Congratulations, Failure.

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I don't know that I could have found a better gif to fully express the feelings of being congratulated in the midst of a major failed attempt. I often discuss the concept of the "highlight reel" - which is the how we curate our social media. We tend to focus on our wins or present minor moments as extravagant gains for the world to boost our self-esteem through giving us likes and praise when honestly things are not exactly as they seem or at least there's more to the story than the post can show.

For me, 2017 ended in a very awkward space. Outwardly, I had worked diligently to achieve some of the most progressive goals for my "brand" to date. I worked silently for months on a party that I just knew would catapult me into a new level of success - instantly! I had taken a lot of risks over the year and I had truly shot for the goals I had been envisioning for many years, but despite the efforts and even the achievements things didn't exactly turn out the way I expected. What many people don't realize is, when working toward your purpose/passion you are gambling and sometimes with very little and when that gamble is not profitable you take a hit that might take you some time to recover from. 

During that recovery, you might be getting the recognition and notoriety from outsiders but no one but you knows what it took to get where you are. Everyone might be in awe of your brand new Porsche but don't realize how much work it needs internally. While the support you receive is very genuine, for you it could be hard to receive when you're wondering what's next or as you're strategizing to stabilize after facing some major pitfalls.

You hear countless successful people say, "failure is a part of success" and they're right but the impact of it does not become any less painful. So I've decided to give you some insight on the lessons I learned along the way - alright, here we go:

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  1. Don't underestimate a task, and don't overestimate a result. - It's necessary to have a target but doing the work is the most important part of the process. You won't know the outcome until it's over.
  2. The work leads to the lessons & the blessings. - You will learn the things you need to know along the way and the rewards are just icing on the cake.
  3. A job well done is not always reflective of a mission achieved. - You can do everything in your power and still miss the mark, or in reverse, you can hit the mark & have done everything wrong. 
  4. Mistakes are hard to cope with but they're investments to better productivity. - I made a lot of mistakes on my first run with some of the endeavors I pursued and those mistakes were painful but they built muscle for when I have to approach these experiences again. 
  5. Congratulations, accolades, likes, and any other outside influence is just noise don't let it manipulate your focus. - Take the positive noise as inspiration to continue, and the negative noise as the inspiration of who to avoid in the process but never let the hype manipulate you or the goal. 

It took me awhile after some of the losses to be genuinely proud of myself, and I can't say I fully am just yet, but I am proud I got to experience what I did. I am also proud that I went after what I wanted without fear and I refuse to allow this to breed fear of ambition into me.

Nonetheless, I received messages from all over explaining how largely what I created impacted the people who experienced it and how thankful they were they had the chance to experience my work - for that, I am fulfilled and I will celebrate that without question. Below, you can check out the episode of my new podcast Uncivilized Gentleman where I go in depth on some of the things that happened and more lessons I learned for anyone attempting to jump into this entertainment world.

What Do You Do? A New Approach to Career Labels

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As a child I remember growing up and being told, “You can be anything you want” and while that phrase is engrained in children fairly early there seems to be a missing part. Maybe the phrase should be, “You can be anything you want until you grow up then you must decide on one thing.” As a multifaceted millennial, I am consistently met with choosing between which talent is the one to pitch as "what I do". While the short and least complicated answer would be - Lifestyle Media & Curation the actual answer is Podcasting, Content Producing, Writing, Author, Speaking, Visual Conceptualization, Project Planning, Lifestyle Engagements and more. I am a creative expressionist who creates, sells, and distributes content and perspective in consumable packages, but damn, that's a mouthful! So much for the elevator pitch. (Unless the elevator is stuck)

 

Honestly, I tend to feel an immediate angst when I sense the question lurking its way into a conversation. While some would write this off as I am still finding my way, which could be an accurate assessment, I would argue that the cultural shift to maximize your talents is fully underway. At this point, it is obvious to me that we must readjust the way we look at the question “what do you do” and instead ask “what can we do”?

In all fairness, I would not suggest that if given the opportunity to speak momentarily to an influential figure who has the chance to help elevate your career that you bombard them with a laundry list of titles and accolades. That’s just not wise. Of course, you must find concise ways to get your point and value across in minimal time. I am also aware in order to have an effective collaboration both individuals must know what they bring to the table and how they can assist one another in reaching their goal.

