Faith

EP. 150 When will you give yourself permission to pursue your dreams?

I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe that things happen for a reason. Lately, I’ve been having so many conversations with people about pursuing your dreams. This is a topic that I’m constantly talking to my mom about as well. I’m actively working towards my goals every day. I’m always in a situation where I’m helping other people identify and achieve their goals too. 

I recently had another conversation with two incredibly smart women (you know who you are) regarding the topic of pursuing your purpose in life and how to motivate employees to explore having a side hustle/side passion.

It was a really good conversation. One of the comments that resonated the most with me was the idea that so many people don’t pursue their dreams or think about having a side hustle or side passion project because they don’t think that their companies will support and/or allow them to pursue their endeavors.

This comment really shocked me. I would never in a million years wait or seek for someone, in this case, a company, to give me permission to pursue my dreams. It truly was interesting to me to learn that there are people who find themselves in this dilemma. 

I’m not wired that way. When it comes to achieving my dreams, I’m like Nike. I just do it.  I will always shoot my shot. I can’t stress enough how important it is for you to invest in yourself. Quite frankly, no one else is going to do it for you. 

So I asked myself, “Why would anyone whether it be intentional or unintentional seek permission to pursue their dreams?” I came up with four reasons. 

FEAR

The reason why people feel the need to seek permission to pursue their dreams is fear. They don’t have that internal drive to motivate them or they don’t have that external drive of having someone in their corner to push them.

Click here to click for the conversation between my mom and I regarding this topic.

“I’m tired of not having enough,” is a statement that you would hear from someone who has internal drive. When you get sick of not having enough that internal fire inside of you is going to prompt you to want something more out of life. When you want more, you won’t feel compelled to seek permission because you’re tired of waiting. I’m going to get it myself. Then you go out there and start pursuing your dreams. 

If you lack an internal drive then you will need an external drive. Meaning, a loved one to push you outside your comfort zone. 

Some of the most ambitious people I know either came from a childhood where they didn’t have any money or they came from a childhood where they had someone to push them outside their comfort zone. Again, you’re either in a fight or flight mode or you have someone in your corner rooting for you. My drive would be considered external. I was blessed to have a very loving childhood. We weren’t poor, but we definitely weren’t rich; yet, all of our needs were met. 

If you want to take it one step further, even though we weren’t wealthy, we were blessed to have two loving parents who shared their knowledge with us. You can’t put a price tag on knowledge. My mom taught us about God and Jesus at a very early age and she was always putting us in extracurricular activities that she felt would develop the talents she identified in us.

Mom and me 🥰

The reason my mom did all of those things is due to the fact that she had a horrible childhood. She lived in the projects and swore to herself that her children would never go through what she went through as a child. She is an excellent example of having an internal drive. Her inner strength did not allow her pain and suffering to be in vain. My mom didn’t have any money, she didn’t have loving parents, she didn’t have a single soul in her life helping her, but she had that drive to have a good life. She knew that you had to have a balance in life. 

She wanted to work hard to get the things she desired in life. My mom channeled all of that negativity into something positive because she didn’t want us (my sister and I) to grow up the way she did. She broke the generational curse of living a mediocre life. My mom wanted us to be better than her. We were able to stand on her shoulders. I’m so grateful that my mom started developing me to have confidence in myself at an early age because it gave me the strength and preparation to endure the obstacles that I would later face as an adult.

Even when you have a “just enough lifestyle” as I did, you still need someone to push you outside of your comfort zone. My mom’s parenting style was very similar to that of an eagle. She made sure that when it was time that she would give us that much-needed push outside of the nest so we could fly on our own.

COMPLACENCY

If you lack the internal or external drive to pursue your dreams you become complacent. You start to believe that your circumstances dictate the level of success you can achieve in life. This is simply not true.  This is why people who overcome adversity are oftentimes the happiest and most people in life because they earned their success the right way. They didn’t let life’s detours cause them to give up. They just kept going. I don’t care how long it takes for me to achieve my dreams, I will die happy knowing that at least I tried rather than leave this world with a warehouse of unfilled dreams. 

The pandemic has further heightened my aversion to complacency. My mom blessed me with the gift of discernment. This may sound harsh but it really doesn’t take me long to know whether I’m going to get along with someone. My number one pet peeve is people who complain. 

My mom taught us at an early age to be grateful. She would share stories about her childhood compared to ours. She taught us the value of money. When I was in high school, it fascinated me how many of my classmates were just given cars for turning 16. I knew for a fact that wasn’t happening to me. The main thing that I noticed was that many of them didn’t appreciate their car the way I did when I saved my hard-earned money and bought my own car. 

I treated my little Mercury cougar like it was a baby. Why? I paid for it myself. 

A couple of weeks ago, I was at a Burlington Coat Factory. For those of you not familiar with that store, it’s like TJMaxx. Anyway, it was a Saturday afternoon and when I went in line to pay for my stuff, I noticed that the line was crazy long. People were angry. They were complaining. 

