6 Things I Learned from Co-Owning a Business for 6 years

“Own a dance studio,” they said…. “It’ll be fun,” the said…. And they were right!! After 6 years in business, I can safely say that spending time in the studio with you all is what I look forward to most each week. 

BUT!! That’s not to say that it’s been easy. It hasn’t. Each week brings new challenges, and to push through each one of those challenges every week for 6 years can be exhausting! But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

With working through all the ups and downs, both Rishone and I have learned a lot – about dance, business, people, and ourselves….

Here are 6 of my biggest learning lessons from the past 6 years:

1. You have to be uncomfortable if you want to grow 

In order to grow, you have to change. And as we all know, change is not easy! But I’m proud to say that I’m a much different dancer and choreographer than I was 6 years ago. And that’s because (with the help of Rishone), I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone to learn different things. I’ve dug into the nitty, gritty details of improving my technique and movement. (Thank the Lord cause my grooves needed some serious help! I’ve learned about Hip Hop culture and my place in it (which that was a very uncomfortable journey that I’m still on!). Cause it’s not just the change it self that’s difficult. It’s hard to fully evaluate yourself and be honest with yourself about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. But in order to change something, you must first evaluate where you are today. Otherwise, you’ll have no idea how to get where you want to be.

2. Working with someone is hard work

For anyone who thinks that owning a business is automatically easier with two people…. It’s a lie! Of course, I absolutely love owning a business with Rishone, but it has not been easy. Rishone and I work every week to better our business and at the hear of that is us working to strengthen our relationship. This means better communication, working through conflict, having patience… These are all really hard things especially considering how different we both are as people. But I’m glad to say that all those painful conversations where we didn’t see eye to eye have all been worth it. We’ve learned how to work through those disagreements. And I think the biggest driving factor for why we’ve been able to come out on the other side of some really hard situations between each other is because of the genuine love we have for each other. Keeping that in mind throughout those challenging times has helped to keep us focused on pushing through for a better result, instead of simply throwing the towel in and giving up.

3. Consistency really is Key 

The only reason Musicality Central still exists today is because we have been consistent AF over the past 6 years. In the beginning, we had one, two, maybe four people on a good day… Some days we had no one show up for class. But we kept going. Because when you’re consistent, you create momentum, and not only for yourself, but for the people around you. The way you stay consistent is to stay focused on WHY you’re doing what you’re doing. If we were teaching dance to because Instagram famous or for the attention, you better believe, we would have quite years ago. But that’s not why we do what we do. We teach because we want to share our genuine love for dance with the world. We teach because we know the impact it has on our clients happiness. We teach because it makes us and you all better people. Because all of these “why’s” have been our focus, we’ve remained consistent.

4. Roll with the punches

Exhibit A – The Pandemic! Man, we certainly had to roll with the punches over these past two years. We had to figure out how to create a completely new business model with online classes and work through all the mini punches along the way with that journey, like mics not working or the internet cutting out. Not to mention dealing with the masks and social distancing once we got back into the studio. Things don’t always go to plan, whether it be a full-blown pandemic or simply forgetting a full 8 count of a routine while teaching it. I’ve learned that there’s no need to freak out. “Everything is figureoutable!” (Marie Forleo). So if I have a class that felt clunky and that our students left with blind spots and questions marks in the routine, I try not to let that get me down. Don’t get me wrong, I might feel sad or frustrated initially that the class didn’t go as well as I wanted, but Rishone and I will take a look and see what I can do to make the class better the next week, and I prepare accordingly. And this evaluation process is a CONSTANT work in progress for me.

