NO EXPLANATION NEEDED

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ex·pla·na·tion
ˌekspləˈnāSH(ə)n/
noun
a statement or account that makes something clear.
“the birth rate is central to any explanation of population trends”
synonyms: clarification, simplification; More
a reason or justification given for an action or belief.
“Freud tried to make sex the explanation for everything”
synonyms: account, reason; More

I’ve always had a difficult time saying no to someone and having to explain, the reason why.  The guilt of it all was so severe that I would often agree to almost anything, to avoid having to let the person down.  Last year, I began the process of putting myself first.  It’s been hard, when I’m so accustomed to putting peoples needs, in front of my own, but I knew that I had to do it, because it was killing me inside.  In the end the person was happy, and I was left feeling drained and dissatisfied.  The fact that I was hurting, allowed me to realize that I had to honor myself,  by not only saying NO, but to also not explain the reason why.

Our loved ones, know us better than anyone else, and its usually them, where we are faced with the challenge of saying, NO.  We don’t want to disappoint them and yet not honor our own time and things that we want to do for ourselves.  Looking back at the many times I’ve made sacrifices for people and the many things I’ve  neglected in my own life, made me understand how this was truly affecting my life.  When I began to put myself as a priority, I began to see results, not only physically, but emotionally.  Though they were left disappointed, what mattered was that I was left feeling relieved.  I wasn’t overwhelmed with task, obligated to situations, I had no cares for, and most importantly, I was honoring my time.  Life is so short and time is so precious.  Strategically, I plan out my day from the moment I wake up, till the end of the day.  With such a busy schedule, it doesn’t allow me much time to be off assistance to anyone, but myself.

I always say that if they love you, they will understand, but reality, it doesn’t always go that way.  There have been times when I would say NO, and the person would be more upset than I.  Hang up, stop calling and even cut off all communication, because I couldn’t help them, with what they needed.  It does sadden me that people have to resort, to such actions, but in the end, if they loved me, they would understand, and since they didn’t, the ties had to be cut.  You owe no one an explanation for why you can’t be there for them.  If you can’t say no, with them understanding, what makes you think that an explanatory statement, would make things any better.  It won’t!

 Analyze the people that you are sacrificing your time for.  Are these people doing the same for you in return?  Is this a constant reoccurrence, where you are always throwing out a lifesaver vest?  How much of your own task are you sacrificing for the sake of not disappointing people?  No means no, and no explanation is needed when doing so.  Honor your time. It’s valuable and it’s not promised. Put yourself first. When you put yourself first, you become a happy and functioning human being, to yourself and society. Say no to anything and everything, if it goes against your schedule, your beliefs, your interest, and finances.  Prioritize YOU before the needs of anyone else, if it drains, overwhelms or stifles your well being.  Doing this is not a selfish act, it’s selfless to your mind, body and soul.

LET’S MAKE IT HAPPEN

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“We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.”

                                                                                       Maya Angelou

Before the launch of a new year, I began to think of the events of 2015, and how it molded me into who I am today.  What began as a somber year, turned into a year of immense change.  Leaving my job and quitting college, without as much a plan B, took guts and it made me become more fearless.  I began to make bolder moves, and spoke openly and honestly about my thoughts and opinions on certain subject matters.  I allowed myself to love and be loved.  I allowed my mind to be open and my eyes to see, the unforeseen.  Overall, I could honestly say, that I’m proud of what I had accomplished and the decisions I made, to allow happiness and fulfillment, to replace, uncertainty and unhappiness.  I was thrilled to count down the final seconds of 2015, because I’m eager to enter a new year, the same way I ended it.  

In life, everything is unpredictable.  At times, we want so badly to win, that we often get discouraged, by our own fears.  Over the weekend, I found myself feeling down and I wasn’t sure where, the root of the issue, lied.  As I laid in bed, feeling some sort  of sadness, for the unknown, I began to look around and find some sort  of positive aspect of my life, to meditate on.  As I continuously, began to remind myself of how far I had come, I got out of bed, and began to do the work.  I picked up my scissors, and began to cut some fabric, then started to sew.  Not today, I said!  I refuse to feel sorry for myself, or make excuses.  With that being said, I began to feel better.

