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.
Episode 116: I’m 38. Let’s Celebrate!
Well if you couldn’t tell from the title of this episode I’m celebrating my birthday! I’m now 38 years old. It feels so weird so saying that number. I remember when I was a kid how I used to think 40 was ancient. Now that I’m approaching 40 at what appears to be lighting speed, I can’t help but laugh; forty is not as ancient as I thought it was.
Needless to say, this will definitely be a year I know many of us will never forget. Not only was this the start of a New Year, but a shiny brand-new decade. When this year first started, I had all these plans. I had already written out my short term and long term goals and was all set to work through my bucket list.
Then the Coronavirus or as Black Twitter calls it, Rona came around and pretty much said, “Slow your roll, you’re not going anywhere.” I was supposed to be celebrating my birthday this week in Toronto And later this year. In December, I was going to celebrate my mom turning 60 by taking her to Costa Rica. Although I was really looking forward to taking those trips, I made my peace with having to cancel them; due to the Coronavirus. Sitting on a plane with a mask on is definitely not my jam.
The Coronavirus and Black people having to take to the street in protest is not what I had envisioned for 2020. I’m not going to get into these topics, but If you want to learn more about my thoughts regarding the politicizing of the Coronavirus and Black community check out episode 108 and if you’re interested in learning more about why protests are taking place and how to fight back against racism check out episodes 109, 110, 111, 114 and another episode called Random Thoughts Thursday: Homelessness & Gentrification.
It’s amazing to sit back and think that we are literally living through a chapter that will without a doubt be discussed and debated about for years to come. If you’re Black listening to this episode, I don’t need to tell you how exhausting it is to be trapped simultaneously within two pandemics…the Coronavirus and suffering through the not so subtle effects of systemic racism.
What I want to remind everyone listening to this episode is that our lives are like a vapor (James 4:14). Our life is a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Life is short. If I had to choose a theme song that represented my life up until now, it would be hands down U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”
I absolutely love that song and that group. I’ve actually seen them in concert twice. One time I was in the front row and Bono looked directly at me and smiled. I think he was just as surprised and pleased to see me there as I was to be there. Again, check out the lyrics to this song and you’ll see why I spent so much of my life unnecessarily searching for my place and purpose in this world.
Despite all the chaos that is currently happening in this world, I almost feel guilty saying this, but this has been one of the best years of my life; apart from not traveling to Canada and Costa Rica. I can finally say, I found what I’m looking for. Peace and contentment. Now, there were moments in my past where I thought I found this dynamic duo, but I realize now that those events were meant to motivate me to get to the spot where I am now.
I can TRULY 100% say that I have a peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). I have never been happier than I am in my current life right now. I am satisfied with my life. Not many people can say this. You know what? I can say this because I did not allow the hardships I have experienced go to waste. I know what it’s like to be broke; I know what it’s like to lose a loved one; I know what it’s like to feel like the world is against you and you’re left to muster what little strength and energy you have to fight back against what oftentimes feels like the wind.
Now, I’m well aware that the majority of the people listening to this episode may not want to hear about my happiness, but just hear me out anyway. I have been through a lot of ups and downs in my life. Emphasis on a lot. This is why I’ve learned not to allow my peace to be dictated by my circumstances. In other words, I do not let anyone or anything steal my joy. Don’t get me wrong this is much easier said than done. I am here to tell you that peace that surpasses all understanding is possible if you put Christ first and work toward that outcome.
My parents never sugar coated anything. I do not come from a rich family. Fighting for peace and success is something that I’m so blessed my parents instilled in me when I was a child. I knew early on in life that in order for me to experience success that I would have to work twice as hard and be creative in how I achieved success. People are quick to envy your success, but I guarantee they will think twice about taking the journey you took to get there.
I always wanted to mirror my mom’s life. My parents got married when they were 19 and shortly after had me and my sister. I envisioned myself getting married young and doing the same thing. I remember being so mad when I was in my early 20’s about not being married or having kids. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I find Mr. Right? The funny thing is I was the one putting all this pressure on myself, not my mom. My mom literally said, “Tosha, I love you but if I could do it all over again, we would not be having this conversation.”
She went on to share all the reasons why I should enjoy being single and childfree. I love the analogy she came up with to describe marriage. You’re wearing a beautiful dress. Marriage is like a necklace. That dress is going to be beautiful regardless of whether you decide to wear that necklace. She was brutally honest in sharing with me, how much she sacrificed for us and how she didn’t want me nor my sister to go through all the pain and heartaches she went through in trying to provide for us.
