Just Ask

People asking questions in a classroom setting.

The day before something is a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea.
Peter Diamandus, Chairman and Co-Founder, Singularity University

Summertime is coming, and this year will be a little different for us. I normally have an easy time deciding on where the kids will be for the summer (i.e. camp, swimming lessons, etc.), but this year is proving to be a bit of a challenge. The issue is they are four years apart in age, and there isn’t one place that will be best for all three. While daycare would be great for Stinker, I know that the girls would be totally bored. And while fine arts camp might work for The Diva, I know that Miss Double Digits would lose interest fast. The challenge is how can I accomplish having meaningful summer experiences for all my kids, and not blow my entire summer budget?

Then it happened…a passing thought, which I almost dismissed just because I “assumed” the answer would be “no” since it has never been done before. But then I remembered something I just spoke with some high school students about: what do I have to lose by asking for what I want? The worst that can happen is a “no”, and I am already working under the assumption that I will get that “no”, so let’s just ask and see what happens!

My idea was a simple one. I would propose that Miss Double Digits become a Junior Camp Counselor at her old elementary school while The Diva attended as a participant. This means that my oldest child would get some volunteer hours working with teachers she knows and loves while my middle daughter received some enrichment education that would help shape her. It would be a perfect solution to keeping the girls together while allowing for them to have separate but meaningful summer experiences. And after two conversations with school administrators, I was told that they would love it! (Oh, and Stinker will still be at daycare but that works for me.)

My experience isn’t unique. My friends have been asking bold questions all week. A few days later, while scrolling through my timeline, I saw a few more examples of people creating their own lanes and charting their own futures. I wanted to share their stories with you (with permission, of course), as I am encouraged by them.

“I was invited to be a vendor at a private event at Essence (Music Festival). I took a risk as I asked the organizer how many other t-shirt vendors did she have for that particular event. She responded, “Usually about three or four, but your shirts are different, that’s why I want yours.” Then I asked, “What if I become your exclusive t-shirt vendor, meaning I’m the ONLY person on site both days selling t-shirts, and I’ll sponsor shirts for the event staff with my logo on them?” She could’ve told me to kiss her ass, and I was expecting her to, but she replied, “You’re hungry and smart, and because I respect the grind, you are going to be the only person I register to sell t-shirts. Work smarter not harder; know your worth, and sell yourself as a million dollar brand before you become one…”
– Terrance Gilbert of Trademark Creative

“I am a Training Coordinator in a chemical plant, a white male dominated position which usually requires years of previous experience as a Plant Operator. I’m not a white male, nor did I have operations experience. But I was able to get this position with a high school diploma. I went from making $27,000 to $60,000 within my first 4 years with the company. How did I get this job? Off the clock, during lunch breaks or after work, I would shadow a person in the role that I wanted. I simply complimented them and asked if they could show me a few things. I asked questions and took notes. After a couple of months, I approached my boss and stated that I would like to back-up the role, and that I had been training with one of the guys. I also asked if he would re-evaluate my current job as an administrative assistant and attach the new back-up role to it. This new back-up position was considered an operations role. He agreed. Basically, I created a job that didn’t exist! This move bumped my salary up from $2,250 a month to $3,750 a month. After doing this for about 6 months, I was contacted by another department who needed someone in an operations role who had computer experience, and I was offered my current job making $4,800 a month. Fourteen years later, I now make over $8,000 a month plus benefits, which started from a job that didn’t exist. So don’t be afraid to create your own lane.”
– A.N. from Louisiana

Basically, the bottom line is this, if there is something that you want, ask for it. It really is that simple. Once you step past the fear of the “presumed no”, then everything that you think you want is accessible to you… once you ask the question. So what is the one thing that you’ve been thinking about, that you are afraid to ask about, that could be a little crazy, non-traditional, or unorthodox?

Directionally Challenged

I love maps. I have clear childhood memories of my dad asking me to look up addresses in his bright orange binder of Key Maps. (I know I’m showing my age but whatever.) I was amazed that every street in this big city was written down on a piece of paper. As long as l read it correctly, I could figure out where we were going. But my success was dependent upon my ability to read the map accurately.

In college, when movies like The Mummy and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider came out, I was obsessed with treasure hunting. I mean, I bought all of those types of movies. Obsessed. It combined the mystery of reading a coded map with the possibility of finding a secret/hidden/lost treasure. While the movies’ main character was highly motivated by the “treasure” at the end, we see that their success as a direct correlation to their ability to decipher the codes in the map and then follow them.

