Category Archives: Motivational Minute

Thank You for Rocking with Me in 2017

As 2017 comes to an end, we’ll look back and marvel at this historic year. It was a year of fires, floods and hurricanes. A year of political scandals and upsets. It was also a year of accomplishments, triumphs and joys. Despite all, you made it through! Congratulations!

 

Vision

My purpose is to help you along your journey. I am rolling out three new programs in 2018:

  • Level Up – designed to equip supervisors and managers with the tools to lead and not just manage
  • Go-Get-Her – a female empowerment program designed to address the unique needs of women in leadership roles and to prepare girls with the mindset to take on leadership roles
  • The Youth Leadership Academy – designed to introduce young people to leadership principles and personal development

More details about these will be shared soon! (But you may comment if you can’t wait and I’ll fill you in!)

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Of course customized leadership, communications and teambuilding programs are also available for you, your organizations and businesses.

I’m also accepting new coaching clients for 2018. If you’re feeling stuck, ready to reach your next level or seeking clarity and balance – life coaching may be for you.

Let me know how I can serve you!

I look forward to a 2018 filled with love, abundance and endless possibilities.

What are your goals for 2018? How can I help you achieve them? I want to hear from you. Reply and let me know. Cheers to 2018!

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Keep Your Skeptics in the Stands, Then Jump In

I wasn’t ready!

My seven-year-old daughter tested into level three of the youth swimming program at the local aquatic center. She can swim, but needs to learn technique. On the first day of her swimming lessons, we met on the same deck of the four-foot pool where she tested. She got into the water and practiced some moves. Then an employee came to me and said they are moving to another pool and parents should proceed to the stands.

As I looked at the employee confused, two other mothers came to me assuring me that everything would be alright. “Don’t worry. We were scared the first time too. It’s deep, but she can do it.” I was even more confused. What were they talking about? They continued, “17-feet sounds like a lot, but it’s okay.”

“You mean 7-feet of water!” I exclaimed. “No, 17-feet,” the mom, who I later learned is DeeDee, said. I was in disbelief as I headed to the stands with these women. I usually don’t allow my daughter to swim in more than 5-feet.

By the time we got to the stands my baby had just jumped into the water and was swimming from one end of the pool to the other. I sat with my eyes bulging, heart palpitating and stomach churning. I just wasn’t ready for that! I thought that she would have gotten a prior pep talk. I wished that I was close enough to whisper some affirmations before she jumped in.

My daughter swam with all her might. When she reached the other side, she looked up to the stands where I smiled and gave her thumbs up. But I was still very scared. I wondered if she knew she was in 17-feet of water. I wondered if she would have the urge for her feet to touch solid ground. I wondered how skilled the lifeguard on duty was at rescuing children. I wondered about the expertise of the young instructors to recognize if she had lost confidence and needed to leave the pool.

When she motioned to me that her goggles had fallen to the bottom and that she was going to get it, I almost lost it. I stood immediately, wildly motioning “NO!” with my mouth, head and hands. An instructor soon got it for her.

After they had done some swimming, they came on the deck to practice diving. I could see her little face. She was so excited. I kept clapping, giving thumbs up and blowing kisses. She was really having a great time. And I had to go along with it for her benefit. But I was an emotional wreck for the entire 50 minutes.

I couldn’t wait until it was all over – for my own nerves and so that she could share her experience with me. The first thing I wanted to ask was, “Weren’t you afraid?” But I resisted. Instead I asked, “How was it?” The water was cold at first, it was tiring, it was fun – that’s how she described it. Afraid, scared, frightened – the words that expressed my emotions, did not enter her mind. When we made it to the car I cautiously asked, “did you realize the pool is 17-feet deep?” At first she didn’t, she said, but when they went on the deck to dive, she noticed. “That’s the deepest water I’ve ever swam in mommy!” she said excitedly, assured of her skills. She was never fearful.

As I thought over everything on the drive home, I realized that my position in the stands was the best thing for my daughter’s progress. I am my children’s biggest supporter. I love them with all my heart. Yet, I almost became my daughter’s main skeptic. I was cautious, fearful, doubtful and worried. Had I been closer to her, it’s likely that I would have unintentionally transferred these same feelings to her.

Thank God they sent us parents to the stands!

Here it was that I invested my time and money in swimming lessons, yet, had it not been for the distance from her, I could have sabotaged my daughter’s entire learning with my uncontained emotions.

