Friday, June 17, 2011

Validation

In the 25 years The Oprah Winfrey show has been on the air, Oprah has interviewed over 30,000 people. Oprah remarked on the last episode of her show, she realized that each one of those people wanted the exact same thing: validation. Every single person wanted someone to say, “I hear you. I see you. What you have to say matters to me."

To give that level of validation you have to be fully present with the other person. You have to truly listen and not simply await your chance to talk. As the person is speaking, you must also suspend judgment. If you are making judgments about whether what is being said is right/wrong or good/bad, than it is likely your facial expressions, body language and/or spoken response reflects the same. If the speaker senses this judgment, it is doubtful that he/she believes what being said matters to you.

This level of presence with another human being clearly requires that you have deep compassion for the other. What might the world be like if we could have this level of intimacy with one another? Cannot imagine having compassion with every person; how about those in your inner circle? How might a child feel if each parent offered this level of attention? If spouses and lovers were fully present with each other, how much healthier would are relationship be?

Start with one person and see what happens. You could begin by making the following commitments:

1. I will make direct eye contact while the person is speaking.

2. I will remove all distractions (cell phone, TV, etc.)

3. As the speaker talks, I will reply with sincere, empathetic statements such as “That must make you feel. . . “I can imagine that must be ______ for you.”

Is there any one in your life worthy of this level of attention?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Courage to Love ( Again)

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time. And always one more time.” ~ Maya Angelou

With each hurt and disappointment, I trust a little less. Yet, I know a closed hand does not lose anything nor does it gain anything. Yeah, there are moments that I know if there is nothing risked, there is nothing gained. But truthfully, I am a coward who is praying for a chance to see the wizard to get courage and a new heart.

On the way to see the wizard, I hope to encounter others who are willing to follow the yellow brick road. We leave behind everything familiar to us in a quest to fulfill our deepest desires. On our journey and through our friendship, we each discover that the thing we seek is within us.

It is a tale as old as time. Nonetheless, I am wishing for a rewrite: the new ending to include the same reward (courage) without the work (self discovery.) How is that for a fairytale happy ending?

Okay, I know I got to do the work; take the journey. On the path to love, I have even been startled by my own temerity. In those moments, I contemplate giving love another chance.

Then I remember the poem, The Invitation, and it implores me to remember the calling of my heart. Here is the stanza of the poem that is the real truth of my heart.

"It doesn’t interest me how old you are.

I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool

for love

for your dream

for the adventure of being alive."
These words beckon me to live authentically, by taking risks with my heart, following my soul's desire and being deeply intimate with myself and others. The risks are great and so are the rewards.
Playing it safe may give me predictable outcomes and less pain, but it also robs my heart of the chance of expressing fully.

A friend recently told me that “safety is an illusion.” She is right. There really is no protection from pain. It can happen at anytime from anywhere. So I choose to take the risks.

I want to know a romantic love that fills me to the brim. I want to believe that exhilaration, excitement and ecstasy can simultaneously take up space in my chambers again. I want to encounter a level of intimacy that exceeds anything I ever imagined or experience before.

I want to believe in happy endings again.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Path to Love

Virtually every personality assessment I have ever done, shows that words are important to me. Recently, I read the book The 5 Love Languages. That book revealed to me that my primary love language is words of affirmations. Simply put: I need words to fill up my love tank.

Conversely, how I am most injured is through words. When someone does not keep their word to me in big matters (fidelity in a relationship) or small matters (being on time), it is unsettling to me. It can make me feel like the rug has been pulled from beneath me because words are my foundation. Words are how I metabolize my life. If I digest words that are unhealthy, I feel unsettled at my core.


When I am unsettled at my core, I do what many humans do when threaten, I see only two options: fight or flight. What I am coming to realize is that there is a third option and this third option will call upon me to gain greater insight into who I am. This third option may enable me to reach a higher level of spirituality.

In the book Conversations with God, it discusses creating higher and a higher version of you, as the way to the path of enlightenment. I need to create a version of me that is comfortable expressing my vulnerability. That is my third option.

