Be Happy

2015-09-03 21.24.27“Rejoice when others rejoice, weep when others weep,” Romans 12:15.

How do you rejoice with others if you’re still waiting on your “reason” for rejoicing?

Have you ever found yourself surrounded by people who seem to all be receiving the answers to their prayers or being granted whatever they’ve been waiting on or hoping for? Meanwhile, YOU are still waiting on YOUR good thing.

How do you respond to this with happiness? Especially when you’re like “HEY, can I get a breakthrough?”

Well, this past weekend I had the pleasure of rejoicing with so many people for many different reasons and I must confess, being a part of so many celebrations did something MARVELOUS for my soul!

Here are a few things I celebrated just this past weekend:

One of my sorority sisters was featured in an article and named as an extraordinary minority in Texas law.

My cousin debuted with her school’s dance team and was ah-mazing!

One of my “Tribe” sisterfriends was in a top grossing movie that opened nationwide.

My Granny, who is bravely battling Alzheimer’s, turned 80 years-old and we celebrated her with a surprise party.

A dear sisterfriend got engaged.

A Tribe sisterfriend and her husband were celebrated for their recent adoption of a son.

And a “sistercousin” left a job that was sucking the life and joy out of her and started a new role crafted just for her.

It was a FANTASTIC weekend of laughing, eating, laughing, giving,  laughing, crying, laughing, sharing and most of all, LOVE! Did I mention how much we LAUGHED?

Each night, as I wrote in my journal, I reflected on the subtle details of my loved ones’ journeys that stood out for me.

I remember hearing about the hard work of law school.

I remember hearing about wanting to quit dance.

I remember hearing the sacrifice of relocating the family or learning script lines.

I remember family meetings and preparing for the changes that come with the disease.

I remember hearing the hope for a marriage proposal.

I remember hearing about the hope and prayer of parenthood.

I remember the anticipation of escaping a dead end job.

I vividly remembered the trials and triumphs that lead to these accomplishments  and I was overwhelmed with joy.

I realized I am also extremely blessed. See, most times when I leave my family or friends, I am actually a better person. I am better because celebrating the accomplishments of others gives me hope for my own dreams. No, I have no desire to be on a dance team or on a movie poster, but the dreams that I do have seem to come alive more when I celebrate the success of others.

I feel hopeful when I share what’s brewing inside of me. Yes, this exposes my vulnerability.  However, I’m starting to see that being vulnerable to those closest to me is the life I want to lead. Don’t you agree?

After spending time with the people I trust, I’m inspired to share the dreams I have with them.  I know that if they do come true, my people will know WHY we must celebrate. If they are not actualized, those same people will be there to comfort me and encourage me to keep dreaming, keep going.

I realized this weekend that life is not just about the end result – the good news – but it’s about recognizing the joy on the pathway of life. One of my “Tribe” sisterfriends put it this way, “Celebrate each stone on the path.” Each stone is significant…each stone.

So today, I encourage you to continue to hope and dream and celebrate one another. I am thankful for the reasons to celebrate others and I’m super excited for what’s to come. Not only for myself but, for you too.

Rejoice when others rejoice…I promise you, it will do something MARVELOUS for your soul.

Striving to be better,

Shanterra

Thoughts:

What do you do you when someone shares their good news with you?

What does it mean to dream out loud?

Feel free to comment below or shoot me an email at Shanterra I’d love to hear from you!

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The Tribe; me with my cousin Rachel @ Bishop Lynch High School; Granny laughing at her surprise party; Tribe sisterfriend in front of her poster; Granny’s birthday sign! So many reasons to celebrate!

The After School Talk

2015-08-24 23.48.06For some, you’ve already made it through the first day of school. For others, there are still a couple of weeks to go. Either way, the first day of school is a day met with mixed emotions for parents and students. Some parents are eager for their children to go back to school while others want the summer to stretch on just a little bit longer. I must confess, I know way  more parents who are counting down the days of summer to END rather than hoping for a stretch… just saying.

But as much as you’re excited to send them off, anxieties tend to swell up as they come home from that first day. Anxieties, not for the student, but instead, mostly for the parent. One of the hardest parts of the day for parents is the after school talk. You are interested in every detail of the day and the young person you keep food in the refrigerator for is sometimes uncooperative and gives you the dreadful one word answers to your well-intended questions. You know how it goes:

Cheerful parent: How was school today!?!?

Less-than-cheerful Young Person: Great.

Still-holding-on-to the-cheer Parent: Did anyone say anything about your new outfit? You looked so great today.

Still-unenthusiastic YP: No? (Yes, a question mark, as in, “Why are you asking me that. We don’t do that,” even though they do!)

Cheerful-but-losing-some-of-the-cheer Parent: Well, were you happy to see your friends after the long summer?

No-sign-of-enthusiasm-now-texting-with-friends YP: Yes.

Annoyed-sick-of-trying Parent: Well, ok. Glad you had a good day. 

End of the conversation.

Trust me, as an educator for over twenty years and a youth life coach, I’ve been there! At times, young people can be so disinterested, especially when adults are excited. But, I don’t think it’s intentional. I think they want to share, but deep down, they don’t know how to meet our expectations, even when asked questions. The good news is there is a way to avoid the one word response conversation, besides throwing their cell phones out of the window. Here are three questions to ignite a more meaningful conversation with your young person after school:

  1. What’s the best thing that happened at school today?
  2. What is something you wish you could do over?
  3. What are you looking forward to tomorrow?

