Filling Up to Finish the Journey


By Dawn Onley

In approximately 10 days, we will be mid-way through this year. Although hard to believe how quickly the time has flown by — the same as every year — the milestone marks as good a time as any to assess where we started in January, where we’re headed in December, and where we are right now.

It’s also a great opportunity to check our momentum gauge to see that it’s still on FULL, and if not, to quickly fill up our engines. Because, it’s too early for us to be on empty. And also because there is too much work to do.

I’m guessing there have been setbacks. You may have hoped to lose 10 pounds by now, but since you are constantly working, it’s so much easier to grab fast food for dinner, right? You planned to brainstorm names for your business but you haven’t had the time. I get it. I completely understand. It’s the same old trap. Before long, it’ll be October and soon after we’ll be singing “Auld Lang Syne.” Unless we push through this line of reasoning and our exhaustion and whatever else stands in the way, we’ll never gain ground. Sure, it takes more preparation and is more time-consuming to do meal planning and to limit foods that work against our goals. Sure, we must sacrifice. Yes, it’s hard work. Yes, it may require an initial financial investment to get started. It’s wise to have an accountability partner. You bet it takes discipline and requires us to be relentless.

So what? We knew it wouldn’t be easy. We’ve thought about this for a long time. We must be committed to the relationship of building our best selves. We must fight to get to this next level. Mediocrity takes little effort. We are striving for greatness. That takes everything we’ve got.

One of the things that stands out the most to me about the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which commenced on Dec. 5, 1955, a few days after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on the bus, was the unwavering commitment that working African-Americans had to effectuate change. We’ve seen the video footage of people walking to work, but did you know that some people even rode mules to work? For one whole year? Do you know how singularly focused on the goal it would take for someone to ride a mule for miles to work each day? The boycott was for equal treatment and civil rights, certainly, but let’s talk about the sacrifice and determination needed to achieve this goal. And some of us have already quit going to the gym or eating healthy or believing that we have what it takes to succeed. We could all stand to learn something from the boycotters.

Any goal worth reaching requires a new level of effort. Think about it. If it took the same level of effort that we are currently putting out, we’d all be there by now. In order to get someplace we’ve never gone, we must do something we’ve never done.


Midway through the year, it’s time to fill up our tanks. We can’t lose our energy. We can’t lose ground. We can’t lose focus. We are so close. We must KEEP PUSHING.

Let’s learn about things that will build up our resistance to quit. Let’s examine a different approach — one that may work better for us. Let’s readjust our attitudes about failing – realizing that failure increases our knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. Let’s understand that “failing” does not mean “failure,” it actually means success because there is no success without failure. Let’s try to fail more often because it means we are in the arena and we are giving it a shot.

Whatever it takes, let’s move that stubborn needle one step further. Just ONE step. Right now. For our best selves, let’s rev up, put the pedal to the metal and take off.



Shatter Your Glass Ceilings

Samantha McKenzie

Image result for quotes on ambition

The term “glass ceiling” was coined in the late 1970s to describe the invisible barrier that kept minorities and women from moving up the corporate ladder and closing the gender pay gaps.

Each year, a new study is published detailing the evidence and hard facts: women continue to earn less than their male counterparts. The reasons cited ranged from gender bias (intentional or unintentional) to the lack of influence within powerful networks, such as the Good Old Boys Club.

It’s time we address these imbalances in our society. It seems as though we’ve become so numb to receiving less, that we’ve resigned ourselves to accepting the status quo. Image result for quotes on ambition

I believe that glass ceilings were meant to be shattered and the fight begins within. The first step is to adopt a “no-limits” philosophy to your personal success.

We all know that women are powerful. Either you were raised by a woman of fortitude, taught by a woman of force or are a women of strength. We are powerful in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our organizations and in our places of worship. Why would this power disappear when we enter the board room or a pulpit?

Shatter your own glass ceiling and challenge the stereotypes that hold you back. Shed yourself of those self-defeating thoughts. Leave behind those insecurities and self-doubt. They are the true enemies to our progress and stunt our growth.Image result for quotes on ambition

Instead, become a self-promoter. Speak up during meetings. Share your ideas. Add your input –  even if it may be unpopular. Don’t be afraid to ask for a raise or advocate for a promotion you know you deserve. Put your name in the hat and compete.

Get in the habit of sitting at the table. Sharpen your tools. Show off your confidence. And just slay…

Dialing Back Life’s Noise

“Cherish your solitude. Take trains by yourself to places you have never been. Sleep out alone under the stars. Learn how to drive a stick shift. Go so far away that you stop being afraid of not coming back. Say no when you don’t want to do something. Say yes if your instincts are strong, even if everyone around you disagrees. Decide whether you want to be liked or admired. Decide if fitting in is more important than finding out what you’re doing here. Believe in kissing.” – Eve Ensler


By Dawn Onley

It’s summertime. The kids are in summer camp and you are hoping to eke out some time to get out and enjoy the weather and finally finish up a project you started awhile ago.

