purpose

Change Cadet Podcast LIVE

Keep the Door Closed

Photo by the one and only  Alina Mamlyuk

Photo by the one and only Alina Mamlyuk

I have learned many lessons in my life, especially in the last year. They were all completely necessary and vital to the success of my purpose. Perhaps the most powerful fact that I gained this season is to be thankful for the closed doors.

After I resigned from my job, I mourned the closed door for 3 solid months. I stood there looking at it hoping that in some way the door would crack open, the uncomfortable comfort would seep out and I would be who I thought I was supposed to be again. There came a moment when the grief was exhausting and I took a baby step away, then another and another. The door slowly but surely faded into the background of the beautiful hallway that I was traveling down. I failed to see it because I was too busy looking at a rickety, old, dilapidated door that was doing nothing for me and hadn’t served me for years even when I was inside of it.

That closed door introduced me to a gorgeous life. Without it, I would never have seen the beauty of the current day. I am so incredibly thankful for it. As a matter of fact when a door is closing, I slam that bad boy shut, seal it with nails and block myself from ever walking into that exit again. Some would call it cut throat. I call it clear direction. Closed doors create intentional forward movement because the only option you should make, is to walk away from them.

But of course as humans, not only do we stand there and look at the door, we also do everything in our power to pry it open. We will literally harm ourselves to get a glimpse of what God no longer wants us to see. About an hour ago, God closed a door for me. In the past I would have lunged at the knob and used all of my might to keep it open but instead I thanked God for His decision and wished the door well. I bid it adieu and kept it moving.

I can’t tell you how good it feels to know that I am walking towards the doors God wants me to walk through instead of entertaining the ones that are departed.

There are literally people (I was one of them) that reside in dead doorways. We fear whats on the other side of them so much, that we stay stagnant. We incarcerate our purpose in a memory.

I say all that to say this: don’t be that person.

There is no time to delay. Start following the map that God has literally laid out for you with every single closed door. While they don’t always make sense, they are concluded to create movement. Thank them for the experience and move onward my friend.

Every Rose Has Its Thorn

These jeans are only $39.99. I could just leave that right here and stop the blog because when have you found a jean that fits, with a 37” inseam, at that price lately? But where I am at right now, I can’t just talk about the clothing because there is SO MUCH going on in my life. Jeans are great. We need to clothe our body. These are fabulous, have amazing stretch and beautiful embroidery but I can’t just stop at the denim.

I want to use the rose detail to convey a truth that has revealed itself in my life:

every rose has its thorn.

I am happier than I have been in years but there are a lot of unknowns in my life that sometimes keep me awake. I am still single, building an unseen empire, hustling like I never have before and mourning some of the changes that have happened over the last 8 months. It’s been a cornucopia of emotions. Incredible highs and odd lows that I had never felt before all wrapped up in a beautiful package of purpose. I hang on to my vision knowing that is is strong, prosperous and regardless of the current foggy view, will prevail.

When I followed God’s prompt to move and begin, I thought that meant a flawless walk in the steps He had created for me but the truth is, there is no such thing as flawless. In fact, when you follow God more often than not, all of the rough spots become intense. When you are walking in what you were made to be, opposition is at it’s strongest. You can call it a test. You can call it distraction. You can call it an attack from Satan himself. Whatever you want to call it just know that you have to push through it. It’s not an end, it’s a lesson that needs to be learned in order for you to continue down the path that was made for you.

When it comes to anything in life, expect the thorns and embrace them. Nothing you will ever experience that is real and true will be without the prick of something that is perceived as unpleasant. Don’t run from the growth, feel every part of it and use it to strengthen your design.

Currently growing. Currently feeling. Currently becoming who He needs me to be. 

You gotta love a dusty booty from the concrete wall lol. I could have photoshopped it out but it was too much work and plus, who cares that I have dust on my butt from the wall (insert shrugging emoji here).

You gotta love a dusty booty from the concrete wall lol. I could have photoshopped it out but it was too much work and plus, who cares that I have dust on my butt from the wall (insert shrugging emoji here).

Audience of One

Photo -  Nikki Notarte   Entire outfit -  Long Tall Sally

Photo - Nikki Notarte

Entire outfit - Long Tall Sally

To say that this time of my life has been formative is an understatement. It’s been almost 7 months of discovering things about myself that I never would have if I didn’t follow the step of obedience of resigning from the job that I had for 13 years.

It’s been beautiful. It’s been terrifying. It’s been a ball of every emotion that you could ever have. There are so many unknowns in my path but the one thing that I do know is; I am on the right one.

I have been grinding behind the scenes on some pretty amazing things. As an entrepreneur you always have multiple irons in the fire. Some of them come to fruition, some aren’t meant to be and most you have to relentlessly pursue and simply make them happen. As they say, often the ones that succeed aren’t the first to do it, they are just the people that never gave up. 

And I am one of those people. I won’t give up on the things that God told me to do but that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel every emotion while I am doing it. I have felt the warmth of joy and the sting of tears running down my cheeks on a regular basis. I don’t care how much faith you have, nobody is immune to feeling feelings.

With that breakdown in tow, fear is the main culprit right now. Not a fear of God not coming through but more a sheer fear of what people are thinking of my path.