Again, I hate when people complain. Either shut up and stay in line or just leave. It never ceases to amaze me that the people who complain about long lines are often the folks who never worked a day in retail in their lives. Trust me, the folks who work in retail have no desire to be there either. Who wants to put up with Karen/Kens all day long?! Not me!

I worked in retail all throughout high school and did a little bit of it again when I was laid off a couple of years ago.  Folks who work in retail and grocery stores will always have my patience. I’ve always believed that if everyone was forced to work in retail the lessons they learned in patience would teach them lessons in respect. 

Getting back to my story, I was going to wait in that line no matter what because I finally found the workout resistance bands I had been searching all over the place for. The line was moving at a snail’s pace and as I finally made my way closer to the counter I could see there were only two cashiers working at the counter. These two women were not only ringing up merchandise but they were also handling returns. It made my heart go out to them even more so. The folks in line were complaining over the fact that these two cashiers weren’t ringing people up fast enough when they should have been thanking them for even sticking around in the first place.

When it was finally my turn I made sure to thank the cashier. She was so grateful and then proceeded to tell me that everyone called off from work that weekend. She had literally been working since 6 am. Now mind you, it was like after 1 pm when I was at the store. This woman had been unboxing inventory and straightening up the store before it even opened and now she has to deal with these angry customers. Are you kidding me?! 

I couldn’t thank her enough and completed the survey at the bottom of the receipt. I wanted to make sure that she received the credit that she deserved. I left that store feeling angry because when I thought back to the folks who were in that line with me, they had a “corporate world vibe” and looked like they worked from home. 

This is why whenever I hear people or read stories about people complaining about working from home, it takes every fiber of my being not to roll my eyes or go off on that person. I wish they could have switched roles with those cashiers.  They would realize what an absolute blessing it is to work from home and not have to deal with miserable people like themselves who take their anger out on other people. Trust me, those essential workers, many in the corporate world claim to care so much about would gladly switch paychecks and places with you in a heartbeat. 

These are things that you don’t think about when things are constantly given to you. You lack empathy. You expect the world to revolve around you. When you finally realize that it doesn’t you don’t know what to do. You feel lost and start to complain. Now, this is going to sound even harsher, but complacency is contagious. The corporate world is filled with complacent people who wish to steal the joy they see in others who didn’t succumb to complacency.

LACK OF BOUNDARIES

When you allow yourself to become complacent, you don’t establish boundaries in your life. When you live a life without boundaries, you’re further jeopardizing your ability to accomplish your dreams. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, but how and who we choose to invest our time will vary. I have a very good work/life balance. The main reason why is because I keep those worlds completely separate. I learned early on in my career that not everyone who smiles in your face is your friend, and to do my best to develop multiple income streams.

Depending on where we meet and how comfortable I feel with you, will determine the level of how much I share. When I go to work, I’m there to work. I view my 9 to 5 as a job that funds my life but is definitely NOT my life. I think so much of the friction that occurs in the workplace is because people project what they want onto other people and get disappointed when that person doesn’t act the way that person “expected” them to. Again, we don’t have to be friends in order for me to get my job done. If a friendship naturally develops cool, but just let it happen. I know this may sound harsh, but I have enough friends. 

In order to achieve your goals, you have to protect your time. It’s one of the reasons why I’m fiercely protective of my schedule. I will not waste my time participating in activities or spend time with people who don’t add value to my life or will cause me to feel uncomfortable or stressed.  Listen, a happy hour is not going to change the fact that we have absolutely nothing in common. If anything I’m going to be irritated because I’ll be thinking of the time lost to working on one of my passion projects. 

I know some people may be like, “How do you know if you don’t go?” I’ve never done drugs and I know that’s not good for me either. It’s the exact same concept. Not everything in life has to be experienced. Some experiences can be avoided by learning from other people’s mistakes. Plus, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know if you have things in common with someone. 

Again, having clear boundaries with my work and personal life allows me to create a schedule that enables me to work on my side hustles. I make the most of my time. I’m even productive during my lunchtime! I either go for a walk to get in some exercise, I practice Spanish with my Spanish teacher online. My mom is taking Spanish classes too now, so I practice with her sometimes.

My Voice over studio 🥰
Thrilled I finally have my own home studio!!!🙌🏾🙋🏾‍♀️🥰

After work, you can find me consulting with other individuals teaching them how to create their own website, podcast, or marketing campaigns, doing voice-overs, or thinking of topics/lessons for my English classes. Again, I make the most of my time. Contrary to what some believe, I am human. 😂 So when I’ve made the mistake of sharing some of my extracurricular activities with those on the job, the complacent folks are quick to say things like, “Aren’t you doing too much?” Or some other comment that they feel comes across as concern when I really know it’s jealousy.

My schedule reminds them that they aren’t doing anything at all or not doing enough of the right things to make them happy. 