As an adult juggling a full time job and three little people with their own full time schedules, I use my map app (or GPS) all the time. Whether I am going somewhere new or going to/from work or home, I use it. I want to see up to date traffic patterns and detours so I can make the best decision on my route in an effort to save time, headaches, and cuss words. Unlike traditional maps, I am not depending on my own ability to read the map; instead, my hope lies in the GPS.

For those of us who are directionally challenged, the GPS is pretty on point. We can tell it where we want to go; it tells us the best route to take. It adjusts for detours and accidents. But it also allows for the user to change the route manually, if needed. While this is a great feature, it can often lead to trouble. While we might think we’re right, sometimes we aren’t. Sometimes we have to be humble in our ignorance. We don’t always know what the best route is. We have to trust that the GPS just might have the inside scoop.

Now, you might read this with a standard GPS, global positioning system, in mind. And that’s relevant… but what if you replace the word global with Godly. I believe that God wants to chart our course just like a GPS. He will tell you the best way to go, often with the quickest travel time. But because we can’t see the route or know the timing, we grow impatient. We switch to manual mode – changing routes and taking “the back way” – only to discover that we are off course. Thankfully, GPS will redirect you from any location.

While we have been given free will, wisdom is required to know the best road to take. With either view, global or Godly, it requires trust in the system to follow the directions provided. The ultimate goal is to hear the words, “You have arrived.”

Curb Your Perfectionism

Hi. My name is Erika. I am a reformed procrastinator turned informed perfectionist. Either way, it’s trouble…trouble.

“Perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes.”

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic

Being a perfectionist can be a positive quality, and it can be dangerous for a creative person like me. For me, perfectionism means that I can’t move forward with a project unless I absolutely love it! This feeling transcends throughout my professional life, home life, and continues to be my struggle every week for this blog.

While I have always gotten compliments on being a good writer, being funny or profound, you wouldn’t believe the struggle it takes to capture all those things on paper! And it isn’t because I don’t know what to say. It is simply that I am not 100 percent confident that I am ready for the whole world to read it. And If they read it, will they love it?. Heck, do I even love it?

What I have realized is this: done is better than perfect. I recognize that by waiting for perfect, I’m missing out on good, great, exceptional, and amazing. So write the book; make the film; build the house; start the business because it won’t be perfect, but it can be great!

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Congratulations to Kurllenne Martin, winner of the My Simple MOMents First Birthday Contest! She won dinner with me AND took home a gift “bag” full of my favorite things! A Thirty-One Bag with gift cards to Hobby Lobby, Chickfila, and Starbucks, Pirouline strawberry wafers, Albanese gummy bears, and a little something for her desk. Learn more about Kurllenne in this month’s Mom 2 Mom post! Thank you for being a fan and supporter of My Simple MOMents!

Mom 2 Mom with Kurllenne Martin

Mom 2 Mom is a recurring post that will feature influential Moms who are making strides in their careers and communities while managing the tests and trials of motherhood. We’ll discuss parenting, careers, and work life balance all through the eyes of today’s featured mom, Kurllenne Martin. As the winner of the My Simple MOMents First Birthday contest, Kurllenne is today’s featured guest. We met through our love for students, and we have shared giggles together ever since. Kurllenne is days away from turning 40, a loving wife, and a mom to a teenage boy, Trey, and a preteen girl, Kya. She is a middle school teacher who is passionate about giving her students every opportunity to succeed which works well with her dream job, a school counselor. Introducing…Kurllenne.  

Do you remember how we met? Let’s tell the story…

Funny story because we met two times. Our first meeting was at my former middle school’s career day. I brought the group of students I was escorting to the classroom you were in.  We met, but I thought that was going to be the only time we would see each other. Fast forward three months later and we meet again at a Mother’s Day outing. That’s when I knew you were so AWESOME! LOL! We laughed and connected as mothers, wives, and friends in that afternoon.

I already know this answer, but tell the readers, what is the one thing you are truly passionate about?

The success of our youth.  I believe our youth have so much potential and that they can be amazing.  Adults have to provide our youth with a way, confidence, and uncover what they love.

How would you describe your parenting style?

I joke that I am a lazy parent. LOL! I want my kids to be independent, and I have built a solid foundation with them, so I am able to step back and let them experience a few things on their own.  I provide them with advice, and they can take it or leave it. I think it is important for them to learn from experience. They know my expectations in regards to academics, behavior, and their actions. But seeing my two kiddos grow and come into their own, it amazes me daily.  

Kurllenne with her husband and children during their last family photo shoot. 

