Stop Hesitating...just do the thing!

I often tell women who I speak to either at speaking engagements or coaching sessions that they have to get some small & mid-size wins under their belt so they can have the courage to jump off the cliff for the big things. It's tough sometimes because as women we can analyze the crap out of a situation, eventually talking ourselves out of making moves. In contrast to some of my male counterparts, they get an idea, pull the details together, execute with less hesitation and then rework it after the first learning rounds.

Case in point about over analyzing....you ever been on the phone with one of your girlfriends who is really feeling a guy? They go on one great date and he seems to be really into her too but all of a sudden it seems that he flakes and doesn't call? Let me tell you, I've been on the other end of the phone with my girls and situations like this around relationships, work, you name it and we'll take the little bit of details we have, perform an autopsy analyzing every angle of it and create an entire storyline as to why the expected outcome didn't happen...and let me tell you, we get real wild with it. In my Rihanna voice..."Wild, wild, wild thoughts." (Okay...can somebody help me get that song out my mind...I digressed.) And all along, after we've "assessed things", it may be as simple as he had a big weekend with his family and the time just got away. Nothing deep at all...he was just busy. Girl...just busy.  

We have this incredible gift of analyzation as women but sometimes we lean into that baby waaaaay too much.  I want us to begin shifting and just get stuff done. Stop talking about it, dreaming about it, and analyzing it. And to babystep us into it, I want you to start with some small to mid-sized wins. Here's what that looked like for me....

 

For a really long time, I dreamed about getting one side of my hair shaved. It was so cool to me and I felt like it represented my personality well...a little classic on one side (with my bob) and edgy on the other. At the same time, not knowing that I desired to get the style, one of my close girlfriends mentioned that she was going to do it and so I just fell back a bit and squashed it because "in my overanalyzed mind", I didn't want her to think I was stealing her style. I know....sounds ridiculous to me even as I type this. Anywho, some YEARS passed and she hadn't done it yet. And in May, I was itching for a change...cutting off my hair is a thing when I'm making life shifts...we can talk about that later. So I called my stylist to schedule an appointment and I just did it. Gone were the thoughts of "Lawd, I don't have any natural sideburns, it's gonna look crazy". And then the thought I had conjured up in my head about my friend who is so not like this when I told her I did it, I found out she had ditched the idea a long time ago. And you know, even if she didn't, it was bananas to not do something because someone else was going to do it. Let me tell you, as those clippers rubbed against the side of head and the hair fell to the ground, it was like feeling free and liberated emerged like a phoenix. I looked in the mirror and it was as if my soul was singing, "Finally, you listened."

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While this was "just my hair", this win set me up to get ready to move into some bigger areas of my life where I had been over analyzing the details and painting an outcome before I even took the first step. 

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So here's my challenge to you to complete in the next 21 days of you reading this....tell me one small or medium-sized thing that you've been wanting to do but you keep putting it off or you've just overanalyzed the mess out of it. I don't care if it's finally wear bright red lipstick, have a tough conversation with someone, or applying for that job you keep thinking about. Whatever it is, I want you to commit to do it. The beautiful thing that will emerge is that not only will it feel great to finally do it but you get to free up all that mental chatter that's been going on in your head because of the indecisiveness and perhaps fear. And once that thought is done, you make way for new creativity, ideas and inspiration.

So in the words of my grandma, and I'll clean it up a little for you (smile)..."Baby, it's time to pee or get off the pot!" Love you! 

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4 Keys to Stop Missing Out on Opportunities....

Like many women living out their dreams, I like to say that I'm dual-careered. I work 40 hours a week for a corporation utilizing my administrative gifts to support a busy executive. I also spend at least another 20 hours in the evening and on the weekend building my Dreams Unleashed business. Often times, many people try to keep things separate (and I do too in terms of my time and resources) but it's a beautiful thing when the two intersect. Let me share how Dreams Unleashed helped support my corporate client recently in an unexpected and impactful way.