5. It’s OK to Suck

This is kind of a tangent to # 1 and #4, cause really these all tie in together. This is something we preach in every single one of our classes: We do not expect you to be perfect! And this is something that I’ve also had to learn for myself. There have been routines that I’ve created where I watch back a video of it, and I feel sick to my stomach because I don’t like what I had created. But just as much as we tell you all that growing as a dancer is a journey, I’ve had to learn that growing as a choreography also takes time, and not to be too hard on myself if I create something that doesn’t quite seem to “click.” I’ve also experienced this as a dancer, even with my own choreography, where I watch myself back in a video and think, “wow, you really didn’t look as good as you thought you did, Susie.” This can be frustrating hard for anyone who struggles with perfectionism. But I’m learning that it’s OK to not be good at everything, cause like I talked about in #1, this is how we grow. But you have to first evaluate and stay consistent with working on your craft!

6. My Purpose in Life is to Connect and have Impact

I’ve actually already written a full blog on this alone. (Definitely take some time to read Story Time with Susie – Finding My Purpose if you haven’t already!) Through this whole dance journey, I’ve learned that I feel most like my authentic self when I am teaching and dancing. And when I’m authentic to me, that’s when I have a real impact on the people around me.

With all these learning lessons, I need to add one major takeaway… I love you guys so much! You all make my week, every single week, and I’m so thankful to have so many wonderful clients and people in my life because of dance.

So thank you for believing in Musicality Central and us. We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for you all!

Story Time with Susie – Learning the Importance of Love Languages the Hard Way

February… The month of love! Whether you have a significant other in your life or not, we all have people who we love and who love us.

But have you ever experienced frustration with not feeling loved? Or maybe you’ve felt that the love you’ve tried to give to others was not being received? (Been there, done that!)

That’s because we don’t all give and receive love in the same ways.

The first time I really understood this was when Rishone and I first became friends.

NYC – December 2013

I love giving people gifts!! It’s a natural way for me to show people I care about them. I specifically recall on the second year of us being friends when Rishone’s birthday rolled around, I popped over to Walmart and got him an array of different things to give to him… A bunch of random things that I got a kick out of. But when I gave him these gifts, I didn’t get the reaction from him that I was expecting. Of course, he said thanks and I knew he was appreciative of the thought, but he didn’t seem excited about the gifts.

To be honest, I didn’t know Rishone very well at that point, and just wanted to give him something for his birthday cause I knew that I enjoyed receiving gifts. But just because (at that time) I may have appreciated getting a gift with a bunch of random things thrown into a basket doesn’t automatically mean that he would also like it. I’ve since learned that he does appreciate gifts as long as he can tell that there was thought put into it being for him specifically. But even with that being said, I’ve learned that he doesn’t value physical things and that gift giving is not primarily how he receives love.

If you’re not sure what I’m talking about when I say receiving and giving love, I’m referencing the 5 Love Languages, which are:

  • Words of affirmation
  • Acts of service
  • Receiving gifts
  • Quality time
  • Physical touch

Now that I better understand what’s important to Rishone and how he receives love, I always try to make sure I think of different ways to celebrate with Rishone for special occasions outside of my go-to (physical) gift giving nature.

For example, for his birthday back in 2015, I remember creating cards that I gave him throughout the day giving him “paths to choose” for different activities we could do together, like going to a specialty spice store or an oil/vinegar store, putt-putt or bowling, and of course going to get the best french toast in town (Rishone’s favorite) at Betty’s. This was me thinking about Rishone through meant much more to him than me giving him another kitchen gadget.

Betty’s – Rishone’s birthday 2015

This is such an important concept for everybody to understand! Because when we truly love someone, we want to make sure that they can actually FEEL and experience that love from us. So in order to do that, we have to speak THEIR language.

So I encourage you, take some time to better understand what your love language is as well as the love languages of the people you care about most. If you’re not sure where to start, you can try taking the official Love Languages Quiz and sharing it with the others you care about to take as well.

Once you better understand your love language as well as your significant others, parents, siblings, or friends love languages, now you can start taking action!

Let’s say you naturally like to give gifts, but your best friend who is going through a hard time with their job or their family actually receives love through acts of service. Maybe you bring them their favorite meal so it’s one less than that they have to worry about that day.

Or let’s say that you naturally give those you love words of affirmation, but your mom would actually most benefit from quality time with you. I’m sure it would mean the world to her if you gave her a call to schedule some time together even if it’s just doing something simple like taking a walk or doing a puzzle together.

