Her Story: How Getting Away Helped Me Get Back to Me

By Guest Blogger DaNika Neblett Robinson 

I slid the balcony door open, walked to the end of the railing in front of me, and stood there. Soaking up all of the beauty.  To my left was the sun rising as it peaked through the palm tree leaves that swayed from left to right. In front of me was a picturesque view of someone parasailing over the aqua blue water beneath them.  To my right was a middle-aged man wearing earbuds and walking a trail in the 70-degree weather that would peak at 90 degrees by midday.

I sat down and reflected.  I was on vacation.  I could finally stop for a few days and do nothing.  No emails to check.  No meetings to hurry to and no numbers to crunch.  No football practice to scurry a child to.  No choir performance to slip in the back of the auditorium to hear my baby’s alto voice melodically come through.  Nothing but me, God’s creation, and the fears I had decided to toss into the body of water in front of me.
Back home in the U.S., where I was a leader in my community and at work, I often had to be mindful of eyes watching me – which made me as cautious as the seasoned woman I observed wading in the beach water in front of me, holding the arm of the person who walked beside her. My trip to paradise allowed me to throw caution to the wind, however, as I boarded a catamaran and sailed with the native who guided the vessel to the furthest part of the blue horizon that I could see with my naked eyes. As I sat there on the open vessel, I realized that I had conquered a fear.
You see, I had pondered that boat ride for a few hours, afraid I would drown like I almost did at 10 years old.  Only this time, it was not a pool.  I was surrounded by water so deep I was sure that if I took a plunge, the life jacket would not save me.  At this moment, on the catamaran, I felt superior.  Fear no longer controlled me.
Traveling exposes you to many sites and experiences and provide opportunities to reset, regroup and refresh.  One could choose to go thousands of miles away from home or simply a car ride down the street.  The idea is to get away and do things outside your norm.  I’m glad I did, and I encourage you to do the same. Your mind, body, and spirit will thank you for it.
DaNika Neblett Robinson is the author of a novella, The Metamorphic Journey, about three teenage mothers’ quest to succeed. The Metamorphic Journey is also the name of a movement she founded to provide individuals with opportunities to foster personal growth. DaNika has served as a higher education administrator for more than 20 years and is currently the CFO of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science at the College of William and Mary. A recent graduate of the Ed.D. program in Educational Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University, she holds several other degrees and uses that knowledge, coupled with her expertise in transformational leadership, to empower young adults to embrace their purpose. Learn more about DaNika and her body of work at www.themetamorphicjourney.org.

Plan Your Social Media Break – After Reading This

Vacations are great for many reasons – they give you a chance to do nothing if you want; to savor each moment without rushing; to be fully present in your here and now.

What I’ve learned over the years is that this even applies to breaks from social media. (According to a recent Washington Post article, a Pew Research Center study shows that 68 percent of Americans have either temporarily signed off of social media this year or left various platforms for good.)

I took time away from my social media pages last week and part of this week to brainstorm a few writing projects; to connect with fellow writers and authorpreneurs, and to strategize/envision my first quarter of 2019.

All good stuff and worthy of the focus I gave.

But equally important was the time I took to enjoy each day and each encounter – from leisurely reconnections with longtime friends and the meeting of new ones, to an empowering luncheon with amazing women leaders to the simple yet heartwarming phone chats with two of my 20-something nephews, who (unbeknownst to each other) called me out of the blue last week to shoot the breeze. Both of them made my day. 🙂

So my point? Consider taking your own social media break (whenever and however long suits you best) to enjoy your family and friends in real time. Focus on some goals away from the hustle and bustle of the internet highway.

It can be refreshing and revealing, and perhaps you’ll return ready to appreciate – all the more – the good that comes from connecting online, as well as the good you rediscovered within.

Stacy Hawkins Adams original quotes

6 Steps to Loving Others While Leading Yourself

Only you know the purpose that fuels your passion;
Only you can conquer the mountain over which your destiny awaits.
How you get there matters just as much as when.