The thing with a new year, is that many people around you will use discouraging words, to prevent you from making a change.  Everyone is able to change, but it all lies, with you.  You can’t remain in a toxic environment, and expect, clean air.  You can’t be around negative people and expect them to support you.  You have to immerse yourself with people and an environment that depicts the life that you want.  They will encourage you, because they’ve been where you are.  They want to see you win, because they know the feeling you get, when you do.  Words hold so much power, and it can either motivate us, or deter us from fulfilling our goals.

Have small, realistic goals.  Write them down.  Create a vision board, so that it enables you to see the kind of life, that you want.  Make sacrifices!  Spend less time on social media, obsessing over gossip and the illusion of the perfect life, and start to create your own.  If your loved one, is planting seeds of doubt, take yourself away from them and don’t feel guilty for doing so.  There is nothing worse, than being around a Negative Nancy, when you are on the road to fulfilling your goals.  Pace yourself!  You have 12 months in a year, there is no need to rush.  Progress is slow and it allows you to appreciate it more.  Most importantly, do it for yourself.  I see too many people doing things to prove the “haters” wrong, when in the end, they still won’t like you, even when you’ve reached your goal.  The only person, you need to impress, is yourself.  I wish you all the best for the 2016, as we do it one obstacle at a time, and along the way, you can be sure to find words of encouragement, from yours truly, as we all move closer to our dreams!

SHE DON’T WANT TO BE SAVED

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“Don’t save her, she don’t want to be saved”

One of the biggest lessons I learned in 2015, is the realization that most people don’t want to be saved.  They cry out in pain, lay in agony, and even with a hand gesture, letting them know that you’re here for them, they will refuse, the help.  While other people, live a life of constant drama with no real solution and even when you’re that positive being, wanting to show them that things can get better, they seem to enjoy the chaos.  They don’t want to be saved, and I had to learn, to let go.

The hardest thing for me to do, is not care for someone, especially if they are a family member or friend.  Despite what I’m going through in life, I always seem to make room for others.  I want to see everyone succeed.  But reality kicked me in the ass, making me realize that no matter how much you try, some people feel like they can do it all on their own.  Meanwhile, they are unaware that through their pride, they have managed to push people, away.  I remember going through my mental breakdown last year, and reaching out to my best friend, because I knew that despite my thoughts of suicide, I wanted to live.  I asked for help, and she was more than willing to give it to me.  There is no room for pride, when we are hurting, struggling, trying desperately to move forward, and can’t.  It’s so easy to live in freedom, if only we realize that we can’t do it alone.

Realizing that I wasted so much of my time, this year, trying to be there for people, who either didn’t want to be helped, or didn’t appreciate the help I gave them, took time away from my own goals.  The moment I began to invest more time into my own life and not the lives of people, who didn’t want to be saved, I got a lot more work done.  Separating myself from those that want to constantly, indulge in a drama filled lifestyle, is something I want no part of.  I began to take myself away.  I realize that we all have to be a little selfish, to get ahead in life.  There are people that want to constantly, keep you on their level.  They don’t want to see you moving forward. Recognize the people and the habits that they exhibit and begin to ask yourself, if this is helping, or hurting me, in the long run.  I wasted too many years on people, who honestly, didn’t deserve my help.  Recognizing that, fueled me to spend more time with myself, and less time, being distracted, from what was truly important.  Those that don’t want to be helped, allow them to continue living the life that they are living.  If at a certain point, they do reach out, wanting to be helped, be of assistance to them, but always remember to make room, for yourself, first.

INSTANT GRATIFICATION

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“An attitude of gratitude, opens the portals to a richer, more abundant life”

Last week, seemed to be a non stop flow of financial worries, disappointments, and unnecessary quarrels.  Everything came all at once, or I magnified something that’s resolvable, to something that seemed to be a reoccurrence.  I began to get these intense migraine headaches.  Taking painkillers to ease the pain and help to fall asleep.  I decided at that time, to continue to read anything positive, to give me hope, in the midst of the cloudy days.  Last night, as I laid in bed, reading The Motivation Manifesto (I know I’m still reading it), I came across the chapter on “The Path of Gratitude”.  It’s not like I haven’t read testimonials on how showing gratitude, even in the midst of troubled times, can bring about joy, but I’ve never really, truly, practiced it.  In the darkness of my room, with only the reading light, to shine on the pages of the book and the pounding of the rain falling, outside my window, I began to dig deep down inside, to find anything that I was thankful for.  I referenced all of my gratitude to things that occurred, last week.