LACK OF REST

Since I’m good at establishing boundaries, I know that getting enough rest is an important role in pursuing your dreams. Now the rest I’m talking about is mental and physical. You can’t dream if you’re constantly tired. I’m a morning person.

I prepare myself for the day by reading something in the Bible that aligns with the emotions that I happen to be feeling at that point in time and then I go exercise. I either go for a run, a bike ride, work on the elliptical machine or do an Afrifitness video. I’m in even more of a position to do these things because I work from home. I don’t have to waste time commuting because everything I do is online.

Morning run: A sweaty hot mess, but I got in my 5K. 🙌🏾
I run a 5K at least 3 times a week.
Lunchtime: Went for a walk near the beach. Couldn’t pass up that amazing natural light. No makeup or filter on this photo. Just my oily skin and Afro puff. 😂

Anyway, everything I just described is even more important to do if you work in a toxic environment or with toxic people. Those suckers will drain your energy. When I was working at dead-end jobs, I made sure to go for walks during lunch so I could decompress. I didn’t want that negativity getting in my soul. I would meditate on God’s word and listen to uplifting podcasts during my lunch. That small break gave me the much-needed motivation to get me through the day. 

By the way, I would never tell anyone to quit their job. Those bills aren’t going to pay themselves. When you make time to put God first by strengthening your mental and physical health you are going to see things start to change. This is when you’re really going to start to identify or start tapping into all the other gifts that God’s given to you. We ALL have talents, but it’s up to us how long they lie dormant.

I know how important it is to rest. Another one of my favorite ways to rest is to teach dance fitness classes. I can’t wait to get back to teaching those again. You have to have an outlet that allows you to rest so you can dream. 

I taped this video last year (2020). I thought I was going to be teaching again at the gym again. The gym I worked at ended up laying off the group fitness instructors. 😢 I remember being dead tired taping this video (I had just finished working out with my mom), but it had been ages since I did this routine. I created the choreography for this song and wanted to see if I remembered it. 😀

If you find yourself feeling fearful or complacent, what are you doing to create boundaries to place yourself in a position to dream? It may be scary, but take the first step to address what it is that is holding you back from pursuing your goal. Believe me, the return on investment is worth the risk, so make time and use whatever resources you have at your disposal to bet on yourself.

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Thanks so much for listening to today’s episode. If you enjoy listening to Hustle in Faith and would like to support the show, please consider sharing it with your friends, leaving a review, donating, or making a purchase at  StarenguCrew, our new fitness apparel shop.

Be sure to connect with us on Facebook and Pinterest. Remember, if you’re everything to everyone then you risk being no one. You never know who will inspire you in the next episode!

Ep. 146 Are you in charge of your emotions or do your emotions control you?

Have you ever found yourself in a situation that left you wondering – how did I get here in the first place? It could have been a business deal that sounded good at the time, so you went all in without learning all the details. Or, maybe you agreed to loan money to someone who you thought was a friend, only to find out later that they were taking advantage of you. In both of these scenarios, this person was led by their emotions.

Many of the mistakes we make in life are caused by allowing our emotions to control us. This is what happened to Saul who later became Apostle Paul.  Saul thought that he was doing the will of God by killing Christians.  Needless to say, our emotions can get us into trouble.

In the first scenario, this person got involved in a business deal that they should have passed on. In the second scenario, the person allowed empathy to control them which impaired their ability to discern whether this person was actually a true friend.

When we allow our emotions to control us it demonstrates that we have poor listening skills. Meaning, we have problems hearing God. Constantly ignoring our conscience or ignoring the advice of godly people who have a vested interest in our success demonstrates that we have poor listening skills. Having poor listening skills is one of the reasons many of us find ourselves in hot water. Poor listening skills will cause us to make unnecessary mistakes and prolong our suffering, place us in a position of receiving less than God’s best, and decrease our chances of being a leader. 

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m currently single, have never been married, and without any kids. When I was younger, I wanted what my mom refers to as the checklist lifestyle. I wanted nothing more than to have a husband, kids, and career at the exact same age when my mom achieved those milestones in her life. I remember when I turned 20 being so upset because I thought something was wrong with me for not being married by 19.

Although my mom explained to me that nothing was wrong with me, at this time in my life, I was a very poor listener.  Her words of wisdom went in one ear and out the ear. During this period in my life, nothing she said resonated with me. Mainly, because I kept encountering people who would question why I was single.

Since my emotions were not aligned with God’s word, I would allow them to project their checklist lifestyle onto me which destroyed my peace and happiness (Joh 10:10). Every time I would complain to my mom about never finding the right guy, she would say, “Stop looking and just enjoy your life.” I think it was sometime during my mid-twenties when my mom sat me down and had a brutally honest conversation with me.

She compared my focusing on Mr. Right to Eve’s downfall. Focusing on one thing you lack when you have 100’s of other things to enjoy is a stupid way of thinking.  She continued to explain that when we allow our emotions to control us, like Eve, we risk losing everything. We miss out on enjoying all the blessings God has already given us.