First, what was the best thing that happened at school today? This question moves us away from the “how was your day” question. You want more than a one word answer. You’ve been thinking about them all day and you deserve more than one word. Because all of us aren’t the most talkative people, we have to be strategic in how we pull out the information. Trust me, nagging doesn’t help, tried that last year. Sanity and strategy says ask a different question and see if we get better results. What was the best thing that happened at school today?

This question also helps your young person reflect on their day, which is meeting a fundamental youth need. Every young person needs to have a place to reflect and process, be it with you, in a journal or to their friends. A way to help meet that need is to ask the right questions.

Secondly, what is something you wish you could do over? Again, reflective time. The truth is, for some students, they won’t have anything to do over, school was perfect, and everything was great! But for some, there may be something, a small thing, they wish they could do again.

It could be she wished she’d sat with the new girl at lunch, but she didn’t know if her friends would be receptive. Or it could be he wished he’d asked to change his locker. He would like a top one because he grew a lot over the summer and having to bend to the bottom locker may be extremely uncomfortable all year.

What’s great is that when they share information with you, it gives you a chance to see if they need your help, need your advice or just sharing. Most of the time, they’re just sharing and are not crying out for a save. In other words, slow down before calling the Principal to demand a new locker because your son “will NOT be mistreated by having the bottom locker! He grew 6 inches this summer and this is just unacceptable!” (I’m sure you wouldn’t do that, it’s just an example).

While you’re listening, pay attention to body language, tone, and direct ask for help. Did he say “Mom, could you call to see if I can get a new locker?” Before calling, ask if he talked to someone about the locker change. You want to hear how he has advocated for himself. If he hasn’t, it’s a wonderful way to make the suggestion. As you know, this is especially important especially as they get older.

And the example with lunch? Ask her about what she could do tomorrow, to see if she’ll sit with the new person. She is obviously thinking about it so it’s an entry for more dialogue. This is an awesome time to point out all the wonderful characteristics you know to be true about her that she may have forgotten on the first day. What is something you wish you could do over?

Finally, what are you looking forward to tomorrow? Ask what they’re looking forward to and be okay with the fact that it may not be a deep answer. They may be excited about pizza day tomorrow or going to their favorite chemistry class. The goal is for you to hear what your young person is looking forward to regarding school. Now for some, the answer will be there are only 11 more days until Labor Day break. Hey, that’s still something to look forward to so we’ll celebrate it all!

The great thing about the first day of school, is the second day, the third day, the fifth week, the sixth month and so on. In other words, it keeps going. And just like school, so will your conversations, especially when you ask the right questions and open the door for dialogue.

And by the way, these questions are great throughout the school year. The more you ask, hopefully the more you’ll see the conversation shift and perhaps instead of you initiating, your young person will initiate. Wouldn’t that be simply marvelous?

Until next time, I wish you more Marvelous Mondays and an awesome rest of the week!

Shanterra

More Dialogue:
1. What’s the best thing that happened for you today?
2. What would you do over?
3. What are you looking forward to tomorrow?
4.  What other questions would you add to the list?

Feel free to comment below (way below) or email Shanterra  

Guiltless Rest

2015-08-16 23.33.32It’s MONDAY, Marvelous Monday. The day I’ve decided to post a new blog that will hopefully encourage, empower, motivate…something. But today, on this Marvelous Monday, I’m taking a day to rest. I’ve been going nonstop for the past couple of weeks with a lot of exciting things for which I am extremely hopeful and thankful. And I am also well, I’m…. tired.

I have nothing deep to share. I have nothing encouraging to share. I have nothing to pour out. Why? Because I haven’t rested. I haven’t taken the time to make sure I’m replenished so that I can give my best. Give my best to myself, my business, my family, my friends, and to the young people I serve. I’m taking the advice of wise grandma’s everywhere (because I’m sure every single one of them has said it), “Make sure you get your rest before you are forced to rest!”

In other words, if you don’t sit yourself down, you will be sat down. I’m a witness! A cold will come out of nowhere, a sore throat will catch you off guard, the bag under the eyes will be more prominent, you will snap at the salesperson in Macy’s for no reason and the weight you thought you lost will just show up, again (I may or may not have experienced every single one of these examples).

So, today, I will rest. I will take some time to take care of me and I will not feel guilty about it. I encourage you, if you haven’t done so in a while, take a day for you. At least one day. Rest. No “to-do” list, no work calls, no work emails, no work. Read blogs you enjoy (my favorite), take phone calls where you know you will laugh out loud, watch hilarious television where you don’t have to think (one of my favorites) and eat whatever you want! Oh and one of my favorite things to do on rest days, take a nap. Naps….oooh, remember those? They’re amazing and extremely beneficial!

Now, I understand everyone won’t have this luxury of a rest day. I can already hear some folks challenging my idea. But rest shouldn’t be a luxury, right? Diamonds are luxurious, rest is necessary. We need it, I need it, and yes, you need it. I say this with love for humankind and for all salespeople everywhere, take some time to rest.

Until next time, take care of you and have a Marvelous Monday!

Questions:

  1. When will you rest? You may have to plan it.
  2. What will it take for you to get the well-deserved rest that you need?

