Create Your Own Finish Lines

By Samantha McKenzie

Every time I see the word race, I think of speed, of winning and about burning an excess amount of energy. It makes me think of sweat. Even when used in the context of a specific group of people, the word race still conjures up images of competition, of surpassing others, and of being first.

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Today, I choose to look at the word race through a different lens.

Growing up, like most, I learned about the biblical phrase, “the race is not given to the swift, nor the battle to the strong…” I learned from the tortoise and the rabbit that slow and steady wins.

A true race begins with a goal, big or small. It has many steps within itself. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. Ultimately, a race is about completing something. It’s less about the others on the road with you and more about finishing what you have started. And about giving it your best shot.

Being successful in any race takes perseverance. It takes a determination that comes from within. It takes a person with a steady pace, the kinda girl who won’t be caught looking over her shoulder at others. Instead she has taught herself how to stay focused, to look straight ahead, to get to the goal no matter what.

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Finishing your race is about using the time in front of you wisely and staying the course.

During this type of race, you learn that it doesn’t pay to cut corners. It doesn’t help you when you try to skip over a step. You begin to learn the true value of getting to the finish line in your own time. You learn to block out the noise.

In your life time, you will set many goals and run many races. You will build a muscle of endurance that is necessary to becoming successful. Some races will take a few short days and others will take many, many long years. Sometimes you will underestimate what it will take to finish. You will often have to start over, ask the better questions and get yourself prepared for the next part.

Whatever you need to do next, do it.

This is your life. Each day is a part of your beautiful journey. Learn to love your own finish lines.

 

 

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‘The Thing About Dreams is They Never Really Go Away’

 

“Dare to dream! If you did not have the capability to make your wildest wishes come true, your mind would not have the capacity to conjure such ideas in the first place. There is no limitation on what you can potentially achieve, except for the limitation you choose to impose on your own imagination. What you believe to be possible will always come to pass – to the extent that you deem it possible. It really is as simple as that.” – Anthon St. Maarten

 

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By Dawn Onley

Sometimes, the sheer power and awesomeness of our dreams can cause us to hesitate.

We can get insanely excited about our dreams that it seems counterintuitive to hesitate and not run at full force toward the realization of our heart’s desire, but this is what we often do. For months. Years. Even decades.

It’s not that we don’t believe that we deserve the beauty and freedom of our dreams, it’s just easy for us to tuck our longings away in a drawer for safekeeping, waiting for a more ideal time, like when the mortgage is paid off and the kids are out of school. This is largely the function of our practical minds – particularly for middle aged people like myself. It becomes second-nature for us to put duty and responsibility and comfort and a false sense of security above our dreams and happiness. This is even understandable, albeit somewhat sad, when one realizes that all we really have is this moment.

This is the real world, we tell ourselves. We can do what brings us joy on the weekends, or after our work is done, or once we retire, or once the kids are grown, or some other future time that isn’t promised.

This works for a while until it doesn’t. The thing about dreams is they never really go away. We are reminded about our dreams a million different ways. Eventually, we must do the thing(s) that ignites our passion and brings us joy or someday resign ourselves to the “what ifs.”

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We must write the book. We must launch the business. We must learn to ballroom dance. We must travel to distant lands to learn ancient secrets. We must live abroad. We must teach. We must learn a second language. We must jump.

We must do the thing that scares us the most. We. Must. There will come a day and a time when our dreams can no longer lie dormant on a shelf. We will be forced to make room for them.

Consider that day a blessing, even if it comes when you aren’t completely ready. Sometimes we willfully walk into our destiny and sometimes we are nudged, feeling uncertain. In life, nothing is certain. Everything changes eventually. Be vulnerable. Be optimistic. Be joyful. Be great!

Inhale. Exhale.

“Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers,” said German philosopher, Erich Fromm.

Have faith.

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Spring gives way to summer and summer gives way to fall. The seeds we planted in the spring are now mature and ready to harvest. An oak tree started as an acorn. The hard work we have sown, we will surely reap.

Fear of success is every bit as real as fear of failure. For the sake of our dreams, however, we must work our way through. We must take the risk. Love is the greatest risk of all, and just look at the reward! Anything in life worth anything requires that we take a chance. Think about it.

