A Year Is A Marathon… Not A Sprint


I used to run track in High School and as I enjoyed time off from teaching yesterday, I started really thinking about 2013. I love the optimism and the ambitious energy that surrounds the start of the new year. I too have my laundry list of things I’d like to do and accomplish this year. I get so excited, but I also had to give myself a reality check and a reality check for me equals a reality check for you too!

This year will be comprised of 365 days, 52 weeks and 12 months. We have to be prepared for the long distance which means we need to pace ourselves! You don’t have to lose weight, clean up, and do a full transformation in one day or even one month. Change takes time. Be patient with yourself and be patient with others but don’t give up on yourself.

I posted this on Twitter & Facebook today:

“With every thought we think, we either summon, or block a miracle.” – Marianne Williamson


I started reading The Law of Divine Compensation by Marianne Williamson today. The first mention of the book came via Twitter from Bevy Smith (@bevysmith) who hosts high-profile networking dinners. The second mention of the book came less than a week later from Shanel Cooper-Sykes (@shanelcooper), during Midnight Meditation (a weekly conference call hosting 1,000 participants that starts with inspirational words/reflections from Shanel and ends with guided meditation). I respect both of these women and decided to download the book to my Kindle and have not put it down since I started!

I spent a lot of time organizing and cleaning my office which lead to me joining the Scrappypedia Scrap Stash Organization Club. You can join the club here: http://www.scrappypedia.com/article/join-scrappypedias-scrap-stash-organization-club/. I was able to order prints (for a “Wall of Fame” Project for my hubby and for regular scrapbooking) as well as to rekindle my relationship with Mozy (an online computer back-up system). I’m looking forward to the challenges this year! I also discovered Your Fairy Craft Mama who has a huge list of January 2013 prompts for blogs and scrapbook pages. The list is so good it was worthy of being printed out lol! A New Blog called Organized Scrapping launched today!

I spent time connecting with family and friends on the phone and via text. There are some people that I intend to get closer to in 2013! I intend to make more phone calls, send more texts, make myself available on Skype, send more emails, and hand write more letters.

I intend to update my blog at least every other day! You can also follow me on Twitter (@blkgrlunmasked), Follow me on Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/donnienicole/), or e-mail me privately at donnienicolesmith@gmail.com.

I’m going to follow the advice of Farrah Gray (@RealFarrahGray), American Businessman and Philanthropist, who said via twitter:

“Today is the first blank page of a 365 page book, make sure you write a good story.”

Swim With Sharks?!

This slide is called the “leap of faith” and it’s located in the Bahamas. You end up sliding through a tube in a tub filled with sharks.

I love rollercoasters and plan to sky dive one day. I love the rush and have just added this to my manifesto of things that I must do before I leave planet earth. Would you do this?




Seeds Are Being Planted

Every conversation that we have, every e-mail that we open, every tweet that we read plants a seed in our minds. Some of the seeds take root and grow inside of our minds and hearts. Many of them bear fruit.

Some of the seeds that are planted are negative. They include things like fear, doubt, regret, distrust. Sometimes the seeds come from the people we love the most – our parents, a good friend or a coworker. At other times it comes from a complete stranger who does not have our best interest at heart. The fruit from these seeds often looks like a bad or self-defeated attitude, insomnia, procrastination or withdrawal.

At other times more positive seeds are planted. Things like compassion, inspiration, humor or affection. These seeds feed our spirits. They make us feel happy to be alive, confident to be in our skins and they awaken our senses.

While we can’t control every interaction that we have, we can control our inner circles. Those individuals in our “inner circle” plant the most seeds in our lives. We can delete a voicemail, e-mail or text from someone who is not planting positive seeds. We can limit our time on social networks where some of the most venomous exchanges take place.

Most of all we can nurture the positive seeds by thinking about them and digesting them through conversation. We can write about them, meditate on them and “water” them with our time and attention. In order to live a healthy and happy life we must allow the positive seeds to “overshadow” the negative ones and hopefully they wither away.

Inbox Zero – Project

Project Inbox Zero is going to be one of the items on my Summer Manifesto (unveiled Tue. June 21st). I have entirely TOO MANY E-MAILS!!! Digital clutter, just like physical clutter weighs on your conscious. It’s like a background application that you aren’t aware of that drains your energy. My goal this summer is to:

A. Archive e-mails that need to be kept forever into folders (as a teacher this is UBER-important. I have to be able to CMA!).

B. Create a new teacher e-mail (right now the personal e-mail mixed with the teacher e-mail started out as a good idea, but now it’s a bit much.)

