Choices

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The Story

 
When enrolling in college was one of the most important and exciting times in my life, I couldn’t make it to her office fast enough. I cannot recall her name, only the exciting rush of anxiety that ignited in my heart and up to the creases of my face. She wasn’t anyone of particular specialty or significance, but what she represented was indeed important. She was my academic adviser and seeing her meant that I was on the road to something great. If I had not “made it” it was the step in the right direction. Little did I know the kind of revelations choosing this particular institution would cough up for me. Little did I know how much my life would change from this seemingly unimportant choice, which would have nothing to do with school, academia, or some fancy certificate to prove to the world how much I actually lacked in knowledge.

 
But on that day, I was deeply troubled to find a need to rush home immediately, shortly after my excited arrival to her door, (though I had not registered my classes), which ran me the risk of not being able to attend the classes I was so excited to be a part of. As I sat in front of her I quickly chose the additional courses required of me which I had not deeply thought about, I was just anxious to leave due my intense emergency. Thus, for that reason (which I am not apt to mention here because it’s just none of your business 🙂 ),  I discontinued my journey for the solemn one back home.

 
When I returned to the source of my redemption (so I thought back then), I found to my great disappointment the closing of one of my classes. Pieces of my day had so perfectly fit into its own schedule like the perfect puzzle, each class ending in time for the next one to begin, all in order like the perfect lyric over a tight beat—all was well. Except, now a word was out of place, a sentence incomplete; fragments of a schedule now off beat. “Why?” I asked myself, “…did I have to take a class so off schedule?” Unlike the rest, this African American studies course was the only class I had that day in the middle of the day (and it wasn’t even one of my primary classes, it was the one I rushed and chose the day before). I would now have to take public transportation (as I did not drive then), to this now dreadful place for one single class; this I did not have the bus fare for, and so you can imagine my discontent. However, seeing it was the only available course left I settled, and took the class anyway.

 
It didn’t turn out so bad though, and the first day of class would change my life forever. It would be the day I would actually meet my husband, and I would hear the voice of truth for the first time in 19 years. Instead of it being a dreadful one, this day would instead be something like the night before a revolution.

The Message

Choice

The purpose of this story is to show you the value in each decision we make. No matter how small or minute it may seem, each decision creates for us the next path like a molding of clay does a new form. Whether it is our desire to pursue a new career, attend a class or decide to take the bus North instead of South, every single decision you make puts you on the path to your tomorrow. It sounds cliche, but most cliches are such because of the depth of its truth. As each way has already been determined from the foundation of the world, we nonetheless make manifest that which has been done with the decisions we make. The irony in foresight is that we don’t have to be given the gift of hearing a doorbell ring before it does to possess this gift. But it exists naturally already in those who choose to acknowledge it. We may not be able to physically see the glass vase fall before it does, but we can choose to move it away from the edge of the counter, seeing that it may fall. We can decide what the next day will be like simply by carefully paying attention to each choice presented before us, letting truth lead, but choosing truth in the first place.

 

If we can choose our thoughts carefully, molding them into the right words and transforming these words into the exact representation of the action necessary for obedience; if faith can become works and works can produce righteousness, then maybe, just maybe we can develop a sense of foresight we didn’t know we had. Giving birth to a gift whose seed was already planted inside of us, but that we didn’t realize we had because we thought choosing to have cereal instead of oatmeal this morning was just about breakfast.

To Powerblog or not to Powerblog…that is the question!

Message to the Blog Owner:
I’m writing this post because like you, I care about the productivity of my blog and its basic upkeep. My purpose may be different than yours, but we have each decided to be part of a public online community. If you don’t care about reaching out to people, don’t build a blog, buy a diary. But…I digress…

 

I don’t have a long blogume. That’s a completely made up word for blogging resume. In the past I’ve held a total of four blogs including this one. The first one was with blogspot and it was real amateur. Amateur because I don’t have any other way to describe how whack it was (I don’t even remember the name). Then I held down a position with The Aftermath Blog, created after I published my first novel, The Aftermath. It did a lot better than the first one. I was able to reach out and connect to readers and receive useful feedback. I was even able to hustle a few reviews out the mix. I believe that had I held on a bit longer it may have still been here, but I pretty much got bored with it. Then there was ahouseofpoetry and ThePBSblog. I don’t consider myself an expert on these matters and I’m not someone who researched this in a book and can give a sophisticated analysis (whatever that is), but I do have an opinion to share on power blogging based simply on observation.