To this day, I’m so thankful that my mom had that conversation with me. It forced me to really evaluate what it was that I wanted in life. After doing some deep soul searching, I realized that I really didn’t want kids. My main reason for wanting them is because I thought I was supposed to have them and this was one of the things I needed in order to be happy in life.

My mom then said, “You know I love you but if I could go back in time we would not be having this conversation.  I would not have listened or followed society’s version of life; getting married at such a young age and having kids.” She then shared ALL and I mean ALL of the sacrifices they went through in raising my sister and myself.  My parents got married when they were 19 and were married for 23 years and she shared all the ups and downs that they went through. 

Due to me allowing my emotions to control me, in a weird way, I thought I was letting my mom down by not being married and having kids. When I shared my thoughts with my mom, her reaction was the complete opposite. My mom’s like, “You’re living the life I envisioned for myself. Carefree and just enjoying everything that God has to offer.” I thank God that my mom was determined not to encourage me to follow the generational lie that happiness is found only in being married and having children.” I remember her smiling when she said, “I love seeing you happy and enjoying everything that life has to offer.”

As I grew older, I could not thank her enough for her advice. However, I could kick myself for allowing myself to suffer unnecessary stress. I would love to find Mr. Right one day. Whether or not he is in the cards for me is not going to stop me from living my life like it’s golden.  As I look back on my life, I can see that God was clearly protecting me from myself.  God knows I do not have the personality for a checklist lifestyle. Again, this is not a knock against those who have and/or desire to live this type of life. I’m literally talking about what is best for me. 

Honestly, my life is great…minus the whole pandemic and having Ken and Karens as my neighbors. My family and friends are great, everyone is healthy, I have a great job, and awesome passion projects that make a significant impact in other people’s lives and aid in their ability to achieve their own goals. Seeing and helping other people achieve their dreams brings me great joy. I could not ask for more.

If I had continued to ignore God’s word and godly counseling (my mom’s advice), I would have missed out on the wonderful experience of a lifetime.  The same concept applies to when I was looking to buy a condo.  I almost made the mistake of settling for a beautiful condo that my mom referred to as a pretty coffin. The condo was absolutely beautiful but it didn’t have any natural light, it didn’t have a view or any of the other amenities I wanted. The only thing it had going for it was it was large, had nice floors, and was within my price range.

Not thinking wisely, I thought, “Well, this might be all that I can get.” My mom was like, “Absolutely not. You’re going to keep looking.” Needless to say, she was right.  Just like the checklist lifestyle, had I given in to my defeated mindset, I would have missed out on my dream condo.

Along these lines is why I do not allow society’s definitions of success to control my thinking. My definition is very different from society’s version. It’s not based on achieving a checklist lifestyle, having a lot of money laying around in the bank and/or having a prestigious career. Success to me is based on how I am living out my purpose in life. Am I allowing my God-given talent to bring Christ the most glory within the timeframe God has allowed me?

When you live life from this viewpoint, the amount of success, peace, and happiness you experience in life will drastically increase.  You will not waste your time and energy on nonsense like worrying about what people think, when you are going to meet Mr. Right the list goes on. Viewing life from God’s perspective helps us to keep in mind that our life is like a vapor. We’re here one day and gone the next day.

What I have learned is that all of the adversity that we encounter is not in vain. If we control our thinking, this will stop our distorted emotions from ruining our life. All of which will help us to channel our negativity into something positive so that we can experience the extraordinary life Christ came to give us. Living an extraordinary life has helped me to be a shortcut for others.

Many of you know this but I’ve been teaching English online to adults since 2013. I’ve taught students from all over the world, China, Italy, Austria, Germany, France, Portugal, various countries in Latin America, it’s a really long list. Just about every student I’ve had tells me on more than one occasion, “Tosha, this is more than just an English class. You’re the best.” I’m not saying this to flex, but I think the reason why they feel this way is because I have developed my listening skills.  

For many of my students, it feels weird saying students because I consider them friends. In any case, they know and appreciate the fact that I give them real-life advice. For example, being broke. Hey, I’ve been broke many times. That’s something that I’m very familiar with, so I always tell my folks that are in college if you can’t afford to pay for your books, then go check them out at the library. Just keep extending the date until the class is over or pay the fine once the class is over. Trust me, the fine is going to be much cheaper than paying $350 for a book that you’re never going to read again. 

I’ll never forget that 2 and a half hour drive to Northern Illinois University to pick up a business law book. That drive was worth every penny of gas money. I didn’t have $350 to spend on one book. Again, I do not come from a wealthy family. Every penny that came my way was earned. Even though I was working full time and attending classes in the evening, I was really struggling to pay for that last quarter of college. Long story on that one, but my dad had died earlier that year and we had a whole laundry list of financial obstacles that happened in addition to his death. Unfortunately, I’m still paying for my student loans.

