Value Friendships

By Guest Blogger DaNika Neblett Robinson – (In honor of International Women’s Day)

Like organizations, it is important to have a Board of Directors to assist you with the strategic direction of your life and ensure that you are prosperous. Their purpose should be to check on you, connect with you, and to challenge you to be a better version of yourself. These are the people who would probably say, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” (3 John 1:2, KJV).

Yes, you have to be careful about who you allow into your personal space. But, being too cautious can be detrimental. “Let your conscience be your guide” (Jiminy Cricket, from the movie Pinocchio, 1940).

At work, I have a Tribe that I connect with weekly. Being the only person of color in a senior leadership role on my campus, I know it is my duty to connect with subordinates, particularly those that look like me. During this weekly sync up, we talk about a variety of things. I create a safe space where they are free to vent as well as encourage. Other leaders may frown upon this approach but my authentic leadership style* compels me to:

* understand my purpose;

* practice solid values;

* lead with heart;

* establish connected relationships; and

* practice self-discipline.

As an author, I am a member of Focused Writers led by my mentor Stacy Hawkins Adams. My fellow writers and I receive writing tips from Stacy as well as each other. Writing a novel or speech or even a blog can be a lonely process. Having people you can count on to share what projects they are working on while gently nudging you to meet a deadline has been critical. Although we typically meet virtually, we have been diligent about meeting in-person as well. These connections have helped us to remember why we write and solicit ideas that can benefit us as we move forward.

In my personal life, I have my God Sistahs. These women serve as a sounding board for me. They have helped me to see things from a different perspective while loving me through my hot mess moments. Our friendships have gotten us through turbulent times when dealing with the loss of family members. Assisted us in rearing our children who are now adults. And ensured we remained in healthy relationship while supporting the need to breakaway when necessary.

On my path to become a doctor (Ed.D), I had the pleasure of spending three years with 17 brilliant people. Being a first-generation, nontraditional college student, I did not have the standard undergraduate experience.  No roommates. No student life. No sorority. But I do not feel like I missed out on anything because this cohort of smart people inspired me to be a passionate educator. We started the doctoral program very green and not knowing our super powers. Any time we have the opportunity to reconnect, we remind each other of how far we have come. Those moments together are priceless.

Being a busy woman who travels to and fro regularly, it is imperative for me to return to home base. The greatest of all friendships for me is that which I experience with my life partner/husband. He knows when I am drained and suggests I take a nap. I laugh at his dry jokes. We have intimate conversations about our children and what is next for them. Most of all, he is my biggest cheerleader. I could not ask for a better person to share my life with.

Hebrews 10:25 (NLT) says it best, “And let us not neglect our meeting together as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Do not downplay the value of friendships. Do not limit the number of people you allow in your personal space, simply because you fear being hurt once again. Know that all interactions are needed as you continue your metamorphic journey.

*George, William W. Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003.

Editor’s Note: This column first appeared on DaNika’s blog, The Metamorphic Journey. Visit here and subscribe: themetamorphicjourney.org.

DaNika Neblett Robinson is the author of  The Metamorphic Journey. This page-turning novella explores three teenage mothers’ quest to succeed. The Metamorphic Journey is also the name of a movement DaNika 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 graduate of the Ed.D. program in Educational Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University and an expert in transformational leadership, she speaks widely about excellence in leadership, in particular to women’s organizations and audiences. She also uses her knowledge to empower young adults to embrace their purpose. Learn more about DaNika and her body of work at themetamorphicjourney.org.

Sing (and Dance) Anyway

I came across this senior year of college pic of myself recently and I’ve kept it on my nightstand for an occasional chuckle. ss

Yes, my pants are too big ( I was really petite back then and did my best! 😂) and yes, I remember where I was – in a friend’s dorm room, enjoying a surprise party thrown for me.

I look like I’m singing cause I was. But can I really sing? Sadly not.
I had fun trying, though, with whatever that song was and with a little Salt n Pepa, too.)

I look like I was acting silly cause I was. And guess what?
Beneath my sometimes reserved, often inspirational and occasionally feisty demeanor lies a girl who is still fun at heart and able to laugh at myself and with others.

I was 21 in this pic and considered grown. (Ha!)
What I’d tell that young girl from my now full-fledged adult state is actually what I exemplify in this photo: to always find joy in the small moments and sing (and dance) through the rest.

That girl didn’t always get it right and neither do I; but both versions of me have been, and remain, grateful for love, laughter, grace, life lessons and the journey itself – gifts that never age or go out of style.

