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Booked: A Novel

“Many years ago, a life was taken and it changed everything.”

Table of Contents:

Girls’ Day in the City

Phantom

Level Up

River Tubing

Peace that Surpasses All Understanding

Girls’ Trip

Writing My first Book

Kareem

My UTI Saved My Life

  1. I wouldn’t say it’s okay to hold back tears in front of kids when I really believe it’s not. But…

  2. I completely understand. I think the pandemic has me rethinking some choices…

Booked: A Novel

Available on Amazon

Summary:

Cymone, the owner of a popular bookstore in Atlanta, thinks she has her entire life together. She has a great circle of friends, a sexy man in her life, and a booming business.

Suddenly, everything begins to fall apart. She visits her dad and realizes that she has blocked all of the memories of her sister. What happened to her? The man she was so in love with has a secret of his own.

She must learn to love again, forgive herself, and live through the past traumas to heal.

Preview Chapter:

Prologue

She stood there facing the crowd. She had a large typed printed page in front of her to cue her lines. Her hands were sweaty and her pulse was racing. She readjusted the papers to ensure she began on the correct page. The papers sat properly between her perfectly polished black gel nails. She inhaled deeply to calm her nerves before she began. In the audience, she saw her dear friends, her handsome nephew, and her father sitting beside his caretaker. She knew the essence of her words would change everyone’s world.

“Many years ago, a life was taken and it changed everything.

The life belonged to my dear sister.

For the past few years, my brain couldn’t figure out 

how to put her transition into words.

I couldn’t remember.

But now, I remember what happened.

I have to correct a wrong and tell the truth.

Dear sister, I miss you.

This book is dedicated to you.

I love you!”

Chapter 1

The chilly afternoon made the day feel better. It was the perfect day for a long wool winter coat, paired with a cozy scarf. Boots compliment the look and provide additional warmth, especially when there is nothing else under the coat. Cymone sat in her cherry red Land Rover with tan leather seats comfy, cruising down Peach Tree. She felt warm with excitement as she decided to surprise him. She turned into a small community of townhomes, admiring how statuesque the bare trees stood in front of the homes. 

Cymone felt a bit nervous, but determined to create a scene. She turned into the narrow driveway and parked, turning off the ignition. She pulled down her mirror and checked to make sure she looked the part. Her curls were dancing all over her head. Red lipstick, black eyeliner, and glitter shimmered on her face. Cymone closed the mirror and grabbed her purse, walking to the front door. The door was cracked open. Through the sliver, she could see him sitting in the middle of the kitchen, next to the island.

Cymone opened the front door and quietly sauntered in. James turned and stared at her. She paused. He placed his pointer finger over his lips, “Shhh”. He was on a conference call.  Cymone quietly turned the handle of the door to ensure it made as little noise as possible as she closed it. She placed her purse on the sofa closest to the door, then walked over to the island. She stood opposite of him, staring and trying to read his body language.

“So, the reports for this quarter are looking positive,” the voice on the computer spoke. James was listening, but stared at Cymone. She stood at the edge of the island noticing how James stared at her like she was a tasty meal. She slowly untied her belted wool coat and allowed it to hang open, revealing her midnight black lingerie. James’ mouth dropped open in surprise. Cymone leaned on top of the island seductively, not wanting to be accidentally seen. She picked up her cellphone to text James.

“Can they see you?”

“No. Come here.” James looked at Cymone as she placed her phone down and reached to untie her belt.

5 Best Group Fitness Programs CLT Edition

As you know, I’m a fitness connoisseur. Not because I’m trying to be fancy, but because I have terrible genes. My family easily gains weight. We’ve noticed this from the time we were born. All of us were born large and continued to get bigger as we aged. So, in middle school, my mom bought me my first gym membership and the rest is history. You can read about my weight loss journey here.

Now, I work out frequently here in Charlotte at Planet Fitness. I’m at the weight I love and am not trying to lose anymore weight. I love my curves. However, every once in a while I like to spice things up. So, I try different group fitness classes to give me a little jolt. Out of all the group fitness classes I’ve taken, these have been my favorite. Please check them out!

Body party fitness

Body Party Fitness

Led by the incredible Maxie Williams, Body Party Fitness is a fun and dynamic disguise of cardio that will usher you into an electrifying, high-energy dance fitness experience that you will never forget! Dance to classic and contemporary Hip Hop and R&B music that will be sure to get your heart rate up and break a sweat.

