2017: Shabooya, Sha-sha Shabooya Roll Call!

By Samantha McKenzie

You may remember the Shabooya Roll Call chant from back in the days. Or perhaps you caught a glimpse of the rhythmic cheer when it became popular in the movie “Get on the Bus” or “Bring It On.” If you haven’t heard of it at all, go ahead and YouTube it.

Steeped in African-American culture, this common call and response game used to captivate groups of children who were eager to sound off. We were creative and sassy and full of enthusiasm in those days. We took pride in cheering each other on, waiting our turn and trying to get the most cheers for being original. It was frowned upon if you copied someone else’s line. But we were all too happy to get our few seconds of fame. We routinely filled the air with the sounds of our innocence and were proud to puff out our chest – right into our futures. During these pre-hip hop sessions, we could become whoever we wanted to be. Muhammad Ali did it. Why shouldn’t we?

I practiced the Shabooya Roll Call chant and many similar cheers growing up. I was shy back then and rhythm didn’t come to me naturally. I worked hard for it. But I had something to show off just like everyone else and I was determined to have me moment of shine.

It sorta went like this:

Everyone: Sha-booya, Sha-sha shabooya roll call. (repeat)

Me: “My name’s Samantha”

Group: “Yeahhhh”

Me: “And I’m from Brooklyn”

Group: “Yeahhh”

Me: “I like to skate”

Group: “Yeahhh”

Me: “You best appreciate”

I was all of 10 years old but I delivered. Our chants would change each time we played, but the enthusiasm for this old tradition remained steadfast. I finished the 5th grade with the Most Improved Award and was reading at a 12th grade level. I’d like to say, these childhood games and my watchful parents helped to keep me motivated.

childrenSo I decided to welcome this new year with the same Shabooya Roll Call fervor. Why not get back to the times when we practiced being creative? Why not boast about what we can do (even before you did it) and use it to guide our pathway? Why not have tons of fun chasing after our dreams? Because, at the end of the day, who’s really stopping us anyway?

Image result for float like a butterfly sting like a beeIf this chant is a little out of your comfort zone, look for another way to cheer yourself on. Find a theme song to play each morning that will get your mind prepared to tackle the day. Find a spirit partner to check in with you often and monitor your motivation. Michael Jackson had the Moonwalk, so why can’t you have your own celebratory dance or step? Memorize a line from a movie, or an inspirational poem and say it out loud in the mirror. Whatever it is that will ignite you, incorporate it into daily routine.

Be your best cheerleader and put the fun back into every task. Shabooya, sha-sha shabooya roll call your way into your goals this year.

Happy New Year! Let’s take 2017 by storm.

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Birthing Our Dreams

“Every journey begins with the first step of articulating the intention, and then becoming the intention.” Bryant McGill, Voice of Reason

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By Dawn Onley

Pull out a blank piece of paper.

At the top of it, write this: “By this time next year, I will be …”

Then, list as many words to describe what your near future holds for you.

More fit? An entrepreneur? A college graduate? Healthy? A homeowner? A world traveler? Debt-free? Dating? Married? A mom? Living in a new city? Cancer-free? An author? An investor? A philanthropist? A vegetarian? A runner? A caregiver? Writing my dissertation? Retired? A swimmer? A success?

Whatever you dream for yourself, capture it on this sheet of paper. Don’t hold back. Just write. Don’t think too hard or take too long. Don’t talk yourself out of your words. Instead, let your words flow freely.

If you feel it, chances are it’s something you’ve been wanting to do.

Every good thing, claim it for yourself.

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Fill up at least half a sheet of paper with these dreams. Now, review the list and read out loud what you wrote. Read it with conviction. If you have a trusted friend, read the list to him or her. Tell them what you will do by this time next year.

And then, flip the paper over.

How will you get there? What will it take? What will you need to let go of to reach your goals? Write the answers to these questions on the back.

There are no stupid responses to these questions. There are no dumb dreams. Whatever you desire, you can make happen.

This process is where it all starts. It’s how dreams are born. It may seem simplistic, but when we write down our goals and our dreams, it helps to keep us focused. When we give voice to them, we subconsciously give ourselves permission to go after them. We make room for our blessings.

Do this exercise.

Keep the paper.

Remember the date.

Get to work.

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Pour Your Wine in New Wine Skin

By Samantha McKenzie

“And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”         (Bible, Mark 2:22)

Have you ever shared a new idea with someone who responded in a negative way? Instead of meeting your excitement with encouragement, they told you exactly why it wouldn’t work.

Instead of seeing your vision or trying to understand the big picture, they called you crazy, criticized you for even trying, and left you feeling deflated?

wineThere’s nothing more exhilarating than bringing a dream into reality. For those of you who have taken a small idea and turned it into something big, you know exactly what I mean. It’s a living, breathing thing. It gives you energy and every step towards it, makes you feel more alive!

Ideas should be nurtured like newborns. From conception to birth, you should be protective through the entire process. You bear the load without complaining and along the way you discover the depth and determination that lives inside of you.

Your ideas are like new wine. It’s natural to want to share your goals with others. It’s hard to contain good news. But you can’t share with everyone. Not everyone can look at a seed and see the fruit it will one day bear.

Some people are hardwired to point out the flaws. They are quick to identify the pitfalls and insist they have your best interests at heart. Sometimes it’s a parent or a close friend who wants to spare you from failure. Sometimes it’s your boss or someone you look up to who tries to deter you from wasting your time. They often mean well.

They represent old wineskin. Even unintentionally, they chip away at your vision and take the wind right out of you.

