Tag Archive: self-discovery


Hiking

A few weeks ago, a friend invited Gary and I on a hike in western North Carolina. I haven’t hiked in years, but as I thought back to my semiweekly hikes in Frederick, Maryland, I wasn’t worried. Boy, should I have worried. As we started, I was confident. “No problem. I can do this” is what I thought to myself. HA! 20 minutes into the hike as we began our ascent up what I swear was an 80 degree incline, I began to pray, “Please, Lord, don’t let me fall out up here”. I looked behind me, but realized there was nowhere to go but up. We encountered at least 5 of these inclines and each time I prayed for physical and mental strength and most importantly, not to embarrass myself. Needless to say, since I am here writing today, we made it. I was, still am, so proud of myself.

But, as I think about this struggle turned triumph, I can’t help but to relate it to life. Throughout the hike, our friend kept saying, “This is just a physical representation of life.” I waved him off as I was huffing through the hike, but now, I realize he really was right. Although, we know that tomorrow is not promised, every night we lay down , we know that, if this is our blessing, morning will come. And in that morning, we know that our day will continue to another night. No matter what challenges we face, we just have to take one more step, then one more step. As simple as that is, our minds make it seem so much harder. So, today, I implore you to just take a step. Some moments will be hard and all you’ll want to do is cry from your soul; But know after you cry, take a step and morning will be here before you know it because no matter what, no matter where, no matter how, no matter why, no matter when, You Are Loved even through an 80 degree incline.

Enough.

I have a question. If you lived during the 1800s, would you have been an abolitionist? Could you have risked your way of life to save the life of others? Most of us would quickly, without much thought, say yes. We would have been abolitionists (or maybe, those are just my hopes).

But, recently I read an article by Amanda Kloer on CNN.com discussing modern day slavery on tomato farms and realized that we are less likely to be the Harriett Tubman-like characters that we envision ourselves to be. As I began to research this issue, I realized it doesn’t take much from each person to not just stand for something, but to act on it. In this age of technology that we are living in, a Facebook post, a tweet or any of the many different communication outlets that we have can be used to simply say, “Enough is Enough”. Today, I am asking you to really become that abolitionist that you think you are for just a few minutes and speak out against modern day slavery. Because today’s slavery, just like yesterday’s slavery might only be one degree away from you and if you couldn’t make your own choices, you’d hope someone would speak up for you and use the voice that you are not allowed to use.

You are…

You know, it hurts when not many believe in you. That pain can paralyze you or it can propel you. When you work your hardest and you know that you are doing great things because so many around you are copying your behavior and watching your every move, but you are treated like you don’t matter, that your work is just ok, that can shut you down. But, you can’t let it. You have to believe in you. You have to recognize the struggle is the hard work. That’s what makes you different. That’s what makes you know you have purpose, because life is not easy.

There are always going to be more people telling you you’re not worth it, you aren’t going to make it, you aren’t strong enough, you aren’t smart enough, you aren’t talented enough, you aren’t pretty enough, than there will be those who tell you that you are all of those things. But they are the people that don’t matter. They are the ones who are there to deter you, to keep you from your purpose, to really cause you to build strength and believe in yourself. And quite frankly, they are dealing with their own struggles and to make themselves feel better, they attempt to project their issues onto you.BUT you are worth it. You are strong. You are smart. You are talented. You are pretty. You are because you are here.

So, today, when you begin to choose not to do something because it scares you, remember you are capable and you will succeed. It’s not a coincidence that you are where you are. It’s where you are supposed to be right now. So, whether all is as you want it to be or you’re struggling, remember, it’s just the place where you are right now and you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and you will succeed. Even if you feel no one else does, I believe in you today, but most importantly, you believe in you.

Lately it seems I’ve had to make some really grown-up decisions and it hasn’t been easy. You know those decisions that don’t feel good. Those decisions that seem to make a mockery of your need to be ok with everything, even so far as to be in control of most everything. The decisions can be personal or professional, private or public, quiet or loud. They cause you to rethink things that you thought you were certain of, relationships you thought were secure, and even, attributes that you believed you had.

What identifies making that grown-up decision is recognizing the need for the decision as well as determining how to move forward once the decision has been made. For example, two of my most recent grown-up decisions have been personal, private and quiet. I’ve had to reevaluate two relationships that were (and still are) close to my heart. I recognized that in one of the relationships the person loves me dearly, but loves me in their own comfortable way – not in a way, that is productive for me in my life right now. In the other, I recognized that the person was focused on the superficial in our relationship because they felt obligated. They are closer to my boyfriend than they are to me and as a result, feigned interest and affection toward me. Recognizing that neither of these relationships aided in my personal growth, I had to take action. I physically and emotionally removed myself from the relationships. I still care about both individuals, but I cannot control their behaviors and how they made me feel; therefore, I did what I could control and stepped away. This hasn’t been easy. In fact, it’s been heartbreaking and sad, but that is part making grown-up decisions.