Alpha Funderburk

Thomas Funderburk, a personal trainer, nutritionist, and exercise therapist in the Charlotte area. He is  typically known for high energy fitness classes, catchy motivational sayings and more importantly, dedication to others during their health and fitness journeys. He has been in the health and fitness industry for over 10 years.  Most systems of exercise has a high rate of injuries which is why he decided to launch Alpha Funderburk Exercise Therapy (AFET)

Alpha Funderburk

E2M Fitness

The E2M 8-Week Challenge is a virtual weight loss-based program for adults.

The program provides you with a workout and meal plan that changes weekly. The workouts are designed to challenge all fitness levels and can be done at home or in the gym whenever is convenient for you. The meal plan is supplement-free and consists of whole food options you can choose from.

E2M at Freedom Park

AIP Fitness

AIP at Hornet’s Nest Park

A personal guide people to LOSE WEIGHT while getting STRONGER and helping others VIRTUALLY do the same. He does individual and group fitness classes at his studio. Visit him at Aipfit1@gmail.com

Soca Fitness

The ever popular genre of Soca is a combination of Caribbean soul music and calypso. The strong drums, horns, and steel pan give the feel of being at the Carnival celebrations of the West Indies and you cannot help but move your body.

These up tempo beats and rhythms from the many island of the Caribbean, have been synchronized with exercise to form a fresh new way to get fit called “SocaFit USA®”.formally known as “Socacise”. Her studio is located off of Albermarle Rd. here in Charlotte.

Soca at Victoria Yard in Uptown Charlotte

Check me out on Tiktok

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What’s your favorite workout studio? Like, comment, share!

Haute Asiko

In Yoruba (Nigerian), the definition of Asiko is fashionable.

A few weeks ago, I was scrolling through my Instagram. I stumbled on an event held at the Harvey B. Gantt Museum. The Haute Asiko fashion show. My mouth dropped to the floor. I haven’t been to a fashion show in ages. Since living in Charlotte, I haven’t been to any. I was super excited.

I asked my friends, I posted about it on social media; no one wanted to go. So, guess what? I went by myself. Because, if I want to do something, I just do it. I don’t wait around for anyone. Like I mentioned in a previous post, I am my own soulmate. I know how to love me. Which means, I can have fun by myself.

So, I donned a white, mini dress with some tan wedges and had a ball.

Dress: Boohoo

Before leaving my house, I got an email from HBG stating that we could park in the Duke Energy parking garage for free; WINNING!! I made sure to leave early because there was also a football game uptown that night.

So, I made my way through the mobs of traffic and people to make it to the fashion show. The hustle was totally worth it. Upon arrival, they had check in at the front. Our names were printed on a list, so I didn’t even have to fight with finding the ticket on my phone. Glad I got there early. Everyone and their mama was out there. Literally.

I grabbed a seat closest to the VIP seats near the front, about 3 rows back. I was front and center, so I could take everything in! The show was immaculate. In the back, there were drinks and light refreshments, free of charge. The show was in the center of the room. On the other end was a room full of vendors. Before the show started, the hostess introduced the vendors and their wonderful products. The wonderful hostess, Ohavia Phillips, was funny and charming. I’d love to be her friend in real life.

Ohavia Phillips

The show was curated by the fabulous Davita Galloway, the co-owner of Dupp and Swat. She brought together a team of designers under the theme of upcycle. The designers were challenged to make two looks from things they already had. Some designers used linen or carpet. While some used Amazon packages. It was such a varied array of designs with unique twists. Check out the collection below.

For more videos of the event, check me out on tiktok!

I’m getting VIP next time….LOL

Which event are you going to this weekend?

Belize Me

The best little gem in Central America!

Anyways!!! So, my family wanted to do a group trip. I did some research on places we haven’t all been and found this little gem on one of my many Facebook travel groups. We booked it! I booked everything through Expedia. 

Belize sits on the northeast corner of Central America, bordered by Mexico and Guatemala. It was once owned by the British, and gained their independence in the 1980s. Because of its unique location and history, there’s a huge variety of diversity in the area. 

