Why I Love Colin Kaepernick

By Samantha McKenzie

I love Colin Kaepernick and it has nothing to do with football. I could care less if he ever played the sport again. I love him the way I love Nelson Mandela. The way I love Malcolm X. And the way I love Angela Davis.

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I love him because he took a stand for something he believed in. I love him in the same way I love Muhammad Ali and Assata Shakur. And the way I love Dr. King. The same way I love Pope Francis and Mother Teresa. I love him like I love Black Lives Matter protesters and Harriet Tubman.

I love him because we all watched him take a very small, silent protest against injustice, and then we sat back and watched him deal with the very large public scrutiny.  I love how he pushed forward in spite of the acute criticism, despite losing his job and disappointing his fan base. I love him because while he’s building a foundation to protect people’s rights and feeding the elderly, we’re debating whether or not we will attend football games this season.kaepernick-Recovered

I love Mr. Kaepernick because he has conviction. Let’s face it, not everyone believes in something. I love also that he stood by his convictions and that even when he was being called unpatriotic, he poured his own money into causes that proved he was more patriotic than most.

I love too, that he didn’t do it for the fame or the notoriety. He was already famous. I love that he made a gesture – like not pledging allegiance to a flag that doesn’t always live up to its symbolic nature – and that that gesture sparked an upset among sports fans — because athletic arenas are the end all to expressing our love for this country? right? *scratches head*

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I love him because I love people who are willing to sacrifice for something greater than themselves. And because I love the freedom I am afforded to protest and to rebel against any and everything that stifles my freedom and the pursuit of happiness.

I love him and those before him who wanted more for humanity and who gave their resources – even their lives – to usher in a brighter future. And I love the newborns who are going to one day add onto this long list of freedom fighters.

I love Colin the way I love every citizen, at home and abroad, who is willing to protest against injustice, in any form, against any type of person or group, for even the smallest of violations and inequities.

I love the students at Tiananmen Square.

I love Geronimo and the Native Americans.

I love Nat Turner and the slave rebellions.

I love all of those who fought for freedom and whose names were never recorded. I love their sacrifice and their spirit.

I love Mahatma and Kasturba Gandhi.

 

I love unions.

I love Frederick Douglas.

I love Sojourner Truth.

I love Fidel Castro.

I love Lucretia Mott.

I love the resisters.

Love the resistance.

 

 

Don’t Ever Give Up

It’s not that I’m so smart. It’s just that I stay with problems longer. – Albert Einstein

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By Dawn Onley

Get used to hearing the word “no.”

Get used to things not working out.

Listen to why, learn from it, and keep it moving. Don’t let “no” deter you. Try a different course of action, sure, but don’t fall apart when things get tough. Failing is a key component of success.

Never, Ever Give Up.

Like, ever. “It’s always the last key on the key ring that opens the door,” the ever sage Paulo Coelho writes in “Manuscript Found in Accra.” He was referring to love, but you can replace life for love and it works just as well.

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I enjoy reading memoirs to understand the depths that people have survived and to learn the valleys from which they have traversed to become who they are. A prime example of this is a recent memoir I just finished by Roxane Gay called “Hunger.”

Most of us have heard “no” quite a few times. Many people stop right there. But successful people keep right on going. They submit yet another query to a publishing house. They go to another tryout. They interview for another job, or start their own business. They try another bank for a mortgage loan. They try a new approach.

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There is something that happens with that type of indomitable spirit. Suddenly, doors open. Blessings rain down. Breakthroughs occur. Things that once seemed impossible become possible. Winning becomes contagious. Opportunities abound. You start walking in abundance. You meet the right people and forge great connections. Synchronicity happens at nearly every turn. God winks. You become fearless because when you know who you are and whose you are, what is there to really fear?

Yes leads to more yes!

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You begin walking in your gift. You are pulled by purpose. You begin making your time count. Trivial things and trivial people no longer matter. You are on a path that was destined just for you. Suddenly, you have guts that you never fully realized you had. You have courage and staying power.

You believe and so you achieve. As a woman thinketh.

Comfortable with No

And it’s all because of what you endured.

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To get to that place of divine serendipity, you have to become comfortable with no. You have to make peace with failure. You have to reconcile with second and third and fourth and fifth attempts. You have to be okay with looking like a fool, with people whom you love second-guessing you, or even talking about you behind your back.

You have to get so excited about the possibility of the thing that the threat of hearing no stops bothering you. You have to know, deep down inside, that every no brings you one step closer to YES!

 

You have to know it’s your time. You have to be on a mission.

And you have to believe that there is not a “no” on this Earth, that can keep you from fulfilling your destiny — not now, not ever. Once you believe that, there isn’t.

You Were Born a Genius

By Samantha McKenzie

“Talent is a flame. Genius is a fire.” Bernard Williams

What’s your genius? What’s the one thing that makes you brilliant, that sets you aside from others, that keeps you up late at night or forces you to jump out of bed at unusual times?