 

I recognize that part of the reason people ask "what do you do" is because they are looking to network or potentially see if there are any opportunities that they can join forces on - that is more than understandable it is necessary for progress. On the flip side, some are asking to define your position or persona in the world. As millennials are moving fluidly through the unyielding digital age opportunities are no longer restricted by gatekeepers. The old formula of buckle down one area for 20 years and once you have done that, then consider future hobbies or endeavors is now archaic. If you are a writer you have reputable platforms that are searching for content such as Medium and even some larger publications now accept contributors.  If you are a speaker you have platforms where people are looking to listen like Soundcloud or Anchor. If you are a visual content creator there is Youtube and nearly all social media platforms that support your visuals. If you are someone like me who works each of those expressionist fields you can spread yourself through the world wide web and the opportunities are limitless.

 

I know many are wondering, how will I get to know what a person's industry is - well I'm glad you asked! Questions like “what are you working on” and “what are some of your areas of interests” can open up the door to areas of opportunity. It’s safe to say that any individual creating some form of service, product, or personalized brand has to have a digital presence to do so. That means it would be very hard to find an entrepreneur of today that is solely adequate at one task. Most of us are our own P.R., Social Media Managers, Content Creators, Brand Advocates, and Marketing Strategist. The reality is to thrive in an era that has countless attention-grabbing mechanisms you have to be visible, multi-versed, and impactful. In fact, just about all millionaires have multiple sources of income. Think about it, what does Oprah do? Everything. What does Diddy do? Everything. If never before, now is the most opportune time to shift the narrative of how we define our career talents and titles.

Confidence vs. Arrogance

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            Arrogance (n.) - having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one's own importance or abilities

Confidence (n.) - a feeling of self-assurance arising from one's appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities:

Is it just me or does it seem society has away of creating a narrative of who should be appreciated and who is common? Often times, people who have faith in themselves to push beyond the odds without compromising their value are perceived as arrogant and difficult. Especially when those beliefs don’t come with public notoriety and agreement. The problem with this is people on a common level tend to struggle deciphering confidence against arrogance. The average person tends to seek validation in external sources. Their achievements are under celebrated if others do not edify them, and they tend to feel as if progress is dependent on the investment of others.

So many people would argue that we must be humble, without knowing exactly what being humble is. Being humble is being grateful in the midst of all things; it’s understanding you’re great without overshadowing others, and instead, lifting others to share the progress with you. It is the flexibility to celebrate the moments of others while your moment has yet to arrive. Being humble is NOT dimming your light to make others comfortable. It is not silencing your voice because others might be offended. It also is not pretending that you’re not proud of yourself because it might come off too joyous. We have to counter the culture of false humility and watered down positivity at the sake of others feelings. Emotions are not facts.

Confidence says I am capable of greatness. Not because someone tells me so or because I am being complimented in this moment, but because I believe in the talents and gifts that I possess, I believe in the God I serve, and I believe that greatness is a practice. Confidence is a magnet; it draws others to you and encourages them to tap into the confidence within them. Confidence is a demeanor and a collective energy. The biggest misconception is that you gain confidence by seeing your “faith” come to life. Instead, it is reversed you gain faith by seeing your confidence manifest your visions. Confidence propels, arrogance repels.

Arrogance is a delusion. Arrogance makes you think there is no one more important than you and forces you to live in a space where no one wants to join. Arrogance is the reaction to an underlying fear of being undervalued. It does its best to mask its insecurity with a false sense of assurance. It’s loud and obnoxious. It is not friendly it is partial. Arrogance is the divider between progress and regression.

When we were all born we inherited the Earth. Everything from its glory to its problems is ours collectively. There is nothing on this Earth, of the humankind,  that we do not have the ability to partake in unless we place limitations on ourselves. Our greatest asset to achieving is the confidence in our faith. The confidence in our abilities. The confidence in our passions, and the confidence in our being. We are not defined by fickle opinions, we’re defined by the acceptance or rejection of them. If you come to a crossroads like we all do, and you’re asking yourself if you are confident or arrogant…look around you and see if those closest to you are encouraged or suppressed by the energy your giving them. Let your confidence grow you beyond your limits.

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October Said, Wait.