I want to create a version of me that is willing to be courageous enough to tell others: Who I am; and what I want. I want a version of me that tells this truth in manner that is not derived from anger (which is a mask for fear); but rather extending from a place of wanting to be clear and truthful. Instead of “How dare you do XYZ to me?!” and “I will punish you by any means necessary.” I want to have the courage to say, “When you did XYZ, it made me feel disrespected and dispensable.” And “At my core, I know you respect me, so help me align these two incongruent experiences with you.”

The former approach makes me feel right and powerful. The latter makes me feel human.

Years of therapy has certainly given me the knowledge about mirroring, empathetic statements and other effective communication tools. Despite this knowledge, my degree in communications and my years working as a spoken work artist, it was not until recently that I had the epiphany that I am not very good at expressing who I am and what I want. I have fallen into a pattern of expressing what I will not allow; and what I am capable of doing if one crosses that line. The two modes of expressions may seem similar from a distance; but upon closer inspection, I can see that one stems from love and the other from fear. I want to create a higher version of me that chooses the path to love.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Doing the Dash

"Somewhere between the beginning and the end, that's where I am in my journey."
~ Terrence Howard

Are we not all in that same place; in the middle of the journey, somewhere between the beginning and the end? Or at least, don't we all hope that we are in the middle? Perhaps, if in your elder years you may feel that you are closer to the end of the journey. But of course no one knows for certain.

We just know we are somewhere on the dash. The dash is the mark which lies between our birth date and the date of death. Recently, the oldest man in world died at age 113. When he was 70 did he believe, know and behave like he had 43 more years to live?

In a few weeks, I will turn a year older. What I do with my dash matters to me. Whether in the middle of the journey or near the end, I want the words I write and the stories I tell, to honor my ancestors and give hope to children. Words and stories live on long after we are gone. They become the legacy we leave behind. So I ask myself, “What legacy do you want leave?”

My prayer and vision is that it will be said that I told truth: even when it was not popular or convenient. It is my hope that my truth helped heal or inspire someone else. If my willingness to disclose my experiences, both those in the valley and on the mountaintop, enables another to let go past pain or forge ahead with greater courage, then I would consider my life well lived.

My mentor, Baba Jamal Koram, has often posed the question, “For what purpose do you tell the story?” He pushes me to examine my intentions and reflect on the impact the story will have on the receiver. Often I have grapple with how much to disclose; who will be affected; and how relevant what I have to say is to those who will receive it. Truth telling just for truth-telling sake is not acceptable. I have a responsibility to be responsible.

Wisdom does not simply happen by being on the planet for a certain period of time. Maya Angelou said, "Most people don't grow up. Most people age.” With the dawn of a new year on my journey, I pray that I have grown-up just a little bit more. For me, growing up involves getting wiser because of the valley experiences and not in spite of them. As I move further down the dash, my desire is to have the courage to tell the truth and the wisdom to know when to tell it.




Friday, April 8, 2011

To Climb or Fly on the Journey

You can climb out of the valley stumbling and fumbling forward, with bleeding knuckles, scrapped knees and bruised feet, or you can fly. It really is all a choice. The choice is about what risks you are willing to take.

Climbing can certainly be safer. Depending on how long you have been in the valley, your wings may not seem to be in good condition. Your wings may be bent, bruised or even broken. However, the truth of the matter is, many do not even believe they have wings.

Flying out of the valley is literally a leap of faith. You must leap over your greatest fears, without any safety net. You must catapult yourself above the criticism and naysayers both external and internal, without any assurances that you will be successful.

Climb or fly? The choice is easy, right? Hardly. When given the choice many choose the former. Why? A common reason is that it feels like the secure choice. It is the choice many are most familiar. It is the choice most others will support. It is the choice many have been conditioned to accept by family and community.

On my journey, in some areas I made the choice to fly. Leaving a corporate job to become a professional storyteller would certainly be one of those flying moments. It was not a hard choice, despite being recently divorced, a mother of a toddler and a new homeowner. Everything unfolded in a Divine manner. Since taking flight, I have had no regrets. Certainly, I have had obstacles, disappointments and setback; however, I never looked backed or mourned the yesterdays.

In other areas, I have been far more fearful and cautious. In manners of the heart, I have wallowed in past hurts and disappointments. Much of my time has been spent examining where I have been; instead of where I am going. I cannot count the hours I have spent lamenting about who did what to whom; instead of celebrating the opportunity to now attract what I really wanted.

