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Archive for the tag “giving back”

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I was thinking about something last night and this morning.

My goal in life is to not be ridiculously wealthy. I would like to comfortably pay my bills and not have to think about it and when I want to travel, or eat out or buy something I really like, I don’t want to have to feel like I’m sacrificing to survive, or living from check to check. Just a simple existence. And I’d like to buy a house someday.

This became clearer when I went to the transitional housing shelter to drop off the food I made. The woman in charge was a fellow former journalist, her husband also in the business. She seemed like she was passionate about what she was doing and generally happy.

I already knew a long time ago (and I’ve mentioned it here) I want to work in mental health advocacy or with a program that helps women and girls.

It’s a new goal.

As I watch the world of journalism morph and die all around me, seeing talented friends and colleagues lose their jobs everyday, and the decline of great journalism for whatever it is that’s out there now (even though there are great blogs and non-traditional forms of media that I love), my initial dream of being a great reporter, who ends up writing a great weekly column well into retirement is over.

I’ve been fortunate to have lived my dream in a number of ways. I wanted to be a newspaper reporter and I did it. I got to cover awesome events and go to places and meet people I would have never imagined.

I wanted to become an editor and that was a major achievement for me. And I’ve been one for nearly 7 years. God is awesome. And as this industry changed, I was changing with it. Even though I was getting further and further away from writing, I was learning about content management systems, social media, video, podcasting and broadening my skills.

Sometimes I felt like the odd woman out working for a very specific kind of media company that most folks when I attend media conferences haven’t heard of. But I’ve been stable and blessed.

So the question is what now?

I’ve got no kids, I’ve got no husband. As my father has told me numerous times, if I want to switch gears at any point, I have the right to do so.

I have amazing friends who have taken insane leaps over the last few years. They’ve gone back to school, they’ve left stressful, unfulfilling jobs, they’ve even left the country and they are all doing just fine. They still have places to live and food to eat.

What real risks have I taken?

I’ve been wondering what’s next? And instead of wanting a Pulitzer, I want to be more impactful on a smaller, micro level.

I don’t want to run from new challenges.

I didn’t realize how sometimes, there is a great challenge in being comfortable because now you have to hold yourself accountable for what you do next and the level of energy you put in towards that.

When you are grinding for your life, it’s easy to make goals and decide you have no choice but to achieve them.

I thought to myself that this is the first time in my life that I didn’t have an immediate do or die goal.

I’ve wanted to buy a modest house or condo, but it freaks me out and I haven’t really saved money.

The tee-shirt company is still in limbo because I’ve made the excuse that I need to get my credit card balance down to something more reasonable so I can use it to buy inventory.

I dream of going to Greece and my goal is to do it next year.

But unlike when I was a kid or a college student, my future hasn’t seemed so clear lately.

In fact, it’s felt blank.

Love life? Blank.

Professional life, blank.

There once was a time where I thought maybe I wanted to be like my bosses’ boss and run a bunch of publications and deal with the politics and madness.

Eh, not so much.

Being like the woman running the transitional shelter seemed waaay more appealing as of late.

I used to always think about doing more, or the awards I didn’t win. Or that maybe my career as a reporter was too short. I missed having front page stories and bylines and rushing off to do a story.

But I’ve always been where I’m supposed to be. I’ve been blessed. I’ve had moments and achievements to be proud of that no one can take from me. I’ve fought for my respect, for my paycheck, for my current position.

I’ve tried to aid other people in their personal and professional success and offer encouragement and support.

So I have no clue what’s next. But I’m starting to notice that as I get older, I’m wanting a simple life of giving back and service. I don’t need to be flashy, or have a corner office but I want to lead a comfortable life full of food, loved ones and travel.

I don’t think that’s a bad goal…

On Seeing Myself and Other Revelations

So many things are going on in my heart and mind right now, it’s kind of nuts.