My boss was invited to speak at a recent event in Maryland. I showed up for moral support because I love watching her do her thing; she's crazy talented. As I had known before, she was going to be speaking about personal branding and building a personal mission statement. Per usual, she had everything all set and ready to go. But not only did she deliver a keynote segment, she also had to lead 5 round robin workshops for about 50 young people in their 20s so that they each walked away with a clear and effective mission statement as they enter the workforce. Now one of the things I LOVE about my job and the company I work for is that people like my boss really enjoy sharing the stage and developing talent. To my surprise, after sharing my personal mission statement with her, my boss not only allowed me to co-lead with her but really gave me a platform to share my passion and skillset as it pertains to goal setting and how to craft a personal mission statement for life. It was a really BIG WIN for everyone: me, her, and these incredibly talented young people who are getting ready to take their communities by storm. They now have a guiding principle by which to live their life and to be intentional on what opportunities to pursue, which to accept and which ones to avoid at all costs.

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But none of that would have been possible if my boss had not given me one of the greatest things you can give someone -- OPPORTUNITY. Opportunity speaks love, concern and faith. So often, we want people to just hand us things but opportunity is action. It makes you put some skin in the game because you've got to work for it. Opportunity is literally a game-changer and I want you to know how to really lean into it. Here are my top 4 things I want you to remember as you look to maximize opportunities in your life:

  1. Prepare Now. Don't wait for "it" to happen. By the time your opportunity shows up, you won't have time to get ready. Everything I presented during that session was material I had been cultivating and sharing at other speaking engagements, coaching women 1-on-1 and in group sessions. I didn't have any notes...everything was on my internal hard drive and I added my passion for teaching and speaking. 
  2. Represent. You must, must, must represent the person giving you the opportunity well. They're taking a risk with sponsoring you for that opportunity. Show up polished and honor the trust they have put in you to perform. Girl, you better DELIVER! And even if you don't but you put your best foot forward, it's cool because you did what I want to share as number 3.
  3. Take Risks. Don't you dare play it safe. Let them see something different in you. Get uncomfortable because you never know if this is the one door that will unlock many other doors to come. Jump out there and come back with no regrets on what you "should have done". Promise?
  4. Seek Out Opportunities. Nothing landing in your lap or no one asking you to deliver? No worries. ASK. I know it's vulnerable but as they say, a lot of times we have not because we ask not. Yeah, they may say no but GIRL what if they say YES?!!! And here's the thing...I want you to look closer at your life, your relationships and where you are on a daily basis. Have you maximized the opportunities that are already in front of you? No....like really? In your church...in your neighborhood...in your home invite some people to serve...whatever...CREATE YOUR OPPORTUNITIES if it feels like you've been forgotten. Stop licking your wounds and looking at everybody else's highlights. You don't know how she hustled behind the scenes to make that happen. The same God who created her, created you too with a hustle get-it-done mindset and a bag of gifts that you've got to leverage. You can do it.

So...let's get working ladies...you've got some opportunities to leverage that will change not just your household and community but nations. I can see it!

God Supersized My Dream

Girrrrrls!!!! Oh. My. Gee!!!! Whether it be my Vision Statements or Vision Book (which I'll share about more later), you know I'm all about that Dreamer & Doer life! I'm passionate about seeing women discover and create strategies to go after their God-given dreams. Well...there was one dream that I had that only God and a friend of mine knew about. So here's the deal...

I'm a huge fan of Noonday Collection jewelry and accessories. Not only are their pieces beautiful but they are making a difference in some of the world's most vulnerable communities. It's jewelry and accessory with a purpose. They partner with artisans all over the world to develop their businesses through fair trade, empowering them to grow sustainably and create dignified jobs for people who need them. Having spent time in Ethiopia during my daughter's adoption, this is just something that really pulls my heart because I've seen the need and the difference opportunity makes.

Well...one of my girlfriends has been such a great ambassador for the artisans and let me tell you I LOVE hanging out at her gatherings where she tells the stories of the artisans, how the pieces came about AND how I can pair them with my wardrobe to take it to the next level. So y'all I'm all into Noonday. So that dream I was talking about...I secretly wanted to collaborate with Noonday somehow. My thought was, "Man, it would be so cool to be photographed and placed in their catalogue with me wearing the jewelry." So in 2016, it went on my dream list and as I said the ONLY two who knew about that secret desire was God and another friend of mine (who is not connected to Noonday at all).