In a poem I wrote entitled, Sangin’ the Blues, I challenged myself to look at a broken heart from a new perspective. You can check out the poem below. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions on how I can sprout some wings, let me know.

Sangin’ the Blues

When the heart breaks,

It spits wide open.

Then all your dreams

All the things

You’ve been hopin’

Are now possible

And the possibilities

Are limitless.

So the next time

You are broken hearted

Put it to the test.

Look at it

As an opportunity

To do things differently.

Make room

For greater things.

Just see

What Spirit brings.

I affirm

You will find

A higher consciousness

That will bring you

Peace

Joy

And Bliss.

What do you have to lose

If I am wrong,

You can go on back to

Sangin’ the Blues.

Monday, March 21, 2011

My Patterns in Relationships

Do you know your patterns in relationships? We all have them. We have patterns for everything. It is a very basic human trait. In the book, The Slight Edge, Leo Weidner calls these patterns, mental models. He describes them as “the brain’s habit-building process.” Weidner writes, “This amazing built-in process takes everything you experience and stores it, as a part of a specific mental model. Each time you go to do something you have done before, the brain calls up this mental model.”


Take for example a task like driving a car. When you get in a car, your brain immediately searches out it's data banks to find the mental model that can accomplish this task in the most efficient way possible. Same holds true for how we experience other things in life, such as relationships. We do it the way we previously did it; because it is the brain’s way of being efficient.

Even if you change the person you are in relationship with, we often still activate that habit-building process. These habits or patterns are inevitable, unless we bring a conscious awareness to them and take deliberate actions to change them. (Of course, that is if you want to change them.)

My pattern in relationships involves two distinctly different types of men. The first pattern is with the type of man I labeled, Catnip and Kryptonite. The other pattern is with the type I dubbed, Devoted and Detached.

Catnip and Kryptonite Man
He can best be described as woman-magnet. He is attractive, charming and a big talker. In his company, I feel intoxicated, especially when he is lavishing attention on me. A gifted orator, he does not hold back on verbal praise. He also has an amazing intensity to his gaze that can easily weaken me. This man has the ability to have this earth-grounded, female bull (Taurus) floating on ether!

He often has some major money issues; despite the outward appearance, otherwise. Willing to overlook his shortcomings in the financial area, the relationship usually ends because of his infidelity. Inside, I collapse. Outside, I am cool and calculating, as I plot my withdrawal. My exit is usually swift, blinding and hurtful. He never sees the fast, sucker-punch to the jaw coming. By the time he realize it, I am GONE.

Devoted and Detached Man
He possesses a quiet demeanor (especially in unfamiliar environments), average looking, stable, dependable, and financially secure. He usually catches my eye because he is so incredibly decent: a good-guy. Since usually, I am coming out of a relationship with Catnip/Kryptonite, this new kind of man is a breath of fresh air.

He is very predictable to the point of being boring. You can set your watch by him. He does the same thing, the same way and sees no reason to change it. I feel safe with him. What I do not feel is that we “get” each other. He thinks I am too eccentric and I think he is disconnected from his heart.

The relationship with this man usually ends because we feel like strangers to one another, which usually translates for both of us as, “I must not truly love you.” The end is very hospitable: polite even.

My patterns are clear. My mental model in my journey in relationships is much like driving: I have taken the same road time and time again. When there is an accident on that familiar road (Catnip/Kryptonite), I take a quickest detour (Devoted/Detached) that I know.

It is time to take a new road to my destination. So I wonder if there is a THIRD type of man I could attract that would render a more favorable result. Someone who feeds my heart’s need for excitement AND my mind’s need for security. This new man is someone who I can feel loved by and safe with.

Oh, what shall I call him?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Love Yourself

“You cannot give away what you don’t have.” Are you familiar with that old adage? I often have to remind myself of this truth. How am I to be generous, patient and kind to others, when I find that I deny myself, am self-critical and try to use negative reinforcement to motivate myself?


“Your dress size is a clear indication that you do not need that ice cream.” This statement serves to motivate me to make healthy food choices. A more effective self-talk would be: “I lovingly choose foods that help me maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

Charity truly does begin at home. My mission to use story to empower others to think critically, choose wisely and believe fervently in their ability to succeed must begin with me. So I must ask myself, “What stories are you telling yourself?” “Are the words you speak to yourself inspiring and empowering?”