Feel free to comment below or email Shanterra

You just have to try it…

I’m not one to ever brag, but my family is full of great cooks. We all have our favorite dish prepared by another family member and we all agree on who can claim “top chef” status for a particular specialty. For my great-grandmother, “Big Mama”, it was peach cobbler. Ohmygoodness! To this day, I have not had peach cobbler like Big Mama’s! For my grandmother, “Mema”, it’s her sweet potato pies. Her pies are the best on the planet! My mom is known for her German Chocolate Cake, her potato salad, her broccoli rice casserole…wait, that’s more than one thing. Well, what can I say, Mom is a great cook! Most of the time.

One evening, Mom volunteered to make hot water cornbread for Mema after Aunt Kay made her infamous, “can’t-no-one- make-it-better smothered cabbage”. For those of you unfamiliar with hot water cornbread, it is by far one of the best ways to have cornbread. I’m almost certain it isn’t the healthiest way, but that’s not the point. The point is, it tastes delicious!

Well, since Mom was at Mema’s house instead of her own, she didn’t have all the ingredients she needed. She had to improvise and make the cornbread a different way. This made Mom a little nervous and she kept asking Mema about the ingredients that she was going to use as substitutions. I guess she needed some assurance that things would go well.

Mom would throw out suggestions for substitutions but Mema never gave her a direct answer. She would say things like “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure.”  Finally Mema said, “You just have to try it; and that way, you’ll always know.”

It was so simple and so freeing.

You just have to try; and that way, you’ll always know.

I sat at the kitchen table listening to them go back and forth, but slowly drifted to my own thoughts on the things Mom forced me allowed me to try while growing up. Piano lessons, tumbling, singing lessons, Girl Scouts, and even pageants. Some things I liked and some I didn’t, but I tried them. If I hadn’t tried, I wouldn’t have known.

And since I’m still alive and an active participant in this world, there are things I STILL want to try!

I want to try to learn a new language.

I want to try to be a New York Times Bestselling author. I want my books in all public libraries, Barnes & Noble, Busboys and Poets and Justice stores, throughout the country.

I want to try to learn how to swim.

I want to try this recipe I saw on Pinterest before the summer is over.

I want to speak and work at Oprah’s Leadership Academy. Ok, this probably doesn’t fall under the “you just have to try it; and that way you’ll always know” category, but as long as I’m putting things out there, might as well put it all out there!

I want to try to have Marvelous University programs, conferences and camps throughout the country, offering a space where girls and young women have the freedom to fully embrace the truth that they are MARVELOUS!

You just have to try it; and that way, you’ll always know.

What is something that you’ve wanted to try?

Let’s be real; the tough part is the “what if it doesn’t work” thoughts, right? But, based on Mema’s suggestion, it isn’t about it working, it’s about trying and then knowing.

You just have to try it; and that way, you’ll always know.

What if I try it and I fail miserably?

What if you don’t?

But, what if I try it and folks make fun of me?

But, what if they don’t?

And wait, if they do…are you going to believe their false assessment of you for trying something you wanted to do?

You just have to try it; and that way, you’ll always know.

I witness so many young people, especially girls, refuse to try something because they may fail. They feel that failure is the worst thing ever. But, it isn’t. Not trying is.

The message must shift from one of perfectionism (failure not allowed) to “I’m proud of you for trying” (even if you didn’t get the part).

It has to shift from a mindset of asking the teacher, “What’s the answer that will get me an A” to “ask me questions that will make me think critically.”

It’s on us grown folks to create the shift, and to model it for young people.

I know this may require a complete culture change in many of our environments. However, I’m starting to think there are more young people (and not so young people) who are missing out on trying something because of fear of failure or fear of disapproval or fear of…

You just have to try it; and that way, you’ll always know.

And you’re probably thinking, how can a principle used for cooking be used in my real life?

You just have to try it; and that way, you’ll always know.

How did Mom’s hot water cornbread turn out? Horribly! It didn’t even make it out the skillet! She definitely needed the right ingredients and the substitutions were an epic fail. But, she tried and now she knows. And after that experiment, she made some baked cornbread that was mouthwatering good!

Lesson: Try. And that way, you’ll ALWAYS know. 

Until next time, just try it; and that way you’ll always know. Have a Marvelous Monday!

Questions:

What would you like to try?

What is holding you back?

Is there anything you tried before that maybe you want to try again?

Is there something you can do this week to get you closer to trying?

Feel free to comment here or email Shanterra

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The Do-Over

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Fully enjoying my do-over on the Connecticut River

“Will I go kayaking again? Sure, if I have to, which means, if a mentee needs me to go, I’ll go,” (Shanterra McBride, July 28, 2015).

Words written in the previous post, as I shared my story of kayaking for the first time. In the spirit of being transparent, I admitted that it was an experience I did NOT fully enjoy. I learned some lessons and even saw a bald eagle, but I did not like that little boat and I especially didn’t enjoy the mini-panic attacks that struck me as I rolled down the Connecticut River.  I said I would do it again, but I honestly didn’t believe there would be another opportunity for this to happen anytime soon. Quite frankly, there isn’t a whole lot of kayaking going on where I live. But, less than an hour after I posted the blog, I was asked to go back out on the river, in a kayak, with 16 teenage girls, THE NEXT DAY.

I don’t know about you, but I have needed many “do-overs” in my life. I was extremely thankful (and shocked) to receive one this time. The dictionary states that a do-over is a “new attempt or opportunity to do something after a previous attempt has been unsuccessful or unsatisfactory.” Because of my fears and discomfort during the first kayaking expedition, I really needed a do-over. I may have completed my first attempt at kayaking, but I felt unsatisfied with my performance. I was so preoccupied with other matters, (like drowning) that I missed out on a lot of the value of the experience – the beauty, peace, and calmness of my surroundings and having fun with the folks who were with me.