Anyway, only someone who has been in this type of situation can feel confident enough to share this type of advice. Improving my listening skills has shown me that we all encounter adversity in life, but we don’t have to learn everything the hard way. The knowledge we need to control our emotions comes from aligning our emotions to God’s word.

However, if you keep allowing your emotions to control you, you’re going to lose your ability to hear the warnings that your conscience and loved ones are trying to provide. Fortunately for us, God blessed us with the ability to determine whether our hearing loss is temporary or permanent.

Thanks so much for listening to today’s episode. If you enjoy listening to Hustle in Faith and would like to support the show, please consider sharing it with your friends, leaving a review, donating, or making a purchase at  StarenguCrew, our new fitness apparel shop.

Be sure to connect with us on Facebook and Pinterest. Remember, if you’re everything to everyone then you risk being no one. You never know who will inspire you in the next episode!

Ep. 144 How do you define a successful friendship?

I’ll be celebrating my birthday this month. During this month, I normally take more time than usual to reflect on my life. As I grow older, I want to make the most of my time. 

Therefore, I take time to review the good, bad, and the ugly. 

While reflecting on my life, I  know that God has truly blessed me. There’s a lot of chaos in the world, but my life has been good. I’ve got my health, strength, my family’s good, my job’s good. I literally just bought my first place this year. It’s a condo with a balcony on the lakefront overlooking Lake Michigan. I know the only reason why I’m experiencing the level of success I have achieved is because my mom gave me the gift of discernment. I know what true friendship is supposed to be so I can spot a fake one a mile away. 

The reason why this is so important is because allowing the wrong person into your world can really increase your chances of failure.

I remember I had a conversation with someone that I really didn’t know. I knew this person in a professional setting. We knew each other but we weren’t friends. So needless to say I was somewhat surprised when this person asked me for advice. They were describing a situation that sounded like if they didn’t confront the other person causing them trouble they were going to get fired. The sad thing is that this person ended the story with, “It’s just difficult because we know each other and we’re friends.” 

Again, I don’t have a poker face. So I’m just shaking my head in disbelief because the actions of the so-called “friend” in this story were the actions of an enemy. The worst kinds of people in this world are the ones that smile in your face while they are stabbing you in the back. That’s what was happening in this story. However, the sad thing is that this person who came to me for advice didn’t even realize it. They had been in this situation so long they couldn’t see the forest through the trees. 

Trying to help this person, I explained to them that if you act like a doormat then expect to be walked on. I literally had to point out to them several times how this so-called friend’s behavior towards them was not how a friend is supposed to act. The so-called friend in this story knew that the person I was speaking to was naive, vulnerable, and had a strong sense to be a part of the crowd. I told this person that even though we weren’t friends that I noticed that they gave off doormat vibes as well. The difference between me and this person’s so-called friend is that this person who came to me for advice knew that I was a good person and would tell them the truth. 

Like I told this person, you have to take responsibility for how you want to be treated in this world. You have two choices.. You can either keep attempting to please people who don’t like you so you can fit in with the crowd or you can be independent, live on offense, do what’s best for you and live out the extraordinary life Christ came to give us.  

I chose the latter. However, I didn’t get to where I am overnight. There was a time that I was also a doormat, but my mom continued to pour truth into me. My life didn’t change until I was brutally honest with myself and started working towards strengthening my mind. I was afraid to stand alone. I had fallen into the trap of thinking that there was strength in numbers. Don’t rock the boat. Maybe that person didn’t realize they were being mean to me despite the fact that I brought it to their attention. I kept making every excuse in the book to stay connected with people who were clearly not my friends, but risked losing the very person in my life who actually was being a friend by telling me the truth…my mom. 

That is why whenever people come to me for advice, I do my best, to tell the truth. Regardless of how much it hurts, you will always get the truth from me. So many people are living less than extraordinary lives because they surround themselves with people masquerading as their friends. The reason this happens is because many people don’t know what qualities to look for in a friend.

So let’s dive into the qualities that BOTH people must possess in order for the friendship to succeed. You need to be kind. When you put God first, and follow the Golden rule in doing unto others as you would want to have done unto you, this really should not be that hard. 

Absolutely no one wants to spend time with someone who constantly has a bad attitude or feels entitled. This is one of the main reasons why the number of people you call your “friend” will decrease. As you grow older, the struggle to find kind, decent hearted people is REAL. Life gets in the way. Some people don’t know how to deal with adversity and get angry at those who try to help them. Others who see you experiencing success may get jealous and make snide remarks to downplay your success. If you allow folks to take their frustration with their lives out on you, then you’re going to start to internalize the insecurities they are projecting which will send your confidence on a very fast downward spiral.

When you have a low self-esteem, it gets really hard to determine who you can trust. A real friend needs to demonstrate that they will have your back when you really need them. A real friendship consists of give and take. They don’t just take, take, take. The friendship will never survive if either person believes that it’s ok to experience success at the expense of stealing from each other. 

