I have been living in South Florida for eleven years now so tropical storms are regular occurrences. Every time there is a storm I like to sit inside by a window (when it’s safe of course) and reflect. When tropical storm Isaac recently passed through South Florida thankfully there were minimal damage where I live. I remember sitting by my window in deep thought reflecting on the storms that I have been through and that my family and friends have been through. I realized that while problems in life are inevitable we don't have to succumb to the winds even though we may quake at the thunder. Yes it’s scary, intimidating, and more often than not the clouds are so dark that it seems like there is no end in sight. No matter how advanced we become as people we can never control the size and direction of a storm. Sometimes it lands as a category one or unfortunately as a category five, but guess what? The storm MUST pass. At the end of every storm the results are: stronger faith, greater appreciation of life and people, humbleness, and a greater ability to relate and encourage others who are going through their own storms. So take courage and remember He makes everything beautiful in its time.
preteen I boarded a plane for the very first time from the Jamaica to the United States. As a young child, the U.S. represented endless possibilities to me. I
remember being captivated by the music videos, television shows and movies I
watched imagining that life in the U.S. was exciting and filled with
opportunities. The early dreamer in me dreamt of one day living there. By the
time I was 11 years old, I yearned to venture out beyond the beautiful mountains of my island home
to the world of my dreams and imaginations. I distinctly remember walking
alongside a friend during lunch and looking at those mountains wishing to
myself that I would one day see beyond them. As you can imagine, I was super
excited when I got the opportunity a few months later after making my wish.
Unfortunately my earliest years in
the U.S. were not what I imagined. I missed my mother terribly and was forced
to deal with adjustments much too burdensome for a young child. For most of
that period, I dealt with messages of “can’ts.” I was told often about life
limits that would shape my future. Others would tell me that I needed to adjust and redefine my goals to fit “reality.”
summer before my sophomore year in high school, an uncle visited from Jamaica
and asked me where I wanted to go college. I gave him a list that included some of the
best universities in the U.S. He told me to go after my dreams. I sat beaming with pride, reassurred by
his belief in my dreams.
You see, the list and my desire to
attend college were far-fetched. Though we left Jamaica to achieve a better
life, circumstances I mentioned earlier made that dream appear nothing more
than an empty wish. I faced a number of obstacles: there was no money to send
us to college; no steps taken to help us secure and prepare for a better
future; and silent resignation that our possibilities were limited.
Yet I had drive, determination and
divine intervention on my side. Despite my reality, I kept on dreaming and
preparing for my dream by excelling in both school and extracurricular
activities. In all honesty, looking back I chuckle at my audacity. Where did I
get it from? How did such a young girl decided she would not accept the limits others placed upon her? Despite admonitions
to stop chasing an unattainable dream, despite discouragement to set my sights
elsewhere (like considering getting a job after high school), pure determination
kept me striving. There were times I was afraid and worried. Times I felt unsure, because I did not have a
plan B at all. I was not sure about the “how?” but that very important question did
not stop me. Today I am happy to say
that it all worked out. By the end of my senior year, I had applied to six
colleges and gotten into all six. Today
I can proudly say that I am a graduate of Columbia University, the number one
college on the list I recited to my uncle.
Until now, I haven't really taken the
time to reflect and appreciate the gravity of that important lesson from my youth. I
admit that writing the above made me tear up a little. I had refused to allow
other people and my circumstances to limit me or destroy my dreams. In the face
of tremendous obstacles, I kept my eyes on the prize and achieved more than my
wildest dreams. Unfortunately, I cannot say that I’ve always adhered to that lesson. There were many times in my life that
I had to relearn the lesson and remind myself not to accept other people's limits.
What are you allowing to limit you
today? If there’s a goal you would like to achieve or a
dream you want to fulfill, do not allow people or circumstances to tell you
that you can’t. People have opinions,
but opinions are not facts. Circumstances change, but you are far more than
your circumstances. Operate from a place
of “can” and refuse to accept “can’t.” You have to know and believe that your
possibilities are endless.
Six months ago, I boarded a flight from New York to Los Angeles. Before then I had never been to the state of California much less the city of Los Angeles. Three weeks earlier, I had accepted a job offer in a state and city I had never even visited. Talk about a life changing decision.
To say I was excited is an understatement, but like I spoke about in this post, I was also afraid. I spent nights tossing and turning wondering if I made the right decision. I had never even visited Los Angeles, and I didn't know anyone here at the time, so at times I asked myself "What were you thinking?" Although I had lived in other cities before, lived on my own for years and am very independent, this was different. This was the farthest I would be from everything and everyone I knew.
Yet six months later, I smile, because in retrospect I had nothing to fear. I am settling in and enjoying Los Angeles. How did I do it? Here are my tips:
Five Ways to Discover and Meet People in a New City
1. Be O.K. With Venturing Out Alone
In my first few weeks here, I didn't know anyone (except my new coworkers) so I often went exploring alone. To be frank, this wasn't difficult for me since I've done it plenty of times in the past. There were times I worried about getting lost (thank God for google maps!), but I've discovered some gems in L.A. through exploring. I know venturing out alone isn't easy for everyone, but challenge yourself and do it. There's only so much you can discover indoors.
2. Join Meetup.com and Go to the Events
Meetup.com is the website to join if you're in a new city and you want to meet people with similar interests. Through Meetup I've found groups related to things I enjoy like independent films and art. I've gotten the opportunity to attend some pretty awesome events and met really great people at the same time.
3. Join a professional Association
This is another great way to meet people. It's also great for networking and staying abreast of professional development workshops and events in your field.
4. Be Open to Trying New Things
I can't remember the last time I went hiking before moving to L.A. Yet within my first month here, I went hiking in Griffith Park. You know what? I enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to going on more hikes. It's true, I probably wouldn't have gone hiking if I were in New York, but as the saying goes "When in Rome..." Try new things, you never know what you can discover about yourself.
5. Accept Invitations
"A man who wants friends must make himself friendly," right? Don't decline invitations because "you're too shy," or "you don't know these people," or "you don't feel like being bothered." Ignore the anti-social voice in your head and go out and have a ball. It's so much easier discovering the city by hanging out with a local anyway!
Pictures of some of the things I've done since moving to L.A.
Are you constantly listening to depressing or melancholy
music? Are you starting or ending your day watching horrific news? What are you
letting in? While you can choose to listen to the music you enjoy and it's good to stay
abreast of current events, moderation is key.If you constantly expose yourself to music that makes you
feel sad or to news stories that cause you to walk around in fear, it’s time
to reevaluate your consumption. Constantly exposing yourself to negativity can
drain your energy and poison your attitude, what are you receiving?
2. Surround Yourself With Positive People
Negativity only beget one thing….more negativity. Who you
choose to spend your time with has a huge influence on the person you are or
will become. I don’t think anyone wants to be a Negative Nancy.Surround yourself with people who
inspire you to become the person you want to be.People who are radiant, driven, smart and goal-oriented will
not only brighten your day, they will help to bring out and cultivate your best
3. Embrace the Lessons
Life is filled with lessons that help us to graduate from
one level to the next. Sometimes those lessons are tough, but how you
respond, i.e., your attitude can make a world of difference. Complaining or
wallowing in self-pity hurts you more than it helps. Choose instead to learn
life lessons and focus on solutions if they’re any. We only grow from tough experienes when we choose to learn from