Is she crazy? What is she even doing? Is she just sitting at home? She made a mistake. She isn’t a success.

All of these statements flow through my mind and at times have literally kept me captive. Not since I found my confidence have I cared what people thought, until now. 

So I sat with those feels for awhile. I interviewed them, broke bread with them and stared intently into their eyes so that I could figure out a way to handle them. You see. Feelings will always be there. You must pinpoint a way to get them on the side of right.

Every analysis boiled down to this fact: God is the only audience we should care about.

If God tells you to do it, no matter what it may look like to the world, do it for His applause and his applause only. No worldly opinion should matter. Do not let yourself, social media, haters or even friends and family supersede the ovation of God. No matter the size of the stage you find yourself on, let His claps guide the way to His purpose for your life.

So moving forward, let’s mute the approval of the world and look to God for everything that we need. Stand tall in the certainty that there is only one stamp of approval you need and that is from Him.

Moving forward I will be adding an audio version of my blogs for the visually impaired (or any else that wants to listen instead of read:). Thank you for the suggestion Patricia! I am sorry I didn’t think of it before!

You Never Know

Recently I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of beautiful young women at Westlake Middle School in Oakland, CA. It was an amazing afternoon of positivity that Principal Maya Taylor spearheaded. I was honored to share my story and life lessons at the first Women’s Empowerment Day at Westlake. Check this Oakland Post article out for more details on the beautiful event.

It was a complete blessing to speak to this room of young women that will change our world in so many different ways.

It was a complete blessing to speak to this room of young women that will change our world in so many different ways.

While I pray that I impacted everyone who needed it, by far, the person who was impacted most on this day was me.

While leaving my job of 13 years has been imperative and amazing, I have struggled with direction. There are so many things that I feel God wants me to do, it has been hard to trust myself to select where He wants me to go next. However while speaking at Westlake, He affirmed something in me that cannot be denied…no matter what I must continue to speak about confidence, bullying and standing tall in every way.

I literally went through (and go through) everything in my life to help build others up. It is my life’s purpose. I can see Him working through me in amazing ways. I do not know how I am going to get there but what I do know for certain is that He will make it happen in His timing. The work He has for me is great and I will trust Him through all of it. I will emphatically move my feet and let Him beautifully connect the work together for His purpose for my life.

Currently, I am in the process of revamping TallSWAG to not only be a space to stand tall in style but in all things. I aspire to inspire in all areas of life through the lens of my own. I want to do this through speaking, writing, lifestyle, events, design, travel and every other constructive way I can.

If you feel compelled to connect in any of these spaces, please do. If you have a lead, open position or idea for me that aligns with my purpose, I dang sure want to hear it. God doesn’t waste anything and maybe you are reading this right now to link me to the next step in His plan for me. You never know and I sure don’t see any harm in putting it on the table.

I want to be the light that He needs me to be and will work tirelessly to make it happen. I’m not above giving God a conduit to connect. He uses all of us and I will continue to walk down the avenues He presents to me.

info@TallSWAG.com

Boxed Out

Photo credit: Dreamstime.comPicture it.  I’m walking to lunch with my friend Sabrina and this man comes up to us with that look.  You know the one that people have when they are about to unleash every tall question in the world.

So I try the pre-emptive strike.  Before he can even form his mouth the say a question I say 6’6”.  Usually that will stun them and make them incapable of asking anymore questions but unfortunately this man was too strong for my tactics.

He asks 'why you ain’t playing basketball and dunking on people?' followed by 3 more idiotic questions.

After contemplating on merely asking him 'why you ain’t using correct grammar?' I then said (well it was actually more of a stern yell), 'why aren’t you asking me if I am a lawyer, a doctor or any other of the millions of occupations out there?' He had nothing to say back about that. 

The conversation enraged me.   Not only was his delivery wrong but his way of thinking was just ignorant.  I started thinking about all of the times that people make those assumptions about us and the feeling that I felt during my early years of playing basketball started rushing back to me.

I modeled at an early age but was constantly told that I HAD to play basketball.  As you may have gathered, I am not really big on demands or boxes so I was completely against playing the game.  After years and years of people pressuring me, I gave in.  Did I find that I loved the game?  Yes.  Did I start playing because I wanted to?  No.

Because I started so late, I was constantly playing catch-up.  That combined with the assumption that I had to be good based on my height, resulted in many dark days.  The pressure was insurmountable at times.  When I think about certain instances, I can still feel it (tearing up as we speak).  While I am thankful for my path and learned from every step, that doesn’t negate the fact that I chose basketball because someone else selected it for me.

I say all of that to say this; never pressure anyone to do what you THINK they should do and never put yourself in a box that someone else has created.  Regardless of what people think you should do with your height, YOU CAN DO ALL THINGS (Philippians 4:13). 

God doesn’t create all tall people to do one thing.  He creates us to live out our dreams just like everyone else.  He gives us the tools to accomplish exactly what we are placed on this earth to do.  If it’s basketball that’s great!  But it doesn’t have to be.

Dream, create and live in YOUR purpose.  Walk right by the silly people who are staring at their boxes and create a story that has endless possibilities.