Case in point, I’m going through a situation right now whereby I’m dealing with this Karen in my building. This person has literally proven herself to be a real garbage person. Yet, had the audacity or bet yet caucasity to say that she would like to have an open, honest, neighborly relationship. However, this person’s actions tell another story. 

They have done nothing but cause trouble by lying to me and about me, attempting to steal from me, and a list of other things I can’t get into at the moment. Now, if I was an idiot, which I definitely am not, I would have fallen into this person’s trap. Never be so desperate to have a “friend” that you are willing to enter into a one-sided relationship where the other person is receiving all the benefits of having you as a friend while you’re left with nothing to show in return. 

Just to clarify, I’m not talking about money. If you’re constantly building someone up and all they do is tear you down so they can feel good about themselves you need to high tail it out of that relationship. It’s better to stay by yourself. I’d rather be happy and alone than surrounding myself with someone who makes me feel miserable. I can do bad all by myself. Being around someone you can’t trust will steal your joy. If you’re around this thief you won’t ever feel motivated to step outside your comfort zone.

Life is too short to allow mediocrity to be the standard of success. As I told the person who came to me for advice, I will NEVER allow myself to be friends with someone who doesn’t inspire or motivate me to level up.  Meaning, I want to be around folks who are going to push me to be my best.   A real friend will be able to easily identify your goals and/or help you in a constructive way improve in areas that are hindering you. If they can’t do it themselves they will do their best to provide you with the resources you need to get the job done. You should be able to see the impact that this person is having on your life. 

When you have a person who is kind, trustworthy, and motivates you to live your best life then you have the makings of a beautiful friendship. With this said, what I just described might make you feel like searching for a unicorn, but trust me, this type of friendship does exist. Provided you don’t settle for less than the best, God will bring you the friend that you seek at just the right time to go through this crazy thing called life together.

Thanks so much for listening to today’s episode. If you enjoy listening to Hustle in Faith and would like to support the show, please consider sharing it with your friends, leaving a review, donating, or making a purchase at  StarenguCrew, our new fitness apparel shop.

Be sure to connect with us on Facebook and Pinterest. Remember, if you’re everything to everyone then you risk being no one. You never know who will inspire you in the next episode!

Ep.143 Why is June the perfect month to hit the “pause” button?

Summer is officially here! We are a little over halfway through 2021. I still can’t get over how fast time goes by. I remember starting this year thinking, “Man, I hope 2021 comes in like it’s got some sense…” Now here we are in June. 

In the last episode (Episode 142: You Have More Power Than You Think), I spoke about how we have more power than we think. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to it, you may want to listen to that first before diving into this episode

I created that episode because honestly I needed to remind myself that the only way to experience victory in life is to live on offense.  Life is full of fights. The degree to how much happiness you’re going to experience correlates to how willing you are to follow God’s guidance and instructions in how to use the talents He’s given you so you can discover and execute the plans He has for your life.

It doesn’t take a genius to see that we live in a very messed up world. There’s so much injustice and chaos happening in this world so it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling worn out and defeated. Honestly, the past couple weeks have been somewhat stressful for me. I’ve got a couple situations that I’m currently dealing with that quite frankly are out of my control. I know that God is going to cause everything to work out in my favor. I can see what He’s doing and when it’s time for the pieces to fall into place, I feel like I have a good idea on where He’s going to put them, but it’s just going to take time. 

I’m accustomed to adversity. I use adversity as a stepping stone to help me get to the next level.

With that said, even though I know everything I just shared it’s still easier said than done. I’m crazy impatient when it comes to achieving my goals. I was allowing my circumstances to make me feel powerless. 

I noticed over the past few weeks that I was sleeping in more which isn’t like me because I’m totally a morning person, I wasn’t exercising as much, I was having difficulty concentrating, I was snacking at night, watching more TV than usual, not as interested in my side hustle projects, the bottom line is…I wasn’t feeling like myself. Does any of that sound familiar to you? If so, then you’re in the right place! 

At some point in our lives we will feel powerless or restless. I’m one of those people that will keep going and attack my work and personal to-do list like the Energizer Bunny on steroids because it will distract me from addressing the negative emotions I’m feeling at that point in time in my life. However, if you don’t put those negative emotions in check, you’re headed for disaster. 

I’ve been down this road before, I saw the sign. Aww man, now I have that Ace of Base song in my head, if you grew up in the 90’s you know what I’m talking about, anyway,  I knew that I needed to hit the “pause” button. 

I’ve always viewed June as my unofficial goal check-in, but it’s also a fantastic month to hit the pause button. Due to how I was feeling, I wasn’t even going to post any episodes this month, but I figured this might be able to help out some other people. So here are 10 things that you can incorporate into your life this month in order to  ensure that you cross the 2021 finish line in style.