So imagine your skeptics. The ones who have no vested interest in your development or growth.  Imagine if you allow those people close proximity to you, how their own cynicism, fears and negative energy can influence your progress. Imagine if you allow any and everyone access to your life, how their perceptions, based on their personal baggage, can slow your growth. Imagine that even the people who you love and mean well, may have unchecked emotions that stunt your growth.

I ask you to examine your life. Identify your skeptics. And place them in the stands. Let them watch you swim from afar, but never close enough to negatively affect you. Surround yourself with instructors, coaches and lifeguards – people who are already experts in your field – and let them guide you.

After you have properly prepared yourself for something, placed your skeptics in the stands, and surrounded yourself with the best – don’t look back, don’t hesitate, don’t doubt yourself – JUMP IN!

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

“Show me you love me and you don’t have to say a word.” -Charlie Wilson

Love is an action. Today and every day, commit to taking action to show your loved ones that you love them. How do you show love? Here’s a video with some actionable tips for showing love! Join me for a year of Intentional Acts of Love.

 

 

Show Love! Live Love! Be Love!

For more inspirational videos subscribe to my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVjd4ic45rrVu2XqBa-jo5A

 

Welcome February! How is Your 2017 Going?

Welcome to February! February is known as the month of love because of the Valentine’s Day holiday and the month that African Americans celebrate our heritage nationally. It’s also the month that many New Year resolutions fall to the wayside.

How is 2017 going for you so far? Are you living your purpose? Are you being intentional about your dreams and goals? It’s never too late to start living your purpose. It’s never too late to start living your passion. It’s never too late to start achieving your potential. And it’s never too early. Are you taking daily action to achieve those dreams and goals? Do you need help in working through your goals?

Your dreams won’t be realized unless you put in the work. And that work can’t be sporadic, haphazard or periodic. You must work on your dreams daily. That doesn’t mean that you’ll accomplish everything in a day. But small consistent actions have a compounding effect that allow you to realize your goals eventually.

This is only the second month of the year. If you’re still fired up about what you will accomplish in 2017, keep the fire blazing! If your fire has been dampened, take the time to reignite it. This is your life! You’ll only get out of if what you put in. So give it your all.

My gift to you is this free e-workbook, “Get Your Life: 9 Steps for Living Your Purpose.” Download your copy now to help you along the way of fulfilling your purpose! Download here: “Get Your Life: 9 Steps for Living Your Purpose:” https://nanyamkacom.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/get-your-life-9-steps-for-living-your-purpose.pdf

 

Do it Now! Do it Afraid!

Last year my mother went on an amusement park ride with me for the first time in my life. And I’m a grown woman with children of my own. Growing up mom didn’t do any rides – no spinning saucers, no bumper cars, not even the slow moving merry-go-rounds. She would stand at the side of the rides smiling at me, encouraging me and waiting for me to get off – but she herself never got on any. Plus she’s afraid of heights.

It didn’t come easy for her to get on that Ferris wheel at the North Carolina State Fair. She reluctantly agreed after countless pleas from my daughters. She was all smiles when we got into the long line. But as the line shortened and we got into the final que for the Ferris wheel, I noticed that mom kept glancing behind us nervously. It became obvious that she was having second thoughts so I asked, and she confirmed that she didn’t want to go on the ride again. “How can I get out of this line now,” she asked, looking at the dozens of people behind of us that she would have to squeeze by to get out of the metal barriers. In my mind I was like “really mom.” We had waited so long, gotten so far and throughout the wait I kept showing her how very slowly the Ferris wheel spun. So I was disappointed that she had given up.

I gave her options for getting out of the line, but reluctantly she chose to stay and got on the ride. She was nervous at first, stepping carefully into the bucket, holding on tightly to the sides, finally sitting cautiously. Then the Ferris wheel began to move. She was scared. Then she started to smile…then giggle. Then my mom literally started laughing out loud! It was contagious. We all started to laugh out loud! There we were – three generations of womenfolk – laughing and giggling and being silly on a Ferris wheel. My face hurt from smiling so much. As a rotation brought our bucket to the top, giving us a night view of entire fairgrounds, mom confessed that it was not as bad as she thought and she actually liked it!