I’m a firm believer that we are all born a genius, that we carry with us a specific gift, a unique intelligence that was deposited in us from birth. I wholeheartedly believe that this special quality exists just awaiting our acknowledgement. Our job, like it or not, is to discover it, nurture it, and give it back to the world.

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Truth is, if you spend a little quiet time with yourself, you’ll find your genius. Maybe you already have. Has it been your secret since childhood? Was it your grandmother who recognized it first? Or was it that random stranger who peeped it during a strange encounter. We’ve heard it repeated through the years. You know you’re brilliant!

This genius wasn’t taught to you, even though, it can be refined through study and practice. No one can claim they gave it to you, but there will be lots of people who can say they helped you bring it out.

Related imageThis part of you may never be attached to your career. It may not have shown up on your school report cards. Many of us will live and die without ever claiming it, without ever using it all up. But that doesn’t preclude its natural existence.

You are a genius and deep down inside you believe it too.

It’s time you let your genius free. Let your brilliance shine through in a way that makes it undeniable. Just be you. You deserve it. Our children are in need of it. The world can’t live without it.

 

The Power of the Mind

Obstacles

By Dawn Onley

To accomplish anything in life, there is always a way. There is always a chance. There is always hope.

If you do not believe the above three statements to be true, they are not true — for you. You don’t need to do anything. You can stop reading at this point. This post doesn’t apply to you.

If you do believe the statements are true, you will find a way. You will take the chance. You will keep the faith.

And, sooner or later, you will reach your dreams.

That’s the power of the mind. That’s the beauty in what we believe. That’s a universal truth.

We hold the key.

Loving a Strong Woman

By Samantha McKenzie

Some of you dazzling ladies were born with a natural resilience, an appetite for the long haul and a healthy dose of undeniable strength. Some of you blazing beauties have learned to take life by the horns, fall first in line for the toughest of tasks, and earn every inch of intestinal fortitude on your journey.Image result for strong women

Today, the strong woman brand is alive and well. You and your powerful self are woven into the fabric of every family. Strong women are starring in your favorite television shows. Her voice is influencing younger generations and effecting change wherever she goes. This stellar lady is a force to be reckoned with.

Strong women have also earned a rep for being hard to understand and a bit difficult to love at times. It’s not that she’s not loving, she’s just used to taking on the big battles and doing things her way. Mostly because she can, but also because she’s been taught not to depend on anyone else. If you live with her, here are a few tips for loving her the right way and making it last:

  1. Ask Questions. Ask lots of questions and ask them often. Interrupt her routine with engaging questions that show you are interested in what she’s most interested in. Ask questions that stimulate her thoughts and then listen attentively to her point of view. Strong woman get stuck in “doing.” She loves knowing that you care. If you’re just meeting her, find out what she likes and be on the look out for the answers that make her eyes dance, as well as, the ones that make them tear up. If you’ve been married for years, ask the same questions and then some. Women evolve and so do their tastes, opinions and perspectives on a topic. Keep discovering the new her.boxing
  2. Offer Your Help. Strong women won’t ask for help. While you’re not expected to be a mind reader, you will have to become skillful in knowing when she is in need of assistance. You’ll have to be tactical. You’ll have to intrude. General sentiments and offers that sound like “if you need anything, just let me know” won’t work. She won’t let you know. And she’s already thinking how to solve her problems alone… because it’s easier and safer. Be direct and offer your specific assistance. If you make the offer, she’ll accept.
  3. Be a Guide. Learn the art of leading the way. This doesn’t mean that you have to be out front. It just means that you’re committed to her needs. Strong women need information. They are always on a quest to do something and will always need the best way to go about doing it. If she wants to plant a community garden, learn about the local ordinances or find out what type of soil is in the area. Find experts that can help her execute her plan. Be a resource to her and supply her with the things that she yearns for the most. Be a provider.Image result for strong women
  4. Let Her Take Off Her Cape. Strong women are fragile. She can’t be “on” every minute of the day. Don’t let her fool you. She needs a private place where she can cry and be consoled. Let that place be with you. She needs to be reassured in herself. She’ll need the loving people to hold her tight some days, allow her to fall to pieces on other days, and be there to pick her back up and put her back together. She needs strong shoulders and a kind heart in her corner. Provide a safe place for her to be vulnerable.
  5. Pray With Her and For Her. Strong women need strong men. And let’s admit, this crazy world is making prayer more of a necessity these days. Strong women need men who are spiritually awake. Don’t hesitate to stop everything and pray with her. Have a keen eye for moments in a strong woman’s life when she will need to take her hands off of the problem and just pray. When she’s done all she can do, be her reminder to give it up to a higher power. Be her partner in supplication.

If you’ve got a strong woman around you, love her with all of your heart. Don’t worry, she’s definitely strong enough to take it on.