 

I assume the definition of “PowerBlogging” is to blog at least once a day or more, I could be wrong, but I have my own definition anyway.

I think “Blogging” should consist of updating your blog at least once a day, only missing a day or so in-between if need be. PowerBlogging, it seems, should be defined as updating a blog more than once a day, and can range anywhere from 2-3 posts a day, to a stream of posts that come in pretty much all day. The difference is pretty much based on common sense. A blog is a social networking forum to which people can interact with an online community based on various themes (my definition). Someone may create a blog because they feel like it. Someone else may want to air their dirty laundry in public so it becomes a public diary (don’t care, that’s your business). Some may actually have an agenda they’re pushing. Others may want to just promote a book, or showcase their writing in general. Whatever the reason, blogs are different than regular websites because they are interactive. Though bloggers can acquire domain names, the title “blog” I think, sets it apart from a regular website that you would actually purchase product from or that is used as advertisement for whatever business. Businesses can surely have blogs, but I think a blog differs in that it allows people to interact, follow, like, and comment. For this reason blogs are social media outlets, it just gives you more room to write, and possess much more flexibility than Facebook. But because blogs are what they are, it only makes sense to stay engaged.

 

I’m not going to define blog success. I don’t think it is restricted to any particular definition. Based on your reasoning for building a blog, that should define how you look at its success, period. I don’t believe any big brains can come along and tell me how successful or unsuccessful my blog is. I do believe however, that the individual blog owner is responsible for making sure there is fresh content for the reader. True enough, every follower is not going to be attracted to every post. True enough, every follower is not going to agree with every post. And true enough, every follower is not going to like or comment on every post. Every post may not even gain you any additional followers (that’s a different topic because then we’re getting into the whole work aspect). But if you work hard at something eventually you’ll begin to see the results of that labor. Already I see that the difference between ThePBSblog and my other blogs is the time I’ve dedicated to it, and it has already made it much more successful (on one level), than the others. Every post is written for a reason, to which not all of them are verbally acknowledged by readers. I’ve read many poems and posts on blogs that I have never made the owner aware of that inspired me (I will…eventually). Yet, inspiring me is a reaction even if you don’t know it. To make a very long story short, you never know how many people you reach who are just observing. There is a reader out there for everyone and someone who will understand your message.

 

People have a number of reasons for following your blog (that’s another reason I don’t think one person can give a general definition of what makes for a successful blogger. Follower count can be deceiving, but so can dashboard data). Some people are glued to your content, but some would just like to see your posts pop up in their e-mails or readers just in case there’s something tasty they wanna try. Some just liked one thing you said and decided your worth adding to the guest list. Others may have followed you simply because they like the way you designed your site. They may not agree with the words on the wall, but they love the interior design, which can be of help to a blogger looking to redecorate (I speak from experience. I once followed someone’s blog because their design included some of my favorite colors. They have long redecorated, but I ended up really enjoying their content. So see, you never know 🙂 ). No matter the reason, everyone has a different reason for following someone. Not everyone just wanna add someone to the reader, not everyone just wanna get post emails, and not everyone just enjoy staring at the pictures, but some people actually look forward to your posts. For this reason, I think it’s only logical to try and stay as updated and engaged as possible. For me personally, if I follow you it means something. And while a bombardment of email alerts from your blog can be annoying, at the same time it lets me know that you’re alive. Otherwise it’s easy for me to forget that you exist. Even if I don’t click on your post, at least I’ll see your name pop up every now and again as a reminder.

 

Blogging is not everything, at least not to me. I’m a woman of balance so Blogging is not my life (I have other things to do) but it is an important piece of the puzzle that I have allowed to occupy space here. It is a part of my day that I have allowed to withhold some of my time, because I think the purpose (to spread truth and inspiration through innovation and creativity) is worth putting my energy into. It is not my whole world, but it is a small piece of the world that I have allowed to exist around me. When I feel like I have accomplished what I set out to accomplish, I will retire this portion of my life. That said, I think Powerblogging can be successful if you are willing to look at is as a job. It doesn’t have to be your primary job, and it doesn’t even have to be a big part of your day, but if you can look at it as a form of employment, then you’ll see how important it is to stay engaged on one level or another.