Another example of making a grown-up decision was professional, public and eventually, loud. I made the decision to begin making changes to my marketing agency. We are now called “Katina Washington Consulting Group” and our field of concentration is within the retail industry and their internal communication. This grown-up decision came from what I felt was the lack of focus, direction and as a result, decline in business. I had to make swift and strong changes. In this grown-up decision, there also have been relationships that have changed. Working relationships that are not productive for the big picture are not smart and they had to be minimized. There has been and continues to be a lot of work to make this change successful, but it is the right decision for my company and my work.

Grown-up decisions, whether personal or professional, are necessary components of life, but it seems that the difficulty of the work to make the changes and/or the uncertainty of the outcome causes many of us to ignore the need for these decisions. Nevertheless, without these decisions, life is not really living. It is coping. It is maintaining. It is accepting less than what we are each worth and created for. We are not here to simply stand by and ignore that lump in stomachs that come from uncomfortable and unloving situations. So, I want to issue a challenge. Take a few moments of quiet and allow your mind to think about a situation or a relationship you’re just not sure of or that you don’t feel good about. Then, focus on how your body reacts to this thought and then, think about why your body is reacting negatively. If you feel a queasiness in your stomach, your neck muscles tense up or your head begins to hurt, then maybe it’s time to make a grown-up decision and make a change. It won’t be easy and it won’t be quick, but you will grow and in time, be proud of yourself for having the courage to change.

Good luck. Let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear from you.

When was the last time you were able to say that? Did you relish in it or just take it in stride? On Friday, I finally, completely won a battle that I have been fighting for almost three years. This was a professional fight that I did not want to fight, but knew in my heart I had to. I had a large client that chose not to pay Brand Event Marketing for their work. Mind you, they were and are still using and benefiting from the project that took just over a year to complete. (It’s actually one of the best websites I’ve ever created). As I continuously asked for payment, I was told by members of the professional community to just accept not being paid.  Some even threatened my partner, suggesting that his job (at a large company) may suffer due to my questions. I was told not to cross the CEO – anyone who has ever tried has not just lost, but brutally lost. But, have you ever felt so strongly about something that it’s like this pain that won’t go away unless you fight. Like you’re just not able to curl up and go away. I couldn’t. Everything in me constantly reminded me that this is why I went into my own business. To be ethical, to teach others to be fair, to do what is right. So, I hired an attorney (a quiet, unsuspecting shark) and we went to work. After she’d assessed the situation and the evidence, she acknowledge that she didn’t think this fight would go on for very long. It was quite cut and dry.

Ha – were we surprised. They began to attack my character, called me names (a con artist, a liar), made up stories about me, laughed in the corner of the arbitrator’s office as their attorney even questioned my academic accomplishments and just wrote me off. I can’t tell you how much this hurt, personally and professionally. I found myself digging harder into my other work so that I wouldn’t have to deal with the emotions. Their attorney even attacked my attorney and said if they lost, he “would appeal up to the Supreme Court!” Well, guess what? I held my head up. I told the truth and I didn’t falter every time their attorney threw a punch. I just did what I learned in kickboxing in a small dojo in Raleigh. I bobbed, I weaved, I kept my hands up to block and I threw powerful jabs and cross punches when I needed to. I sustained hits that could’ve brought me to my knees, but I realized that this is what so many tribulations had been training me for. This is what God had been training me for (and I’m not afraid to say that in public anymore).

In the end, they lost. They appealed twice and lost each time. I was awarded more than just what they owed me. I was awarded interest from the day they received the original invoice. But, it really hit me that this fight was not just about the money. Did they owe Brand Event Marketing for our work? Yes, but it was also about teaching and learning. Everything we do has purpose and consequence. You may think you know the purpose and the consequence, but what you think you know can change in the blink of an eye. As I look back on the work and the relationships before, during and after the fight, I realize that in my narrow view, I thought this was about me, Brand Event and our work, but really, I think this was about and for my client.

So, today, I would like for you to, first, take a moment to quietly remember you have the strength to fight any battle that is given to you and that you choose to fight.We all have a little David inside that has a Goliath taunting us.  And, second, are you conscious of your purpose and consequences? Are you doing just enough to get by or are you working within the realm of your great possibilities? Are you just thinking of what the consequences are for you or are you considering the whole? Do you truly understand the ripples that occur from your words and actions?

I know that I’ve just won a great battle, but life really is your war. There are times of peace and there are times of battle. Your work during peace may be the catalyst for your battle, but no matter what, if you do what is right, say what is right, honor those around you and work with hope, then you will always win. Even, if it’s not for you.