Protect your dreams from these naysayers.

When you’re building something great you have to limit who you pour your ideas into. It’s not necessary to get a large consensus to move forward. Most groundbreaking ideas were birthed in the smallest of wombs, like someone’s garage or an incubated space.

sharingidea2Be selective with your inner circle. Find a risk taker in your bunch. Look for an expert to consult with. Share your idea with people who can guide you or will provide feedback that will enhance your idea. Find people who have the spirit of a cheerleader and the viewpoint of a good cornerman.

Share your vision with people who — after witnessing your multiple failed attempts — still believe it can be done.

Pour your new wine in new wineskin and let it expand.

Vision Boards Help Us Visualize Success

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By Dawn Onley

This year, I traveled to Athens and a few of the Greek Islands with my niece.

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I started a daily walking regimen.

I read more books – not just for fun, but with intention and on purpose. I also wrote more.

I envisioned a Cleveland Cavaliers playoff victory (seriously).

My husband and I bought a house.

I found peace and quiet – even if I haven’t fully mastered yet how to relax.

I tried many new recipes and tasted foods I had never heard of.

I started going to a monthly women’s Bible fellowship and I recommitted myself to studying and learning more about the books in the Bible.

Much of this was the result of creating a “Vision Board,” a creative channeling process designed to help us bring into existence the things that we visualize and hope to accomplish. Nine years ago was when I first started putting together Vision Boards and I’ve done it annually ever since.

Vision Board

Essentially here’s how it works: Grab a stack of magazines, a poster board, markers and a glue stick. Next, search for words and images of places you want to go, experiences you want to have, things you want to accomplish, ways you want to give back, etc. next year. Glue them to the board. If you can’t find the word or phrase, write it down. When you’re done, hang the board in a prominent place in your house where you will see it daily (e.g. closet, bedroom, office).

Next, incorporate some actionable steps you can take toward achieving your vision. These steps don’t have to get you from Point A to Point Z right now, but they do have to move you from Point A to Point B for starters, because what’s the use of going through this process if you’re not committed to moving the needle? One effective way of incorporating steps is by placing weekly “to do” items that correlate with your goals on a list in a notebook and checking off the items as they are achieved.

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Yesterday, I worked on my 2017 Vision Board, alongside my four nieces, nephew and little cousin — who all created some real gems. I’m so delighted to see a younger generation of family realizing the potential of determining their dreams for the upcoming year and exerting a more concentrated focus to see those dreams to fruition.

It’s possible. It’s remarkable how it works. I’d encourage you all to try it. To write down your goals. To study them on a daily basis. To create actionable plans to accomplish them. To invest your time and focus to the process.

And to watch the chain of events that follow.

Sweet success! Trust. And, believe.

A More Meaningful Life

By Samantha McKenzie

“It is better to have a meaningful life and make a difference than to merely have a long life.” Bryant H. McGill

As 2016 winds down, I’ve been thinking about the future. How do I want to spend 2017 and what things can I do to make a difference in my life? I pushed aside the normal list, like losing weight and saving money, not because I won’t do those things, but I wanted to challenge myself to dig deeper.

Now is the perfect time to trim down the fat in my life. The end of the year is when we assess, reevaluate and realign our thoughts and actions. I decided that 2017 will find me doing, saying and thinking about more meaningful things. I want the time I spend to add more value to my life and to the lives of others. I think we all want another shot at making the days, the hours, and even the minutes matter even more.Related image

And so it will be. This new year, I want to do more meaningful things. I want everything I do to have an inherent purpose, to be worthwhile or add value to what already exists.

To start, I will spend my time engaging in more healthy discussions. I want to have the courage to introduce new topics, to redirect chatter or to just walk away from those that offer nothing. I’m going to set new challenges for myself at work and cut out doing things that hold little value. I want to measure my contributions at every level of my living. I want to have more vulnerable conversations and get out of the shallow side of relationships.

I’m going to have to be intentional and purposeful in everything I do. This means resetting the alarm clock to wake up earlier, changing the television channels from the nonsense I like to watch and not cheating at the gym (wink!)Image result for quotes on living life on purpose

This doesn’t mean I won’t goof around or get off track. It just means I’m going to take more interest in the things that I’m doing and make sure it has a purpose. Some days sleeping in late will have a real purpose, trust me. I don’t want to look up and say, “where’d the time go?”

I am going to have to be more selective with time and show it some R-E-S-P-E-C-T. It will be so worth it. Farewell 2016. Here’s to a newer, more meaningful life ahead.

Happy Holidays to You and Yours!

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Merry Christmas to you and yours!

May your food be scrumptious. May you be surrounded by the people who make you smile. May you laugh heartily and often.

May you get your heart’s desire. And may you give it, too.

May you stop for a minute to take it all in. May this Christmas be a fond memory that you will always cherish.

May you make it so.

This is our prayer for you this holiday.

Cheers!

Women Who Hope

You’re Almost There!

By Samantha McKenzie

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There’s always that moment when you see your dreams unfolding and your plans coming together – you can almost taste your success.

It’s at these times when you can feel your goals – like you can almost reach out and touch them in the short distance ahead. This is confirmation that you’ve been seeking. It’s evidence that you’re on the right path and you’ve got this. Push full steam ahead.

It’s time to embrace God’s presence in your life and accept the fact that you were made for this moment. Let your faith and confidence lead the way. The unknown isn’t that scary once you arrive.

So go ahead. Dream in color. Chase your passions and stretch your possibilities like never before. It’s your time.