I’m inspired by how kick-ass Lancelot is, and I’m inspired by the book I’ve been talking to you folks about, “Calling in the One.”

There is a section in the book that talks about being a better you and basically having things going for yourself so it’s a lot easier for someone who has their stuff together can enter your life and you can both go do great things together.

The book, and Lancelot’s passion and risk-taking abilities speak to something I’ve known about myself all along but have kind of suppressed the last couple of years, because I’ve been in survival mode.

I do enjoy doing things that I feel are meaningful and that will help others and will allow me to be creative.

Somewhere along the way, I got lost in the sauce. And even with a new management position now, for which I am grateful, I have gotten further and further away from my passion as a writer and a reporter. I no longer professionally identify as such.

I still consider myself a journalist and editor, but I work in the digital space, with online content, primarily. I enjoy supporting my team, teaching them things and watching them grow. But, I can only take them so far, because in this world, I’ve only gotten so far myself and have been struggling with what to do next with this company way long ago.

Something tugged on my heart to go to volunteermatch.com yesterday. And there are times I have these moments. I feel inspired, I want to give back, but I search the site and either the times are bad or locations for the things I’m interested in.

I did something different with my search and put in writer as the keyword. There were few choices that popped up, but one did and it was awesome. It was for a writing coach to help low income kids prepare their college applications and scholarship essays.

I was all over it. I applied yesterday, got correspondence from the organization right away, and as of this morning, I passed the background check. I will be participating in an intense four-day program at a local university, working with a group of 4 to 6 kids, getting them ready.

Then I realized the personal mission I wrote down like three weeks ago. Connecting people to opportunities!! Yes, I am already embarking on that journey! I felt and still feel so good.

Yes, I will be taking two vacation days to do this, but I really want to. It’s important to me.

“Calling in the One” made me think about the connection to feeling good about myself, working on my purpose outside of potential romantic relationships.

I want Lancelot to be proud of me. I want to be his equal. I’ll never know how to do the crazy information technology stuff he does, but I know how to write my ass off. I know how to sit down and talk to people, ask them questions and have them share with me and feel safe. I know how to encourage people and cheer them on and remind them of the greatness they have inside them.

I want to do more of those things.

I find so much joy in talking to my mentee. I decided today to not just talk to her about her goals, but talk about the process of creativity and inspiration. So I shared with her my favorite books that spoke to me and or changed my life forever. Then I asked her to tell me what her favorite books are music are. We could take a short break from prepping our proposal to the local newspaper for an internship for a moment.

I look forward to her response.

It’s becoming clearer to me that I want to transition into working with young people and helping them gain access to opportunities. I don’t think I want to be a teacher, but I want to help them discover their talents and build a plan to help them utilize it and find a way to make a living out of it.

Seems like a lofty goal and I guess it does sound like a teacher or a guidance counselor. But I don’t want to be bogged down in the administrative nightmare of working in public schools. And I don’t want suckie pay. But, if I end up happily, ever after with Lancelot, maybe I’d have a little breathing room to do something without thinking about my rent all of the time…Can’t bank on that, but I’m just saying…

So what’s out there for someone like me? How can I blend my talents as a professional communicator with helping young people and get paid and not starve?

What masters degree could I get? What organization could I build or start?

Even with the tee shirt business, where the grand vision also included a women’s lifestyle website with articles and eventually empowerment conferences… I’ve been more motivated.

Trying to build the website on my own, I’m realizing has been holding me back and making me nuts. Just to get going, I may just buckle down and pay money for a simple site and finally get started. Just because the website I was building was free, it’s costing me more time and frustration. Sometimes you just have to jump out there.

Lancelot has shown me that, and so has “Calling in the One.” The book is gangsta. So I’m working on me. The better version of me. The version that seems to be gravitating toward working with young people and helping them reach their dreams.

One of the organizers from the event I spoke at a few weeks ago sent me some photos. Most of them were taken unaware, and seriously aside from me being dissappointed with my weight, I looked really happy. I looked comfortable doing what I was doing.