I was so happy we were getting to experience this with my mom. A selfish part of me wished she had conquered this fear earlier. When I was able to think beyond myself, I realized that it was probably harder for mom at this stage of her life to overcome a fear she carried for so long. I realized that you’re never too old to do something you’ve always been afraid of doing. I realized that it’s never too late for anything!

It’s June. 2016 is halfway gone. The world has lost so many icons. I myself have lost four family members in as much months.  Some of you are waiting for the right time to get on your Ferris wheel. You are waiting for the fear to subside, for your money to be right, for someone to admit that they were wrong. Some of us are waiting to do that thing that we’ve always wanted to do but have been too afraid. Why are you waiting? Courage isn’t the absence of fear. Courage is the ability to move forward in the midst of fear. What is it that you’ve always wanted to do? It’s never too late. I encourage you to do it now! Do it afraid!

Dear Teachers: I Appreciate You

On April 21, while speaking to a cousin on my morning commute I mentioned frustration with one of my daughter’s teachers. The teacher just appears aloof and disinterested. She isn’t a bad teacher, per se. My daughter is learning well. But there is an emotional element simply missing from everything that she does. And I noticed it from the moment we met. But being new to the school and city, I betrayed my instincts that told me to to switch teachers and had my daughter remain in the class.

Our conversation took a turn when we both began praising a man, who had spent a year as our teacher but impacted our entire lives – Isborne Fredericks.

Isborne Fredericks is no ordinary teacher. He is a leader with the ability to touch students’ souls, see in them value that they never knew existed and get them to recognize that value – all while imparting stellar education. He has taught hundreds of students and I consider myself fortunate to have been one of his students when I was in sixth grade at the Joseph Gomez Elementary School on St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

He was my homeroom and history teacher, and a true visionary. Long before Virgin Islands history was a requirement of the VI Department of Education, Mr. Fredericks created his own VI History curriculum. Our 11 and 12-year-old selves had to learn the executive leadership of the three branches of the VI Government. I still remember searching and calling people to complete my list of commissioners. Yes, we had to find the names ourselves, then still memorize them all. We often protested that we had too much work, but Mr. Fredericks always made us feel that we had the capacity to learn and produce even beyond his expectations.

He also imparted morals and values. Students were to treat each other with same respect as we treated him. He showed no favorites – the respect, grace and mercy that was extended to the best of us, were also extended to the worst of us.

Mr. Fredericks began preparing us sixth graders to be competitive in a global world. Azerbaijan, for example, is an Asian country that we learned about when many had not even ventured outside of the U.S. We also had to know how to spell it. Points were deducted for misspelled words, T’s left uncrossed, or I’s left un-dotted. Taking pride in our work, all the time, is something else that he stressed. He expected, rather demanded, our best always.

And then there was African history. We had to learn the countries on the continent and be able to identify a certain number of them on the map. We even began learning an African language!

In the true essence of developing the whole child, Mr. Fredericks taught the African Bamboula dance as an extra-curricular activity. I can hear him all now beating his drum and singing, “Whe Joycie gone, Joycie gone down the river. Whe Joycie gone, Joycie gone down the river….”

My all-time favorite teacher, I always thought that Mr. Fredericks was special to me. Until I reached high school and realized that many of us in my graduating class claimed him as their favorite also. What was shocking was a time, as an adult, when I was out with a cousin who is about 10 years my senior and we saw Mr. Fredericks. My cousin remarked that Mr. Fredericks was HIS favorite teacher. Unbelievable, I thought to myself, this man has been impacting generations of students!

As we wrapped up our conversation my cousin asked the whereabouts of Mr. Fredericks. I told her where he was and to look him up on Facebook. I encouraged her to share with him directly his impact on her life. Life is too short not to, I explained.

A few hours later I found out that Prince died. And so during this 2016 Teacher Appreciation week, I hope to honor Mr. Fredericks and all the teachers who have made a difference. Gomez Elementary School really set an unshakable foundation in my education and my life. Ms. Wilkes, Ms. Dominique, Ms. DeWindt, Mr. John, Ms. Christian, Ms. Freeman, Ms. Donastorg – if they shaped at least one life, they shaped mine.

But everyone at Gomez contributed.  How could I say that Cheryl Potter, Joan Dawson, Sylvia Woods (God bless her soul) were not my teachers? They never graded my papers or signed my report cards, but they taught me just as well. And l can’t forget the special subject teachers like Mr. Robinson, Mr. Dallas, Mr. Shaw, Ms. Rhymer, Ms. Carson…. Or substitute teachers like Ms. Brooks (sleep in peace) and the two Ms. Benjamins. The support staff also kept us on the right track. I can hear Ms. Sadie saying, “manners will take you round the world and back!”