Check out his chart for more ideas on how to show love for each love language:

When we start speaking in others love languages, our relationships get stronger. This certainly does take effort – don’t get me wrong. But if you love them, it’ll be worth it.

I want to hear from you! What is your love language? Does it differ from your significant other or the other people your closest to?

Story Time with Rishone – DON’T Mistake The Strong for being ‘Superhuman’

We all know someone in our lives that represent a pillar that never falters. They never seem to complain, they are always there to support/encourage you throughout your endeavors, always offering a dependable helping hand, and they are always willing to give their time when you are in need. I think the term we subconsciously associate these individuals with is ‘The Strong One.’ The one that holds everything together. The one that makes you feel a sense of resolve when they are present. The one that listens to your problems, gives his/her unbiased advice, talk you off of a bridge when you are at you ends wit, and is just always there to pick you back up when you are down. 

I don’t quite know when it happened in my life, but I became ‘The Strong One’ without even being aware of it. All I know is that it happened at an early age. As the oldest sibling in my family, I am the ‘Big Brother’ to everyone or the one that is always the model of consistency. So in some ways I took on a semi-parent role at a young age where I put my sisters first above myself because my mother was a single parent who worked multiple overtime shifts to give us the life she thought we deserved.

However, over time you learn that if you don’t let family/friends live their lives without being the supporting bridge over the river mistakes that are inevitable in life, you will create a dependency for them to always seek your assistance. However, when you make that decision to focus on your own life, you realize that being ‘The Strong One’ means no one makes an effort to check if you are going through any challenges. There is not even a question that you may need an ear to vent your fears, struggles, and life frustrations. 

So over the years ‘The Strong One’ has to develop their own ways of working/coping through their own challenges without a pillar of their own to guide them through the rough patches.

Everyone marvels at the consistency ‘The Strong One’ exemplifies. They are treated analogically like professional athletes. As long as they continue to produce on the field and fulfill their entertainment duties or provide the support you need in your life in this case, you are blinded enough to not see they need support as well. They are just expected to be a machine and be light for everyone through it all. 

I remember a specific real life scenario between me and my bestfriend/business partner Susie K., where I had to explain that I wasn’t a machine and needed time to be human. Where even as a friend who knew the inner workings of how physically and mentally demanding being a chef was I still had to remind her that I was human. That I needed time to recover and decompress so I can be the Rishone that everyone knows. 

When I first started my business as Plated Soul I started it as a customized meal prep service. At one point I had quite a few clients that I made meals for on a weekly basis. That menu creating process for each client was something I thoroughly enjoyed but it was drawing energy from every part of my being to meet my extremely standards every week.

The crazy details of what that entails are not necessary to share but let’s just say from Thursday through early Monday evening I was locked in mentally, creatively, physically, and spiritually. Needless to say, at the end of every week I was so exhausted on so many levels that I wasn’t even aware of.

As you all may know, every week for the past 6 years Susie K and I meet on Monday evenings to evaluate how the week went for Musicality Central and what we needed to do to make the following week even better. That involves diving into client class experience, how to set the atmosphere, how to cater to new clients, how to cater to our regular clients, how we delivered our material, what routines were next, what workshops were next, Ad campaigns, collaborations with other businesses, email marketing ect ect… A few meetings in a row after a rough weekend cooking for my clients I realized I was becoming more and more short with Susie in these meetings. I literally had no more patience or capacity for anything not straight to the point. We would go down our to do list and I would respond with: ‘Next, keep it moving, OK solution, what is the solution or Can we get to that next week? I was unaware that I was trying to get through the meeting as quickly as possible so I could go home and decompress. Also though Susie is my best friend, she was also one of my clients at the time. I expected her to understand how tough my weekends were especially because I would tell her how taxing it was as a whole. However, most times expectations are a false sense accountability that doesn’t exist in the world of the person you desperately want to notice when you are going through some challenges. 