C. Empty e-mails to zero (the photo above represents my old e-mail that now serves as my Spam Filter).

Articles about “Inbox Zero”:

Processing to Zero: http://www.43folders.com/2006/03/27/process-to-zero

Schedule E-mail Dashes: http://www.43folders.com/2006/03/15/email-dash

Five Sneaky E-mail Cheats: http://www.43folders.com/2006/03/13/email-cheats

Little Miss Sunshine – Remaining Positive No Matter What

I’ve been through it all… if I told you everything you’d think I was lying — family members addicted to drugs, rape, single parent household, a nasty divorce —- cry me a river! No matter what I go through I always remain positive and keep an upbeat attitude. I had a conversation with one of my old coworkers and she asked, “How do you do it? No matter what is going on in your life you still remain so sweet & keep a smile on your face!” She was going through a tough time, so I decided to answer her and share with the world what I told her:

1. Realize that the only person you can control is yourself. Human beings have free will and they do what they want/when they want. You cannot make another person do anything without consequences. This is especially true in romantic relationships. Let him go! The last thing you want is a “sympathy” relationship where someone just settles with you or uses you as a benchwarmer until his star player comes along. If you have to force something, it’s probably not meant for you!

2. Tell yourself that everything happens for a reason & try to learn a lesson in everything. This is especially true with hurtful or tragic experiences. I usually tell myself that God wants me to learn something or is testing my character/will. Tragic circumstances are easier to deal with when you look at them from a spiritual rather than worldly perspective. When things don’t go the way I want – I really withdraw inside of myself to “process” the situation or experience. What was my role in making it happen? How can I ensure that this never happens again? What are the steps that I need to take to improve myself or this situation for the future? If there are wounds, lick them, bandage them and move on.

3. Stay AWAY from negative/pessimistic people – no matter who they are. As easy as it is to remove someone from your friends list on Facebook, or unfollow someone on Twitter, it’s just as easy to remove people from your circle/network. The old saying “birds of a feather, flock together” is so true. No matter how close you are to someone, if all they do is complain, whine & blame, eventually their “funk” is going to rub off on you. Get rid of them and surround yourself with people who are positive and like minded. Sometimes you can’t totally avoid these people (especially if you work with them) but you can deal with them from a distance and have limited contact.

4. Let go of the past! Our minds and our hearts only have so much space and if your “hard drive” is full, you won’t have any space to save any of the new experiences you’re having. The past can weigh and hold you down – especially if you’re bent on revenge or recovering something that is totally broken. The amount of emotional and mental energy that it takes to hold on to painful memories or experiences is better spent planning for the future and enjoying the time in the here and now.

5. Motivate yourself! Listen to inspirational music (which for me is often femcees & neosoul. Eve’s song “Satisfaction” was my theme song for the longest time). If a negative thought comes into your mind quickly engage in a positive conversation with someone or dismiss the negative thought. In Buddhism we call that “mindfulness.” You have 18 + years of programming, so it’s not always easy to “reboot” but if you’re aware of the negativity that you allow to course from your mind throughout your body (no matter the source) then you can identify it and immediately eliminate it. You have to give yourself a “mental transfusion.”

6. Do what’s right at all costs! I truly believe in karma. If you do the right thing and follow your instincts, most of the time you’ll be okay. Be careful what you put out! If you always have a nasty attitude – don’t be surprised when you get that or even worse in return. If you engage in gossip (an independent movie that I saw recently said “gossip is the devil’s radio”), don’t have hurt feelings when you learn that people are talking badly about you behind your back. If you find a wallet or keys and it doesn’t belong to you return it/them, so that when you lose your digital camera or something of value you’ll get it back.

7. Keep It Moving! When you’re feeling down or sad, usually all you want to do is lay around & totally withdraw. Don’t do it! Get up and do something – even if it’s a monotonous task like cleaning out your e-mail or doing laundry. If you’re searching for a job and you receive a rejection letter, don’t quit! Take the lessons learned from that job interview to keep searching and looking for something else. Don’t ever sit still! Keep it moving!

Smelling The Flowers…

My SO (significant other) did the sweetest thing yesterday. He told each person in the family they can have a gift of their choice & we’d go out and get it that day. My choice was hard! I’ve been wanting a new pot set, but I’ve also been wanting a grill (since Spring). So I decided on the grill. We went out and got it, and SO put it together, and we fired that baby up.

