York City Marathon

Do whatever it takes. Develop a rhythm that works well for you. Eat healthy. Get your rest. Take vitamins if need be. But keep your energy level high.

Energy gets results.

Acts of Kindness, Pass it Along

By Samantha McKenzie

It was nothing for my mom to send me down the street to ask my aunt for a cup of sugar or a stick of butter when she suddenly realized she had run out. It was actually common practice for us to exchange portions of food with our next door neighbor until one of us made it out to the market again or until the next paycheck arrived.

every-act-of-kindness-grows-the-spirit1I grew up witnessing neighbors generously swapping household items, trading tools and borrowing ladders to get through their chores. This was the generation that carpooled out of necessity because not everyone owned a vehicle. The church mothers would make meals for its members who were sick and shut in.

Acts of kindness were staples in our lives and there was nothing random about any of it. We practiced community living – authentic kindness – and it created an invisible bond that weaved its way through our collective souls. It somehow made us all stronger.

Today, we are helping each other on a broader scale. We are witnessing more people paying if forward. I recently saw a news clip of a gentleman who paid the grocery bill for the customer who stood in line behind him. Go Fund Me accounts are popping up each day to help support people who are suffering from serious illnesses or those who may have experienced a recent tragedy. We are pooling our resources and expanding our reach. But there’s still more to do.pizza

I read about a man who left his Wall Street job to open a pizza shop in Philadelphia. Everything was pretty normal until a thoughtful customer decided to pre-pay for a slice of pizza and instructed the owner to give it to the next homeless person that came in for a bite. The idea caught on and grew into what they now call the Pay it Forward program. Since then, customers randomly buy a slice and pay it forward for those in need. The workers place sticky notes on the wall that can be redeemed for a free slice of pizza.

This is community. We should all practice at least one act of kindness or paying it forward daily, not just around holidays. When you are standing in line at any store, consider buying the person behind you their next ice cream cone or their next tank of gas. Then, invite them to pay it forward for someone else. It doesn’t even have to be money. You can pay it forward with other acts of kindness. Think of how quickly this would spread.

Brazilian author Paulo Coelho calls it the Favor Bank. Make a deposit in the Favor Bank and when it’s your turn, you can make a withdrawal.

Choosing the Melody of Our Song

“I believe that you’re great, that there’s something magnificent about you. Regardless of what has happened to you in your life. Regardless of how young or old you think you might be. The moment you begin to ‘think properly,’ this something that’s within you, this power within you that’s greater than the world, it will begin to emerge. It will take over your life. It will feed you. It will clothe you. It will guide you, protect you, direct you, sustain your very existence. If you let it. Now that is what I know, for sure.” – Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith

Women playing flute

By Dawn Onley

If you were asked to pick a genre of music to describe yourself, what would you pick and why?

Is your life like a country song? Are you more cheerful and breezy like a pop tune? Are you soulful and sultry like rhythm and blues? Do you prefer hardcore like hard rock or rap, or are you meditative and reflective like easy listening? Are you even grooving to the right tune?

Whatever your tempo and temperament, Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith says, “the universe corresponds to the nature of your song.”

Our disposition provides a glimpse of how we approach life. Our outlook is the nature of our song, but one thing we should always keep in mind is that our outlook is not set in stone. It is malleable. We can improve our attitudes and enhance our outlooks; we don’t have to remain as we are. Our natural bent may be skeptical, distrusting, angry or bitter, but we don’t have to give those leanings the final say. We may be pessimistic but if we think it is hindering more positive things from happening in our lives, we can choose to take a better perspective.

We get a choice on what music we want to embody. Life circumstances – good or bad — have very little to do with it. We can be steeped in life’s struggles, at some point we all will be, but just like a tea bag, we can transform from our experiences into something that we find pleasing to the palate.

woman playing guitar

We can change the water. We should change the water.

As a man thinketh, so is he. Who we are is what we tend to draw to us. What we put out into the universe, just like the boomerang, comes back to us.

dance

If we want love, we need to be loving. If we desire trust, we should be trustworthy. If we want people to help us, we should be willing to help other people. If we want friends, we should be a friend.