I’m thankful for this alone time, to be able to read this book

I’m thankful for this quiet time, to be able to hear the voice within

I’m thankful for my mom who gave me money, when my account was overdrawn

I’m thankful for my friend Marie, who is a constant reminder of what a friendship, truly is

I’m thankful for Marie, for getting me out the house, and paying for my lunch, when I didn’t have the money to buy my own

I’m thankful for life, because I am blessed to be alive

I’m thankful for these days of struggle, to appreciate the better days, when they come

I’m thankful for the guy in my life, who messages me good morning when he wakes up, and good night, before he goes to bed

I’m thankful for the gift of knowledge, that allows me to read, learn, and stay informed

I’m thankful for the gift of drive, that allows me to go after anything, I put my mind to

I’m thankful to Oniyah’s father, for opening up doors of opportunity for me

I’m thankful that he and I can argue and talk to one another, less than 24 hours later

I’m thankful for my daughter, who comes to me and gives me a hug, and reminds me of what unconditional love, truly is

I became so overwhelmed with emotion.  Quickly, any pain I felt, went away, allowing the flow of love and appreciation, to bring itself in.  I began to cry and couldn’t stop.  The feeling kept me awake till the early morning hours.  It’s unlike any feeling I’ve felt in a while.  It truly showed me how blessed I am.  It made me realize that when you move into a direction, of finding your personal freedom, the universe, truly does work in your favor.  Your vision becomes clearer, hurdles seem to be less strenuous, negative people disappear, making room for genuine individuals.  I now understand the power of gratitude and how it can transform an individual into truly being appreciative of the blessings, no matter how small, it may be.

MOVING INTO RADICAL ACTION

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“Our destiny hinges on a mindset for bold action.”

2015, had only just begun, and yet, I already felt like I needed something more, in my life.  I hated my  job.  My supervisor, made my life, very difficult.  He was an expert in using scare tactics, to keep me, constantly in fear.  Every night, I would say a prayer before I walked into the workplace, hoping that tonight wouldn’t be worst than the night before.  During my shift, I would purposely stay out of his way, to avoid having any unnecessary confrontation with him.  He would schedule me to work, almost every weekend, deny most of my vacation request, and if for some reason, he accepted it, he would make me pay for it, when I returned.  When I requested to go on my annual vacation to Trinidad, for carnival, and was denied, I knew that I could no longer allow my life to be controlled by an insecure and mentally and physically, abusive man.  Without a back up plan and barely a cent in my banking account, I put in my 2 weeks noticed, and finally decided to take control, of my life.

A month after leaving my job, I had all the time to concentrate on my business.  Brass & Sassy doesn’t bring in a steady income, but what it does bring is fulfillment, purpose and most importantly, passion.  I was so unhappy with the direction, in which my life choices were leading me, that I moved into radical action.  “But a certain degree of insanity and recklessness is necessary to advance or innovate anything, to make any new remarkable or meaningful contributions.”  Now while I don’t recommend everyone, in my position, to quit a job without some financial backing and employment, in the waiting, I will say that  it takes desperation and a willingness to succeed, by any means necessary.  When I quit my job, I knew that I would invest my life into making my business a success.  Along the way, I have made major moves, and also mistakes.  I’ve ventured onto other endeavors, while still maintaining the hunger to succeed.  Am I financially, better off, then I was, prior to me leaving my job, no, but what I am is truly happy and in control of my life and the decisions, that I make.

Some of the greatest people of our time, didn’t get to where they are, now, but following the rules.  By playing it safe and smart.  Many had to starve, sleep in their car, sell their personal belongings to pay the rent, all for the sake of pursuing their passion.  Could I have stuck it out and allowed myself to deal with my work environment and think of the positive aspects, that I encountered, while being there?  Yes, but I didn’t want to.  I already wasted valuable years, persuading myself, that things will get better.  When I knew that I couldn’t wait, till it did, I took whatever, inner strength, I had within me, and moved into radical action.  I heard the naysayers, who tried to fill my head with doubt and fear, but being the person that I am, I allowed myself to make my own choices.  I still stand behind my choice, though there are days when I have no money and my account is overdrawn.  There are days  when I have to borrow money from my parents and my daughters father.  There are days when I can’t afford to go out with my friends.  It’s the risk you take, to pursue your passion.  I’ve become patient, with the process of it all.  I’m not intimidated, by my bank account, or the fact that I have to budget my life.  I know that the day will come, when the hard work, will eventually pay off and the sacrifice, will be worth the pain.