Fast forward to four days later, when I was asked to do it all again. Why? Because the “mentees” needed me to go. And here’s what’s great about this do-over – the girls didn’t need me to go to coach them on how to kayak – THEY were already experts. They simply needed another adult chaperone on the trip. Enter ME. The adult but yet the novice.  However, since I had gone just four days earlier, I knew EXACTLY where to go. I knew the steps for signing us in. I knew how to direct the girls to the safer side at the fork in the river. I knew how to give them directions on where to put their paddles and life jackets. Thankfully, for everyone there, especially ME, they were all swimmers, including the other two adults. I was there, not as a savior, but purely as a guide.

The lesson is this: Sometimes young people just need you to cover them. Adults can miss this lesson because we are often too occupied with fixing, saving, rescuing, hovering, etc. If I hadn’t had a do-over, not only would I have missed the growth opportunity for myself, but I would have also missed the chance to be a  “covering” for 16 amazing, intelligent, brilliant, fantastic, and courageous leaders! I would have also missed out on a lot of fun with a new experience that will now be a “must-do” for me at GLC!

Until next time, look for the do-overs, the chance to cover and embrace this Marvelous Monday!

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The Creative Crushing Crocodiles! Also known as the C in the GLC!

  1. What are you marveled by today?
  2. What is something you want a do-over on?
  3. How would you use your second chance?
  4. Do you have a life coach to help you see the opportunities for do-overs you may be missing?

Reply here or email Shanterra

That time I went kayaking on the Atlantic Ocean

2015-07-27 11.27.54On Friday, I did something I have never done before. I tend to do this quite a bit – especially when I travel – because I believe that life is meant to be lived and I for one, want to live it to the fullest. However, when I have these “life is to be lived” moments, there are always so many lessons wrapped up in them. I thought it was only fitting that I share the latest lessons learned on this Marvelous Monday.

As I was saying, this past Friday, I was persuaded to do something completely out of my comfort zone. My mission was to get into a kayak and sail down the Connecticut River with a group of fantastic, brilliant, gifted, and hilarious women. Now, let me be completely honest. I was in NO way excited about taking this adventure with my friends, but I didn’t say anything to suggest my apprehension. Instead I said something like “Great! I can’t wait! Super excited!” (Insert mortified emoji here).
Lesson One: Tell the Truth!

So here is the backstory: Every summer for the past five years, I have been coming to New Hampshire, for what has consistently been one of the best weeks of my life. The trip is for Girls’ Leadership Camp (GLC), a retreat for middle school girls that promotes assertive self-expression, teaches important life skills, and allows the practice of leadership in a variety of settings. In other words, at GLC our goal is for girls to say with conviction, “I am who I am.” It is really an awesome week! (Yes, you should send your daughter next year and/or yes, you should come).

I usually come in a day before GLC begins to spend time with my friend Brook(lyn), the super talent camp director. It’s also a great time to do staff training and just bond as a team before we welcome the girls and parents.

Brook sent out an email about a week before camp began, asking if everyone was up for kayaking and just hanging out before our staff training Saturday. Everyone else on the team seemed up for it, so I figured I should just go along with the group, right? WRONG! See, Everyone Else knew how to swim. Everyone Else had been kayaking or tubing before, therefore in my eyes, Everyone Else was already an expert and I was FAR from that status! Lesson Two: When You Are NOT an Expert, Don’t Pretend Like You Are!

Ok, so maybe expert is a strong word, but it is a word that resonates in my core. I knew I wasn’t an expert and I told my team about my inability to swim. They couldn’t believe it and frankly, neither can I. My mom and I actually had a discussion about this before I left Dallas. I asked her how I missed this major life skill as a child. She looked at me and said with a straight face, “Hey, you took piano lessons,” as if THAT was a life skill. I know her point was that she couldn’t do it all and besides not being able to swim, she did a fantastic job as a mother, but…piano lessons? Not the same thing.

And since I know I don’t know how to swim, I know how to prepare to save my life in aquatic applicable situations. I ask the right questions, like, “Will there be a special life jacket?” I wanted to make sure my ENTIRE body would be saved by said life jacket. In other words, do they have the right size so more than just my left arm could be saved from the raging ocean if I get caught in a current or wave? All these curves are fabulous, but they don’t stand a chance on their own in a tsunami.

My friends convinced me (again) that we were simply going down the Connecticut River and that there would be nothing raging, ocean, or wavy about it. In fact, we were going on a very popular kayaking trip which was about five miles upstream at Sumner Falls. But, to me, the non-expert,  it may as well had been the Atlantic Ocean!

As promised, there were life jackets when we arrived onsite and there was one that fit me perfectly. As we dressed and loaded up for the short drive to the river, I felt myself getting a bit anxious. While riding in the van, I gave myself a pep talk. It went something like, “Shanterra just do it…just get in the boat and just do it.” I said something similar when I jumped out of an airplane and lived to see the next day, so how hard could kayaking be, right?

Well, I have news for you. It. Was. HARD!

Why?

Because I was afraid.

I was afraid I was going to drown.

I was afraid because I didn’t immediately know what to do which meant I didn’t know how to control the kayak.

Afraid because everyone else knew how to control the kayak, which meant they knew how to enjoy the experience because they weren’t afraid of dying, at least not from kayaking.