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The month of October rolled in with a lot to offer. From day one, there had been an overhauling sense of good news and progress. Some of the hardships of September seemed to be being rectified with new opportunities that were far greater than anything I felt I loss. Then nearly halfway in the momentum began to slow, and patience was forced upon me with no way to retreat. I had gotten to a point where I literally had nothing else I could do. 

I am pursuing one of the largest moves of my career right now, and God knows it would be a surreal dream come true. My faith, and the God inspired signs, has driven me to relentlessly believe in this. There's a couple lessons I've learned from this very short period of time.  

1. If you're dreaming big, you're competing big.  

Not only with others, but mostly with yourself. Whether that competition be for your sanity, increasing your wisdom, taking on tasks you never have, or just working to step into arenas you've never had access to. The larger the dream the more you will have to apply your faith in God to guide you into the places that have yet to materialize like your vision is showing you. 

2. Give enough information to get information, but keep the details to yourself.  

This is a lesson I'm still learning & feel I don't tend to pass all the time. I have a trusting and open spirit. I like to share things with people when I feel excited, but every is not looking to assist you. Some are looking for their next breakthrough & you never know how desperately. It's ok to tell them you're still ironing out the details and as they become more solid you will touch back with them. 

3. When you are forced to be patient, work on trusting the process & letting go of doubt.  

This surprisingly was hard for me. I've always credited myself as a very faithful person. I encourage others to "just believe" and "watch it happen". This time I needed to take my own advice and I barely could. Day in and day out I checked for answers, prayed (begged) for swiftness, & rode an emotional roller coaster until I was exhausted. And guess what....I still had nothing I could do but be patient. The answers came no quicker, only God giving me serendipitous moments to affirm - be still, trust, & watch me work. When you're left with nothing else to do, you do nothing. Find peace in quiet transition. 

By no means have I become a master teacher of these principles, honestly I'm writing about them because I'm still working on them, but I feel as if progress is being made. I can sense that despite me watching the clock like a kid on the last day of school, I'm gaining peace in watching the season change. Everyone is looking for something that makes things better than they've been, but sometimes those great things need to marinate before they can be enjoyed. 

Confessions of a Caterpillar

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I've been thinking lately. I watched the slow consistent motion of a caterpillar and couldn't help but to feel a bit of relativity to its life experience. The crawl was very slow but nonetheless, the progress was undoubted. Speaking of myself, specifically, there are many areas of my life that feel out of balance at times. I am also learning that some of my cravings & even weaknesses are rooted in my gifts but the challenge is finding how to maximize as well as shift them to better serve me. 

There are days where I feel like I too am crawling through life aimlessly trying to get to this visualized ideal but not knowing which direction it is in. Then I thought on a spiritual level, the caterpillar is later rewarded with flight for it's crawling. It will no longer be restricted to the tedious travel and forever on it can reach places it never could imagine before. I found comfort in this. I just know a life that I have yet to experience that I dream of is being lived by someone not too far in distance from me. I think of the parallel lives of humans and how I am praying for abundance someone else is completely unaware that a need for that prayer exists. It's all they've ever known.

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Essentially those people are like birds to the butterfly. Some people were born with the privilege of flight and some had to crawl for it. I know that progress can only live ahead of me. I know better/best is only forward. This is non-debatable. I often say to God, it is not my doubt of "IF" that creates anxiousness within me - it is the "how" & the "certainty" that fuels impatience and frustration. I owe people the fruition of a better life.

Nonetheless, I'll be humbly thankful for any stride I've made until I can fly through my own forest of life having emerged into butterfly status.  I wonder if butterflies remember being caterpillars?

Life's a Canvas

 "You gotta inward to experience the outer space that was built for you." - Pharrell 

"You gotta inward to experience the outer space that was built for you." - Pharrell 

Over the weekend, and leading into, I found myself battling the emotional uncertainties of progress. As I've written in my other blog post, "Work is a Magnet" and despite knowing this - the natural desire for measurable progress is still a continuous battle. While being engulfed in a space of my own mental disarray I found myself ignoring the many efforts I have put in to advance myself creatively, career-wise, and personally trading the acknowledgment of those things for self-doubt. Here's a very honest moment - often times the notable achievements only feel celebratory when they are attached to some form of notoriety. This way of thinking is not only inaccurate it is also blatant disrespect to the process of progress. It places the value of our worthiness, work, and purpose parallel to people's recognition of what we do. Thinking along those lines causes stifles and compromises our authenticity. Nonetheless, in our relatively new society, it is easy to be influenced by likes but life is a canvas.