 

So, to Powerblog or not to Powerblog?

 
Based on my definition, I think bloggers should at least blog; keep the content as fresh as possible.

 
I don’t think Powerblogging to the extreme of out staying my welcome on your readers and emails is a route I wanna take, but I do believe staying as closely updated as possible is necessary to build a strong online community.

The Reward and The Journey

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” – Henry David Thoreau

A few weeks ago I posted this quote to spark inspiration on behalf of my readers because I know how beneficial such inspiration is to me and I wish to bestow, if I may, the same level of enthusiasm for others as well. While I must be honest in discerning that much of the comments appear spam like, I received some positive feedback from some of you with the suggestion that I write more on this topic. Whether you are spammers or not (which because of language barriers I am not so quick to judge), I feel that this topic is nonetheless worthy of further investigation. Do you agree with Thoreau’s statement? Is what you get by achieving your goals really not as important as what you become by achieving your goals? This is the question I would like to take this time to explore.

What is a Goal?

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Many of you can probably think back to the day you first heard the word Goal. For many of us it was in High School and became the first indication that adulthood was not so far away as we were to define what we wanted of life. From there we set out to plan this trip to our grown-up selves as if reaching into a future calendar. This was easy, for there were so many thoughts running through our heads on what we perceived our lives to be and nothing to stand in the way of it. In a way we were a lot more faithful in our ability to achieve these successes but only because we were also a lot more naïve to the loveless and unfair world that awaited us. It never crossed our minds that the things we wanted was not as willing to accept us as we were so ready to receive it. As the lead administrator of an after-school program at a community center, I experience this with children and young adults almost daily. When I ask them about adulthood it is sprinkled with the same level of innocence; a hodgepodge of careers and successes with nothing to stop the flow of things. I wished I could sympathize with them. That I could share in their joy as if it was that easy, but we all know the reality is that it is not. But then, as young adults, we were asked to break these goals down into halves: short term and long term.

 

This gave us the ability to understand better the work that would go into actually reaching these goals. For if becoming a doctor was as easy as thought there would be no reason to institute the attending of medical school before actually becoming a doctor. At the same time however, thought is the mental process necessary to first bring forth an action. Ironically, as children we seemed to understand that something is obtainable simply by having a mental desire to achieve it, but as adults this kind of faith is lost to the experiences of life. We’ll come back to this later as trial and tribulation play a key role in this discussion. As not to digress, the organizing of goals into smaller and larger parts helped us to properly understand the power behind the word. We began to understand that a goal is not just something that you are trying to do or achieve, but it is something you are trying to do that you are actually making plans to achieve.

 
Organization

 

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The implementation of goals in one’s life can be a powerful tool. It will allow one to organize one’s thoughts into clear and concise objectives, but you cannot set a goal to do something that you are not willing to put the effort in to get done. Otherwise it’s just wishful thinking, and you’re (as the old folk put it), just talking out the side of your neck. You’re saying a lot of words and you have a lot of ideas but if you’re not putting in the work necessary to bring them to life your just speaking idly and your ideas are useless because they have no backbone. So an organization of goals is critical if you actually plan to achieve them, otherwise they are merely dreams and you’re sleep walking:

 
• Be written
• Have a deadline
• Be measurable
• Be reasonable to achieve

 
Written

 

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The first and most important part of any goal is that there must first be a desire to achieve it in the first place. If your goals are written, either mentally or transcribed, it gives you the opportunity to look at it, to understand that they do exist, and to remind yourself of where you would like to be in your life. If your goals are not written or kept at the forefront of your mind in some way it is easy to get lost in all of the everyday traffic of life itself and never make it to your final destination.

 
Deadline
Speaking of destinations, make sure that your goals actually have deadlines people (in fact, goals are deadlines of themselves!) If you plan to go back to school for example, have enough discipline to put it on a calendar so you know it’s real. For me, deadlines actually work very well because it gives me the strength to endure because I know I have to get it finished or completed by a certain time. By setting it to a schedule, I am able to better work at it. Each person is different, but I think that if you set a deadline for yourself, you may be able to better work at it as well.