Photo courtesy of Geralynn Prince.
Kurllenne with her husband and children during their last family photo shoot.
Photo courtesy of Geralynn Prince.
Share your funniest “guess what my kid did” story…

When my son was in elementary school, maybe 4th or 5th grade, he was taking a shower in my bathroom.  I was in the bathroom as well, probably going to my closet, I see him pick up the Head and Shoulders, put some on his washcloth and start using it to bathe with.  I tell him that Head and Shoulders is shampoo for your hair. He replies to me. “It says, Head and Shoulders.” I give him this confused look and leave the bathroom, as I was done.

Have you ever thought “I can’t do this” and why?

I definitely have moments when I get overwhelmed with being a mom and want to quit. LOL!  With my kids being older, it does not happen as often as when they were younger. When my daughter was born she had a brachial plexus injury and required physical and occupational therapy.  It was a lot for me and even with the support of my husband and mom, it was too much for me. The experience definitely taught me how to ask for help and not always need to be a SUPER MOM.

What advice would you give to your younger Mom self?

Things will not always go as planned. Your kids will not be perfect. Everyone is making mistakes with their kids and their life. Be kind to yourself, you are AWESOME! Remember to LIVE every day to the fullest with those you LOVE, and LAUGH as often as you can.

Would you like to be a featured Mom on My Simple MOMents? Email us!

Happy Birthday, My Simple MOMents!

It has been 1 year since my sister/editor threatened me with a “push the button or I will” text message. While I had the domain name and the ideas, I was never ready to move forward until I was… pushed. And it has been the best decision ever! The My Simple MOMents Blog has been more than even I expected. I thought I would just write about my thoughts, share my feelings and work through my own processes. But you all, my readers and followers, have breathed more life into this blog with your love, support, comments, and shares. With over 1,000 views and 748 visitors in its first year, let’s take a quick look at the Top 5 Posts since March 2018:

5. Parenting Sickle Cell Siblings

4. New Year Writing Challenge

3. Put That Down!

2. Mommying My Way *Guest Post

1.Confessions from a Reformed Hater

In honor of our first birthday, I am giving away a basket of My Favorite Things! No, this won’t be like Oprah’s luxury list, but you will get a few sweet treats and precious treasures that I enjoy. How do you win?

Follow the blog on Facebook and Twitter @mysimplemoments
Like, Share or comment on this post.
Winner will be selected at random on Friday, March 29.

Thanks again for all your support. And happy reading!

Suddenly

I don’t believe in coincidences or things happening by chance.

Recently, things changed for me professionally. Some might call it a reorganization, realignment, or restructuring, but it felt more like a strategic chaos. I was tired, overwhelmed, and frustrated more than I would have admitted at the time. I was struggling with my place in it all. I talked incessantly with the Mr. about these changes, but I couldn’t make sense of things.

I used this blog as part of my outlet. Imposter, The Missing Piece, Stuck on A Runaway Train, and The Wait were all written during that time of my life. But I was still struggling to see how this was all going “to work for my good”. I prayed, cried, and ate Blue Bell ice cream, but always came back to the same plea to God, “Tell me what I am supposed to do.” And His response was clear, “Stay in your lane. I got this!”

But you need preparation to go with your prayer.

So I stayed in my lane. I focused on doing my ever-changing job well. I made sure that my husband and children didn’t feel neglected. I shifted my energy towards buying a bigger home for us to live in, one where my Mom wouldn’t have to climb the stairs every day. I minded my business, drank some water, and moisturized my skin. I did what I knew to do that would keep me in my proverbial lane.

Time went by. We gave thanks as a family. We opened gifts under the tree. We toasted to the new year, and then, packed up our house and moved. The transition was relatively easy, minus an issue with both Miss Double Digits and The Diva’s school buses. (Another blog, another day.) But I felt confident that I was making the right moves and decisions. And most of all, I was staying in my lane and minding my business just as He asked of me months before.

But there is a season of suddenly blessings.

I was scheduled for a meeting with my boss regarding some new changes to our department that would directly affect my position. I went into the meeting confident and with an open mind. It was revealed that while there were changes, I also had options. I knew instantly that this was the confirmation that I was asking for. Having options would lead me to what I was supposed to do next.

On the same day, later that afternoon, I received a phone call with a new career opportunity. It would be doing the work that I enjoy in an environment that cultivates relationships that I’d like to build, all while helping people who need it the most. (Insert happy tears and unspeakable gratitude.)