I was afraid my friends were going to let me die. Why? Because I didn’t have control over my own life and it was in their hands.

I was afraid I was going to get separated from them and there was no plan on how they would find me.

I was afraid my kayak was going to flip over and my head was going to hit one of the rocks (I should point out, at some moments, the water wasn’t very deep at all and I could actually touch the bottom of the river…those are the rocks I’m talking about).

I was afraid I wouldn’t remember the simple things I do know about swimming like dog peddling or how to breathe.

I was afraid I was going to embarrass myself.

I was afraid I would ruin it for everyone else.

All of these thoughts were going through my head, but did I say any of them? NOPE! I just strapped on my life jacket and climbed into the kayak.
Lesson Three: Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real.

There was one moment, when we did come up to a current, which I affectionately called, “Niagara Falls.” I had a FULL. BLOWN.  “I’m not going to make it” moment. I kept trying to remember the rules of how to steer the kayak and everything that I did was the opposite of what I was supposed to do. I kept going towards the current, when everyone else was going away from it. I looked at my friend Brook, who always kept her kayak near mine, and the only thing I could do was say “Oh no! Oh no! Oh no!” Followed by, “Brook! Brook! Brook!”

She never ever panicked with me. She was the calmest and best coach. She calmly told me what to do and I was able to steer my kayak away from the rough waters. She didn’t meet my panic with panic. She didn’t yell. She didn’t say you shouldn’t have come. She remained calm and kept looking at me in the eye and said “You can do this.” I assured her I couldn’t and told her we had to turn around and go back. She calmly told me to look around and see that we were too far away from land to turn around. She said there was no point in turning around. The only way were going to make it out of this “raging water” was to keep going forward.
Lesson Four: Keep Going Forward.

After I was “safe” and away from the current, Brook asked if I wanted to attach my kayak to hers and she could just pull me. Of course I said “NO, absolutely not!” I was determined to tackle that fear. I was determined to steer my own kayak, even if that meant getting frustrated with myself while doing it. I was determined to keep trying.
Lesson Five: Good Coaches Check in and Stay Close, While Giving You Room to Try New Things.

Why did I keep going? Honestly, I kept thinking about my little cousins and how I want them to experience kayaking. I kept thinking about how I needed to go through the process so that if I’m with them when they do, I would have already gone through the lesson so I could coach them through it –  if they needed it. I kept thinking about how I tell young girls to take safe risks so in order to be authentic, I have to take them too.

It goes without saying, I survived. My friends were really great! They constantly supported me and kept encouraging me. All my fears were ridiculous and none of them were based on anything real. When we finally arrived back on land, I had to admit that it was one of the BEST experiences of my life. I know that’s a strong statement, but it is true. While on the river we saw a bald eagle perched beautifully on one of the trees. I was completely in awe of the symbolism because some say the bald eagle is the one of the most powerful animals on the planet. It can fly higher, faster, and longer than any other bird. It actually soars. Their eyesight is better than a human being’s perfect vision and one other special fact, they mate for life. Bald eagles are just MARVELOUS creatures.

Seeing the eagle during one of the most uncomfortable moments of my life (kayaking), while in a structure foreign to me (the kayak), in a vulnerable environment because I can’t swim (water), with people who I trust (but because of my fear, tested that trust) calmed me. The bald eagle symbolized something so much bigger than just seeing a bird while on the Connecticut River.

The bald eagle reminded me to keep reaching for more and keep trying new things. Watching it soar, I was reminded to keep taking safe risks. The eagle also symbolized my need to be patient with myself. To stop having to be the expert at every single thing and remain comfortable in the learner’s seat. Finally, the eagle reminded me to have faith, even when I can’t see everything that’s in front of me. Have faith and keep soaring and most of all, BE READY because great things are ahead!
Lesson Six: Don’t Miss the Symbols.

Will I go kayaking again? Sure, if I have to, which means, if a mentee needs me to go, I’ll go. I have to demonstrate what I ask from young people:

Be MORE than what’s Expected

MORE than what’s Required,

MORE than what’s Modeled.

 Until Next Time, Have a MARVELOUS MONDAY!

1. What is one of your biggest fears that you faced?
2. What is something you want to do, but have been hesitant to do it because of fear?
3.  Do you have a coach to help walk you through different “Atlantic Ocean” moments?

Marvelous Monday

Top pic: Texas Discovery Gardens  Bottom pic: After church

Top pic: Texas Discovery Gardens
Bottom pic: After church

What a MARVELOUS MONDAY! Why? Well, not only did I wake up and have a chance to be an active participant in this day, but it’s MARVELOUS because I had a fantastic weekend with two of my younger cousins, Latrice and Shanice. They are first cousins to one another and 3 months apart. It was fantastic because not only did I get a chance to pour into their lives, but I also learned several things from them.

Let me start with the “pour into their lives” part. To be clear, I am not a “rich” woman. But I’m wealthy in the overflow when it comes to knowing how to do what I can with what I have. The girls spent the weekend with me, so on our way home Friday night I asked if they were hungry. Now, I knew that when I got home, I would eat a bowl of cereal (Golden Grahams if you must know).  But, I had a slight feeling these girls would NOT want a bowl of cereal to shut down their Friday night. When I asked if they were hungry, they both gave me a resounding “YES!” as if they had not eaten all day. I am a good “auntie-cousin” so when they said they wanted Jack in the Box, I got them what they wanted and we went home.