I saw myself.

I really saw the heart of who I am, in a photograph of me holding a microphone, sitting in a circle of young women, sharing with them.

It moved me.

One of my close friends saw it and said, “Just look at how those girls are looking at you.”

That was cool, if it was a look of interest and admiration, but I was more interested and fixated on what was radiating out of me. It was natural and it was the best of myself.

I had the same feeling looking at that picture, as I did in a photo of me from years ago, when I stood outside of the White House, arms folded, rocking a fabulous suit, with press credentials around my neck.

I feel my life shifting into something I’ve never expected and I embrace that. I’m happy to find myself being filled with purpose again.

Me:6.0

So, around these parts, I’m always talking about my goal to empower women.

I got to walk the walk and talk the talk this weekend, by going back to my hood and speaking to some young ladies at the new, spectacular, ballerific Boys and Girls club facility. This place is beautiful and breeds creativity.

This place is gorge.

There were about just over a dozen girls there ranging in ages from 10-20 and we talked to them about going to college, career opportunities, trying new things, bullying, popularity, etc.

I was over the moon.

I was in my element. I really enjoyed sharing my experiences and giving advice.

But there was one girl. Who stood out.

She wasn’t afraid to ask questions, and she was the first to shoot up her hand.

And what did she want to be when she grew up?

An investigative journalist! Ding, ding, ding.

It was like Jesus himself shone a light on this girl and said, “My child. Mentor this child.”

My best friend was in attendance to support me and she kept saying over and over, “Oh my God. This is scary. I thought the Universe was supposed to implode if you ever met a younger version of yourself. Like, you just aren’t supposed to.”

I played it off, but I knew she was right.

This little girl talked about loving to be in the poetry club, and how her friends think sometimes she’s too intense and too deep. She was encouraging to the other girls in the group and talked about even if you aren’t popular you should join different kinds of clubs to meet other people who like the things you like and make more friends that way.

I pulled the old mentor trick to see how for real she was…

Here’s my email. Please contact me if you are really interested in getting more information or you need help with your goals to become a journalist.

Little me had the nerve to hit me with an email first thing the following day. Then she said, she was sorry she didn’t email me the same day we met. Oh, I laughed a good laugh. This little girl is for real.

I see a young hustler beast in the making. She started asking me questions about summer internships and how she can get started. She asked about what major and minor should she look into.

Was she a high school senior, prepping for college?

Hell naw. She’s 14. This is why I call her Me:6.0. I knew I wanted to be a journalist when I was that young, but I wasn’t thinking about majors and minors at that time. Her reason for interest in investigative reporting? She wants to write stories about the government and expose evils and such. Oh, God bless her little heart.

She really doesn’t know what large media companies have been reduced to and that she needs to investigate and expose them too!

But we’ll get to that later. I wouldn’t dare squash her dream. She can write in-depth, investigative stories, but she will have to find other mediums and they are out there.

I give her props, because at her age, I would have been too nervous to contact a speaker from a program, even if that person did seem really interesting.

I told her she was already a natural and I’d be delighted to help.

I have already started to devise a plan to see if we can get her a little job at our tiny, super-local community paper. I feel like they are so small, they’d be nuts to turn down any kind of help. I’ve offered to write a recommendation letter and talk to their editor to see what we can do. I told her I can’t promise anything, but we are going to try.

I also told her to make sure she tells her mother we are speaking by email, to discuss our emails and call my cell phone to talk to me personally, to learn more about me and decide if she feels comfortable with me mentoring her daughter.

The funny thing is, as cliché as it is, going to talk to these girls did more for me and my esteem and helped pump me up probably more than me helping them.

I’m beyond thrilled I met a young lady interested in my field and maybe just maybe, I can help her achieve her goals.

I’m floating on air! Can’t wait to really help this girl. I’m going to go nuts if we can land her a little job at the newspaper.

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