Some months ago, co-CEO Jessica Honnegar who is also a fellow adoptive mom had her team reach out to me to invite me to be on her podcast to talk about goals. Did y'all just hear me???? Say what, God?!!! Jessica is one of those no-nonsense get it done kind of chicks. She's my WCW and she was reaching out to invite me to be interviewed by HER?!!! Okay, God. You totally one-upped me (per usual) on that dream. We landed on a date and the rest is HISstory. Jessica was amazing and true to form, God showed up and we had an engaging conversation that we promised to continue again, perhaps at the end of this year. I'm still kind of pinching myself because while I know the power of dreams, it just leaves your jaw-dropped when it is manifested.

So friends, here it is! Take a listen and please share with your girlfriends. There really are some gems in our dialogue as we talk goals and some good belly laughs about a little Real Housewives of Atlanta gem I dropped on Jessica. LOL.

Thanks Jessica... I love you dearly.

Ladies, be sure to check out Noonday Collection here and let me know if there are any pieces just calling your name. I'd love to get you connected to a Noonday Ambassador. As my daughter Selah says, "I spy with my little eyes...." that Folktale Necklace from India on page 60 and those Forestry Ear Climbers from Peru on page 20 . Have mercy! Get in my closet!!!

So listen....let me know what resonates with you about setting goals that really work and as always, please share this with a friend. Selah also says, "Sharing is caring." So care for somebody today! And if you'd like to book me for your podcast or a speaking engagement, simply email me at michelle@dreams-unleashed.com or visit www.dreams-unleashed.com/speakup.

Cheers to unleashing your dreams, friends!

The Grown Up "Time Out" You Might Need

As some of you may know, I recently took a break from social media. I just didn't share why. After nagging my girlfriend, Kristen, for a while about what to do about a situation in my life, she shared with assurance, "I think you need to fast, Michelle." Ugh...for real tho, Kris? But she was right, my world had gotten so clouded to the point that there was so much noise. I needed to disengage with something in my life for a bit and use that time to intentionally seek God's voice because quite frankly, a sister just wasn't hearing Him speak.

MY plan was to take just two weeks because your girl felt that would be sufficient (and truth be told, I really love being on social media so in my controlling kind of way, a 2-week hiatus felt like plenty...lol). Being connected to others via digital technology had become a part of my rhythm. My intentions were good because with limited time as I juggle working for a corporation about 40 hours a week, being a business owner and spreading my life out in my roles as a wife, mom, friend and so much more....social media helps me stay connected quickly with a broad range of family and friends. BUUUT....there's that other side. When I think about my routines, it's typically been how I start my mornings. Now the "church girl" in me wants to tell you that my mornings started with a devotional, a Bible passage, or heck even prayer. But nah...all of that came second because really social media had become my primary "Bible" of sorts. It had become such a daily cadence that even while I wasn't thinking about it, I'd automatically reach for it and scroll to my apps of choice. Whether Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest or Twitter (here and there), all of these things had quietly crept into my life and were some of my greatest influences. Be it a follow or have mercy a "like" from someone I admired or checking repeatedly to see who was liking what I said...it's hook in me while seeming small was actually very influential in my decisions, behaviors, thoughts and life. So the journey began.

