Monday, May 21, 2018

Are You Living Your Best Life?

     The good life. The one thing we all aspire for. We devote countless hours, remedies, and beliefs to it. Being happy is our goal in the end. But at what cost? How do we do it? What does it take to live the good life?

    I'm a firm believer that being happy has no absolute definition; it varies from person to person. Some measure it by the amount of money in their account; some simply by a gut feeling. But whatever your vice is, make sure your life is exactly how and what you want.

     My personal journey towards happiness has been rather unconventional. Even with money, in the bank, I felt unfulfilled. I was lacking. Even with weekly treks to the church, there was something that was still holding on to me. Now don't get me wrong; I am a fervent believer in God and I know exactly who He is. I've always known someone was watching over me. But my relationship with Him wasn't what it should have been. It was something I really began to wrestle with; I wanted to find that peace, but I wanted it on my terms and not societal norms. So that became my mission.

     The first thing I had to do was realize what it was going to take to make me happy. I'm pretty simple; I'm not into material things. Waking up every day is good for me. Knowing that I have another shot to get it together is what means the most. Still, I had to get my life with the Creator together, so I could get what I was searching for. So I simply talked to Him. Tradition dictates we have a formal prayer, chock full of thees, thous, and thus. But I talk like I normally would. No need for formalities if I'm created in His image. So I asked for clarity on what I could do to receive that peace. The term "reap what you sow" and the word "karma" kept coming to my head. And I happened to come across a book, "The Alchemist", that transformed my thinking. It is a fable of sorts about the journey of true self and being in control of your life. I learned that whatever I put in the atmosphere, whether good or bad, God and the universe would conspire to make it happen. Put good in, get good out. Since then, that has been my philosophy. Wake up, talk to God, make a positive affirmation to the atmosphere, and begin my day. And it is what works for me. I believe wholeheartedly in it. There are a few material things that I seek out, and I know with the right amount of work, they will come as well. But at this point, I am happy. And that is indeed the goal.

     That is my story. Your story may be different. Your path will be different I'm sure. But no matter which route you take, just make sure you find your true happiness.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Are You Living Your Dream?


Martin Luther King Jr. The catalyst of the modern Civil Rights Movement. The man who literally gave his life for the one thing he believed in. His family and friends prayed for him daily. His enemies preyed on his downfall daily. He knew all of this, but in spite of, kept his move towards the mark. But this blog isn't about King. His legacy was immortalized on April 4, 1968. It's about you. Yes, you. I want to ask you one thing:

Are you living your dream?

Your dreams. What you want to accomplish. Your ideas put into action. It's what you long for; who you really want to be. Your dreams can be the smallest vision or the highest mountain. It can be as hard as you want it to be, or as simple. But at the end of the day, it's yours for you and no one else.

How often do you dream? What do you dream of? Why do people struggle to act upon their dreams? Is it fear of failure, insecurity in their abilities or chalk it up to wishful thinking that holds them back? And if that fear is there, how do we get over it?

A dream is defined as a goal, aim or aspiration. What do you want to be? How do you want to be remembered? What significance did your life play on society? These are the questions we have to ask ourselves when we set out to fulfill our purpose. We have to take in everything that we desire to have and be and put it into a feasible plan. As soon as that happens, execute it. Regardless of the shortcomings, execute. Regardless of what people tell you, execute it. Regardless of what the world thinks of what you are doing, execute it. THAT is your dream coming to life! Now don't get discouraged when things don't go your way right away; they rarely do. But your success isn't measured by victories and defeats. They are measured by your ability to overcome the obstacles set before you and rise back to the top.

I have never heard of anyone dreaming of failure or aspiring to be unsuccessful. Failure does not play any part in dreaming. It is the dreamer that instills failure, not the dream. I have read of many very successful dreamers that failed numerous times before they experienced success. The difference is that failure was not going to end their dreams only motivate them to dream bigger.

Many of us fail to seek our purpose in life when we should. We dream and then follow it up with a list of all the reasons why the dream is unachievable. We fill our lives with excuses and "I can't." Many great companies were conceived from a dream, nurtured in a garage or basement and grew to be traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Why not you? Why not your dream? The only true limits you experience in life are those you create or those you allow others to impose upon you. If you can dream it, you can do it! If you want to go back and get that degree, go get it! If you want to start your own business, start! If you just want to help other people, go for it! I always use myself as an example. I live in a small town of 12,000 people, but I knew I had a gift of connecting to children in a way they would be the most receptive. Through reading to them, mentoring them, and just being involved in their lives. So I took that love and I turned it into a reality. Am I world known? No. But it was my dream, what I really wanted to do, and I refused to let anything stop me. And here I am. So never let anything or anybody tell you what you can be or what you can do. The only person that can set limits on you is yourself.