WISH YOU WERE HERE

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“I don’t think about art when I’m working, I try to think about life.”

I think about you ever so often, wondering what your life would of been like, if you were still here.  Would you still be an artist, or maybe a writer?  Your thinking was too advance, to ever be put into a corner.  I draw inspiration from your work, your unique style, choice of music, and your thinking, capabilities.  What I love most about you, is your unspoken truth.  Your ability to define who you were, on your own terms.  You crawled before you were able to run.  Knew from the beginning, what you were destined to be, and didn’t allow anyone to make you do, differently.  You’ve opened up so many doors, and through your journey, you never forgot your humble beginnings.  You weren’t silent, through the injustices of our people and you displayed that through your unconventional locs, interviews and your artwork.  I always wonder why the best, die young.  I almost wish someone had saved you, but they turned their backs, instead.  Forgotten about the human being, and labeled you a victim of your own fame.

I wish you were here to see how times have changed.  Passion has been replaced by greed.  Talent has been replaced by popularity.  The struggle has been replaced by the overnight success.  Your work have been plagiarized to the point where you’ve been replaced, by them.  Copyright, doesn’t allow you to take the passion with you, and so I see a lot of blank canvases, with no real emotion in them.  Words with no meaning.  Color with no vibrancy, behind it.

I met you at the lowest time in my life.  Feeling worthless and uninspired.  Your life and the journey, in which you pursued, inspired me to do the unthinkable.  You inspired me to be brave in my work.  To be outspoken in my beliefs.  To be true to my character.  You inspired me to be greater than I ever thought possible, because that is who you were.

Long live SAMO

WOMEN CRUSH EPIDEMIC

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“I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself.”
― Rita Mae Brown

On Wednesday’s, be sure to check out numerous postings, on your timeline, featuring #wcw, better known as Women Crush Wednesdays.  I have to admit, that I have posted my own share of #wcw postings, on my instagram, but found myself wondering why we as women, are so eager to crush on another, when so many of us, don’t even have a crush on ourselves?  Social media, has enabled us to invest hours out of our day, admiring and obsessing over friends, strangers and celebrities, but how much are we investing into our own lives?  

Within, 5 minutes of browsing, our timeline, the layers of confidence that we possessed, prior to logging on, have now been stripped away.  Confidence is replaced by feelings of unworthiness and comparison.  When I found myself, feeling like I wasn’t good enough, cause the next chick on my timeline is on a private yacht, on some caribbean island, while I’m stuck home, wondering when my next vacation is going to be, I knew it was time to take an escape, from it all.  Let’s face it, beauty (according to some) is based on followers, likes, and not to mention, money.  The amount of time that women take to get the “perfect” selfie, can be as long as 30 minutes.  Everyone is happy on Instagram.  Sadness doesn’t exist, and money is never at a low.  The perfect body is achieved by a South American plastic surgeon, and a waist trainer.  Everyone drinks slim tea in the morning, film themselves in their Benz and BMW, lip-synching to their favorite trap tune.