To motivate myself to maintain my four-day-a-week exercise regiment, I remind myself of how far I have come in my physical rehabilitation, since my near-fatal car accident in August 2009. This story is far more encouraging than berating myself about my dress size.

That inner critic is an enemy to many people. If most people were to broadcast their inner voice, undoubtedly, it would be a barrage of negative self-talk. It is my strong belief that such self-sabotaging talk has absolutely no value. In fact, I would purport that negative self-talk is the major contributor to low self-esteem and a major obstacle to obtaining goals.

If you want to begin to silence that inner critic, spend just a few minutes at the start of your day speaking loving, affirming words to yourself, while looking in a mirror. If you need help with writing your daily affirmation, check out the book, You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hay. It contains powerful, loving affirmations for every area of your life: relationships, work and health.

Start each day loving yourself and you will find you have so much more love to give to others.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tools to Use in the Valley

Living a life on purpose is not without its challenges. Without question, doing what you love and making a living at it is very rewarding. However, like all journeys, it has within it, mountain top experiences and valley experiences.

In the 17 years I have been a professional storyteller, the valley experiences have included:
  • Drastic fluctuations in my income
  • Feelings of isolation from working independently
  • Sacrificing personal luxuries to maintain financial stability 
How long I stay in the valley often depends on how effectively I use and apply the following tools:
  • Journaling: It is the best and cheapest brand of therapy.
  • Prayer/Meditation: If I am consistently spending time in quiet reflection, it gives me an inner calm that often can override the outer chaos.
  • Support Circle: It has been a blessing to be in a circle of people who can encourage and inspire me when I am in the valley. The organizations, National Association of Black Storytellers and Keepers of the Culture have given me immeasurable support on this journey. My own circle of family and friends have also given me unwavering support. If you do not have such a support circle in your life, it may be time to change your flock
On your journey, if you find yourself in the valley, employ these tools and let me know how they work for you. If you have other tools that you have found effective, please share, I am always looking for more. If you need help discovering your life’s purpose, check out my e-book. If you join the mailing list, you can get a free excerpt of the book.

 
Whatever path you take, just remember that the valley is the space between two mountains.

 

 

 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Be Generous

Lately, I have been reminding myself to be generous to myself; not with gifts per se, but rather kind words, patience, time and attention. My generosity has shown on in consistent trips to the gym and longer time in bed. When I open my eyes in the morning, instead of running down my long to-do list, I scan my body and assess whether I am rested enough. If I am not well-rested and my schedule allows, I remain in the bed. I may or may not go back to sleep, but I will lie in the bed and do some affirmations.


It dawned on me recently, that there was a time when I was in a consistent state of spiritual consciousness. I would start my day in a prayerful state and throughout the day use affirmations and breathing to maintain spiritual alignment. For years, my day started with this affirmation I read in one of Iyanla Vanzant’s books.

"I awake with clarity and peace of mind. I know who I am; what I am to do to; and how I am to do it. My clarity of mind gives me focus. The excitement in my heart urges me on. I know. I am sure. I am ready, willing and able to greet this day and all that it has in store. I am divinely guided and I know exactly what to do. I am on purpose."
It has been awhile since I have been that state of heighten spiritual awareness. Lately, I have been more in my head; throwing myself into my day mind-first; consumed by my never-ending to-do list. Now that I have made a pledge to be generous to myself, I find I am slowing down and examining myself more closely. Self-reflection often brings me back to balance.

Here is a song by India.Arie that captures this lesson beautifully. The song is appropriately entitled, “Beautiful Day.” Enjoy!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Balancing Creativity with Practicality

One of the most interesting things about this journey, called life, is the process of creativity. It never ceases to astonish me. There are moments when an idea will come to my mind, whether it is a story, song or poem; and it will come to me (or rather through me) in its entirety. All I have to do is get-up-out of the way and it will pour forth, as easily as a rain drop down a windshield. In those moments, I know that I am not creating the work; but rather allowing the work to come through me. I am but a vessel.

Case-and-point, on Thanksgiving Day, I was driving to my mom’s home and Joss Stone was crooning in the speakers. One song contained the words “color me.” Instantly, a completely, different song flowed over my lips. A brand new song that was ready to be birthed. I knew I needed to stop my vehicle; pull out a recorder; and get the song down before it got away from me. I also knew that if I did not stop at that moment, the song would be lost.