Our journey began in Charlotte first thing in the morning. FYI, there are not many flights that go to Belize, so please keep that in mind when booking. We boarded our flight, super excited. But that quickly came to an end when they announced that our plane needed maintenance. Keep in mind that we had a connection in Miami. We missed it. 

Once we finally made it to Miami, we had to spend the night, as there were no more flights out that day. Thankfully, we were able to switch our flight to the next day at no charge. I am not naming the airline because they are my favorite and it was not their fault, necessarily. Plus, they took care of the situation. Also, Expedia was able to fix our hotel situation. We decided to stay an extra day in Belize, since we lost a day.  The next morning, we were able to catch a flight to Belize.

Before coming, there are a few things you’ll need to do. You do not have to worry about converting their money. They take US dollars; it’s a 2 to 1 rate. Meaning, if something costs 2 Belize dollars, you only pay 1 US dollar. Make sure to either have your vaccination card or get a covid test within 3 days of coming. You must book at a gold star resort. All that means is, your hotel must be on their approved list. It’s available at travelbelize.org. Belize does currently have a curfew, due to the pandemic. You must be back at your resort by 9pm. On the resort itself, you can roam around any time you want.

We landed in Belize City at Philip S W Goldson International Airport, on the mainland. But that wasn’t our final destination. Our final destination was San Pedro. San Pedro is an island in Belize. To get there, you will need to take a ferry from the mainland. Outside the airport, there are several taxis, so don’t worry about booking in advance. It’s only $25 from the airport to the Ocean Ferry. A roundtrip ticket for the ferry to and from your island is $34. The other option is buying a $75 flight on a small plane. The ferry runs every two hours. Also, inside, they have snacks, drinks, souvenirs, and places to sit. You’re not just chilling outside. 

We loaded the boat and headed to our island. Once there, we were greeted by our resort driver. If you’re not staying at a resort, you can either get a taxi or walk. However, check the distance before walking. Our resort was not within walking distance. The area near the ferry is like a downtown area. There are bars and restaurants. Cute shops. Also, many instagram worthy photo ops. 

We stayed at Mahogany Bay. This resort is absolutely gorgeous. It does kind of give off plantation vibes, but it’s definitely luxurious. The check in area is literally called “The Great House”. But, it’s all good. The cost is very affordable. The only negative thing is, it’s not all inclusive. So, you’ll end up charging all of the food, drinks, and activities to your room. Which means you pay for it at check out. I booked it with a credit card, to avoid random charges and to earn points. The food is pretty affordable, though. The rooms are all separated into small cottages. It’s like having your own little house. Pictures and videos are better than any description I could give.

Great qualities about our resort. So, you’ll definitely need a golf cart to get around the resort and off the resort. On the island, there are very few cars. Everyone drives golf carts. If you rent from the resort, you can either pay $55 for 8 hours or $80 for 24 hours. I’d advise renting it from the resort as opposed to in town because you’ll get free gas and insurance. In the city, it’s cheaper, but you’ll have to cover gas and insurance yourself. It adds up. Also, make sure that when you’re driving, you keep your license on you. The police will definitely check at random points in the city. If you rent a cart, make sure to check out Secret Beach and the bars located on the frontage road (it’s a sketchy looking dirt road, but it’s super fun). My favorite bar was Losers. They had a DJ and you can get in the water at the back of the restaurant, to jet ski! 

The resort offers a ton of things for you to do, other than eating and drinking at the plethora of restaurants. Excursions are available upon request. Excursions include snorkeling, visiting the Mayan Ruins, and fishing. You can do fitness classes like yoga. There’s a huge pool. You can get a massage, either at the studio or they’ll come to your room. And, you can get your hair and nails done. Our resort also has a private beach. The boat takes you to a private island complimentary; it runs once per hour. On the island, you can rent an over-water cabana. There are complimentary paddle boards and kayaks to play on. Food and drinks are available for a small fee. Everything on the island is billed to the room, so you don’t have to carry cash around. Lastly, a covid test is offered on site. So, you don’t have to worry about scheduling it for your return.

In my opinion, this is a great vacation for couples. I’m not sure how things were pre-pandemic, but it was pretty chill while I was here. If you’d like to get details like these from my Jamaica trip, tell me in the comments!

Detachment

Usually, I have all the answers. Well, sometimes. But today, I was floored. My mom made a few simple statements. She said, “ I don’t think you can truly handle a challenge.” She also said, “You seem like you’re running from something or towards something.” The conversation really got my wheels turning.