It is my belief that this immediate answer of a new job opportunity is a direct response to my obedience. I felt encouraged, amazed, in awe, and blessed. Because finally, all the dots are connected, and I can see the whole picture. I have heard of shifts and transitions happening so quickly that if you blinked, you would miss it. And I have even experienced something like this a few times before, but this time was different. I most certainly could not deny God’s hand in it. But the point is, if I didn’t listen to His request, would I in turn be able to receive the level of blessings He had for me. And just as a rainbow is formed after a rain, God’s blessings can manifest in our lives… suddenly.

Moving On Up

I started writing a post about my recent experience in moving – getting a new office and a new home. But I realized that the point of my post really shouldn’t be about moving. It is about something much deeper than that….

In December, I moved into a new office. My old office was down the hall from the rest of my team. Switching offices would mean that the whole 5-person team would be next door to each other. A few people asked me if I was upset about moving. “It’s just an office,” was my constant reply, and I sincerely meant that. In January, we moved into our new home. I love the space! While we are still living out of boxes, I am so excited about being able to provide new opportunities for my family.

The entire concept of moving has so many layers to it that it is a wonder that people ever move at all! Do you really want to pack up your entire life? Is the new space “perfect” for you? Have you calculated how much all of this will cost? You can even spend time preparing for the move with checklists and color-coded labels, but you still might not be ready for a move… or so you think.

The key to moving includes two things: growth and acceptance. While you are growing into the new level, you are learning to accept the end of the current level you are on. Or the new level is being nudged upon you, as God sometimes does, and you have to accept that it’s time to move. Regardless of how it happens, movement in a physical, mental, or emotional space can not happen without your growth and/or acceptance.

If you are struggling with how to get through the growth or acceptance of your pending “move”, here are three ideas that helped me, even in my uncertainty.

First, purge the old stuff.

I’ve collected so much over the years. Things I didn’t even realize were still there, hidden in drawers or boxes, and oftentimes never used. You might feel sentimental about some of your items, and that’s expected, but there is freedom that comes with the purge. Warning – the purge isn’t always about material things… it could apply to relationships as well. Trust me on this.

Next, protect your treasures.

Anything fragile requires extra attention, and this includes your emotional state. A change in environment can bring up some emotions for which you weren’t prepared. Be gentle with yourself, and take the time you need to process this.

And always, pack your patience.

Moving takes time. It all takes time. There will be days when you are frustrated and most certainly tired, but your patience will truly come in handy. And not just during the move, but AFTER the move.

Regardless of how you view it, there will be lessons to learn from moving. And as you celebrate the “new” opportunity you’ve been given, take time to celebrate being courageous enough to leave the “old” behind. From my perspective, the significance of my move is just as much about what I am leaving behind as it is what I am going to gain.

Nineteen Things in 2019

I don’t believe in making “New Year’s resolutions”. There is a two-part reason why. First, why wait until New Year’s day to decide to make a change in your life? Any day that you wake up and decide you want to do better, have more, start over, or start a new, that would make it a “new year” for you. I love that we have 365 days every year to become better.

Secondly, statistically speaking, by February, 80% of New Year’s resolutions are forgotten about. So how serious were you about sticking to your resolution if you only made it because of a holiday? It seems to me that you are less committed and less motivated because you are following the crowd. If that’s the case, you will not be as successful as you would like to be.

Instead, I am committed to doing “Nineteen Things in 2019” that will challenge my comfort zone. Some of these things will be simple and easy to complete. (We all need some guaranteed wins in life.) Others will take more work, determination, and focus. Here’s what I have so far.

Incorporate a new color into my wardrobe.

There are colors that I stay away from but not because I don’t like them, just because I have grown comfortable with my “standards”.

Read one book a month.

Whether it is a self help, business, or fiction, my goal is to make time to enjoy something I’m passionate about – reading.

Post consistently to the blog.

I want to have a set day when the posts come out so that you so can know exactly when to check it out.

Learn a new skill that will benefit me professionally.

Not sure what this will be, but I don’t want to become stale while on my career path.

Start networking with other bloggers.

I’ve been in this blog world for almost a year (wow!), so it is time to step out and meet some other bloggers.

Say “No” to something that is a pain point (a stress factor).

Sometimes we chose to do something that is no longer serving us because of loyalty, but the reality is that if we just say “No”, we could improve our lives.

Say “Yes” to something to that could be a pleasure point (an excitement factor).

I’m not a risk taker, and I’m pretty conservative about a lot of things. This one will actually be a test for me, so I will have to be intentional about having more fun.

Make more memories with my family.

I already have something planned for March and June, and I have not done either of these things before. I am excited to share those moments with my family.

Whether you make resolutions, commitments, or just a long “To Do” list, I encourage you stretch yourself. Figure out one thing you can do that is new or different. Mix things up a bit, and be prepared to experience 2019 in a new way.