We should be the song – melody, lyrics, tempo and genre – that we wish to sing and embody. We don’t have to dance to the song that we’re tired of listening to.

Sip Tea, Breathe Easy, Use Time More Wisely

By Samantha McKenzie

We live in a society so pressed for time, so obsessed with doing stuff, that we no longer value precious time. We’re the champions of devouring space, multi-tasking and consuming the next to-do item. Perhaps, it provides us with a sense of purpose. A sort of security blanket that makes us feel like we are really living. But are we?

woman-drinking-coffee

I know. I’m guilty as charged. I’m notorious for watching the clock, fitting in one more assignment, using my commute to keep my friendships alive via Bluetooth…and well, it’s a daily struggle. I had to hit the pause button and really rethink my steps. I had to reorganize my mind to accept the fact that I misuse it. Sometimes. A lot. Way too often. It was time for a change.

So I decided to sip more tea, breathe a little easier and use time more wisely.time2

I began to mentally pack up the old way of doing things and declutter my physical day. Off went the superwoman cape and away went the smartphone. It was for my own good, I told myself (even though I knew I had all intentions of fighting back).

I wanted to use the space that time had created. I took a long walk with no destination. I sat on the porch in complete silence. I forced my thoughts to relax. And then I let my mind wander into memories of old friends and lost loved ones. I forgot how much I had missed them. It felt really, really good to just allow myself the time to think freely. With no purpose…unintentionally. A few peaceful moments just for me.

It’s not easy to sit still or to carve out time in your schedule to do relaxing things. You won’t have to abandon your to-do list altogether. You will have to negotiate with yourself. Give yourself permission to let it all go. You may create a permanent time in the day…or take 15 minutes bursts to get centered. There’s no right way to do it. Start with a list of things you used to do that made you happy. And then, find away to get back there.

Sip tea more tea. Listen to an entire CD without interruptions. Take an extended shower.

Nap. Dream. Eat slowly. Smell freshly picked flowers. Pass by a bakery. Smile at a stranger. Dance without music. Giggle at an old joke. Hear yourself breathing. Be still and use time wisely.

Celebrating the Genius of Prince

Prince

By Dawn Onley

I’ve been in a fog since Prince died. Just numb.

Sure, we all must die at some point. Yes, even at just 57 years old, Prince lived a full life, accomplishing things that most of us couldn’t even fathom.

Still, it is surreal. And sad.

I’ve been driftlessly moving about, watching TV specials, listening to radio dedications and reading everything that I can about the man whose posters adorned my bedroom walls, whose songs I played and replayed over and over again, and who occupied so many of my teenage and young adult fantasies. It feels weird to mourn so deeply for someone I’ve never met, but this one is hard to deal with. Prince’s music shepherded my journey from teenager to young adult. Purple Rain, which I’ve easily watched over 20 times, will always be my favorite musical and purple remains my favorite color — influenced by Prince, of course.

Prince was bold and beautiful, unapologetic and courageous. He took chances and he demanded respect. He was a brilliant songwriter and businessman. He was a philanthropist and truly epitomized his Jehovah’s Witness teachings of never announcing the good deeds he did, which were many. He represented the disenfranchised and used his power for good. He didn’t just write thought-provoking lyrics, he walked the talk. He was a beautiful soul. He stood out.

His music brings me back to Players, a former teenage dance spot in my hometown, where the dance floor would be packed with hormonal teeny boppers, sweating it out to the sounds of such hits like “Let’s Go Crazy” “Raspberry Beret” and “I Would Die for You.” And of course, “Purple Rain” and “Adore” were always crowd pleasers.

Purple Rain

Since his passing, I’ve viewed videos about his generosity and chuckled at memes about his strut and attitude. I just can’t get enough. I know over the next few weeks and months, I will have pored over countless interviews, read more first-person accounts from people who had intimate friendships with Prince and watched some of his memorable concerts all around the world.

But none of it will fill the permanent void I have for never seeing him live in concert. My heart breaks at two missed opportunities. I was looking forward to him coming to my area this year, but that will not be. When Prince died, like when Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, and Luther Vandross died, so did my dreams of witnessing them perform. 