She would move through our meetings not acknowledging how much stress load I had just carried for 4 days straight with no breaks. With all that I was still expected to be happy, patience, and always supportive.  I was still expected to deliver a certain level, a certain standard, a certain product despite the exhausted state I was in. 

This threw me for a dead spin of emotions so I took some time to evaluate my business, life, how I existed in my world of stress, and my own part in how people treat me. Especially if my best friend was treating me the same way everyone else does during this time. 

It made me realize that you determine how people treat you. If you are real about what you are experiencing and what capacity you have to handle life then people will treat you accordingly. If you give the perception that everything is always good and you go through life like a machine then people will treat you that way. So we had a real conversation about what I was going through, took responsibility for how I was showing due to my stress load and the time I needed to decompress in order to be 100% myself. Most importantly I had to ask her to see me as a human. 

Additionally, in society male fragility is not a thing so as a male you are not expected to express your emotions, insurmountable challenges, and communicate that you are going through a hard time without looked as weak. And that you are not sure you are going to make it through. But because you have faced so many of these challenges on your own you know no matter how hard it gets, you know you have a high percentage of surviving so you hold your head down, tuck your emotions in temporarily, and you push through. 

If you have someone in your life that always seems to have it all together, that has been there for you 100% of the time, and always seems to be happy, have a real conversation about what they are going through. Now, think really hard. This Thanksgiving know that it could be your mother, your father, your sister, your brother, your uncle, your really nice neighbor, or that teacher that is always there for you. Don’t assume they are always ‘OK’ because they make life easier or more enjoyable for everyone. Care enough to ask how they are really doing. Most times it may take asking them what’s going on with them a few times for them to share but they really, really want to. You just have to treat them like they are human, like they treat you. Listen, not just to listen, but also to genuinely offer your help in anyway you can and realy mean it. Even if you don’t understand completely, ask them how you can help. Always remember how hard it is to go through your own challenges even with someone there to help you through. Imagine what someone who rarely ask for help is experiencing. Never assume ‘The Strong One’ doesn’t need help. They need you to help them take off their cape every now and then. 

Story Time with Susie – Don’t let it be too little too late

Loving people while they’re here

Have you ever attended a funeral or memorial service and thought to yourself, “what a beautiful tribute to such an incredible person… If only they were here to see it.” Unfortunately as we continue to get older, death more increasingly becomes such an apparent and inevitable part of life. But it seems that it isn’t until after someone passes that people feel led to express their love or appreciation for that person. The Facebook posts of adoration flood in, the stories of the impact that person had come to light… But the person who should really have been privy to all of those kind words is no longer with us and not able to experience that outpour of love.

This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about as we prepare to have my brother Matt’s memorial service. I remember last year when he passed, the amount of people who shared stories of their love for Matt was astounding. But he was gone and had no idea. That makes me so sad. 

Why do we wait until someone is gone to express our love for them?

Let’s do something about that. Let’s celebrate each other, each and every day.

I’m not saying that we need to have parties for people every day. But if you’re thinking about someone, shoot them a text of encouragement or give them a call to tell them you love them. Heck, maybe even send them a heartfelt card sharing a time they impacted your life that they may not know about. It doesn’t need to be a big gesture, it just needs to come from a genuine place, and I guarantee that you’ll make that person’s day.

Rishone receiving a book filled with notes of love and appreciation from his friends at his 34th surprise birthday party

If you wanna take it a step further, especially for someone who’s really important to you, take some time to think about what would make them feel loved. Maybe you can create a scrapbook of your friendship/relationship, write them a poem, or make them a meal. Or you can reach out to other people who are close to the person to collect notes filled with love that you can compile together.

Let’s start getting intentional with how we treat others, especially those who we care about most. Take it from me; you don’t want to simply wait and think, ‘oh I’ll get to it tomorrow or next week.’ No, do it NOW! Cause another day is not guaranteed.

Story Time with Rishone – Do a little, Change a lot.