  1. Regardless of whether you are a morning person, start your day with God’s Word. I must start my day by reading the Bible or some other Christian devotional in order to get in the right frame of mind. It really does set the tone for my day. 
  1. Adapt a healthy lifestyle. Notice I said the word lifestyle, not diet. God said that our bodies are a temple, so we need to be intentional with what we put into our bodies. Get rid of the cigarettes, alcohol, drugs and whatever else eating that will stop you from living your best life. Eating healthy is going to position you to be able to increase your stamina for exercise. I cannot stress how important it is to exercise. You have got to move. Not only will it clear your mind but it will also help you stay in shape. 

Due to the pandemic, many of us are working from home. I’ve been working from home for several years, so I’m used to working from home. However, there will be a point in time when you will want to put on hard pants aka jeans. Save yourself that awkward moment of feeling like a contortionist just so you can get into your jeans. My Fitbit keeps me honest. It tells me when I need to move, which brings me to my next point. 

  1. Take a break! I noticed whenever I started to feel irritable, it was because I ignored my Fitbit telling me to move. There have been numerous times where I spent hours looking at my computer screen. I can get really engulfed in my work. I spend a good chunk of my data analyzing and in meetings, so sometimes it can be difficult to find a good stopping point. I remember one time, my mom had been gone for several hours. She came back and literally asked me, “Have you moved? It looks like you’ve been in the same spot.” Sadly, I had not. Check out this article to learn more about how the Pomodoro technique.

I would tell myself, let me get to this spot and then I will stop, but then I’d keep going. It took me a minute, but I finally realized. There will always be one more thing that will make you think you can’t stop so guess what just stop. That thing will be there when you get back. Heck it may even bring some problematic cousins with it so just take a break. Go for a walk, run, bike, whatever it is that will get you away from the computer and outside.

  1. Limit your time watching TV and being on social media. If you find yourself spending hours on end watching and/or scrolling through someone else’s life, you’re robbing yourself of the ability to be happy with your own life. We often compare the beginning of our journey to someone else who has already reached their destination. You don’t see all the blood sweat and tears it may have taken for that person to get to where they are. You just see the finished product. If all you see is what you see, then you’re not seeing all there is to be seen.  Everything that glitters isn’t gold. 
  1. When you decrease your time on social media, you’re going to have more time to create and/or revisit your goals. I think the pandemic has really forced us all to do some really deep soul searching. Life is short. Many of us don’t truly realize how short it is until we’re faced with the death of a loved one, our own sickness, or our peace of mind. When you’re faced with what I just mentioned, you quickly come to realize that quality of life trumps quantity of life. 

It’s one of the main reasons why we see so many people quit and/or are contemplating quitting their jobs. The pandemic has forced people to see their worth and assess their values. There’s an awakening that they are in the driver’s seat, not the employer.  Regardless of what an employer or other people may say, we are not all in this together. 

The only one who has a vested interest in your success is you. You literally have companies that are so naive that they think employees are just going to go back to their old lives and forget about the freedom working from home brought them during the pandemic. It’s one thing if you enjoy going to the office, then you do you boo, but you can’t expect others to share that same zeal. 

By the way, I will never buy into the lie that you need to be in an office in order to be creative, collaborate or be productive. The folks who typically believe this lie are usually lonely people who don’t have lives and the office is their only chance to “escape” from their own lives and wish to project their loneliness onto others.  

As someone who has worked from home for several years, I know you can effectively work from home. In fact, I’m more productive at home because I have the opportunity to have a work/life balance. Take time to figure out what success looks like to you as well as where you’re at when you work to achieve it.

  1. When you notice that the goals you have developed don’t currently align with your life, take a vacation. Use that time to rest and create a plan for your second act aka a blueprint you’ll use to create a life that will bring you joy. 
  2. Get in the habit of journaling so you can track your success. Speaking from experience, it’s been amazing to look back on those tough times and see how I made it through them. It really does give me that extra push I need to keep going.

If you find yourself feeling down or restless, I cannot stress enough how important it is to hit the “pause” button. Take time out to figure out what God wants for your life so you can press play with confidence.

Thanks so much for listening to today’s episode. If you enjoy listening to Hustle in Faith and would like to support the show, please consider sharing it with your friends, leaving a review, donating, or making a purchase at  StarenguCrew, our new fitness apparel shop.

Be sure to connect with us on Facebook and Pinterest. Remember, if you’re everything to everyone then you risk being no one. You never know who will inspire you in the next episode!

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Episode 142: You Have More Power Than You Think

Welcome to Hustle in Faith. This podcast is dedicated to helping you find your trail to a happier healthier you by discussing topics regarding Christianity, health & wellness, beauty & so much more! I’m your host Tosha Johnson.

One of the best ways I stay sane in this crazy world is to be intentional with the messages that I allow to enter into my mind. This is why I limit my time on social media, listening to and/or reading the news. I know enough to stay alert, but I don’t want all that negativity to play with my mind. 

However, there were a couple stories that really struck a nerve with me. Naomi Osaka, a very famous talented tennis player, literally stated that she had no desire to speak with the media because she wanted to preserve her mental health. The French Open fined her $15K for not speaking with the media and threatened her with expulsion. Naomi pretty much said I’ll do you one better…I’m going to withdraw from the tournament. I LOVE that she did this. She put her well-being first and demonstrated that she was in control not them. 