And by “you” I mean “me.” Us. Ahem.

To do this, we need to prioritize. We may have to cut back on some things. For me, “some things” means social media. Not that it’s Facebook or Twitter’s fault. I’ll claim full responsibility for the time I’ve spent reading status updates, writing posts, liking pictures, researching groups, clicking links to news articles and devouring those articles.

It’s all extremely time consuming.

Before long, information overload causes my internal hard drive to crash. When this happens, you know what else comes with it?

  • Mood swings
  • Exhaustion
  • Irritability
  • Worry, that I’m wasting too much time online instead of doing


Because of my social media fatigue, I have to take breaks each year to reconnect and reengage with the things that feed my spirit: Books, writing projects, spending time with friends and family, baking, long, early morning walks.

Real stuff.

In the interest of better time management, this summer I will significantly limit my social media time and interactions. I will carve out some time to do more writing.


Because, I’m in need of a reset; a recalibration.

As much as we’ve gained by the Internet, 24/7 connectivity and virtually unlimited access to information – and we’ve gained a lot – I sometimes miss the old days, before call waiting and multiples means of accessing a person. I want more of the family discussions at the dinner table. I want to engage with my community more – in person and fully focused.

I’m looking forward to Dawn time, where I can hone my writing craft each day, by reading, writing, and experiencing more of life. I’m looking forward to dialing back the noise so I can hear my words, my voice.

You’ll still see the Women Who Hope blog posts. I’d encourage you to follow the blog and like our social media pages on Facebook: Women Who Hope and Twitter: @ForWomenWhoHope to stay connected with what we are doing.

If you need to reach me, you’ll still be able to connect with me on my personal social media pages or via email. I’ll still be around but just less so.

Happy Summer! I’m really looking forward to this!

Share Your Smile

By Samantha McKenzie

Share your smile today. Share that wide grin with anyone who’s willing to receive it.

Let it light up our insides and reaffirm the goodness that’s in all of us. Giggle if you have to. It will cost you absolutely nothing.


Be brave and cheese your way through the day. Give a slight nod of acknowledgement to a neighbor who you never speak to. Send a simple smile to the next passerby. Let it make those around you feel alive.

I gave away a lot of smiles today to women in particular. I wanted my sisters to know that I saw them. I wanted them to feel our kindred spirit. I wanted to reassure them that although our feet were moving in opposite directions, that we were all on the same path. I shared my smile more times than I can remember these past few days and I got as many smiles back.

I’m certain that each person I saw was carrying their fair share of burdens. Myself included. By the look in their eyes, I was almost positive that they had some weighty task ahead of them. I chose to smile anyway.

Give away your smiles today. Let it warm the hearts of those around you. It can sometimes be the medicine that someone needs. Allow it to heal those tender souls.

Note: Today marks the 2nd anniversary of the Women Who Hope blog site. We thank each and every reader for your continued support. Thanks for the shares, the likes and the comments. All of it has helped us grow up and outward. Stay tuned for new and exciting opportunities coming your way. We promise to keep writing, to keep inspiring and to keep engaging with other women who hope, just like we do. Here’s to women all over the world and the men who support them. Keep the faith and stay on the journey.



Take the First Step, Today


By Dawn Onley

There is so much emphasis placed on getting to the finish line that what’s forgotten is how intimidating it can be to start.

Taking that first step toward accomplishing a goal takes guts. It is bold. It signals to the universe that we are ready — even though we don’t have a clue yet how it’ll turn out. That’s okay. We will learn. We will figure it out. We need to have faith and trust the process. Trust our Creator. Trust ourselves.

Many of us don’t start because we are scared of failure. As crazy as it sounds, some of us are even scared of success. Neither failure nor success matters as much as trying. When we’re on our death beds, we’re not going to focus on failing or succeeding. We’re going to focus on the woulda, coulda, shouldas, or in other words, what we wish we would have done, what we regret not starting, and what dreams we never realized.


A few years ago, a palliative nurse named Bronnie Ware, who had spent years caring for people within weeks of dying, began recording their last wishes. When she asked them if they would do anything differently, she started to notice some themes emerging. She wrote about the top five themes in her blog called Inspiration and Chai.

The number one regret of those dying was this: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

It all starts with the decisions we make today.

Start today. Take one small step towards a goal. Make the phone call you’ve been putting off. Create a list of goals. Jot down your first journal entry. Register for a class. Take a stroll around the block at lunchtime. Call a lender and finally get your credit score to see where you stand. Create a strategy for paying down debt. Turn off the TV, pick up a book and start reading. Start an investment account and earmark it for a goal you have. Research your next move.