The process...because I love a plan... First, I shared online that I'd be back in August. Next, I deleted all of my apps and changed some settings in my phone so that my notifications didn't tempt me. It was actually very freeing to turn off thousands of voices from all the different places. Then Kris reminded me to be sure to get in my Bible during that time. I started a devotional through the Bible app called Without Rival by Lisa Bevere. Girl...so timely! Then my sweet girlfriend, Carmen Jones, sent this message called "Mind Your Power" via a group text and it blew me away. That video led me to this video called "A Crumb for A Crisis". Whew!...from that video I decided to shift my music to only reflect true worship...not asking God for anything....just thanking Him for who He is and has been in my life. Then my girlfriend Rashida Banks sent this message to our accountABILITY group called "Nothing Can Stop You Child of God". My prayer life began to shift and I began to ask God not for the everyday but big, bold supernatural things and literally in 12 hours, the one thing I asked for boldly in prayer with my husband as i was headed to work was that my son receive a scholarship for his freshman year at UMES and it would be so done in such a way that people knew it was God who did it. Around 5:30pm that same day, I got word that Thurgood Marshall surpassed what I thought they'd give him and granted him a scholarship for $6,200 for the academic year. But y'all God hadn't stop speaking yet and I'm literally in tears writing this as I recall all that has happened in this short time. Because then on a day when I really needed to hear it, this video affirmation landed my way and I knew God was affirming my identity in Him without rival as Lisa Bevere had reminded in that devotion. There have been scriptures that have jumped off the page during this time and spoke to my soul. Answers I've wanted clarity on became clear. Things that I didn't want to do anymore, I've submitted to God's will to continue in it and I have grace and revelation of how He's using some of those situations I asked for relief from for a bigger purpose. I've been able to withstand some major challenges in life that should have me in a fetal position because my peace feels different. And, I've had more quality time to spend with my family and work on my business to gain greater clarity because of the amount of time and distraction that social media had become. Y'all, it's been so beautiful, so rewarding and so refreshing that just like a great vacation, I kind of don't want to go back but I know that I need to because God wants me to use those platforms but responsibly.

So here I am...back from my timeout. Renewed and most of all, ready to serve you in fresh and meaningful ways.

 

When's the last time you took a timeout for yourself...whether a fast, a little getaway, or whatever you needed for some self-care? If it's been too long, what's been holding you back?

Recap: The Singles Experience (Washington, DC)

What do you do when you have a room of 9 single women ready to have an unfiltered conversation about men, relationships, faith, sex, everything in between and how it relates to your purpose? You bring in personal chef Dorien Murphy, get a secluded space and just kinda dive in because you know it's gonna get real! The May 21st Singles Experience in Washington, DC was fun, thought-provoking, honest and transformational. And true to form, God's plan for the day took over. As I told the ladies, I had plenty of content and things to share but we were gonna take this thing to church. Not in the traditional sense because I wanted to stay clear of ALL THE THINGS that the church tends to feed single women and instead share something that I would have wanted to have when I was a single woman.

Christian Lifestyle Blogger, Tiffani Denham of Breakfast with Tiffani, had this to say about The Singles Experience on Instagram:

I gotta be honest, I was pretty skeptical about yet another singles event. The LAST thing I need is someone telling me what’s wrong with me and what I need to improve on to attract the right guy, OVER IT! ✋🏾 But #thesingleexperience was so NOT that at all. I’m not a fan of “fluff” and honesty that’s what I have experienced at some past singles events. But today, I got some real MEAT, literally and figuratively. Shoutout to Dorien Murphy for our BOMB lunch! I NEVER thought I could enjoy beets like that. Thanks Michelle McKinney for fostering an atmosphere where we could not only discuss our relational goals and aspirations but also our God given purposes. These goals though, I’m about to straight CRUSH!

So if you missed it, be sure to sign-up for our News & Events section. Some of our events are created for a larger audience while these type of sessions are intentionally intimate to foster the kind of dialogue and transparency that makes it worth giving up a day with friends or your nice cozy spot on the sofa.

To Tiffany Johnson who decided to bring her camera to the event and lavish us with all of these beautiful photos, you wowed us. Big thanks to Stephanie of Faith Over Everything who served as my event assistant for the day and whose company printed our gorgeous golden swag bags filled with goodies from Aveda, SoulCycle, and Blue Mercury. And as if the goodies in the swag bag weren't enough, we had an angel donor provide Andy Stanley's "The New Rules for Love, Sex and Dating". More to come on that book because I'd say it's the best book I've read on dating...like ever and I'm hopeful that we'll do a little bit more with it for a larger group of women. Stay tuned.

But overall, it was so incredible, I'm confident that if we had our pjs, we would have wanted to stay over and chatted into the early hours of the morning. Until next time, friends. Here's to unleashing dreams in every area of your life!