So, my parents are older. Periodically, I go down (a few cities away) to have lunch with my dad. My mom usually tags along. I will pause to explain their weird relationship. This was brought up at lunch today. My parents were married back in the mid-70s. They had all of us (4 kids) in New York, then moved to South Carolina. Once we got down there, they divorced. But that’s the weird part. They still love each other. The divorce was simple with no custody issues and no child support. They still visited each other for coffee and often talked on the phone. Even Though they both dated and married other people, they were never mean to each other. The point of this is, she was there for my monthly lunch with my dad. So, she rode down from the city with me to see him; which is when this talk took place.

She said that I had lived a spoiled life and she was concerned that if I ever faced a serious challenge, I couldn’t handle it. To which I replied, “I’ve been through multiple things and yet, here I am.” She made sure to say by God’s grace. Which, I’m not sure if she feels that I have a disconnect because of my lifestyle, or not.

By lifestyle, I mean parties, travel, etc. I think she believes I’m spoiled because I had a full ride to college, got married, had 2 beautiful children, and have a career. What she doesn’t see is the behind the scenes. Romantic relationships are stressful. Education (teacher/ assistant principal) is stressful. Motherhood is stressful. Also, fighting the urge to run away is stressful. I got the runaway gene from my mom. We moved a million times growing up. Yet, she acts surprised that I feel like the main character in ‘Chocolat’. 

Here’s where the detachment comes into play. Because of all the stress I face daily, I’ve become somewhat numb to feelings. I constantly get yelled at by irate parents. I get teacher/admin complaints. I cook meals that no one eats. I drive to 50 million places to get 50 million things done. And, I constantly monitor my exercise and eating regime to fight the good fight against obesity. Because of all this, I’m usually numb to intense emotions. At least I thought I was. At lunch today, my dad brought up my sister, who passed away nearly 20 years ago. The table fell silent as he began to cry. I tried to use my detachment strategy for the sake of my kids. I don’t like to cry in front of them, not sure why. I usually detach because I don’t want to feel emotions and think about all the things I’ve been through. But, I often wonder if that is a bad example for my kids. They should learn the array of emotions and how to feel. No one is happy all the time, which is probably what they think because of what I display.

So, after I got home, and dropped everyone off, I went for a drive. I needed a drive to think about all of the conversations and to cry. I thought about where I am emotionally. I thought about why I don’t get jealous or upset. I thought about why I feel like I have many friends, but I don’t feel a deep connection. I thought about what my life will be like after my kids graduate and move out. I am still trying to grasp what I really want out of life. What I want seems to change frequently.

So, good people of the Shelf, how did you figure out what you wanted out of life?

Tennessee Whiskey

As you know, I am somewhat known as the Queen of Charlotte. However, a few other cities have piqued my interest in my travels. I love Miami! And Philly. But over the past few years, another city creeped into my heart. I began my love affair with Nashville several years ago. 

Before I became an assistant principal, I taught. I frequently attended conferences or professional development conventions to continually improve my craft. After a while, I began presenting at conferences. I discussed topics such as metacognition and the power of positive energy. I attended conferences in Orlando, Baltimore and New Orleans. But this particular year, 2016, I attended a conference in Nashville. It was my first time visiting the city. And, OMG, I fell in love with it. You always hear about future brides coming here for their bachelorette weekends, and now I know why.

I flew into BNA from Charlotte on a quick 50 minute flight. A seamless transition. I was able to rent a car at the airport relatively easily. I was able to navigate the city pretty easily as well. For this conference, we stayed at Opryland. OMG! Gorgeous! This resort has everything you need for a vacation. Restaurants, shows, shopping! There was a boat ride that goes through the resort. The food was superb! The alcohol is strong. By the way, no matter where you go in Nashville, the alcohol is strong. So, be careful. At the end of the night, there was a cute little water and light show in the center of the resort. Being that the conference was at the hotel, I only ventured out once. I simply stayed on site for the duration, but I knew I wanted to go back.

About a year or so later, I did just that. I came back and stayed downtown near Broadway. The city is so beautiful. In the morning, I got up and went for a run across the bridge. The view from up top is so dope. You can see the Titans stadium and the river. Around the city, I saw several others who were running, as well.