That’s when the internal battle between the Creative me and the Practical me began. The Creative one wanted to stop and the Practical one wanted to arrive on time to Thanksgiving dinner. The conflict between these two parts of me is a constant and frequent occurrence.

My challenge is finding the balance between the two. Both parts have their merits. The Creative one produces the work that feeds my soul and when I share that work; it feeds the souls of others. The Practical one keeps the order in my life that allows me the luxury of making my work as an artist, my vocation.

It is my firm belief that the reason I have been able to work for the past 17 years as a professional storyteller is because of these two parts of me. My Creative self is the visionary, who is always looking toward the future and asking, “What if?” My Practical self is the pragmatist, who is always in the present moment and asking, “What’s needed now?” My never-ending challenge is to nurture both parts me by giving amble time to each.

On that day travelling to my family’s Thanksgiving dinner, I decided to settle the conflict by compromising. I recorded the song, as I was driving (Don’t worry. It was a hands-free recorder.) and arrived on-time to dinner. Unfortunately, when I arrived at my mother’s door, the song was not complete. The hook and one and a half verses and were done, but I knew there was more. The Practical part of me won by reasoning that the song was nearly completed and could easily be finished later.

It took a few weeks before the other half of the second verse was created. Several months later, it still feels like it is not yet completed. What is the moral of the tale? Hmm, good question. I am not entirely sure. I do know if I had to do it over again, I would have stayed in the vehicle longer to finish the song and risk being late for dinner. Surely, mother would understand.

p.s. When the song is completed, I will post the video :-).

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Making Decisions

“When you make a decision have your mind made up.”


A friend quoting his mentor shared this pearl of wisdom. This message in this statement is to hold firm to your conviction and be certain that your conviction is indeed your truth. It is not about rigidity or inflexibility but rather about integrity and impeccable speech.

Often folks are careless with their speech and arrive at a decision through uncontrolled emotions that lead to making not too well-thought out declarations. When the consequences of that decision begins to unfold, the speaker begins to back off that declaration or when others offer their opposing opinions about the decision, the speaker begins to waiver.

Recently, a friend asked me questions about my decision to end some relationships. She asked me:

•Did you have regrets for moving on and letting friends go?

•Have your friends reached out to you?

•Did you make new friends?

•Was it worth it?

To the first question I would say, “No.” It really takes me a significant about time and prayer to end a relationship, especially a long-term relationship. Consequently, once I arrived at that the decision there are no regrets. To the next question, I would have to say that I did not leave much room to reopen the door, once it was closed. It is not that there is no chance for reconciliation later down the path. Once I see that the current conditions are not conducive for the relationship to continue, I end it. Normally, I do not outline what conditions have to change because then I feel like I am getting into the “you-must-change” mode, which rarely serves anyone. I do not believe you can change others or should ask others to change. You can only change you and the way you respond to others.

Did I make new friends? My new flock is evolving. I am thankful that in the evolution, I am enjoying my own company. Finally, to the last question: “Was it worth it?” I would say, “Yes.”

At the root of this decision was my desire to take good care of myself, despite the difficulties that come with ending a relationship. In the end, when I make a decision, I pray that it is for my highest good. This journey called, life, is an opportunity for me to create higher and higher versions of myself. I pray daily that this intention is the basis for all my decisions.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Changing My Flock

I heard it said that in 15 seconds you can tell how successful a person will be by asking them two questions:
  • What books do you read?
  • What people do you spend the most time with?
My replies to these questions were very revealing to me. As for the first question, my book shelves are lined with personal development books that have helped me immensely, in every area of my life. As for the second question, I always thought myself to be a good judge of character and considered my closest friends to be decent, kind people, with strong spiritual foundations. Upon further inspection, I discovered that my closest circle of friends were not on a similar path as I.
 
Here’s what I mean. When I listed my goals and dreams on one side of the paper and listed my friends on the other, there was no connection. No one in my flock of friends had accomplished the things I wanted for myself nor were they on a path headed in that direction. Now, it is not necessary that everyone in your circle have the same aspirations; however, there certainly should be someone in your flock who can provide insight, advice or information on how to get where you want to go.
 