The Sweet Joy of Anticipation

 

 

By Dawn Onley

There is a sweet joy in anticipation.

My 4-year-old has already peeped this as evidenced when he asks me to buy him a specific toy or to fix him a specific meal or to read him a specific book or allow him to watch his favorite movie or to take him somewhere. When I tell him the things he has to do as a condition for me to think about acquiescing to his whims, he repeats the conditions, claps and then sets out to try and keep up his end of the deal. Even if the reward promised won’t come until his birthday or Christmas (for example the huge, hulking Maui figure from “Moana” he spotted at the toy store and now begs me for daily) he is anticipating his reward and knows that he has to be good first and foremost if there is any chance of him getting it.

The thrill of anticipation never leaves him – it’s in the brightness of his eyes, the stretch of his smile and in his rehashing of our deal over and over again, usually at bedtime.

I can’t fault the kid. While I intentionally try and focus on the moment, I also love having something for which to look forward. I believe in the power of calling things into existence by the power of our minds.

Anticipation thrills me. I’m a dreamer and I get dizzy with excitement when I plan my next vacation, for example. I usually start by narrowing it down to several possibilities, after which I conduct research to see which spot works best at any given moment. This could include time of year, weather, costs, hotel and food options (don’t judge), and a list of all the things to do.

 

It’s so darn exciting! There are so many places to go, things to do, people to meet and sights to see that if we spend the time engaging the things that bring us the most joy, honestly, I don’t see how anyone could ever get bored.

I anticipate books the same way. I literally have a list of about 20 books to buy/check out at the library at any given time, so I go through the process of reading book reviews, reading articles about lesser known authors, determining what genre of book I’m in the mood to read, which book I can get my hands on the quickest, etc. So many great options. Such glorious anticipation.

Today, I will do some planning and anticipating. I anticipate a lovely visit with my aunt, uncle and little cousin from Las Vegas and a beautiful family reunion this Saturday. I anticipate the end result of the exercise regimen my husband and I recently started. I anticipate doors opening and blessings pouring out so plentiful that I run out of room to receive them all. I anticipate serenity and relaxation.

I anticipate everything good and wonderful, and my heart rejoices.

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5 Traits All Leaders Should Have

By Samantha McKenzie

Image result for women in powerBeing a leader doesn’t mean you manage a large group of people at work or are responsible for performance evaluations. Today’s leadership simply means you have the opportunity to grow an idea, implement a plan and be the driving force in orchestrating change. Whether you manage a group of 2 or 2,000, in your home, at the office or virtually, there are certain traits we all should have.

All women in leadership should have:

  1. A VOICE. It’s extremely important that women make their voices heard. This doesn’t mean we are required to be loud, overbearing or chatty Cathies either. And it doesn’t mean we should use males as our measuring stick. This means we should always participate in the decision-making conversations. A wise person once told me, “either you appear, or you disappear.” It’s just that simple. Find your confidence. Share your ideas. Speak up. Let yourself be heard. Your ideas may just be the solution we’ve been waiting for.

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2.  A VISION. It’s time we get into the big leagues and stop downplaying our abilities. What do you want for the future? Which direction do you see us heading? You have a vision for success, too. Don’t sit off to the side stifling  your ideas, thinking nobody is going to listen or that what you have to offer isn’t good enough. Share your vision with confidence. Challenge yourself to take the lead and see your vision through. Now it’s time to invest in your innovative side. Do your research. Pitch your ideas and show off your out of the box way of doing things.

3. INFLUENCE. Influence is the new power. What money can’t buy, influence sure can. Turn your ability to make new friends into a leadership trait. Influence is the ability to build relationships with people who can help you attain your goals. Nobody does this better than you. Influencers pay attention. They listen well. And they master the art of conversation. They’re the people who move the needle. They make things happen. They are the people you remember for being genuine. Real influencers  keep their commitments and are the types of leaders who you can count on.

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4. EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE. Today’s style of leadership calls for something new. Great managers know how to manage their emotions and the emotions of the people who work alongside of them. They tap into their ability to be emotionally aware of the people in their surroundings. Can you read the room? Can you identify who’s with you? Leaders who utilize emotional intelligence to manage can detect problems early on and address them. They know who needs motivation and who needs a few days off. They support their people and understand that healthy employees are more productive. They learn to invest in people.

5. AN INDOMITABLE SPIRIT. A leader with an indomitable spirit always makes it to the goal. Her team needs to know she’s in it for the long haul. This takes a good dose of mental strength and keen determination. Growing a company or moving a personal plan forward takes perseverance. This leader is persistent. She doesn’t take no for an answer. When she meets an obstacle, she adjusts her rudders and sails confidently ahead. This type of leader believes in the plan and her spirit is contagious. She won’t quit. And her people believe in her vision. This inspires the team to win.