John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge

After my run, I showered and went to brunch at Sambuca’s. Y’all, they have freaking live music in the morning. I ate my brunch in a cute little booth listening to music with the perfect ambiance. This was the first time I was introduced to the song, ‘Tennessee Whiskey’ by Chris Stapelton. When the music first began, I thought they were about to play Etta James. I adore her music. So, I was apprehensive at the change, but then I fell in love with the song. I immediately downloaded it on my phone.

Sambuca

I took a mural tour after brunch. There is artwork everywhere. My favorite was the butterfly wings. For dinner, I went to BB Kings. I don’t need to elaborate. It was dope! Not only was the food great, but they also had a live band performing. At pretty much every restaurant, there’s live music. Because, this is freaking Nashville!

Fast forward to now, I had another opportunity to visit. For the past year and a half, everywhere was practically closed down and most conferences were virtual. Until now, conferences and workshops have resumed. And, I am so happy they did. I had another opportunity to visit Nashville for business. YASSSS….

While here, I decided to visit the newly opened National Museum of African American Music. Each decade from before slavery to present was on display. The fashion, the music, and the social changes. The museum is completely interactive, with opportunities to mix your own beats, watch performances from artists past and present, and listening booths to explore music through the ages. The gift shop is a dream with books, clothing, and cute souvenirs that highlight well known artists. I made sure to pick up a RUN DMC shirt. I became famished after spending hours in the museum, so I asked a security guard about any good restaurants close by. She directed me to the slew of eateries behind the museum. Places like Cava, Hattie B’s, etc. But what stood out was Slim and Husky’s. I had heard about them online for years. So, that was my next stop!

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At Slim and Husky’s, the food choices are insane. It’s pizza like you’ve never had it before. You get to choose between a slim or husky. Being that I cannot eat much, I went with slim. I ordered a PREAM. It had mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, bacon, and cheese. OMG!!! The crust had like a garlicy flair to it. And, y’all, they have alcohol!!!! I got the Moscow Mule. Make sure to get a cup of water because that drink was strong AF. After that meal, I had no choice but to go back to my room and lay down. I couldn’t function after that.

Slim and Husky’s

I was so sad that my trip was coming to an end. On my way to my gate for my flight, I became even more sad. At a restaurant I was passing, a live musician began playing ‘Tennessee Whiskey’. I had to fight back the tears. I sat at my gate listening to the tail end of the song and reminiscing about all of my adventures here.

I won’t be too sad though because I am certain that I will be back.

Best Destinations for Girls’ Trips

For us ladies, friendships are important. For me, travel is super important. Sometimes, I like to combine both of my passions and take my ladies on a nice field trip! We’ve become stronger friends from the cool experiences we’ve had together. Over the course of the past 4 years, I’ve experienced places and things that I will remember for the rest of my life.

  1. Aruba

My girls and I ventured down to Aruba for the Soul Beach Music Festival. Not only were we able to see comedy shows and live concerts, but we were also able to tour the island. We toured with Offroad Evolution Rental & Tours Aruba, with the owner Ian De Swart. We rode around the island on ATVs and visited the natural pool, California Lighthouse, Alto Vista Chapel, Bushiribana Gold Mills Ruins, Andicuri Beach, and Black Stone Beach. If you decide to go, make sure to pack water shoes and a bandanna for your hair.

2. New Orleans

We originally went down to New Orleans, Louisiana for the Essence Festival. Like the adventurous person I am, I also wanted to explore the city. New Orleans and the surrounding areas have so much to offer. From Bourbon Street and alligator tours to the Joseph Plantation. You will never get board. We ate some of the best beignets and seafood in the French Quarter. For us joggers, take a run down Canal Street in the early morning; otherwise it is entirely too hot outside.

3. Memphis in May

If you ever want to choose the best time to take a girls’ trip to Memphis, Tennessee, definitely go in May. The Memphis in May International Festival is a month long celebration ranging from music performances to BBQ showcases. Make sure to pack rain boot because it does pour down. However, a little shower won’t stop the show. As a bonus, take a stroll down Beale Street. There are street performers, cool shops, and tasty food options. If you’re into the nightlife, they have live outdoor parties! And great photo ops! For a more educational opportunity, be sure to visit the Memphis Civil Rights Museum, where the Lorraine Motel showcases the civil rights movement and the final days of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

4. Cartagena, Colombia

For an out of this world experience, you have to go to Cartagena. The weather is perfect, the views are phenomenal, and the people are so hospitable. The best way to experience the city is to set up a tour with the Experience The Real Cartagena tour company. You will get to not only see the city, but the beaches and the small villages outside of the city. Also, food is included…yummy. Take pictures on the graffiti tour or with the beautiful fruit ladies. The night life is off the hook with roof top parties and top DJs. Make sure to pack dresses, tanks and shorts because it is hot!

5. Carnival

Whether you choose to stay here in the US or go abroad for Carnival, it is always a great option. Try Caribana in Toronto or Carnival in Atlanta, Miami, or Las Vegas. Either way, you could never go wrong. Between parties in the city or Jouvert, you will never get rest. So don’t count on it. The community comes together strong for the biggest party in the streets you’ve ever seen. The costumes glisten in the sun and the fiercely decorated floats are sure to dazzle you.

I look forward to many more trips with my friends. Where did you guys go? Leave your trip in the comments and be sure to share with your friends!

Free Yourself

As a fad diet, wanna-be healthy person, I hear the word detoxify a ton! We often detoxify our bodies by drinking green smoothies or making those crazy teas. We try to sweat it out. We even stop drinking alcohol. I haven’t managed that one yet. I probably need to because of my belly size, but that’s a topic for another blog. We work really hard to fix the way we look on the outside, but have we worked on detoxifying the inside?

What do I mean? Well, some of us are in toxic situations or relationships. We have friendships that should have ended a long time ago because it’s damaging to our psyche. However, we cannot let go. Your friends pop up in your life, cause drama, then leave for a bit. That’s not healthy. It messes up your train of thought and your energy. I did a presentation a few years ago on energy vampires based on the book, “Energy Bus”. Although it was a presentation for others, I was also preaching to myself. 

I have a bad habit of getting wrapped up into things. I get easily attached. The bonus of my personality, however, is just as easily as I get attached, I can detach. But, there are some large gaps in time where I’m still super attached. When I meet people or friends, I only see the good things. I mentally block out the red flags because I enjoy the fun stuff. I enjoy the exchange of memes and the good morning texts. I enjoy the new activities we do together. But then, after weeks of the fun stuff, the red flags start blazing. 

I see that you’re on social media, but you haven’t responded to my text. I see how the mood and frequency of your texts change. I see that you aren’t as present as you used to be. But why? If you want to be a friend, why change?

With ladies, we see this happen so frequently. I’m in a group online where women are there to make friends. We plan outings and trips, then slowly but surely the number of people starts to decline. Why bother trying to hang out if you plan to disappear? In the words of Fantasia, “if you don’t want me, then don’t talk to me. Go ahead and free yourself.”

So, because of this, I keep my friendship circle small. I rarely invite people in. It hurts me when I feel that we are friends, but then you diss me. This week, I looked at my mood. My mood has been in a state of agitation lately and I think it’s because I need to detoxify my life. I analyzed some of my friendships and I decided that it’s time to let it go. Take my heart out of it. I’ll still be cordial and get work done, but I will focus my energy on things that serve me. Things that will improve my mood, my health, my mind, my soul, and my future. I cannot take your negative energy with me. 

As much as I love my people, I sometimes have to let them go. In the words of a bad breakup, “It’s not you, it’s me.” And, it really is.

Lost in My DMs

Social media is a funny thing. It’s good because you can market yourself to the world. Entrepreneurs thrive on social media. DMs can be used for direct sales and advertising. Sometimes, we get offers for endorsements, networking, and promotions. Some people have even found love on social media. However, there’s a dark side. 

Many people slide into DMs for nefarious reasons. Some people try to get you to sign up for inappropriate links. Sometimes there is spam for false promotions. Those false promoters have fake views and fake followers. Or, they tell you to DM their main profile. Ma’am, why didn’t you message me from your main page if you want to endorse me? Also, I’m not paying for a product you want me to promote. That’s dumb. Don’t fall for that trick. Or, you get the bitcoin or cash app people who claim you won a grant from the government.