Being on purpose, serving others and building an empire by combining those two aspirations, has been my path for nearly two decades. There must be someone in my flock that is flying ahead of me who can say, “This way.” Or someone flying next to me in the pack who can say, “We can do this.”
 
This epiphany led me to end some relationships. Iyanla Vanzant once said, “People come into your life for a reason, season or lifetime.” I ended those relationships that were clearly seasonal. Relationships, in which, what we shared together did not measure up against the barometer of what we could accomplish together. I ended relationships, in which, my instincts told me for some time, that our paths were not in alignment, despite the affections we shared between us.
 
Recently, I read an excerpt from a book called, The Power of Story: Change your Destiny in Business and in Life. The premise of the book is to examine your life, as if it were a story that you tell to yourself. Upon examination of that story, you may decide to make changes. Upon examination of my story, I decided to make changes in the supporting characters to ensure that my story would unfold according to my vision and purpose.
 
What is your story? Do the characters in your life support the vision and purpose you have for your life? Are there changes you need to make to the characters or setting? What books do you read? What people do you spend your time with?

 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Elevator Speech

Do you have your "Elevator Speech" on the ready, to be delivered at any minute?

An elevator speech is a short, concise statement of who you are, and what you want. If you have a business, your elevator speech would include what your product or service is and what value it has to your customers. You should be able to deliver your speech in the time it takes to ride an elevator (estimated between 30 seconds and two minutes).

Here is my speech, "I am TAHIRA, a storyteller. My mission is to use story to inspire and empower others to think critically, choice wisely, and believe fervently in their ability to succeed."

Luck is defined as opportunity that meets preparation. If the person who could deliver all your dreams, got on an elevator with you and you had that elevator ride to deliver that speech. Could you do it? What would you say?

For tips on writing your Elevator Speech, check out my YouTube Video
below.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

A New Woman

One Saturday afternoon, the television was tuned to a video marathon of R&B tunes from the mid 1980s and early 1990s. Just the backdrop I love, as I put some TLC in my home.

As I swept, mopped and dusted, I crooned out the lyrics to songs from artists, such as Anita Baker, Luther Vandross and Teddy Pendergrass. Memories began to flood my mind. Howard University 1985: Club Philly meeting about South Africa Apartheid; February 1989: at my father’s bedside in his last moments; September 1992: my baby girl is born.

For the most part, these memories bring me smiles. Then, as I looked back in my mind’s eye at the woman I used to be, I had an epiphany: I am not that woman anymore. It is not simply a matter of maturation. It is a fundamental shift in WHO I AM.

Sure, many of the values I had in my twenties remain today: integrity, commitment to justice, and love for family. Now, my hopes and dreams are so different. Once I dreamed of forever and ever love. Now I dream of loving higher and higher versions of myself.

If someone was to knock on my door today, and announce that I could realize all the dreams of the woman I was at 28 years old, my reply would be, “No thank you, that woman does not live here anymore.”

Tell me. What would you say to an offer of realizing your dreams of long ago?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Out of the Valley

"I've had so many rainbows in my clouds." ~Maya Angelou


My last post was nearly a year ago. In that post, (and in the many of those immediately preceding it), I wrote a great deal about a valley experience. It thrills me to report that I am out of the valley. It is equally thrilling to share that I am so grateful for all that happened down in the valley.

What brought me to the valley was a near-fatal car accident, which was soon followed by an abrupt ending to a love affair. What kept me in the valley was my deepest desire to learn all that the valley had to teach me, so I might rise from it better, wiser, stronger.

So here I am. Without a doubt, I am better, wiser and stronger. My greatest lesson is that the Creator answers prayers.

One prayer was: "Show me who this man really is." After the prayer was done, I pledged not to turn my head at the parts I did not like; and promised to do what needs to be done, if he turns out to be someone who needs to be eradicated from my life. Within days, all I needed to know was revealed and I ended the relationship.

So here I am on the mountaintop. The scenery is very different. Some of the people who were with me when I descended into the valley are not here now. I also ended a few friendships that clearly hindered my ascent, realizing that to soar higher, my flock had to change.

Making these choices was not easy. Choosing this path was not popular. Taking the steps needed to climb out of the valley was not pretty or graceful. Nonetheless it was necessary.

"Right may not be expected. It may not be profitable. But it will satisfy the soul."
~ Maya Angelou