It’s an illusion!  And though many of us know that people are faking the funk, we still find ourselves becoming fooled by their lies.  There is nothing wrong in admiring another woman, and to acknowledge her beauty.  We need more unity, amongst women, especially in a time, when we are being taught to compete and hate, one another, but the best relationship and love we should first have, is the one with ourselves.  Through many forms of reading and consuming my time, in motivational material, I realize how important is it to spend time with ourselves.  During some of my alone time, I’m beginning to analyze myself, and magnifying things about myself that I admire and the things that I wish to change.  It isn’t easy to do so, it’s like writing a memoir on your own life.  When I begin to do this, I start to peel off the layers, for which has began to clothe me.  Many of the layers aren’t who we are.  Writer, designer, student, daughter…those are titles, they aren’t who we are, it’s what we do, and the roles we play, in life.  When I think of myself, I describe myself as vulnerable, difficult, and yet forgiving, impatient, love, dreamer.  When I look at my outer appearance, I see beauty, that is my own.  I see a woman, that’s showing signs of aging.  Fine lines and gray hair.  The only way to slow this process is by death, and since God continues to bless me every morning, with life, I’m embracing this privilege of maturing, with age.  I don’t want to filter my life, my appearance or my personality.  Living in pretense, has no value.  Admiring someone else, when we can’t name 5 things about ourselves, that we love, is pointless.  Like Maya Angelou said, she fears anyone that lacks a love, within themselves.  A person, who is unable to love themselves, whole heartedly, is a threat to society and to themselves.  To accomplish this, is very difficult and it’s something that you have to work hard to maintain.  The world that we live in, doesn’t allow for this process to be an easy one.  It’s plagued with images promoting beauty that is unrealistic, to obtain.  We have to be realistic, with who we are.   We were created by God, to live amongst a population of people who are unlike, anyone else.  Just like your fingerprint, you can’t be duplicated.  Now isn’t that something to celebrate!

FACING OUR FEARS

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It’s natural for humans to experience fear. We weren’t born with it. As a child, we roamed the world, extremely fearless, but more than likely, our parents were the first to instill a sense of fear, within us. It’s not an intentional act, they do it out of love and concern, for our wellbeing. “Be careful, you will hurt yourself!” So we feared diving into the ocean, because there was a chance of drowning. “You need to go to college, so you can get a good paying job!” So we stayed in college, out of fear that we wouldn’t have a job, if we were to quit. Rejection, criticism, and loneliness, and some of the reasons as to why, fear has imprisoned us, for so many years.

In my own personal experience, I allowed fear to deter me from pursuing a career as a screen writer. I wrote a screenplay years ago, and had it put away, never wanting anyone to read it, out of fear that the reader wouldn’t like my work. Through a friend, I found the courage to send my screenplay off to another writer, in hopes that I would get my “big break”. What I got back instead, was the same screenplay I sent off, with red ink marked all over it. She didn’t say that my work was bad, but she did insist on me, taking more writing classes and perfecting my work. At that time, I was crushed. I felt like a failure. I have yet to write another screenplay. Years later, I have grown to understand that rejection is a part of facing your fears, because it allowed me to face them. If I had never gotten the courage to send off my screenplay, I would of never known, what I needed to improve on. It was a blessing, in disguise.

Since reading “The Motivation Manifesto”, I began to apply the lessons I’ve learned in the book, to my every day life, so that I can begin to face the challenges, that will help me, to become the greatest version of myself. Because fear is something I suffer with, I’m trying to do things, that I will help me to loosen the chains, that it has on me. Over the weekend, my mom told me that my God parents were at the house. My God father, had recently suffered the loss of his mom, and she wanted to make sure that I greeted them and send my condolences. Now in the past, my mom and I had huge arguments about this, because she knows that I HATE when she tells me to do something, without allowing me to do it on my own. Since I’m convinced that my mom will never get over this annoying habit of hers, I knew that I had to face my fears and greet them and pay my respects. If you know me personally, you would know that I’m not good with expressing myself, verbally, but I’m able to do so, only through writing. Since this is one of my biggest fears, I decided to bite the bullet and greeted my god parents and verbally express my sympathy, to them both. I know that my mom was extremely happy to know that she wasn’t left disappointed in me, but I walked away feeling like a new person. I never knew how rejuvenating it would of been do something I feared. And so, I decided, every day, I’m going to do one thing a day, that I wouldn’t normally do, to overcome my fears. It builds character and the confidence is an, added bonus.

WICKED INTENTIONS

“We cannot avoid the cruel people we will encounter in life, the more of them coming at us, the more we put ourselves out there, the more we seek to lead, the more we express ourselves and our full potential, the more we are motivated to change the world.  The more we rise, the more they turn up.”