Throughout my years in the public education system I’ve had extraordinary teachers. Ms. Morton’s seventh grade English class at Bertha C. Boschulte Junior High made me love writing. Mr. Monti’s math class in high school taught me patience. Then it was Jack Beauvais whose class helped me to find what I now recognize as my purpose. I wasn’t even supposed to be in that journalism class he taught at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School. I was in 10th grade and the class, I was told, was for 11th graders. But because I was in advanced English courses, I was admitted with ease. After producing a news broadcast for a project in Mr. Beauvais’ class, I knew I wanted to be a journalist.

I always tell people that in the Virgin Islands we have learned to make do without much. But we still achieve. We achieve in spite of – largely because of our dedicated teachers.

To everyone who has taught me, I say thank you. To all of my family and friends who have made teaching their profession, I say thank you. To all of the teachers that have taught my daughters, I say thank you. And to all of the aspiring teachers who have hopes of molding future generations, I say: “go for it. The world needs more Isborne Frederickses. The world needs you.”

 

13 Things that People Who Have Been Through a Struggle Know

  1. When funds are low buy dish washing liquid. It can be used to bathe, wash dishes, wash clothes and mop floors. If you have a car, you can use it to wash the car too. Try the lemon scented for a nice fresh smell!
  1. It takes about two days for a check to clear, once the merchant doesn’t use an electronic fund transfer for the check at the checkout. So even if your account balance is zero, you can write that check to buy those groceries two days before your actual pay day.
  1. If you have bread in your house, you have food. Better yet – if you have flour and know how to bake bread or make johnny cakes or ‘bakes’ – your family will not starve.
  1. Everything can be diluted or divided to extend its use. Everything except for medication.
  1. Being sick is expensive. A medical emergency or chronic illness can bankrupt you. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” is not just a phrase your grandma used to say. It’s now something you live by.
  1. Strength can be found in vulnerability. At times you must let your guard down, open yourself to criticism and allow yourself to humbly move through a struggle.
  1. Sometimes you have to swallow your pride and ask for help. Whatever you’re struggling with, someone has already overcome. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness but one of intelligence.
  1. True friends are always with you during a struggle. They may not be able to pay your rent or even your bail, but the ones who really care are always there offering to help you as much as they can.
  1. A struggle brings you self-awareness. During a struggle you become more in tune with yourself – your strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, tolerances etc. You develop a keener sense of who you are, sometimes discovering your passions and purposes.
  1. You need your parents more as an adult than when you were a child. As a child you couldn’t wait to grow up and leave the nest. But now that you’re on your own and facing a major struggle, mommy or daddy, or, mommy and daddy ‘got you.’ They are there for you “in health” and especially during sickness. They’ll never let you starve or watch you become homeless. What a blessing!
  1. A higher power exists. No matter what or who you identify as a divine higher power, in your lowest times you have found strength there. As a matter of fact, you know you couldn’t persist without divine mercy and grace.
  1. You didn’t die. Although it felt like the struggle came to kill you, it didn’t. You are still alive; stronger and wiser than before.
  1. The struggle – any struggle – is temporary. As bad as it may seem, know that “this too shall pass.” Some struggles last longer than others, but all must end. With faith, hard work and perseverance, brighter days will come.

The Unplanned Fast

(Written August 18, 2014)

I was so amped up about getting to work today! I got up extra early (in spite of going to bed late). I actually did a “before-shower-workout” – about five minutes of exercise before you shower – that I had been meaning to start doing for months now. And I cooked lunch. I usually bring my lunch to work. Today, though, I had to prepare something to go with my eggplant parmesan. After cooking I packed my lunch bag early. I got ready in record time. And I was ready to leave the house early! On the way to work I had a long talk with God. This talk was longer than usual, perhaps because I was early and didn’t have the regular drive-time pressure. As I spoke to HIM, thanking HIM for his blessings and praising HIM for blessings to come, my heart filled with gratitude.

I pulled up at work, all chipper. Then I realized that I forgot my lunch bag at home. I was so upset. The strange thing is that when I’m rushing, I never forget my lunch bag. I started thinking. I knew that I’d be too busy to leave campus today. And I said to myself that maybe I should fast (abstain from food) for the day. But I was joking. With only some green tea in my stomach, I was already hungry. And although I was on good time, leaving to buy breakfast and lunch would only put me back. So I hot-stepped into the office – ready for the day.