I challenge you to dig up a few of your own funny pics from the past and reflect on your treasured (or silly) moments from yesterday. May you be inspired to embrace new dreams, cut yourself and others some slack, and create more meaningful memories.

Stacy Hawkins Adams 

Are You Ready for Next-Level Living?

Hey you, it’s Dec. 5.
For the final 26 days of 2019 …challenge yourself to stretch beyond your usual boundaries and plant seeds for a next-level version of you to blossom in the year to come.
Do something that scares you.
Explore an unknown path with an open mind.
Seek to understand rather than be understood.
Be kind, even when it’s hard.
Say no to a few “good” things so you’ll be available to say yes to your “great” and purpose-driven opportunities.
Give without expecting anything in return.
Say “thank you” for all of the lessons you’re learning along the way.
This is the pathway to a life that will open your heart, elevate your humanity and multiply your joy.
Come on…it’s awaiting you.
Stacy Hawkins Adams 

Why Taking Risks Is Healthy

Someone recently called me a risk-taker, and at first, I didn’t fully agree. (Most folks are surprised to learn that I can be shy or consider myself an extroverted introvert.)

Then I paused and did a mental rundown of every time I’ve ignored my fears and followed my heart – whether personally, professionally or in daily life – and I had to accept that yes, I’ve been a risk-taker, in ways that have stretched me and yielded phenomenal growth, meaning and joy.

When I look back and consider the pitfalls and valleys along the way, they seem necessary side effects of pursuing and cresting some amazing mountaintops. And as “auntie” Dr. Maya Angelou once so eloquently stated, “I wouldn’t take nothing for my journey.”

So yes, I’m a risk taker in my own unique way, and because of that, I’ve tapped into numerous blessings beyond my comfort zone. God willing, there are more to come.
What about you?

Do you see your dreams and desires on the horizon, just out of reach but fully attainable if you lean in to life or to thinking differently, and leave the safe shore?

Stretch yourself. Create a plan when possible, or simply follow that nudging when it won’t let up. Go for it and don’t look back.

– Stacy Hawkins Adams

 

Dont-worry-about-failures-worry-about-the-chances-you-miss-when-you-dont-even-try-Jack-Canfield 

Set Your Intention & Surrender

I launched this first day of September a week or so ago with a morning trek along a path that was brand new to me. It was beautiful and breezy and serene.

I talked to God, and then I stilled myself to listen, even as my feet kept moving.
Subtly, yet clearly, the answers I sought came.

Then I saw it – that juncture in the road where the paved pathway met gravel – leading to uncultured, unknown territory and to a bend in the road around which I could not see.

I advanced a few feet, then retreated, deciding to explore more fully on another day.

For in that moment, I had all I needed – fresh air, exercise, a lush green setting and a visual reminder that at every turn, I am loved, worthy and deserving of joy.

And guess what? So are you.

That walk reminded me that even when we’re on the right path, we’ll encounter some pebbles, stones, rough patches and dirt. We won’t always know the end before we begin or even when we’re mid-journey. Yet, that’s why it’s so important to enjoy and treasure each step of the journey itself, for all the worth each phase brings.

In the right season, at the appointed time, we will discover the beauty behind those bends and truly value the extra effort it required to get there.

Wherever we are on the path, we can trust God’s goodness despite what the world or our circumstances show, and lean into the truths of how He has already blessed us. Think about your past 90 days and count the ways.

I’m convinced that our trek into the final months of 2019 are gonna be better than good – paved roads, gravelly paths, wood trails and all. Are you ready? I’ve got my walking/running shoes on and I am. 👟🕶💪🏾

Stacy Hawkins Adams

 

How Nipsey Hussle’s Life Inspires Me

nhI’m not a huge fan of current-day rap, and I didn’t know the name Nipsey Hussle until the rapper/entrepreneur/community builder’s recent untimely death. But in that brief time, the overwhelming mainstream media coverage about his impact, and the unfiltered grief of his friends and fans (he’s reportedly the Tupac of this generation), have shown the world what it means to live with honor and create a meaningful legacy that outlasts you. 
I also don’t know whether Nipsey Hussle was a man of faith; but in his own way, he exemplified the St. Francis of Assisi mandate to “Preach the gospel and sometimes use words.”
Today is his memorial service. May he RIP, may those who loved and admired him be inspired to emulate his positive focus and generosity, and may we all aim to leave our family, our community, and this world a little better for our having been here.

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.