Dare to dream. And then act.

It’s the only way to truly live.

Surround Yourself With People Who Propel You

By Samantha McKenzie

It’s time for change.

This is not a political tagline, but an exercise in personal development. It’s time we surround ourselves with people who propel us.

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It’s not unusual that our friends and family – the ones we spend the most time with – are people we find comfort in. These are the people who see us for who we really are and who love us unconditionally. It’s human nature to seek comfort in others. But let’s face it, we tend to take advantage of these types of relationships. They often become security blankets for us. They listen to us. They endure our sedentary behavior. They give us room to pacify ourselves back to sleep. And whether we admit it or not, we love it.

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Who really wants to be challenged anyway?

It’s time we take inventory of what we say we want and then surround ourselves with people who push us to our limits. This means we may have to identify other people who’ll require us to “put up or shut up” and those who are willing to make us feel “temporarily” uncomfortable until we get to that next level.

comfortzoneFind a person who is doing what you’d like to do one day.

Find a person who is your opposite.

Find someone who has skills you are lacking.

Find a person who will help you set timelines, who will not accept excuses, and who will challenge you to be your very best.

Surround yourself with a new set of accountability partners, a select group of people who won’t let you off the hook.

It’s time we move out of our comfort zone.

 

Finding the Why

By Dawn Onley

Your entrance into the world answers four of the five W’s of life. Many will die never having answered the fifth.

Why were you born? This is an age old question.

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For some, the answer lies in the mind waiting to be conceived and in the belly waiting to be born. We possess everything else.

Motivational speaker and author, Les Brown, calls the graveyard the “richest place on earth.” He says the graveyard is where you’ll find “all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step … or determined to carry out that dream.”

It’s fear that keeps us from taking steps to discover what is within the deepest crevices of our souls.

I attended an interesting group session with a life coach a few years ago, and she had the class take part in an exercise. First, she asked us what we dreamed of. She then had us close our eyes for a minute and later write out the things that crossed our minds. She said every thought needed to be written down, and that nothing was too crazy or out of the realm of possibility. After all, if it was something that came to our mind, it was likely something that we were interested in. It could very likely be our passion, she said. It could be our why.

I dreamed of love and using my voice to make a difference, of writing books and starting a motivational blog, of starting a family and leaving a legacy for my children, of traveling the world and living near the ocean. I dreamed of forming deeper connections and spending more time with my friends.

I dreamed of creating something beautiful and lasting, because no one sets out to create anything other than something beautiful and lasting. I dreamed to keep creating, for the very act of creating is the fuel that feeds my spirit and renews my soul.

We owe it to ourselves to find our why, to uncover our passions and to pursue our dreams.

What do you dream of?

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Today’s a New Day…

By Samantha McKenzie

Life really can be simple.

Cut out a few things this weekend and replace it with all of the good things that benefit you and your body.

Say no to soda, drive by the fast food restaurant, opt out of eating processed food, turn off the TV, put down your phone, get off the couch, side step an argument, and don’t listen to any gossip.

Instead, drink more water, cook fresh vegetables, snack on whole fruits, go outside in the sun, take longer walks, breathe in fresh air, love on someone and listen to your voice within.

Today’s a new day. Make it yours.

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Once You Believe This, You Become Unstoppable

“Success and significance will be most glorious when they are as much about other people as they are about yourself. Television, movies, and advertising all surround us with pictures and tell us that we should own this thing or we should be like that person, that success can be measured in dollars and significance measured in sound bites. I’ve been behind those images, though, and the truth is often very different. The people who live for affirmation outside themselves never seem to have enough – enough fame, enough applause, enough love.” – Tim Storey

 

 

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By Dawn Onley

Some people walk around in a depleted state because they see themselves through someone else’s dimmed lens. Perhaps a teacher from elementary school who admonished and left them doubting their abilities. Perhaps it was a family member who suggested what they could or could not accomplish.

It could have even been a friend, who dampened their dreams after they killed their own.