At my desk, I decided that I would fast. That I would try to continue the connection I had earlier with God – despite the busy day I knew was ahead. I’ve been fasting on and off for many years. I haven’t been too routine within the last 4 years, as I had in the past. I usually fast for spiritual reasons. For me it’s sacrificing the physical, for connection with the spiritual. So I like to prepare myself physically in advance. Today however, gave me no preparation. Interestingly, just a few days ago, a colleague told me that she was fasting as part of an observance of a Catholic holy day. That gave me even more encouragement for today.

Later as I drank some cold water, it tasted so good. It was like the best thing I’ve ever consumed! I thought about how important water was to me since it was the only thing that I had. I thought about all the people around the world who didn’t have clean drinking water. And I silently prayed….

Because fasting is spiritual, I rarely speak about it. Scripture tells us to “appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy father which is in secret.” (HB Matthew 6, 16-18) But I wondered how common fasting was now and personal rituals around it. I’m quite aware of the Muslim holy season of Ramadan. I also know that some Christians fast during Lent. But I wondered about less structured forms of fasting done by individuals and families.

Do you fast? Do you encourage everyone in your family to fast? At what age do you allow your children to fast? Do you fast with groups? Or is fasting for you individual thing? How does fasting work for spouses who are of different religions or faiths? In what other ways do you connect with God? Let me know. I want to hear from you!

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I Enjoyed Taking People’s Things; and Having Mine Taken

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I really hate wearing clothes. So I wear as little as possible, until I really need to – like when I must leave the house. The other night while looking for something comfortable to make a store-run, I came across a black yoga pants I took from my cousin Shoija. Returning from Europe this summer I had a layover in Atlanta and stayed with her. Rather than unpack all of my stuff looking for something to wear, most of which needed to wash, I asked her loan me something comfortable for the night. (FYI, I had lots of clean underwear. I usually overpack those.) She brought me a whole stack of clothes. I chose a yoga pants and t-shirt. Remember now, I hate clothes. And I hate long pants. But after a transatlantic flight wearing jeans, that yoga pants felt good! So good that I told Shoija I’m keeping it. She gave me a look as if to say, “aren’t you going to ask first.” But I didn’t.
So I chuckled to myself the other night, at the memory. Not so long ago, when we were children, we took each other’s stuff all the time. I remember cousins taking my clothes, shoes, hair accessories…. I took things from them too. And it was never a problem. Actually, if I had something that one of my family members liked more than I did, I would usually give it to them before they had a chance to take it. And vice versa. That was the norm for us cousins who were around the same age. Some things were off limits though, like gifts and expensive jewelry. Heaven forbid I took something that one of my cousins’ boyfriends gave them.
We saw this among our parents. My mother and her sisters always took each other’s stuff – and it was never a problem. The adults also always gave us something to take whenever we visited – be it food, groceries, a new bra, a head-tie, money. My Aunt Keturah once gave me an engagement ring that she had found! Once we left with their homes with something, they felt good.
One time in high school I tried to explain to a good friend why I didn’t have a particular accessory. A cousin had “gone with it,” I told her. She couldn’t understand how someone could “go with” something that was mine without asking, even after I explained that my family did that all the time.
I think that it was outside influences over a period of time that caused things to change. As we became older, we became more possessive. We started saying things to each other like, “if you want something, next time ask.” Soon it seemed like we started valuing things more than each other. Like we preferred to have something safely tucked away in our closets, never to be used, while someone else needed it. We allowed the ways of the world to be the ways of our lives.
Things are just that – things. The only value they have, is the value we give them. The Bible says “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6, 21) Where is your treasure? Is it among the earthly things that we know will soon rot or fade away? Are we so caught up in what society tells us is valuable, that we prefer to store them up rather than put them to good use or give them to someone who can put them to good use?
That night in Atlanta with Shoija reminded me of how we were as children, when things mattered less and people mattered more. Matter of fact, she stared offering me more clothes to take – all the while trying to convince me to change my morning flight so that I could spend an extra day with her and the family.
I’ll probably hardly ever wear that yoga pants. But the memory of how I took it from my cousin, like we did when we were children, will always bring g a smile to my face.