Latrice ordered just a burger and she tore that burger up as soon as we made it home. Shanice ordered a combo and only ate half of her burger and not even half of her fries, – but her soda, GONE!  Again, I’m not a rich woman so when I saw that half eaten burger and the fries that had been picked over, it took A LOT of self-control to remind her of the children in (insert any undeveloped country here) who do not have food. But, I didn’t. I just let it ride as she put her leftovers in the refrigerator. I knew there would be no other time for her to eat it during our weekend, but hey, she was trying.

Oh, I almost forgot. On our way home, I stopped by my parents’ house to get an air mattress for them to sleep on. Now, when I was growing up, my cousins and I had to sleep on pallets. But nope, not them. They had a nice, comfortable, huge air mattress which they loved☺.

Saturday morning I woke up knowing they would need to eat, AGAIN. I thought of using a Groupon to a local spot I already had, thinking they would love to go out to eat. But, after I gave them the option of going out vs me cooking pancakes, they immediately chose the pancakes. After I cooked pancakes, bacon, eggs, hash browns, and poured orange juice, we sat down at the table that they set (complete with silverware, napkins, & serving dishes) and enjoyed breakfast together. We talked about what we were looking forward to in our day and what we wanted to do. I also had a chance to see what they enjoyed watching on television. Needless to say, my TV stayed on the Disney channel – which was a pleasant surprise.

After breakfast, our first stop for the day was a Dallas hidden treasure. We used a Groupon to go to Texas Discovery Gardens for their highly acclaimed butterfly house. This was a hoot!! I’m not avid fan of visiting gardens, but to witness the beauty and experience the shared fear of butterflies with two 11 year old girls was HILARIOUS!  They both wanted a butterfly to land on them, but when the creatures got too close, their anxiety took over. Even though we’d read that butterflies do not bite, they still had this hunch they were going to “break out in a butterfly rash” if one got too close. Eventually, I was able to have one “land” on my finger. After I let it sit on my finger for enough seconds (yes, seconds), I handed it off to Latrice. Now, she wasn’t the calmest person with the butterfly, but she did it. And even though Latrice and I didn’t break out with an incurable disease, Shanice STILL didn’t trust it, so we moved on to another part of the garden.

When we left, Shanice looked sad and eventually said, “I wish I would have held the butterfly.” So what did we do? We went right back in there so she could do just that! I didn’t want her to leave without having the chance to do what she wanted to do! She wanted to go for it, and the least I could do was help her in her efforts. Did she do it? ABSOLUTELY!! Latrice and I were SO proud. I know, I know, it was just a butterfly. But it wasn’t. It was about conquering a fear, trying something new and succeeding! In the future, when she comes up against something that she’s afraid to do, maybe she’ll step out there and try, especially with the right support and encouragement.

After the gardens, we headed to the mall and truly shopped until we dropped, even though we didn’t buy much. It’s so hot here in Dallas, that it’s all about being in air conditioned buildings for as long as possible.  Eventually, it was time to eat, AGAIN. We headed to the food court and each made different selections. I had them use their own money for lunch, knowing dinner would come around soon. After lunch we headed to their stores, since they were so patient in my stores and OHMYGOODNESS! Justice and Claire’s were the places to be! I have to be honest with you, I was ready to go after ten minutes in one store, but they were browsing, laughing and talking…I couldn’t stop them and I didn’t want to. They touched everything, talked about how prices have gone up since last year and the new items that both stores had that they MUST have for the new school year.

Here is where I learned my first of THREE major lessons.

Don’t assume anything. For example, I’ve made the mistake of thinking they knew what I was talking about when they didn’t. And how could they if I haven’t taught them or explained effectively? Case in point:  I knew they both had the same amount of money. I also knew what each of them had spent on lunch. So when it was time to purchase their items out of Claire’s, I asked if they had calculated their totals. I wanted to know if they had looked at the price of things, added them up and decided if they had enough money. BUT, I didn’t say that. So when it was time to make their purchase, Shanice didn’t have enough money for her carefully selected items. I felt so bad because she immediately turned around to me with her eyes wide open looking for help (yes, I was sitting at the door in the ear piercing chair waiting #nojudgment). I could have said, well put something back. I could have said, “I asked you if you had enough money” – even though I really didn’t ask. I could have made a scene and embarrassed her and left her feeling small. But why do that?

Instead, I checked my own self, recalled my earlier inquiry and how they may have interpreted it, and pulled out $5 to make up the difference. I had watched her intently select her items, even asking for my opinion. Each item meant something to her. One item was even a gift for her mom. Sure, I could have taught her a lesson on what could have happened if I wasn’t there, but I WAS there, and I was able to help. Sometimes, adults use the wrong time to impart the wrong lesson. Besides, this was our “Girl’s Weekend” and I’m the oldest cousin. What kind of cousin would I be if I didn’t rescue them sometimes?

Later, I asked Shanice about my question of “Have you calculated your purchases” to see what she understood. She said she heard me, but didn’t know what that meant and she didn’t ask for clarity. I’d also neglected to ask if she understood me. I didn’t take the extra step to see if my words were making sense – if they were reaching her on HER level. As a life coach to girls and young women, I have to remember, I can’t always use the language that I would use with adults. I have to consider my audience, and ALWAYS, ALWAYS, in ALL WAYS, make sure they UNDERSTAND what I’m saying. Wisdom without understanding is not wisdom.