New Year Writing Challenge

It’s only days away from the start of 2019. Most people have already started reflecting on the highs and lows of the year gone by. Listing their accomplishments one by one. Posting their Top Nine photos or an Insta-collage of their most liked posts. While I agree that it’s important to review the past as you are preparing for the future, I would also like to suggest that you try a reflective process that would include self-discovery too.

Back in 2013, I was introduced to a Writing Challenge by SlayNewYork.com. I was intrigued because it required the participant’s to publicly identify their life’s highs and lows. The idea of it being public was terrifying to me, but something pushed me to at least try it. All of the topics were all about self-reflection and self-discovery. My motivation lasted 12 whole days before I lost focus, but it was still a great exercise for me. I believe some of these musings are still accessible in my Facebook Notes (if that even still exists).

Since the new year is upon us, I “vote” for a New Year Writing Challenge. This challenge is not just for people who are good with words – it’s for YOU! The point is to reflect on your life, where you are right now. Even if you don’t commit to writing every day, just trying it will have benefits you can’t imagine. Below is the original backstory and writing prompts. I have updated the directions for consistency. While SlayNewYork.com doesn’t exist anymore, I appreciate what it helped me to accomplish with my own personal reflection journey. It has been 5 years since I participated, and I am looking forward to doing it again!

__________________________________________________________________________

Backstory: I don’t know why it’s so easy for us to tap into the role of “fixer” for everyone else but somehow fail to do the same for our own being. Through this challenge, I hope to do nothing more than help people pay attention to who they are. I meet many people who don’t know how to articulate their feelings or their hurt, nor have they taken time to heal, find their purpose, or even find out who they are. Hopefully, this will be transforming for someone.

Directions: This is a 30-day writing challenge that starts on January 1st. It’s the perfect time (in my opinion) to start gearing up for the New Year. The only requirement is that if you participate, use the hashtag #NYWC. Bonus points if you post each day publicly (via social media, wordpress, blogger, etc.). The idea is to struggle visibly. This is not only to get you more comfortable with transparency but to also serve as an example (or reminder) of what it means to be human. We can’t grow together if we’re too busy hiding the growth we need to do separately. Check out the topic for each day in January below, and don’t forget to tell a friend. I know that some of these fall on days that many of us will be with family or friends, but these are small sacrifices. If you do decide to participate, try to do all 30 days. See where it takes you.

Jan 1: Who are you?

Jan 2: What areas of your personality, background, physical appearance are you struggling to accept?

Jan 3: What are your dreams? How are you positioning yourself to make them become your reality?

Jan 4: In a perfect world you would…?

Jan 5: Write a “goodbye” letter to anything that has hurt you. Dig deep with this one.

Jan 6: Think about your close circle. What does it say about you? What do you provide each other?

Jan 7: What do you wish your parents would’ve done more of for you/with you growing up?

Jan 8: What’s holding you back from living your best life right now?

Jan 9: Write a love letter to yourself.

Jan 10: What’s a body goal that you’d like to reach? Address it, then make a plan to reach it, and set a start date here.

Jan 11: What did your first love teach you?

Jan 12: One word – Trust. Write anything about it that you please.

Jan 13: What are you most afraid of? Why?

Jan 14: What has been your biggest adjustment from childhood to adulthood?

Jan 15: How do you heal?

Jan 16: What’s your purpose?

Jan 17: How do you need to be loved?

Jan 18: Write a letter to the person who has had the biggest impact on your life?

Jan 19: What is the worst thing that has ever happened to you? How has it shaped you?

Jan 20: Right now I am learning…?

Jan 21: If the universe asked you, “Why should you be allowed to continue living?” your response would be what?

Jan 22: Think of the people who’ve made it possible for you to live in the world you live in today. In terms of the fight for equality and fairness, are you adding or taking away from that legacy?

Jan 23: Are you a leader or a follower? What makes you either/or?

Jan 24: What does your presence do to a room?

Jan 25: What are you lacking?

Jan 26: What are your strengths?

Jan 27: What is killing you to keep around, but you’re too comfortable with to let it go?

Jan 28: What are you thankful for?

Jan 29: Going into 2019, I will…?

Jan 30: What have you learned from over the last 30 days

So that’s it! Thirty days to investigate your past, present and how it can lead to a clearer, more focused future. I will post the writing prompt daily on Facebook and Twitter if you would like to participate there.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, post comments, and share. While this is the final post of 2018, there are BIGGER things planned for next year. I can’t wait to get started and I hope that you’ll join me for the ride.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year!

~Erika