 
Measurable & Reasonable to Achieve

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Yes! This part is important: Please don’t say your goal is to acquire a Master’s Degree at Harvard University when you are still working on getting a GED, got six kids at home and no one to babysit. That may be an extreme example but that’s how serious I am. Make sure that your goals are measurable. It’s the reason we have something called short term goals and long term goals in the first place. Create a system of steps that will ultimately lead to the next step. It is possible you can get a master’s degree at Harvard but make sure you have a High School diploma first. Crawl before you walk and walk before you run. Make sure your goals are accessible; do not place them so far in the distance that it becomes impossible to see them because then you are more than likely to make up an excuse as to why you can’t achieve them. Be real with yourself about who you are and what you want. If your lazy just admit it so that you can create a goal you know you can finish. After this, you can create an even greater goal, but don’t make up all these grandiose plans you know you’re never going to carry through.

 
Being Better

 
Each goal is a step and each step leads one closer and closer to that thing sought for. Along the way however are a series of tests, trials, tribulations, successes, and failures. At this point a person decides whether or not they have a true desire to achieve their goals, or if setting them was just something to do in the first place. The question of: how bad do you really want it? Comes into play and one is forced to then make a critical decision: do I abort my mission or do I continue moving forward? How important is it that I continue? Is continuing a personal occasion of mine or must I continue?

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If a person decides to continue, he or she will continue to become educated on the ups and downs of the journey. As an elementary school student for example my goal was to simply graduate eighth grade. It was not an ultimate goal, but it was a goal necessary to reach an ultimate goal. But along the way were many failures, such as having to repeat the sixth grade, and failing the seventh until miraculously making my way to the eighth and graduating with honors. The feeling of having “made it” on this small scale was a great event, however the person I’d become having made it was even greater. I did not just have an eighth grade diploma, but I understood better how to carry out the lessons I once knew nothing about. In many ways I was stronger, and more mature. While it seemed sorrowful at the time, I was actually now more ready to enter High School then I was at the time the world told me I was.

 

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Goals are a versatile way to measure how well your life fulfills your target objective, but what you get by achieving them is not the same as what you become. Of everything I’ve been through in my life, my career choice never changed. I knew I wanted to be a writer as a child, as an adolescent and as an adult. In the end, it felt (and feels) great to hold a finished book in my hands, run my fingers across the name on the front and marvel that it belongs to me. To stand there and to say to myself: you did it, feels good and any writer  who says it doesn’t is either a liar or not a writer to begin with. However, the lessons I learned along the way and the lessons I am still learning is priceless; it does not compare. Sure one may get that dream job and make the money they want to make; one may acquire something they’ve waited a very long time to acquire, but nothing can compare to the knowledge, wisdom, and understanding that person has gained having to endure all the ups and downs that came with reaching that point. In the beginning it seems all about the finished product, until we become aware that it was all about the journey and the finished product is the reward for having completed the journey, and we are so much better than we once were. Because of this, what the person gets becomes less important than what the person has become because the person you are after having achieved your goal helps you to better appreciate what you have.

 

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Climbing the mountain is not just about making it to the top, it’s about understanding where and why the stumbling blocks exist along the way; it’s about tripping and falling over those stumbling blocks until you understand how to work around them; it’s about meeting people at the bottom and appreciating how important their position is to the operation and flow of the whole so that when you make it to the top you do not stand above what you are able.

I hope this article has been useful to some of you and that you were able to become better by it. Below is a final list of what you can do to better reach your goals, not just to get the reward (which is great) but to become a better person for having endured the journey (which is even greater).

• List the reasons you want to accomplish this goal
WHAT ARE THE REASONS WHY I WANT TO DO THIS?
• Identify what stands between you and your goal.
WHAT MIGHT PREVENT ME FROM ACHIEVING MY GOAL?
• Identify people and resources, which might be useful along the way.
WHO OR WHAT CAN HELP ME?
• Assign dates (deadlines) to each step in the process of achieving a goal.
WHEN EXACTLY WILL I GET THERE?

(**Remember: You must be able to realistically measure your goals. Make sure you can get there!)