After hours of shopping we headed home. Once again, I asked the girls if they were hungry. Shockingly, they both said “NO!” However, after driving a bit more, I could hear them discussing wanting ice cream shakes. They’re so funny. I mean, we were in the same car and the amount of whispering that was happening in the backseat cracked me up! I remained surprised when Shanice said, “Cousin Shanterra, we’re not hungry but really could go for a shake.” Well, what they didn’t know was that I knew exactly where to go for great shakes. I received an email the day before on the top 10 places in Dallas for ice cream and one happened to be on our way home. We stopped in Pokeyo’s  and what an experience! The fact that they had Cotton Candy ice cream was “the best thing ever” for Latrice. But, they were out of Strawberry, which was disappointing to Shanice. However, Vanilla is her second favorite flavor, so she found happiness. By shake time, the weather had cooled down so I decided instead of going home, we would enjoy the shakes outside at the cute tables in front of the shop to sip and talk.

Here is where I learned lesson number two.

Popularity is important to them. We talked a lot about social media, particularly Instagram and Kik. They both want to be a part of the social media groups and the main reason is because their friends are on them. But when you have 2,068 followers and you may know only about 8 of them well, that’s 2,060 strangers looking at pictures of your 11-year-old self and that’s not cool. But here is where the conversation mattered most. No matter how much I said the number of followers is a fake reality of popularity, their reality is that the number matters. The number of followers means something to them because it matters to their friends. They all convince one another that the number says how cool you are, how current you are, & how popular you are. It also says how “cool” your parents are because they allow you to have an Instagram, Kik or Facebook account. Truth is, most parents have no idea their kids are on social media and there are a lot of filthy adults who exploit their obliviousness.

Now, I will be the first to say that I can’t imagine what it’s like being a parent for today’s generation. There is more access to mess, more mess to access and very little time to keep up with it all. But, privacy is overrated and we have to ask more questions, check more sites, stay current, and stay diligent. We also have to help our young people change their definition of popularity. We have to spend time with them, ask what it means to be known at their school. Ask what it means to be popular. Ask them about what it takes to be invited to the right parties and events. We need to know what matters to them so we can teach them what should really have value and meaning.

Finally, lesson number three came to me.

My cousins, like most young people, are teachable. The beautiful thing about spending time with them is that they actually listen. They want to learn, they want to do what is best. Not just right, but what is best. Best for them. This means they are not solely influenced by what their friends do (as they are all just figuring things out and often equally confused). When presented with a lot of love, time and laughter, they are eager to learn “what that best is” from those of us who are better able to “pour into them.” This lesson was most apparent after we went to church.

Sunday morning we got up and I fixed another fabulous breakfast because I wanted to make sure I took them home full! We got to church on time (I may or may not have a problem in this area) and had a MARVELOUS time!  But the best was yet to come. After service was over, we went back in the sanctuary and had our own special service of talking and praying together. I asked questions about things that I think we adults make assumptions about, like “Do you pray?” “Do you understand what it means to pray?” “Do you say, ‘Thank you’?” Yes, I wanted them to reflect on this at 11-years-old! They have both been in church all of their lives, but that doesn’t mean they understand the things being said and done in church. Again, wisdom without understanding isn’t wisdom. They listened, asked questions, and prayerfully they will implement what they learned. The important thing is that they are OPEN to being taught. That’s a blessing!

Just out of curiosity, after church, I asked the girls if they were hungry. Can you believe they said “YES!”? I really thought the breakfast would hold them, because it was holding ME. Well, once again, they were famished so we pulled into a drive-thru to take care of their hunger. As I ordered their food, I couldn’t help be grateful. I learned so much from them that I was fed and satisfied in more ways than one. I was so grateful they wanted to spend time with me. I realize more and more that I can’t have Marvelous University  for pouring in the lives of girls and young women – without first implementing the skills and lessons at home. Needless to say, I returned the girls to their parents- full of food, wisdom, understanding, and an overflow of “cousin love”.

After having the privilege of this time with my little cousins, I’ll say it again, this is a MARVELOUS MONDAY!

Falling Leaves

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Winter.

This is the time of year where people’s yards (front & back) go often unattended. Much different from the spring, where one can smell the scent of new flower beds and aisles of the neighborhood hardware stores are crowded with people looking forward to putting their hands in the Earth and beginning again.

But as I drive through the neighborhoods, I notice more piles of leaves than usual.  A leaf is an organ of a vascular plant and is the principal lateral appendage of the stem.[1]The leaves and stem together form the shoot.[2]Foliage is a mass noun that refers to leaves collectively.[3][4] 

The leaf is representation of the fact that it was once connected to a larger life source, responsible for its existence, and although small, it counts. A fallen leaf symbolizes the detachment from its life giver. Now, one leaf…

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Off Limits For All

I’m sure you’ve heard about it, but a couple of weeks ago, Malia and Sasha Obama were criticized by (former) congressional aide, Elizabeth Lauten for…well, for them basically being teenage girls. She said the girls needed to show “a little class,” referring to their looks and posture during an appearance with our President as he decided the fate of two turkeys that hoped to live and not be the main course for Thursday’s dinner.

Our President delivered a well-written pardon, filled with political jokes, history of why we even go through pardoning turkeys and how they would visit a shelter later as the first family. But, the truth is, viewing through the lens of a teenager, the whole situation was a little corny. However, he was doing his job as President of the United States and sometimes you have to do the things that don’t seem so exciting or presidential. Pardon the turkeys, make the people chuckle, and share how the first family will serve others later on in the day.