My parents were happily married, but it was a lot of work. Emphasis on a lot. It was even harder because neither of my parents came from good families. My mom literally had the worst parents in the world. Prayer and constantly seeking God’s guidance is the only way she knew how to raise us. She clearly listened to God. We had a wonderful childhood. We had the childhood my dreamt about but never got a chance to experience herself. My mom is proof that where you start in life does NOT determine the level of success you can and will achieve if you put God first. I am not just saying this because she is my mom, but her life story is absolutely fascinating. I’ll convince her one of these days to let me interview her. 😉
As I get older, I noticed from my own experiences and those around me that my mom was right about everything; not having kids and not rushing into marriage. Both duties are a lot of work. After watching my friends and others struggle with raising their kids or listening to them complain about their marriages confirm that my life is perfect “as is”. Now do not get me wrong, I would still be open to the idea of marriage if I found the right guy. I’m so glad that I didn’t get married when I was younger. I was not complete; nor was I ready for that responsibility.
Looking at the divorce rate and others who remain in unhappy marriages demonstrates that they were not ready for the responsibility of marriage either. In order to have a successful marriage both people have to know who they are in Christ’s eyes. Honestly, I had got married earlier, I would have been bringing a lot of unnecessary baggage to the table. I was too insecure. I was looking for a spouse to make me happy and give me fulfillment. With this weak mindset, my marriage would have been doomed from the start.
As I stated before, marriage and raising kids is a lot of work. I know how hard I had to fight to finally find peace in my life. This is one of the main reasons I know for a fact I would lose my peace and joy if I had kids. Marriage and children would have derailed my life, not enhanced it. Thanks to me often seeking and appreciating my mom’s godly advice, God has blessed me with not only being able to find contentment in my personal life, but my professional life as well.
Speaking of my professional life, when I graduated from college and started my career, I had all these crazy ideas that working hard would move me up the corporate ladder. Good grief, I was so naive! I seriously thought I was going to conquer the world. I legitimately thought I was going to make it to the top of the corporate ladder.
Due to my own stupidity, I ignored society subtle reminders about where my place was supposed to be on the corporate ladder…the bottom. Although society kept sending me notices to stay in my place, if you know me, their notices were never going to be an option for me. I kept working my butt off for a dream that I soon realized would never materialize. There were so many times in my career I knew I was doing Director level work but never received the title nor the pay. Obviously, this isn’t fair, but it is what it is. Again, super naive on my part.
I will be the first one to admit that I had bought into society’s definition of success. Again, I was super naïve.
My ethnic sounding name, my unwillingness to play mind games nor lose my dignity to get ahead, endure endless microaggressions and working with just flat out racist people had me questioning if this was the type of “success” I really wanted for my life. Being unfulfilled with the corporate BS led me to question what success is, how to achieve it and why I even desired it. While I was searching, I discovered that what society deems as success was not real and it did not align with what God had in store for my life.
God knew deep down that I’m not the type to lie, cheat and steal my way to the top. He knows my motto is, “Work to live, not live to work,”. This motto is something I deeply desire and live by. This is true success for me. In case you want to learn more about the steps I took to create my ideal life, check out the episode called What will your dash look like? The dash I am talking about is the one seen in an obituary or a headstone. There are two dates. Your birthdate and the day you leave this world. In between those two dates, is a dash. That dash represents the life you led while you were alive.
My point is, I want my dash to matter. One of my biggest fears in life is to wake up one day and realize that I had my ladder leaning against the wrong wall (in this case that wall was the corporate world). Challenging my fears led me to take a long hard look at my desires and aspirations. All of which leads me to take a different approach with life. I now view life from God’s perspective. After aligning my life with God, I can see that God gave me a 9 to 5 so I could use that money to fund my life, not be my life.
The money I make from my 9 to 5 enables me to fund projects and endeavors that bring me joy, promotes my creativity as well as allows me to be a blessing to others. As I stated before, despite all the chaos that is currently going on, this year has been one of the best years of my life. Here is how all this came about…
Back in the day, I spent many sleepless nights teaching myself how to create websites, use Photoshop, create voice overs, edit audio and create videos. Although these things were my passions in life, I often wondered if it was a waste of time and money. I remember I would tell my mom how much I really wanted to learn these things even though I knew I would never get to use them on my real (9 to 5) job. The thought of not utilizing my knowledge made me want to give up and quit learning.
Due to my mom being my biggest cheerleader, I kept going. She convinced me to stop focusing on the money aspect and just enjoy the journey. She continues to explain that the money will come later, and that money should never come before my passion. She was right again. It was not until I started truly taking her advice to heart that I started getting hired for the creative jobs I truly desired to do.