  • Focus with fearlessness. It’s natural for fear and doubt to sneak up on you every now and then – we’re all human. When it surfaces, pause in the moment and recognize it for what it is. Briefly analyze what’s causing the anxiety, then decide to push forward.
  • Persist with integrity. Be the same person in private as you are in public, and be sure that’s a person you honor and respect, so others will learn to do the same. Make decisions filled with honor and fairness so that you can expect the same when others deal with you. Not everyone will treat you right; but in your doing the right thing consistently, you’ll sow enough good seed to make a positive difference.
  • Dream big, then do. If you don’t dream beyond your borders you’ll have no new territory to conquer. Allow yourself to imagine the grandest vision possible for your life, then sit down with pen and paper (yes – old fashioned journaling) and map out your path and plans to get from idea stage to reality. Stay the course and eventually you’ll get there.
  • Travel with likeminded warriors of hope who’re willing to stand with you. Everyone needs friends, family or colleagues who believe in you as much as you do – those supporters who will remind you why you started and insist that you finish on the days you want to quit. Some of us may have a tribe of people and others of us may have just one. One is all you need, and as Beyonce’ once sang, in some instances we have “to be our own best friend” and be that one! Whatever it takes, stick with hope.
  • Bless and release those meant to travel another way. Not everyone will get you and not everyone has the stamina to stay the course with you until you win. Be grateful for the part they’ve played in helping you grow, embrace those lessons and wish them well. Just because their part in your story has shifted doesn’t mean they didn’t add some value. Yet, value yourself enough to know when your inner circle must morph in order for you to get unstuck, avoid becoming stuck or humbly soar to your next level.
  • Be an example of the light and generosity of spirit that make the most difference, and remember to treasure the journey as much as achieving your goal. Everything begins and ends with love. Keep this circular reality in mind and operate accordingly, so that when you arrive at your destination, you’ll have few regrets.

Write Your Way Whole….These Scribes Are

I spent Saturday morning at one of my favorite places in Richmond – Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden – leading a talented group of writers through the process of refining their novel, memoir, blog and short story ideas, with the goal of helping them captivate readers.

Writing @ The Garden with Stacy
Stacy Hawkins Adams and her Writing @ The Garden workshop participants.

As soon as the workshop ended, I headed to the Meadowdale Library to attend the book launch celebration for my writing mentee DaNika Neblett Robinson, Ed.D., who I’ve watched blossom into authorhood over the past three years while simultaneously completing a doctoral program in leadership at VCU. (Can you say “wow” with me??)  IMG_2221Her novella is a fictional story about three pregnant teens seeking hope amid their difficult choices, and it’s a path that DaNika knows well, having herself journeyed from teen mom to Ph.D standing. You’ll find her book – A Metamorphic Journey – on Amazon.

I’m so proud of all of them and grateful to share my expertise and passion for storytelling in this way. When their works shine, my heart smiles.

Got Empathy? How Seeking to Understand Serves Us All

By Stacy Hawkins Adams

“Don’t Make Assumptions.” I appreciate this one of Don Miguel Ruiz’s tenets from his book The Four Agreements in particular because it reminds us to give grace to others due to our own blind spots.

There’s no way we can fully know what someone else is going through or has gone through – especially by watching their social media “commercials.”

There’s no way to know the complete behind-the-scenes experiences that have motivated others’ next steps or perhaps left them stuck – unless we both ask with an open heart (when appropriate) and listen with unfiltered ears (always).
Until we can truly see and value others, we’ll always assume what “should” or “could” be their reality and/or their responses. But what good does this kind of judgment yield?

So consider this agreement a practice worth pursuing, in the spirit of elevating relationships of all kinds.

Ask instead of assuming you know their truths and speak up instead of assuming they “should” know yours.

Pause instead of pointing fingers; reflect instead of rejecting. Know that unless you’ve walked the very path they’re trodding, you really know very little – and vice versa!

Extend grace as you’re also seeking it. Hold at the forefront of your mind that each day and each personal encounter should begin and end the same – with love as the central force.

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How to Make the Rest of This Year the Best of This Year

Can you believe we’re in mid-June and 2018 is half over?
No worries – there’s still enough year left to reboot, regroup and refocus.
Revisit your goals, set new deadlines and get moving.
Practice more self-care, whatever that looks like for you.
Try something new (a meal, a place, an activity) and open your mind to enjoying it.
Say no to whatever feels like settling.
If someone else’s “good enough” is your “almost but not quite,” trust yourself and be patient.
Make new friends, but keep the old.
Forgive yourself, and others too. It’s freeing.
Start positive new habits while gently kissing goodbye those actions, attitudes and encounters that no longer serve you.
Hug yourself. Respect yourself.
Water your soul with loving thoughts and words and watch yourself grow.
Be fair with others, even when they are unkind. Your grace could be the antidote to whatever is causing them to act in unbecoming ways; and if nothing else, you’ll walk in the joy of knowing that you remained your best self.
Be grateful for your allies, supporters and loved ones. People change and tribal members do, too; but your day-in and day-out loyalists are worth cherishing.
Move forward – one thought, one prayer, one choice, one step at a time. This all can add up to a powerful transformation.

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Why We Must Surrender to Wonder

Sometimes our dreams are so big that we tiptoe to the edge of them, then shrink away.

But what if we had the courage to actually follow where they lead?

To consider how leaning into them and falling forward allows the wind to buoy us and keep us afloat? 

To trust the lessons we’ll learn, the people we’ll form bonds with and the experiences that will shape us as our divine birthright?

What if we loved ourselves- and those in our care – enough to surrender to this way of being?

Wow…just wow. Wouldn’t our lives be a wonder?