This year has been brutal for the musical greats it has taken thus far (Prince, David Bowie, Maurice White, Phife Dawg, Papa Wemba, to name a few). Natalie Cole died New Year’s Eve, 2015. So much great talent. Gone, but never forgotten, thanks to the legacies of their music, which will last forever.

Phife Dawg

David Bowie

I will celebrate Prince’s life and legacy by playing his music, by learning all I can about my childhood crush, and by introducing my son to his artistic genius. I only hope Prince knew how much he was adored, and how his music comforted and inspired millions of people.

Real music will survive. Prince’s legacy will endure. Until the end of time. 

Prince 2

 

American Hero on New $20 Bill

By Samantha McKenzie

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew made history this week. He publicly announced that abolitionist Harriet Tubman’s image will appear on a new series of $20 bills, making her the first African-American to appear on U.S. paper currency and the first woman in more than a century. 

Harriet-Tubman-bill2.jpg

Her goal was freedom. Her passion was her people. She is an American hero. A savior indeed. When Harriet Tubman’s face hits the new $20 bill, we will be reminded of a shameful part of the country’s history.

But more so, we will be reminded of the face of courage and sacrifice. Her image will testify to strength and bravery and undeniable perseverance. She will remind me that I should never give up. That I should be relentless on the path to my own emancipation. Holding that new $20 in my hand will remind me to fear death a little less and that we should all have one thing we are willing to die for.

harriet2She will surely remind me to never forget that injustice first lives in the heart, then the land. And that determination can light the way. And that most claim belief after the reward.

There isn’t enough currency to salute all of the women who deserve this acknowledgement. I see a memorial wall for all of our great female heroes in the future. Maybe a museum erected to finally tell our collective story is around the bend. We certainly deserve our due.

famouswomen

Thank you Harriet Tubman for freeing us, yet again.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Time to Fly

  Faith

By Dawn Onley

Dear Women Who Hope, and those who don’t, yet:

Don’t bother your pretty little heads one more second about how things will work out. Don’t lose sleep over it. Don’t stress over it. Just know that things will work out. All that is required of you is that you believe and that you direct your actions accordingly.

That’s it. It can’t get any simpler than that, can it?

Even if you’re not ready. Even if you think the deadline has elapsed on your wildest dreams and that there’s no way possible, at your age, with your grown-up responsibilities, with your circumstances, and the way your bank account is set up, that your dream can still come to pass, I’m here to tell you that it can. Your dream is like an egg that’s still waiting for the right conditions and the right moment to hatch. It’s waiting for you to sit on it and give it warmth and let it know that it’s safe and it’s time. It’s waiting on you to whisper that the incubation period is over. It knows it, but it’s waiting on you. It’s waiting on you to feed it and to love it and to be nurturers of the dream, sweet ladies.

Dove sitting in nest

It’s waiting to be born. It’s waiting to develop wings and fly.

What are you waiting for?

Here goes nothing

Oftentimes, the dream is ready, but we’re not. Oftentimes, it’s when we’re not prepped and ready and “on” when we need to make our next move. It’s when we have no idea what lies on the other side of the mountain, or up the road, or just beyond the bend. It’s when we’re scared of flying without a safety net not knowing that the net is still there, where it has always been, we just can’t see that it’s God’s hand holding us.

It’s often when things are going good that the internal voice starts talking to us. Admittedly, it can feel confusing because, after all, things are going good so why mess up a known thing? A sure thing? A comfortable thing? For the unknown?

Because, beauties, if you have a dream festering inside of you, it won’t let you rest, it won’t let you be, it won’t give you peace, until you answer it.

Because, this is the thing you were born to do.

Because, you will never know what could have been until you give it a try.

Because, you can accept failing at something, but not the regret that comes with never trying.

Because this is your purpose.

Because this is your time.

Because you are ready.

So soar, you lovely souls who have the audacity to hope. And even for those of you who don’t, yet.

Hatch your dreams.

Fly Birdies