Cooking on a gas grill is SO MUCH BETTER than cooking with charcoals! Minus the anxiety of hooking up the propane tank, it’s like cooking on an in house stove (it even has an automatic little igniter – so no messy lighter fluid or matches). The gas grill cooks all of the meat evenly, and you can control the heat. Mines has 4 burners, and each has it’s own individual little knob. There is also a side burner, but that wouldn’t come on today (I really didn’t try that hard to get it on).

We’re about 2 1/2 weeks away from Professional Development. Our first week back is always nutso! Meeting after meeting. Copying and all that jazz. Everyone is trying to get ready for the school year… During the last week of August we go from Tuesday – Thursday. We’re off for the weekend.

I have been doing lots more scrapbooking as planned. I ordered some clear acrylic scrapbook albums. I plan to leave those on the coffee/side table once finished. They make GREAT conversation pieces.

This summer, I’m truly smelling the flowers and it feels good!

Black Women of Power Collage

Today was a wonderful day. I worked on art pieces from the time I woke up until now when I finished my piece “Black Women of Power,” which now hangs in the office.

It has black women past and present who have either made an impact on history or my life. I even added a picture of my great grandmother Rena Swinton-Williams. This morning I scrapbooked several layouts and even started working on my autobiographical album (the contents of which will not be shared, it’s more of like an  art journal – anthropological piece rather than a family/public album). I was inspired today while listening to Saul William’s (one of my favorite poets/artists) piece “Coded Language” where he calls on the name of significant figures in history and thought about how powerful it was and then got the idea to make the college – something that was equally powerful just visual rather than auditory.

Here are the lyrics to “Coded Language”:

Whereas, breakbeats have been the missing link connecting the diasporic

community to its drum woven past
Whereas the quantised drum has allowed the whirling mathematicians to
calculate the ever changing distance between rock and stardom.
Whereas the velocity of the spinning vinyl, cross-faded, spun backwards, and
re-released at the same given moment of recorded history , yet at a
different moment in time’s continuum has allowed history to catch up with
the present.

We do hereby declare reality unkempt by the changing standards of dialogue.
Statements, such as, “keep it real”, especially when punctuating or
anticipating modes of ultra-violence inflicted psychologically or physically
or depicting an unchanging rule of events will hence forth be seen as
retro-active and not representative of the individually determined is.

Furthermore, as determined by the collective consciousness of this state of
being and the lessened distance between thought patterns and their secular
manifestations, the role of men as listening receptacles is to be increased
by a number no less than 70 percent of the current enlisted as vocal

Motherfuckers better realize, now is the time to self-actualize
We have found evidence that hip hops standard 85 rpm when increased by a
number as least half the rate of it’s standard or decreased at ¾ of it’s
speed may be a determining factor in heightening consciousness.

Studies show that when a given norm is changed in the face of the
unchanging, the remaining contradictions will parallel the truth.

Equate rhyme with reason, Sun with season

Our cyclical relationship to phenomenon has encouraged scholars to erase the
centers of periods, thus symbolizing the non-linear character of cause and
Reject mediocrity!

Your current frequencies of understanding outweigh that which as been given
for you to understand.
The current standard is the equivalent of an adolescent restricted to the
diet of an infant.
The rapidly changing body would acquire dysfunctional and deformative
symptoms and could not properly mature on a diet of apple sauce and crushed
Light years are interchangeable with years of living in darkness.
The role of darkness is not to be seen as, or equated with, Ignorance, but
with the unknown, and the mysteries of the unseen.

Thus, in the name of:

We claim the present as the pre-sent, as the hereafter.
We are unraveling our navels so that we may ingest the sun.
We are not afraid of the darkness, we trust that the moon shall guide us.
We are determining the future at this very moment.
We now know that the heart is the philosophers’ stone
Our music is our alchemy
We stand as the manifested equivalent of 3 buckets of water and a hand full
of minerals, thus realizing that those very buckets turned upside down
supply the percussion factor of forever.
If you must count to keep the beat then count.
Find you mantra and awaken your subconscious.
Curve you circles counterclockwise
Use your cipher to decipher, Coded Language, man made laws.
Climb waterfalls and trees, commune with nature, snakes and bees.
Let your children name themselves and claim themselves as the new day for
today we are determined to be the channelers of these changing frequencies
into songs, paintings, writings, dance, drama, photography, carpentry,
crafts, love, and love.
We enlist every instrument: Acoustic, electronic.
Every so-called race, gender, and sexual preference.
Every per-son as beings of sound to acknowledge their responsibility to
uplift the consciousness of the entire fucking World.
Any utterance will be un-aimed, will be disclaimed – two rappers slain
Any utterance will be un-aimed, will be disclaimed – two rappers slain

Check out Saul performing the piece here: