Archive | December, 2014

Superman Does Good

28 Dec

“Superman does good. You’re doing well.”

Tracy Morgan’s “30 Rock” character, Tracy Jordan, admonishes Toofer after he tells him that he’s “doing good.”

I can’t help but think of this every time somebody asks me how I’m doing and I reply with that Southern standard “Oh, I’m doin’ good.”Tracy Morgan’s voice rings through my ears and it makes me think about what I just said.

“I’m doin’ good,” is such a cop out answer. I like to think that if someone asks me how I’m doing, they genuinely want to know the answer. “I’m doin’ good,” says absolutely nothing, except perhaps, that I’m alive enough to say those words.

I read an article a few weeks ago about how we shouldn’t respond to people asking how we’ve been with “I’ve been busy,” for the same reason—it’s a total cop out that doesn’t give anyone a true picture of your current mental, emotional, or physical state.

I’ve started watching myself when people ask how I’m doing and try to formulate a real response instead of just “Doin’ good.”

I try to pick out a highlight of my week or day, something I’m proud of, excited about, or looking forward to. If things aren’t all sunshine and butterflies, I say that too. Not in a Debbie Downer, “My life is miserable,” way, but just in a “You asked me how I’m doing so I’m going to be honest about it,” kind of way.

Surprisingly enough, it’s hard. It’s hard to break the habit of an automatic response. It’s hard to pause before responding to someone, taking time to think about and honestly answer the question “How are you?”

So I challenge you to take some time this week and notice what your response is when people ask you how you’re doing. Do you have a rote response that rolls off your tongue, or are you thoughtful and thorough with your reply? Is it difficult to change your response? One way or another, I hope you’re doing well…

God’s Business

9 Dec

I never thought that a small business training course would bring me closer to God.

But it did.

Let me back up a little bit. I should have known something bigger than me was at work when, almost exactly one year ago, I went to a local organization—

Increasing H.O.P.E.—for a small business counseling session. I left with a job offer.

The agency needed help with its social media, and even though I had gone to be counseled about a dance business I wanted to start, the executive director asked me to take on their social media. A month or two after my initial meeting with the ED, Dorothea Bernique, I began running Increasing H.O.P.E.’s social media. During one of our first meetings, Dorothea and her friend/marketing coach Lavondilyn Watson said that I was a perfect candidate for the H.E.R. Institute.

H.E.R. Institute (Hope, Empowerment, Restoration) was a small business training course that Dorothea and Lavondilyn had been planning for years. It was designed to help entrepreneurs learn how to build a rock solid foundation for their burgeoning business, covering topics from the entrepreneurial mindset to personnel and staffing. I knew I wanted in. The date to sign up drew closer and at that point I was waffling about what I wanted my business to be. Dance? Writing? Editing? Social media? Marketing? A “Glambulance” (a mobile beauty salon where drunk girls could get their nails done outside of bars at night…true story, you should see my notes).

Frankly, I was lost, confused, and overwhelmed with uncertainty. But I signed up for H.E.R. Institute anyways, knowing that it was what I was supposed to do.

Dorothea and Lavondilyn intrigued and inspired me. They called themselves women of faith, a term that I had heard before in my Methodist upbringing but never really understood. I had never met women so strongly convicted in what they do. God gave them certain gifts and talents, inspired them with a calling, and set them on a path. It seemed that they were impervious to what other people may think— only God’s opinion mattered.

“What is this purpose thing…?” I thought, “And where do I sign up for one?”

I cycled through so many ideas for my business, changing my mind what felt like every week, talking to friends and family, mulling over a million possibilities. I was still scared, still not “feeling it.”

But Dorothea and Lavondilyn and my cohorts in the class were behind me, encouraging me, praising me, listening, giving tough love and guidance. I picked a business name, created an LLC, got my business bank account, had a logo designed, opened a P.O. Box. Threw around some more ideas. Began developing products, identifying an ideal client.

Each step I took brought me closer. I began to feel more convicted—I had no other option but to roll with my business. I realized what it is that I truly love—to dance, write, and talk to people—and thought of ways to combine them.

Last week during our H.E.R. Institute class, nobody left dry-eyed. God was in that room. Something happened and we knew without doubt that we had been called, ordained, inspired, anointed…whatever word choice you want to use, by something so much bigger than ourselves to go on our paths. To start our businesses, to spread our gifts.

Over the next few days, I hit the pavement. I put together my website, set up my e-commerce, got my business license, had my first official gig as Baila ConmiGA and decided to launch my business. I realized that if not now, when?

So here I am. I’m terrified. Afraid of being judged, criticized, making mistakes, losing money, doing something wrong. But I’m trying to push past all of that. I’m trying to trust that God (or the Universe or the Aliens That Control Our Lives, depending on your belief system) will reward this leap of faith. I’m lucky to have a network of cheerleaders—family, mentors, friends, my dance partner, teachers—behind me, encouraging me along the way.

And more than all of that, I’m lucky that now I can consider myself a woman of faith. It’s been said that God works in mysterious ways, and if becoming an entrepreneur can unlock my faith, I can only imagine what could happen to you.

 

Anne Lamott inspired me to write this. I was nervous—I don’t usually write this kind of blog post for fear of being polarizing or for being categorized a certain way. But then I realized that Anne Lamott is a best-selling author, and isn’t that what all writers are aspiring toward? I love the way she writes about faith—it’s accessible and real-world.