The song that inspired this post, "Lost Queen" by Pharrell Williams played on repeat for me over the weekend. The lyrics in the latter part of the song, "You gotta go inward to experience the outer space that was built for you" served as a reminding mantra to the fundamental aspects and point of life. Our lives are created from our inward space. Life is a reflection of what we have envisioned, worked toward, and believed on. Everything, that is not nature, began in the mind. We are living in what I like to call a quilt of ideas. The biggest thing that is being lost in the throws of time is the connectivity to our inner space. So much is going on socially, economically, and globally that our inner space is taking a passenger seat to our highly distracted presence. That detachment from self-awareness allows us to be easily manipulated by external appearances and experiences. Self-doubt is a lot easier to encounter when you do not realize self-actualization is the frame of our perspective of reality. God has distinct and non-numerical time. God does not adhere to the simple vantage point of what is "seemingly" logical. For those of us who are manifesting works to be staples in the embed of history, what is logical is only a reflection of what has been achieved...what is possible is the paint provided to the painters of reality by God. Logic is redefined every time we extract a new piece of our inward existence and plaster it onto our life canvas. There is no immunity to feeling the natures of humanity. Everyone wants their ideas and work to be appreciated and impactful - and when creating authentically it will be. Yet first, we must remember it is our inward space that dictates how we react and interpret our outer space. As we go forward just the take time to remember the inward space is the paint brush for our outer space.

BTW - Once I put this thought process into practice over the weekend not only did things change for me from an emotional state but I encountered some great opportunities. I met a major player in a project I am pursuing - ACCIDENTALLY in a random place - I ran into a family member I had not seen in over 20 years, and I got great news about an upcoming advancement. Things are progressing & a quote I came up with is, seeds grow in the dark. Silence is not an indicator of lack and what we can't immediately see (outwardly) is not proof of absence. Work is always in progress and we can't fathom how intricately God is connecting dots. 

Work is a Magnet, Here's How...

I have been having a lot of conversations as of recently with my creative and entrepreneurial friends, and I keep arriving at this point - work is a magnet. For anyone who has ever pursued a vision that they felt could better their lives, they know it is not easy. Damn that, it's extremely hard. There are days where the emotional roller coaster doesn't seem to end and the lows last longer than the highs. Trying to figure out where we're heading or how to strategize to the next point can be psychologically challenging. We also know the route is a jumble of attempts, failures, and lessons learned.

Nonetheless, work is a magnet. We all know consistency is a major key, but literally, your work attracts opportunities. No one knows who all is watching, inspired, or thinking of us at any given moment. Likes don't translate to actual numbers of engagement. Once we create a piece of work it lives on its own. It's like a child we have raised and we're confident and proud enough to allow them to explore the world. Once they are released into the world they meet new people, gain new perspectives, inspire new perspectives, and share experiences we could never have imagined.

The work brings about a transitional connection between you and whoever encounters it. In other words, I have found when people discover your work they don't always immediately address you. Instead, they watch silently. You never know who is watching. Yes, I am repeating this point. It's truer than we realize. Someone with the ability to change your life, whether currently or in the future, could be completely engaged with what you are doing without you having any clue they're interested. Furthermore, your work (when it's effective) has the potential to motivate people in ways that you may never understand. Yet, the law of reciprocity states when someone does something nice for you, you will have a deep-rooted psychological urge to do something nice in return. As a matter of fact, you may even reciprocate with a gesture far more generous than their original good deed. 

With the law of reciprocity in mind, if you have impacted someone's life through your work it will invoke an urge in them for them to support you in whatever way they can. This is what makes work a magnet. The magnetism is its impact. The fact that it has been created now gives it the ability to travel finding those it is intended to draw inward. Undoubtedly you will have to push, promote, and strategize the work but the age old saying - let the work speak for itself - is only a representation of the magnetism that comes with doing what has to be done, showing instead of telling. 