I’ve never understood nor do I agree with why athletes have to speak to the media in the first place. It really is a very unhealthy relationship that many athletes should not condone. They do nothing but ask dumb questions in an attempt to make themselves feel better. 

That’s why I absolutely LOVED how Venus Williams responded to the media’s question about how she felt about Naomi. Venus said, “ ‘For me personally, how I deal with it is that I know every single person asking me a question can’t play as well as I can and never will. So no matter what you say or what you write, you’ll never light a candle to me. So that’s how I deal with it. But each person deals with it differently.” 

As my mom would say, “She told them off in a professional way,” which is something she taught me how to do very early on in my career. 

When you see this power struggle between athletes and the media it all boils down to control. The media so desperately wants to demonstrate what power they perceive they believe they possess. However, in reality it’s the exact opposite. If athletes decide that they are not going to give interviews, guess who is out of a job? 

If you think about it when the media has had the opportunity to use their power for good let’s say for example bringing attention to the fact that the NFL  finally decided to stop the use of “race-norming” in how they paid out the $1billion settlement of brain injury claims. In case you’re wondering, “What is race-norming?” This incredibly insulting methodology assumes Black NFL players started out with lower cognitive function so the NFL would not need to compensate the Black NFL players as much as the white NFL players. That would be a much more worthwhile story the media should pay attention to rather than bother athletes who clearly do not want to speak with them. 

The majority of the media don’t channel their investigative skills nearly as hard to get to the bottom of issues like systemic racism, poverty, and other issues that plague our world.

It got me thinking how many of us live our lives thinking we’re less than or not good enough when we have more power than we think. God created us to have a powerful vibrant mind that controls our entire being. If we accept the negativity that Satan attempts to project into our life, then Satan can build a fortress within our mind. He can turn our mind into a powerful weapon that can destroy us from the inside out.

As someone who has been in a position of feeling less than, it’s been a lifelong struggle to get to where I am. It definitely didn’t happen overnight. The way we can start to harness the power that God gave us is by being intentional with our speech.

So many of us fall prey to living aimless lives because we aren’t being intentional with our words. God warns us to watch what we say because the tongue has the power of life and death (Prov 18:21). 

Proverbs 18:21 The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

When we’re careless with our words, Prov. 6:2 states, “…you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth.” The words that we choose to speak will determine the outcome of our life.

Throughout the course of my life I’ve seen this in action. I’m turning 39 next month. It literally wasn’t until about 3 years when I lost everything and I mean everything that I finally started being intentional with my choice of words. I was constantly on the move doing my best to change my circumstances, without focusing on God and speaking negativity all along the way. Talk about a complete recipe for disaster!

This is an area that I still struggle with today. A good chunk of my life was spent feeling like I was less than enough. This couldn’t have been further from the truth! By the way, there’s some serious irony here because I recently learned that my name Tosha in Swahili literally means enough/ adequate or sufficient. Again, you gotta love the irony in that!

Due to not being intentional with my words, like a child, I was being tossed back and forth by the waves of life (Eph 4:14). I was trying to solve circumstances in my life within my own strength without going to God in prayer. I was so lost. I was wandering through this world without an anchor and that’s extremely dangerous.

When you live in this world without allowing God to be your anchor, you leave yourself vulnerable to society projecting their ideas as to who they want you. Oftentimes if you’re basing your happiness on being a people pleaser you’re setting yourself up for failure. There will always be people who don’t like how you look, how you talk, your demeanor, etc. You will NEVER please people but you can please God.

When you strive to please God you’ll notice that you’re oftentimes alone. There’s so much evil and negativity in this world. It takes guts to go against the crowd. If you spend a good portion of your life as a people pleaser it’s going to be scary the first time you decide to go against the crowd. However, speaking from experience, the benefits of keeping my sanity and health intact far outweighs whatever “support” people may or may not offer.

Speaking up for yourself is going to make you happy. When you’re happy, you feel more confident in your abilities. This places you in a position to find and/or develop your talents and purpose in life. Once this occurs, you’re going to experience a peace that surpasses all understanding. In a world filled with chaos, people are going to be drawn to you. 

You’re going to be radiating with joy and peace that people will without a doubt want to share in as well. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that your willingness to take control of your power is going to inspire others to do the same.

Do what you have to do in order to reclaim your time and peace of mind so you can be the bold lion God destined you to be (Prov 28:1).

Thanks so much for listening to today’s episode. If you enjoy listening to Hustle in Faith and would like to support the show, please consider sharing it with your friends, leaving a 5 star review, donating, or making a purchase at  StarenguCrew, our fitness apparel shop.

Be sure to connect with us on Facebook and Pinterest. Remember, if you’re everything to everyone then you risk being no one. You never know who will inspire you in the next episode!

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