Monday, January 8, 2018

The Renaissance

     First of all, welcome to my page, my own little world. I have been very excited about taking this journey, and I'm glad that you have decided to join me on the ride. Writing has always been a love of mine, and I have been fortunate to be able to utilize my gift in a positive way. I have been able to successfully parlay it into full-time magazine gigs, eventually getting a call from Huffington Post as a freelancer. The pinnacle of my writing career so far has been the release of my first children's book, Ebenezer The Sneezer. 

     A lot of people have been asking why I chose to call myself a Renaissance man. The dictionary defines a renaissance as a renewal of life, vigor, interest, etc.; rebirth; revival. In the past three years, that is exactly what has come to me. 2014. I was just a happy-go-lucky guy working and paying bills. An average Joe. No real motivation to do anything but maintain the status quo. I had my music and my love of the outdoors, but that was it. I was living to fit in. 

     I was approached by a high school classmate to help him with a hip hop website he was starting. I agreed, based on my love of the music culture. I was able to not only write reviews on music, but I was now up close and personal with hip hop stars and insiders. It also afforded me the opportunity to make friends with young up and coming business owners and entrepreneurs. This was my first spark. I was being noticed for my writing ability. I've always enjoyed writing, but just as a hobby, not much more. But the website really opened my eyes. It showed me that there was more to life than mediocrity. I could actually branch out, take chances and be who I wanted to be. It was no longer a fairy tale. 

     Through meeting my friend Nneka, I was brought into the world of retail. I was immersed in the ins and outs of sales and marketing. The real world experience was something I had not been exposed to before. This was my second spark. We entered into a business partnership, and I became partner in her online boutique. Well around the same time, I decided to participate in something I had heard of before but was not really interested in: No Shave November. I began to grow my beard out, much longer than I had ever been comfortable with. I posted on IG using the hashtags #noshavenovember and #beardgang. After a few weeks, I was being followed by beard groups and people that loved beards and beard care companies, that I had never even heard of before then. I began to realize how popular beards had become. Nneka and I discussed it, and decided that we would begin to sell beard products on the site as well. Well after searching, researching and calling, we had no luck securing a company. We then decided that we would do it on our own. For this project,we took on another partner, Aubrey, and launched HIM BY DNA in the summer of 2016. 

     By this point, the entrepreneur bug had bitten me hard. All I wanted to do was own a business and make a name for myself. I studied night and day. I would get off work and do more work. But I enjoyed it. I knew I was close. All I had to do was keep pushing.

     Like I mentioned before, I've always enjoyed writing. By this time, having written for various magazines and blogs, my confidence was high that I could actually do something with my work. When my daughter Nylah was young, around 3, all she wanted to do was read. All day, she would pick up books for me to read to her and she would follow along with so much attention. When she finally began to read on her own, she would literally beg me to take her to the library day after day. And of course, as excited as I was about her zest for reading, I would take her every time. We have a remarkable library, especially when it comes to children. But as large as it is, after about a month, we began to run out of books and had to resort to reading the same ones over again. Needless to say, that started to become stagnant. Finally, I asked Nylah if she would like for me to write her a few bedtime stories, to which she agreed. I would write her one story at the beginning of the week, and that would be her designated bedtime story. I ended up writing a total of 20. As her reading skills became more advanced, I got away from writing her stories, as her reading choices had greatly expanded.

     Fast forward to 2016. HIM BY DNA had been launched and we were doing very well. I was enjoying my life as a part-time entrepreneur. But I was hungry for more. More opportunities, more avenues to explore my newfound creativity. The thought began to pop up into my mind: turn your stories into a book. As much as I would try to shake it and work on something else, the thought would come back stronger. Turn your stories into a book. Doubt began to seep in. How could I, a virtual unknown from a town of 12,000 people actually write and publish a book? Fortunately, the hope outweighed the doubt. So I decided to take a chance. I called my mom and asked her to look in my old room for a blue folder on the dresser. Once she located it, I asked her to open it and tell me if it contained some typed stories. She told me it did, and I was on my way to see her. The story at the top of stack was Ebenezer The Sneezer, the first story I had ever written to introduce Nylah to sight words in the form of rhymes that would be fun and interesting for her to read. The process took about a year, but through a lot of headaches, sweat and tears, I finally released my first children's book in April 2017. 


So you see, in the last three years, there has been a great shift in my perception of life, what I want from it and how to get it. I'm no longer the average Joe; I live life outside of the box. That's why I am a Renaissance Man. I was able to reinvent myself. I took life by the horns, and I've decided to live my dreams. So this is just a peek inside of my life as I go forward. Laugh with me, cry with me, write with me. But most importantly, I want you to see my life and know that you can not only have dreams, but make them come true. It certainly has been quite a ride so far, but I have a feeling the best is yet to come. 

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