Then, of course you have the creeps. I hate the creepy people who send messages like, “hey beautiful,” or “I love you.” Sir, how can you love me when you don’t even know me? My thing is, your account doesn’t even look real. The first picture was posted two weeks ago and it looks like it was stolen from someone else’s page. Your English is all broken and you say crap that doesn’t add up to our level of non-friendship. 

Typically, I delete dms from people who look suspicious. I’m not trying to end up on one of those locked up abroad or love the other way shows. I only use my dms for networking with other authors, by offering free promotion. So, if you get a weird dm from me, please know that it’s a hack and alert me immediately.

Hiking the Mountain of Success

Early Saturday morning, I stood at my kitchen island packing my hiking backpack. I gathered up all of my materials and mentally prepared myself for the day ahead. I was excited, but also nervous. I didn’t know what lied ahead of me. It was still dark as I headed out. The sun began to peek through as I made my way to Crowder’s Mountain. Someone who shall remain unnamed called me Dora the explorer, but that’s a story for another day. I frequently participate in activities that expand my circle of experience. As I pulled into the parking lot and saw my friends circled up, I felt my heart grow. Their friendship and this experience gave me so much insight into my leadership style and how I manage to find success in my everyday life. I hope that my thoughts and experiences help you find a way to trek your own mountain of success.

  1. Be prepared

There were different ways I prepared for this endeavor. I had to prepare mentally, physically, and literally put my backpack supplies together. For the weeks leading up to the trip, I trained. Albeit, it was probably not enough because I was sore as all get out for the following days. But, I trained. I ran and walked further and further on the treadmill and elliptical machine to help build up my stamina. I wore a mask to help simulate the breathing difficulties I might face. That morning, I had to make sure I had all of my supplies. I packed sunscreen, bug spray, hiking poles, a change of clothes, food/snacks, gum, Chapstick, a jacket, and water. Without all of these things, the experience would have taxing.

In life, you have to be prepared for whatever journey you plan to take. Your career aspirations will always match your preparation. What have you done to take your career to the next level? Are you working to reach your goals? You may need to take some classes, learn new skills, or change your circle of friends.

  1. Network

On the hike, I met some of the most amazing people. As we hiked, we talked about careers, our futures, money, etc. It was so nice to connect with people of varied backgrounds. Not only were they dope, but they also offered new insight. In order to grow, you must gain new insight into whatever area you’re looking toward. If your circle is not encouraging you to grow, you may need to look for new folks. Also, I made connections with people who offered skills I could bring to my school to enhance our community. In life, I like to constantly allow opportunities for me to grow and work with people of diverse backgrounds to help make the most of my leadership opportunity. 

  1. Don’t leave anyone behind

The trail that we took on Crowders Mountain is listed as strenuous/ moderately difficult. Our leader instructed us to think of others as we took this journey. We had to wear a whistle in case you got lost or there was danger. We were to exchange phone numbers with others for the same reason. The final thing he said before we began was to never leave others behind. Everyone was not on the same fitness level, therefore, we had to stop to let others catch their breath. We stopped for drinks and restroom breaks. We monitored how each member felt to ensure we were safe to move on.

Outdoor Afro Charlotte

In life, we need to check on our people. See if they are doing ok. How can you help? Also, If you know of an opportunity that your friend qualifies for, help them out. Mention it to them or mention them to the opportunity. Once we move up in life, we must find ways to reach back and pull others up. If you’re in a position to give knowledge or enhance others, do it!

  1. Overcome Obstacles

The mountain, like life, has many obstacles. Instead of rocks, you have racism. Instead of tree branches, you have limited opportunities. Instead of rain or fog, you have financial or health issues. We all have challenges to overcome, but like hiking the mountain you have to take it one step at a time. Start small and build up to where you need to be. It may take some time to get there, but like the peak, seeing the view made the hard work worth it!

  1. GPS

One thing our guide stressed to us was the importance of knowing how to use your map and your GPS. In life, you don’t know how to reach your final destination without following a plan. Talk to people. Do your research. Find the path that will allow you to reach your goals. Just like a map is printed, write down your plan. When you constantly see your vision, it manifests itself.

Whatever goals you hope to reach, I hope you get there. You can’t just hope, you have to put work behind it. James 2 says, “Faith without works is dead.” Once you create your plan, you have to go at it. Work your tail off. But once you obtain it, don’t forget to reach back and help others. That’s how we continue to grow as a community. We are not in a competition. If one of us wins, we all win!