Try something different. Try a new approach. Start taking steps that will bring you closer to the life of your dreams. Begin today. Tomorrow isn’t promised.

Let’s summon the courage to start a new thing, right now. Let’s make today the perfect day to begin living the life we imagined.


Find Your Child Within

By Samantha McKenzie

I love being a woman. In fact, each year I discover more fascinating (and peculiar) things about myself. Growing up and open is an amazing experience and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.


But there are times when I look in the mirror and I don’t recognize myself. Instead, I see the side effects of adulthood. I see the worry lines, the dark circles around my eyes and the blank stare I often give back when I still haven’t found a solution to a minor problem. I noticed​ my natural joy, who used to show up frequently during my youth, now pops in less and stays for shorter visits.

I miss the little girl I used to be. The one who used to skip down the street, singing all the wrong words to a popular song without a care in the world. My biggest dilemma on any given day was how I would spend my $1 allowance at the convenience store.

She was sure-footed and patient. If you told her no the first time, she just waited for a better time to ask again. The little girl inside of me knew the “yes” was sure to come.


My childhood was filled with adventure and discovery and double dutch, stoop ball, Italian ices, skateboarding and crushing on The Jackson Five (I flip-flopped between Michael and Marlon). My biggest health risk back then was eating too many sunflower seeds and letting the salt cure my lips.

It’s important to tap back into the child within. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could carry this little person around to remind us how we used to be?

She smiles without measure and laughs with no regret.

She runs, jumps, and scales fences like there’s no tomorrow.

If she loses, she’s tough enough to get back in the race. When you falls down, she’s tender enough to pick you up again.

She giggles just because and is thoughtful enough to share her candy with you even before you ask. She’s that little girl that we all love and adore.

She is you.girls

Keep the Focus on Your Destiny


By Dawn Onley

We can get so caught up in the stuff that doesn’t matter in life that it can keep us from the stuff that does.

For example, I use to get really hung up on what people said to me, or didn’t say, whose party I got invited to or didn’t, who was loyal and who was not, who was there for me when I really needed them and who mysteriously went MIA, whose dreams I supported and who went silent on mine, etc. For years, I would remember all of this stuff and keep it lodged in my head and my heart.

Yep, I was a score keeper. When things got too lopsided, I would declare “Game Over” and distance myself from some people. But the distance didn’t stop the brooding. I spent far too much time nursing hurt wounds.

I would even allow these distractions into my spirit. I would tell so-and-so what so-and-so did. I would temporarily feel better for releasing my hurt, but it never really moved me forward in any substantial way.


I didn’t realize it at the time, but these distractions were time-consuming and energy-zapping. Plus, they didn’t matter. They hardly ever matter in the grand scheme of things.

One thing I’ve learned over the last few years is that to achieve our dreams in life requires a singular, unrelenting focus. Our focus needs to remain on moving the needle closer to our end results and not remaining stuck.

Most of the feelings I was allowing on a monthly, weekly, sometimes daily basis was keeping my mind and attention from much more important things.

Any moment spent on items that are not productive to our purpose in life is a moment we can never get back. I thought about this yesterday as I scrolled through social media channels and read angry posts that were filled with innuendo, drama, and declarations that sprung up from hurt feelings. I thought back to last week and the week before that and even last month. Some of these same people had logged similar posts.

I can relate to some of this hurt because I’ve been there before. Many times. But a part of growth and maturity requires us to put away things that aren’t helping us flourish. We need to love our way forward more than we feel the need to cling to our past.

distractionsIt is so easy to get distracted. There is so much noise in the world. On social media pages there is a constant barrage of life occurrences that take us away from where our minds should be focused.

Bishop TD Jakes discusses this idea of destiny detractors in his book, “Destiny.” He uses Tyler Perry as an example of a person who has fought battles his entire life – against a father who ridiculed him, against the people who sexually abused him, against homelessness, and for his place among filmmakers. Jakes said Perry could have lost his focus and could have succumb to feelings of despair on any number of occasions.

But he didn’t.

Jakes said Perry “chose to let go of the fights that were counterproductive to destiny. Instead, he invested his Warrior Spirit in fights that were worth the effort to get his plays and films to audiences. Tyler kept on fighting to live his dream, even when he was homeless and sleeping in his automobile.”

“Because he never gave up, the winds of fate changed in his favor and he has since sold millions of theater and movie tickets to fans of his beloved Madea persona and the characters in his many other film and theatrical productions,” Jakes added.

That’s the kind of fight that’s worth my energy, and yours too. The fight for our destiny. The fight for our soul purpose. The kind of fight that helps the winds of fate to change in our favor.

Not the stuff that doesn’t matter.

Ask yourself, before you put it out there and speak it into existence, is this fight worth my energy? Will it get me closer to my destiny?

If the answer is no, LET IT GO.