Whoever it was, and whatever their motivation, it’s a lie. Don’t believe it. And certainly don’t keep rehashing it over and over again in your mind. It is like a scratched record, if you keep playing it you will hurt your ears. It has no usefulness. It needs to be thrown in the trash.

Never rely on another person for validation. Never put your sense of value and self-worth into someone else’s hands. Never.

Sure, it’s fine to seek out an opinion from someone you admire. Yes, it’s great to learn different approaches to solving a problem or getting something done. True, it’s wonderful to study the practices and discipline and results of our beloved friends and even associates that we’d love to emulate while still being true to our best selves.

However, it’s dangerous territory to allow another person to tell us what we’re worth – and more importantly, for us to believe them. Don’t do it. I can’t stress this enough.

And make no mistake about it, this happens often in a myriad of ways.

  • When we compare ourselves to others who are more accomplished or who have more “stuff” and we allow what appears on the surface to reinforce our own negative beliefs about ourselves.
  • When your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend leaves for someone else.
  • When you’re shunned by the “popular” kids in school and you let that frame your adult sense of worth.
  • When your co-worker treats you mean, doesn’t value your contributions to the team and makes you feel ostracized at work.
  • When we are overlooked or ignored.
  • When someone gushes about how beautiful/smart/successful someone else is in your presence and this makes you feel ugly, dumb and like a failure.

None of these scenarios should be affirming who you are. No television or magazine ad, no model, no actress, no Employee of the Week, no wealthy neighbor, no vagabond, no one – absolutely NO ONE — should be affirming who you are or who you are not.

This needs to always come from within you. You know you best.

You should already stand firm in knowing who you are. You are a creation in God’s own image. You possess limitless capabilities. You are brilliant and captivating and loving and beautiful. Only you know what you know. Only you have lived your life and know the journey you have traveled. Only you know what’s inside of you. Only you and God know your heart.

You are irreplaceable. It doesn’t matter if no one else knows it or believes it, but you. It really doesn’t.

Once you believe this, you become unstoppable.

 

 

 

I Thought By Now I’d…

By Samantha McKenzie

I thought by now I’d be married. I thought by now I’d have a child.

I thought by now I’d have a house and be making a six-figure salary.

I thought too that I’d move out of my hometown, live in a sexier city, maybe in a loft or even a brownstone. I thought I’d be more settled down for sure.

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I thought by now I’d have a family, the home with the white picket fence, and the dog (his name would be Champs – a name I picked out when I was a little girl).

I thought by now I’d go back to college and finish up that degree I started.Image result for fancy lifestyle

I thought by now I’d start my own business and be sitting on Oprah’s couch telling you all about it.

I thought by now for so many things, like the way I wanted my life to go and who I wanted to become, because you know, that’s what we are taught to do: Pursue that perfect life, with that perfect person and live perfectly ever after.

But life has a way of making its own winding roads for us and if I had to be honest, I’ve enjoyed driving down all of them. I can also admit that I got distracted along the way. Some places, I learned later on, just weren’t for me. But I had to learn that too.

I have learned that some of the very things I wanted, I no longer care for. I changed. I grew up. I tossed some ideals far, far away.

I have learned by now that I have to make a life for me and not absorb the desires of everything that looks good on everyone else, because I have my own destiny and I am a creator too. I’m okay with my unique thumbprint and leaving behind a path with my own footprints.

I have also learned that the Big Guy has always had something better in store for me. Even in my doubtful moments, I have always believed this. In the midst of experience, I’ve felt it.

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I think now, however, that I can still go back to my list that was never really written down anywhere and see if there’s anything on it that I still wish for.

I think now that I can create new things to dabble in. I think I will keep my desires to travel all over the world on it because I still feel that I have some amazing people to meet. I know for sure I have more stories to write about.

I think also that I no longer fear tearing it all down, rebuilding from a clean slate and laughing out loud at the mess I made. I think now I don’t mind saying “what the hell was I thinking,” because it’s a part of life and living and living some more.

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I think now that I love the person I’ve become.

I think that I can rid myself of “the list” and that I can plan for more important things, like the ability to feel fabulous at any age and to care less about tradition that sucks the life out of me. I think now that I’m better off chasing after the peace that surpasses all understanding.

I think now that I can be…