Barack Obama was elected to this position. Malia and Sasha were not. Although the girls have some responsibilities as members of the first family – pretending to be amused by political, corny activities is just something teenagers shouldn’t have to do. This is not to say they’re not interested in the farmers who bring fresh food to our tables, which was part of the President’s remarks, but this setting was not focused on the farmers.

Like a lot of folks, I have enjoyed watching Malia and Sasha grow up. I have also enjoyed seeing them navigate as members of the first family while remaining as normal as possible – or so it appears. I love that they participate in the White House events, like the Easter egg hunt and pardoning the turkey. But, they are still teenagers and also do teenage regular stuff, like take selfies, attend basketball games and work in internships. It seems like their parents and grandmother make sure they have some since of normalcy and for most cases, stay out of the ridicule of the press.

But every now and then, you have people like Ms. Lauten who seem to forget the Obama daughters ARE normal teenage girls. Normal teenagers should be allowed to develop. Normal means they get to look bored and not pretend that they’re happy about some lame activity or that they have to laugh at a bad joke, that wasn’t even intended for them. Adults have to do that stuff, not teenagers. Malia and Sasha should have more time before they have to smile for the cameras or give “good face” because others are watching. They should have time before they have to fake the funk and perform for others, because they’re teenagers and they should get to be teenagers. All while still showing class.

Now, as much as I love Malia and Sasha and agree they should be off limits for public ridicule and opinion, I would appreciate it if ALL teenage girls were off limits for the same thing. There are many girls who are ridiculed by random people and aren’t offered the “off limits” pass, particularly black and brown teenage girls. Many black and brown teenage girls are familiar with public opinion about their lack of something. Whether it is class, intelligence, style, speech…the list goes on. And the sad part is, black and brown girls know they’re ridiculed and there are not enough people are coming to their defense saying “off limits”!

One thing that all teenage girls have in common, regardless of race and class, is the developmental stage of adolescence, the transitional period. It’s the stage with the most change in a short amount of time, the most freedom with very little choices, and the stage with the most unknowns. Funny thing is, most adolescents would love to rush through this stage because there is a false impression that adulthood is so great. Adulthood may come with the ability to be free to go and do whatever you want, but it brings way more responsibilities than homework and “likes” on InstaGram.

I’m convinced, the “awful teen years” as Ms. Lauten puts it, are made worse by awful grown folks who offer so many opinions and give little authentic interest in teenagers – let alone actually partnering with them in their youth development. As someone who works with young people and has a large family full of preteens and teens, there is a lot of youth development going on around me.  I’ve had numerous moments where I wanted to offer opinion, voice, or judgment to something a teenage girl was doing, or address the look she gave, or comment on the lack of interest she showed in something. But, I have to constantly check my position, my judgment, and my motivation because I could be causing harm rather than teaching the art of engagement.

Most of all, I have to check my approach because youth development is going to occur with or without me. I can’t expect girls to listen to me or care about what I have to say unless I first listen to them and care about what they have to say, including those in my family. Every adult can remember the things that certain grown ups didn’t understand or approve of as they navigated their own adolescence. Here’s your chance to be different with your approach and be a highlight in a teenage girl’s adolescent development. We can’t control the outcome, but we are responsible for our approach. Off limits for all!

This is what I do.

Shanterra

What do you do?

Have you ever been asked this question? If you’re an adult, you ABSOLUTELY have been asked. But maybe not so much if you’re a teenager….not yet anyway. But get ready because it’s the question most adults are always asking one another. And for us adults, when you’re asked, how do you answer? How do you explain what it is that you do?

For as long as I can remember, this has been one of the hardest questions for me to answer. I always feel I need more time in my “elevator speech” and early in my career, I always felt like I needed more space to explain my résumé. I just didn’t think people would understand what I truly did from two sheets of paper.

“What do you do?”

The question is very easy to answer when you work in certain institutions, when you have a title or you’re in a field people are familiar with. For example, when meeting a teacher, I don’t find many folks that ask, “Oh and what do you do?” because we are familiar with what we think teachers do. When you meet a lawyer, it is unlikely that you ask, “Oh and what do you do?” because again, most of us either go from our own experiences with attorneys or we make assumptions based off of television. Even though I don’t think any of my attorney friends or family lead the life of Annalise Keating and her associates like on How To Get Away With Murder, shows like this (and many others) give people an idea of what lawyers do, even if it’s far from reality.

But when what you do is not in the Thursday night prime time line up for the world to see, it can be hard to explain to others. And because people keep asking, it must be a very important question one should have an answer to, right?

“What do you do?”

Look, I know people are asking about my profession and when you have a title, you can easily respond. I’m an Assistant Principal or I am an astronaut. I’m a doctor or I’m an accountant. I’m a social worker or I’m a football player. I’m a counselor or I’m a Senator. I’m a librarian, a chef, a nurse, a pastor.

But sometimes the question is still difficult to answer, even when you have the title, especially if it still doesn’t explain what you do.

“What do you do?”

What do I do? I remind young people they were born to be marvelous. I speak. I educate. I write.

There isn’t a title attached, I’m not serving in one institution and I don’t have a position. I simply have a purpose. My purpose is to help mend, motivate and encourage young people to do be more than what’s expected, more than what’s required and more than what’s modeled.

Regardless of where I am, where I serve or where I’m called to…this is what I do.

 

Thoughts.

How do you answer the question, what do you do?

With Gratitude,

Shanterra 🙂