This is a lesson I believe heavily in, but I am continuing to learn. I want to be authentic and honest about my journey/process. I too get that urge to celebrate small victories before they have completely hatched. Which is a lesson I spoke about in my e-book "Hypocrites Know Best", there's a power in shutting the f--- up and getting your work done. I have heard it said, ideas are most fragile in their infancy...so before they have been nurtured into stability treat them with care. I sometimes still stumble here. Regardless, I know as long as quality work is done quality opportunities will come. 

A Value-Able Lesson

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FACT: No matter how much you achieve it is up to you to feel the worthiness of your success before you can fully embrace it.  

I, like so many people, have stumbled through this path of entrepreneurship & the pursuit to maximize my talents and gifts. I would be disrespectful to God to not acknowledge the massive advancements I have gained, but I would also be inhuman to not admit the personal inadequacies I have. I spoke with one of my friends, who often helps me put things in perspective, and I admitted to him - I know my talents but I can't quite figure out my value. 

Like - I know that writing, speaking, content, people are all my soft-skill sets but what is my value to those I work with? How can I determine & price my work effectively without knowing exactly what I am worth. Here was his response - 

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This breakdown brought me a lot of clarity. It kinda redefined the way I had been looking at myself and my passion. I have a passion for communications & content, but it's my perspective & delivery that establishes why I'm an asset to a team. Now here's the funny thing about clarity, it's usually a simple answer that was there all along. Although it took for one of my friends & creative advisors to say this…internally I knew this. I had given this advice before to someone else, but I couldn't turn it back inward.  

As I said earlier, I would be disrespecting God to not acknowledge & be ABSOLUTELY grateful for my major advancements. I have taken on some new roles. I am now working with Silence The Shame, founded by entertainment veteran executive Shanti Das, as content strategist & have been made the official co-host of the podcast. I also have some MASSIVE opportunities on the table that will advance me tremendously, and I'm humbled & overjoyed.  

But I had to write this blog because despite all of that AMAZING stuff - I still get uneasy. I still get confused & discouraged. Thankfully I am surrounded by great winners, but humanity is not limited to accolades. We are able to feel things personally & deeply while achieving greatly.  

My valuable lesson was that, I am the value. My individuality & the creative/crafted expression of that sets me a part from others. My value is the ability to move others in such a way they seek me for that personalized perspective. It all lies within the fact that I am value & able. I am able to scale myself to a larger platform by being & recognizing myself as the root of the progress. Thank God for clarifying moments.  

 Recording an episode of Silence The Shame Podcast - available on  iTunes  

Recording an episode of Silence The Shame Podcast - available on iTunes 

I Don't Know WTF I'm Doing...

Entrepreneurial Truth -

Despite the smug look on my face and the relatively cool step-and-repeat in my background, I have no clue what I'm doing. Of course, this is in reference to my entrepreneurial journey. I have completed some very challenging works such as writing a book & ebook, aligning with a monumental cause (Silence the Shame), and a few other releases very soon to be announced...but even with all of those things on my list, I feel very incomplete. Here's what I know - leveling up is a process of consistent & diligent strides, it takes strategy, it takes networking, it takes endurance, and it takes personal/self-innovation. You have to become new to get new and, being fully transparent, this might be where I struggle the most.

A friend of mine was speaking to another friend and said, "You want to get more without becoming more." That line triggered a very direct emotion in me. It represented what I know myself to deal with all the time. I have the envisioning process down-pat but the evolutionary process is probably the hardest shit. I'm trying to find my way but it's like the old days of riding and getting lost then learning a route to where you were trying to go. 

People often congratulate you on things they see via social media promotions, but they don't quite realize there are so many uncertain moments that lead to those progressive ones. Better yet, that sometimes you're having to post highlight moments to remind yourself why you're doing it. I suffer from analysis paralysis - I over think things, I also can feel overwhelmed by the fact that I have multiple ideas that I want to work, or I can get caught in between the "working on a project" & "what the hell am should I be doing next" phase. There are days where I literally pray, "God, please show me the next move to make...please direct me to what I should be occupying my time with." Sometimes the answer is patience. Other times the answer comes in the form of a valuable connection.

All of this I know is a process and in my books, I fully encourage others through it, but I too feel the weight of needing sustainable tangibles. Maybe, in this moment I am creating this post to serve as a reminder for the future when all the work & confusion has manifested into a vision long desired. Nonetheless, there are times I feel a strong need to purge the truth of how I really feel.