People have been hiring me as a business consultant; I am doing voice over work for anything ranging from company voicemails, small movies roles, video games, company tutorials and one of my projects that I’m most proud of is that my voice is being used for Virginia’s Department of Education online learning curriculum. Even right now, I’m literally working on yet another amazing project creating a suite of product tutorial videos for a company that found me on YouTube. They found me on YouTube guys. They literally said, “Hey, we like your teaching style. Can you do this for us?” I can’t make this up! My websites have opened so many opportunities for me that I never in a million years would have thought were possible.
I know there are times that you may feel like giving up but I’m here to tell you to keep going. Because I took my own advice, I created this podcast during the second worst period of my life. When it rains it pours. I was unemployed for a year, so you can imagine what my bank account looked like. I went on a ton of soul crushing interviews. During this time in my life, I just felt so defeated. After I was done throwing myself a pity party, I figured I would share my journey in how I wanted to create my ideal life by putting God first.
I wanted to share my experiences with others so that my knowledge isn’t wasted. Regardless of how hard a time I’m going through, I want to motivate others to keep going so they can define what success looks like for them. So in the event that you are having a hard time, one of the ways I shifted my perspective to focus on God was to express more gratitude. Learn to be grateful for what you have and not focus on what you lack. After all, why should God give you the desires of your heart if you’re not content with the blessings He’s already given you?
So several years ago I started this exercise, which I still do to this day. Every day, regardless of how bad a day I have had, I write down 3 good things that happened to me and then place that sheet of paper in a shoebox that my mom was so kind to decorate for me. Now I’m not going to lie to you, some days are much harder than others to find something to be thankful for was hard work. There were days where I literally wrote, I have food, clothes, and shelter and that’s ok because you know what, I know that God appreciates our efforts.
Then at the last week of the year, I go through and read them all. I make a list of all the major events that I want to remember and write them in my journal. Obviously, you don’t have to do the last part, but it’s kind of nice having a Top 10 list to reflect on when you’re going through tough times in life. It serves as a reminder that you made it through then and you can make it through now. It’s just a matter of time before you will be back to living the high life again
If the exercise I just described sounds appealing to you, please be sure to download the grateful notes I created. They are a lot prettier than the post-it notes or a sheet of paper. This is an exercise that I’ve been doing for almost over 7 years. In the event that you are having a hard time, I want you to please download my free planner and grateful notes from my website. I can truly say that my desire is to have a well balanced meaningful life. I want to help others to do the same. With that being said, I want to share with you a couple of goals I have in store for the future.
So this year, I’m super excited to share with you one of my major accomplishments. I’m proud to announce my fitness t-shirt apparel shop called StarenguCrew.
StarenguCrew is geared towards women who don’t doubt the power of a workout. Working out is a lifestyle. It is my honor to create designs that will celebrate your shine!
I’m super excited about finally being able to launch this project, so I hope you decide to support my shop.
I’ m all about keeping it moving, so I want to share 3 more goals I have in store for the future:
1.) I’m in the process of studying for my certification in nutrition. My goal is to create a health and fitness show with my friend. You can learn more about this in Episode 115: How do all the pieces fit together?
2.) My goal is to create an afterschool program for high schoolers so I can teach them everything that I know about business. Oftentimes, students of color (primarily Blacks and Latinos) are not in a position to gain the skills they need to be successful in business.
It’s amazing to me how many people express confusion in how to end systemic racism when an idea as simple as mine which seems to be glaringly obvious is overlooked or ignored. It frustrates me how school conditions you to only think about working for someone else. While there is nothing wrong with this, you should give kids choices.
3.) I’m going to teach myself how to build apps because I have so many ideas. The best way to make your dream come true is to build it yourself, so that’s exactly what I plan to do.
One of the greatest compliments I ever received was from my Spanish teacher. She said, “Tosha, when you say you’re going to do something, you do it. Like there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s going to happen.” Hearing that made me feel good because she’s right. Nothing irritates me more than empty promises. Actions speak louder than words. I know some of my goals will take a while to materialize, but just knowing that they will bring me great joy.
Again, my journey to peace and contentment is a daily constant battle that I must be willing to fight. If you’re wrestling with the same issue, please know that you are not alone. Let God take the wheel so He can reduce the time it takes for you to slay every obstacle that comes your way. I finally found what I’m looking for, so now the whole world can see that this girl is on fire!
Thanks so much for listening to today’s episode. Don’t forget to check out the Prayer and Gratitude Journal for Men and Women of Faith that is available for sale on Amazon and StarenguCrew, our new fitness T-shirt shop.
If you enjoy Hustle in Faith’s content, please consider becoming a supporter by donating or purchasing a Prayer and Gratitude Journal for Men and Women of Faith or Tshirt from StarenguCrew in order to help offset the cost of producing this show.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.