This morning, I heard someone say “not everyone peaks at 20” and that spoke volumes to me as I get ready to celebrate my 40th birthday (in 8 days). As I’ve gotten closer to this milestone birthday, I’ve had several people say “oh, it won’t be so bad” or things of that nature and I want to scream out how excited I am to getting to this point in my life. Then, today I hear “Not everyone peaks at 20”. I love that there are a lot of peaks in front of me. I also love that I’ve been blessed to have peaks and valleys in the years past. It is so important as we move forward to realize our dreams that we recognize that we have so much potential in front of us. While working in the campaign, I had several, who were younger than me, question why I chose to be a field organizer when I had so much experience to do something else. There were also assumptions made about me based on my age. As I reach 40, I say to those people, I hope when you are my age, you have the opportunities and choices that I’ve been so blessed to have. To those, who tell me “don’t worry, it will be ok”, I say, what is there to worry about? My life is really just beginning. At what other time, do you have the perfect combination of energy, experience and courage? To those who are just as excited as I am, we all peak when it’s time and lots of times, we peak  more than we can even imagine. 40 – I’m looking forward to you. I’m looking forward to the challenges, the answers I will have and the questions I will still ask. And while, I’m being personal, thank you to those who loved me through my teens, 20s and 30s. I’m glad you will be with me through this next part of my journey. Likewise, I am overjoyed that I have a partner that always sees the best in me and believes in me. To everyone else, please join me on this journey by loving your own journey. Peak when it’s your time and then, maybe, peak again. Not everyone peaks at 20.

So focused…

yet, not sure where to start. These last few weeks have been tough weeks. Have you ever felt like you have so much energy, but you’re not sure which way to direct the energy? That’s been me for the last few weeks. I can be such a deep thinker, but sometimes, I think about too much too deeply and I’m not sure where to go. This is where a to-do list and this blog come in handy. They both help me to get my thoughts organized and out of my head. Do you ever feel this way? This can be a hindrance to your performance at work and even, at home. So, I’d like us to remember that we all get a little flustered sometimes, even a little scared to act. But, ultimately, we have to follow our heart and know that we honor God (or whomever/whatever you believe in) and those who’ve come before us and created this path we continue to walk on when we don’t get bogged down in just thinking and we act on that which is so important at this moment. Times like this is when we need to be laser-focused and able to organize our positive thoughts and push away the negative. Here’s to a focused day!

Clara* never went to college. She’s had a successful career, but Clara has always felt a sense of incompletion when it comes to her education. She also feels as though she has had some missed opportunities because she did not go further in her education. Right now, Clara has a chance to return to school part-time. The schooling would be paid for by her employer and certain classes would positively affect her role and responsibilities at work, yet she keeps finding reasons not to go. She doesn’t have time. She has too much work to do. When she brought this up in conversation and I listened to her tell me why she could not do it, although she really wants to and knows that she needs to, I finally just asked her what was she afraid of. Clara told me that she wasn’t afraid of school, just that she would be tired and didn’t have the energy for it. When I pressed, she said that she just didn’t really understand the importance and did not feel the need to make it a priority. I asked her what was at the root of all of these excuses and she just looked at me. I asked her if she thought she was smart enough to go to school? Did she think that others would do better than her and she would be laughed at? Would people whisper behind her back about how old she was and in a class that she should have taken years ago? Would people assume she must have flunked the class earlier so that is why she is at this level  in school? Would she fail? Would she be humiliated, embarrassed and downright disheartened? It was at that moment I saw a light bulb go off in Clara’s head and her mindset begin to change.

Our biggest enemy is our self.  We don’t truly believe in our powers, our abilities, our strength. We look to others to build us in all of our relationships. We wait for our bosses to positively reinforce us and promote us. We wait for our significant others to tell how special they think we are or how much they need us. We wait for our parents to tell us that we are exactly what they’d hoped for. We wait for the waitress to say thank you before we tip her. We wait for our friends to tell us how great we look and how we inspire them. Even in our relationship with God, we wait for Him to act in our lives. We pray HARD waiting for God to make something happen, but God gave us a mind and free will. Whenever I realize that I am avoiding a situation, when I keep hearing myself come up with excuses why I can’t, I think back to one of my favorite stories in the bible. In Genesis 12, God tells Abram to “leave your country, your people and your father’s household”. This passage strikes me because Abram had no idea where he was going, but he believed so strongly in God’s path for him, that he did not question, he just moved in faith. Can you imagine having so much faith in something that you give no regard to what may happen or what people may say? Everyone has heard the question, “What would you do if you could not fail?” Well, I think it is time to really have that honest conversation with yourself? How are you self-sabotaging by giving your power, which is your strength, courage and love, to your fear? As Joel  Osteen asks, “What is your mountain? Are you telling that mountain to move?” As much faith as Abram had, God wouldn’t do anything without him taking those first steps. Who are you affecting by not moving? Are you not fulfilling your dreams because of fear? Recognize that fear is the opposite of courage, love and you cannot be successful without courage and love.