I. DO. NOT. KNOW. WHAT. THE. FUCK. I. AM. DOING.

I'm just trying to make it work...

 

The Highlight Reel Is Not Real

With the new release of my book and some potentially progressive collaborations, I've been receiving an onslaught of congratulations and statements of reverence. So many people come to me saying how they wish they were in "my position", or one similar, I often get the "I want to be like you when I grow up" joke and a bunch of other seemingly supportive words that points to this idealistic perception of where people perceive I am in life. I often respond, "No one's highlight reel is real." I've been having this conversation so much that I felt it was necessary to write about it. 

First, social media is a curated collection of moments in people's life. In other words, you see what they allow you to see. They show what the few seconds of their days or months that make their life seem enticing. Do not get caught up in glimpses, we're all showing segments of our days which are seconds in a pool of hours. For some, those seconds might be the best time they have throughout that day. Speaking for myself specifically I don't ever show the times of doubt, anguish, frustration, laziness, distractions, stagnation, distance, numbness, confusion, self-inflicted chaos, stress, self-coping lust and countless other shortcomings that happen all within a day. It's very easy to look at the capture of accomplishment without any context and feel - "that person has it figured out." I'm here to tell you, that is not nearly the case.

This life thing is a process for us all and it didn't come with a blueprint on how to master it. There are countless people I speak to regularly that I feel are inspirations to the direction I'd like to go in life. Feelings of inadequacy are not reserved for the unaccomplished. I'll share this very honest moment with you -

Up until the LITERAL public release of my book, Fragmented Reality, I battled with a lack of confidence that this work was even worthy of releasing. I thought about all the ways it could and probably would fail. I felt like the work was done and maybe even old so releasing it would be a waste. I told myself, I live in a world that is reading less and less so I wouldn't probably be able to sell many copies. I just felt it wasn't worth the effort. 

When I finally released the project I posted how excited I was, and as true as that might have been a lot of that excitement was a mixture of nervousness and uncertainty. To everyone else, it was seen as a milestone. While that is true, it's a milestone to overcoming the struggles of whether or not something is possible. 

No one knows your process and how long it has taken you, nor how much it has taken from you. NO ONE. The only way a person has an inkling is if they are present and you allow them in. There are so many times when you can get lost going through your social media for hours looking over countless accounts and comparing their highlight reel to your reality and begin to feel "behind" in your process but remember you could be much further than what they are showing you of their own life. We are humans. That means we have an array of emotions and experiences, we are complex and evolving. Do not allow the temporary delay you from your long term. Use the social media highlight reels of others as inspiration to continue your own process. 

We live in an age where everyone is a brand and all their digital accounts are their marketing platforms, so think of it like this - I call it the "Selfie Reality" people often take countless selfies to give you one good picture. You don't get to see all the discarded pictures that lead to that heavily filtered "remastered" piece with all the likes. Such is life. Everyone is trying to make it ahead and for many, their marketing platform serves as a snapshot of what they intend their life to be. Be at ease we're all swimming upstream.

She Deserves More Than a Day: Mommy

From, Shank.

 

Sacrifice – n. • an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy

My mother sacrificed for me. My mother gave her body, her time, her mind, and sleepless nights. My mother sacrificed her life for me, her money, her dreams, and even her being. She decided to never be the same not mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. She let me live from in her, to with her, and I would never leave her dreams or prayers. I am the product of sacrifice.

Internally, the blood and skin that is "I" was built from the inside-out. Now, I thank my father for his identity, tone, talent, & delivery. His stamp and immeasurable contribution...but a mother's nourishing breast and distress are priceless. Her inability to separate from the moment conception infiltrates can never be replaced. I have searched every language, connotation, and denomination - and still, I cannot find the word to define the absolute Divinity of motherhood but God's design- so I say thank you. Thank you for your life and your time...

My mother sacrificed for me. She gave her literal blood, sweat, and tears...so these words can be written here, and over the years I pray from my mouth to center of God's heart, priority, and ears that I will be able to pay you back with love, financial freedom, and success that is limitless. To you God, I'll give it my best. May greatness be forever awake, and peace always at rest in our lives. My mother, I am the living and breathing example of your sacrifice.

Thank you Ma.