For the past couple of days, I’ve been in tuned, to the current book that I’ve been reading, “The Motivation Manifesto”, by Brendon Burchard.  The funny thing is that this book had been sitting in my Amazon shopping cart for ages, and I don’t even remember putting it in there.  I guess that was the first sign.  Since reading this book, I’ve been feeling a sense of wanting more out of my life.  The author talks about ways in which we allow ourselves to be held back, by our own personal fears, the past, lack of motivation, and especially the people around us.  I’ve been constantly highlighting and taking notes of important information, in the book and constantly asking myself questions, such as, “am I proud of who I am and the person I am becoming?”  I blogged this week about being extremely hard on myself and allowing myself to congratulate myself on my accomplishments, no matter how small they may be.  But often in times, in our quest in becoming the greatest version of ourselves, we experience, setbacks.  Last night, I had a moment, when I became so emotional, based off the opinions of what some people think of me.  I was and still am, extremely hurt that people that I am fond of, would think so negatively, about me.  Through my anger, I went on Snapchat and voiced my opinion on how angry and hurt I was.  Most of my emotions stemmed from events that happened this year.  I just feel overwhelming disappointed in people that I have held dear to me, who have lied, taken advantage of my kindness, and spoke so badly, about me.  Over time, I thought I had managed to get over the hurt, of what I had been through, but I realized that what they did, still affects me.  So going back to the question of “am I proud of the person I am becoming?”  My answer to that question is still, yes.  Despite how people may feel about me, it doesn’t change the fact that I am currently living a life, that I am owning.  It’s a life that I have made many sacrifices in order to maintain.  Most importantly, its a life, that I chose to live.  There are many individuals, walking this earth that have no clue, as to what, they want, out of life.  Worst, they have no clue, about, who they are.  I’ve always been very strong willed.  If I love you, I love you wholeheartedly and unconditionally.  If you’ve hurt me, I have the ability to move on from you, and not allow you to continue to inflict, pain.  What I’m learning from The Motivation Manifesto, is that there are people walking amongst us, whether it be strangers, co workers, friends and even family, whose mission it is, to stifle you, whether physically or emotionally.  Your strength and confidence in who you are as a person, threatens their well being.  As you become more consciously aware, and focused on your purpose in life, they will try to set up roadblocks, to see you fail.  They’re incapable of wishing you well, or wanting to see you succeed.  So at the moment, when I decided to vent my frustration, via social media, it felt like the right thing to do, but in the end, their opinion of me, doesn’t hold the key to unlock my pursuit of happiness.  What I should of done is meditated, to allow myself to calm and think rationally, and then read some affirmations to remind myself of where I am and where I intend to go.  The critics and negative people, don’t have much places to go, because in their quest to continue their mission of hurt, they have yet to realize that blessings don’t come to those who are incapable of showing love.

DYING FOR A SPIRITUAL AWAKENING

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“Did you use the time I gifted you each day to be a purposeful being? Did you follow your own path and make your time count?  How faithfully did you tend to the dream I sowed in your soul?”

The other day, my friend told me about a friend of hers, who had cancer and had unfortunately succumbed to the disease.  Listening to my friend speak about this woman, really touched me.  She was in her mid 30’s and married for 19 years.  Throughout the many years, where she suffered with cancer, she always devoted life to her religion (Jehovah Witness), she cared so much for others, that she often would put their needs in front of her own.  In her death, everyone had so many great things to say about the legacy she left behind.  What truly captured my heart is the fact that she lived a selfless life.  Despite her ailment, she remained defiant in her beliefs and loving to those, around her.  She never allowed herself to become a victim, or made anyone feel sorry, for her.  In such a short life, she left behind an incredible legacy.  I look at my life, and I wonder what incredible legacy, would I leave behind, if any.  Death is the only thing, that is certain, in our journey, through life.  We put so much importance on insignificant things.  Things that we can’t take with us, when we die.  We allow ourselves to become angry at people and things that have no baring on our wellbeing.  We allow fear to stop us from truly living.  No many how many deaths, we may experience in a lifetime, we still tend to take life for granted.  Everyday, I want to be reminded of how much of a blessing, it is, to be alive, despite the current events that have plagued so many of us, in recent years.  I’m fully aware that crimes, whether locally or foreign, can have a negative affect on how we live.  We become fearful of becoming a victim.  Afraid to try something new out of fear of failure.  Complacent in relationships, out of being alone.  Meanwhile, we are unaware when our time, will expire.  One of my worst fears is to die today, not being able to travel to Africa, skydive, write a book, see my daughter get married and have children.  So many die, so young, that they never get to experience adulthood, and so many of us live past our 40’s and complain about wrinkles and menopause.  I want to continue to live my life, for those that never got a chance to live theres.  That is my motivation manifesto.