This is your time. You will only have this one time and instead of letting other’s determine what we will do through fear, let’s wake up and move. Even if you don’t know where those steps will lead you, just move. All of us have our own Big Bad Wolf. In fact, we have many, but if you believe more in yourself than what you think might happen, I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the outcome. “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life that you’ve imagined (Thoreau).”

*Name was changed.

I decided to do something with the frozen grapes in the freezer. We were not eating them as quickly as I expected so I decided to figure out what else I could do with them. I chose to make juice. Remember that saying, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Well, life gave me grapes and I am making grape juice.

As I was smashing the grapes, imagining that I was making wine the old-fashioned way, I wondered why I’d not tried this before. Was it fear of making a mistake or was it simply just unknown? I believe that is a question that we have to ask ourselves each day as we make decisions; why am I making this choice? Am I taking the easy road to just come up with a solution so I can check it off of my to-do list or am I not aware of other alternatives? Once we determine who we really are (our personal brand), then it is necessary to make choices about how we will express that brand. Fear can hold us back from really recognizing, embracing and expressing our true selves and more importantly, the strength that fuels our passions. We talked in an earlier post about change now being the constant, but with that new constant comes a point at which fear is overtaken by passion and courage. Our world changes everyday and who we are plays an important role init s and our own development. So, today, I encourage you to recognize a fear and choose to embrace it rather than hide behind it because at some point, you will have to make a choice and wouldn’t you rather enjoy life and drink yummy grape juice than just stare at a bag of frozen grapes every time you open the freezer. By the way, I am drinking my grape juice right now, it’s delicious.

Grape Juice (from http://simplyrecipes.com)

Ingredients

Equipment needed

  • A colander for rinsing the grapes
  • 1 large, 12-quart pot
  • 1 large 6 or 8-quart pot
  • A very large fine mesh sieve, or cheesecloth

Method

1. Pick the grapes. (I picked mine at the grocery store) Get a large basket, wear long sleeves and a hat, bring clippers, and fill up the basket with grape bunches. Keep in mind that a pound of grapes will yield a little less than a cup of juice.

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2. Wash and de-stem the grapes. Put grapes in a basin filled with water. Then rinse the individual grapes, picking them away from the stem, collecting the grapes in a large bowl, and discarding the green unripe and old shriveled grapes.

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3. Mash the grapes. With a potato masher, mash away at the grapes so the juice begins to flow. If you have picked a lot of grapes, you may need to work in batches. We have found it easiest to mash about 4 lbs of grapes at a time.

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4. Cook the grapes. Put the mashed grapes into a large stockpot. Slowly heat the grapes and juice to a simmer on medium heat and then simmer for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally so that the grapes don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Halfway through cooking mash some more, breaking up as many of the remaining grapes as possible.

5. Prepare sieve or cheesecloth. Get another large pot, place a large fine mesh sieve over it. Alternatively you can cover it with two layers of cheesecloth, secure with a rubber band. Make sure pot is sitting on a plate to catch any juice that may run over.

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6. Strain grape mixture. Ladle grape mixture over sieve or cheesecloth to strain. Let sit for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator to strain completely.

7. Finishing. Remove sieve or cheesecloth.* Note that sediment will have formed on the bottom of the container. Rinse out the sieve or cheesecloth and strain the juice again, to filter out some of the sediment. Pour or ladle juice into containers. Enjoy your juice!

* Note that the grape mash can be composted.

Yesterday, we began a conversation about what it would take to start an estate sale management company. We discussed the business questions that one should ask when considering starting a business, however, I wanted to circle back and make sure that there is an understanding of the self discovery that needs to be fully enabled during this process. When you start a business, it is your baby. As I said in an earlier post, the business becomes all consuming when you are not focused on other important tasks. When deciding to embark on a new business, regardless of scale, one must examine their stamina, ambitions and fortitude in being an entrepreneur. Why is this business important to you? What do you hope to gain from this business? How do you view success in this endeavor? Are you able to make the strong decision to let it go, if necessary? Are you being honest with yourself about the time, the emotional investment, and the mental challenges that you will face to move forward? Are you really an entrepreneur or just someone with a good idea? I bring these questions to you as a budding entrepreneur, but they are also important life balance questions. Anytime a life-altering decision is being made, you need to consider your emotional, physical and mental readiness for the challenges that lie ahead.

The questions that I linked to yesterday are important questions to ask yourself to make sure you’re ready from a business perspective – and I will answer those questions later today, as I promised; however, before you answer those questions you must KNOW that you are personally completely ready to take the leap into a decision that will change the course of your life. It will all be positive and grow you further, but it will not be easy. Are you really ready?