I remember 20 years ago, I was in the best shape of my life. I had been living with my mom on the forgotten borough of hilly Staten Island, New York for 2 years after withdrawing from the pre-med program at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I could run 6 to 8 miles at 4am in the morning in under an hour, do my basketball workout for an hour immediately after, then get ready for work, and walk to the train station about a mile from where I lived on Seaview Avenue. I would do all of that get to my first job at KFC at 8am to prepare for the store opening at 10am. 

Yes I know, I know, that sounds crazy, but what makes it even crazier is that when I got home at about 8PM after my long shift, I would do 1000 push ups and 1000 sit ups in under 1 hour and 15 minutes. Even as I am typing this, it sounds like an embellishment, but the truth is I didn’t get to that level of fitness all of a sudden. Yes, youth had so much to do with it, but it took me a full year of consistency and constantly pushing my limits to do a little more everyday to get to that level. 

It took me about 4 months to go from walking 2 miles every morning to running 1 mile without stopping. I started with 20 push ups for 5 sets and the same for sit ups to get to 100 for both in under 40 minutes. Everyday, no matter how stressful it was or how tired I was, I kept waking up early and completely giving everything my body allowed me to give. Then when the workout became manageable, I would increase my run mileage by a half mile or a full mile and my callisthenic workout by 5 more reps per set. So my push ups/sit ups combo went from 20 to 25 after about a month and a half at a time. Progressively after waking up and repeating this for a full year, I reached my peak fitness as I mentioned in the beginning of this blog. 

I had never had a six pack in my life until that point. No matter how many sports I played in school(Soccer, Track & Field, Basketball, Tennis). However, after that year I saw this physical version of myself for the first time that I was absolutely proud of but it came with even more advantages. I was never more mentally sharp. I started studying to return to school again and it was just much easier. I was able to focus more, make quicker, and more educated decisions. I was never more confident, centered, balanced, and present in everything I did. 

I would have never met this version of myself if I didn’t make the commitment to get up everyday to give a little bit more to better myself. Of course this is written from a physical perspective but I benefited from so many different areas of my life. A few weeks ago I was driving in my car after a long disappointing day and instead of shutting down like I do for a short time, I told myself just to focus on getting better a little bit at a time everyday no matter how hard the day was. 
I have followed through with that since then. I have renewed my approach to each day by not setting an expectation to be perfect but approaching each day with an open mind for growth when my mind, body, and spirit allows it. Now that I am older, I listen to my body, trust my instincts and maintain a discipline that is conducive to my lifestyle.

The question is how does that help you or how does this story benefit you? Other than learning a little bit about me there is so much you can take from this. At the age of 39 I am nowhere near the shape I was as a young 19 year old but it has always been a goal to get back there. It takes me longer to recover from a full day of working out. I do not have a six pack but with a few more months of discipline I see it coming back. I am not a mentally sharp as I once was but with each day I get closer. I cannot just eat anything I want but I am learning about what fuels me better to be more productive. Needless to say, I am not exactly at ground zero but I am excited because I get to go on that journey again to get back to that version of myself 20 years later. 

If you have any goals that seem far away from where you are now, know that you do not have to achieve it in one day or even a week. Take that pressure off of yourself and just commit to doing a little bit everyday in the direction of the results you want. If it is to be physically fit, do a little everyday until you can push yourself to do more like I did above. Walk till you can run. If you want to be a better, more effective speaker then read more, and find opportunities to speak as much as possible. If your goal is to become a better cook then get familiar with your kitchen and start with some easier recipes till you can tackle the harder ones. If it is to learn how to dance, find a dance class or find dance ciphers where you can learn from or learn how you can work to get a little better everyday. Get up everyday with that mindset and I guarantee you will figure out how to accomplish anything you truly want for your life. That’s my message for this blog. If you do a little every day it has the potential of changing so much unexpectedly. 

Story Time with Rishone – Wrong is on the way to being right

I wake up every day looking forward to doing something the wrong way. I know that may sound abnormal to you but I get anxiously excited to know that I didn’t get something right the first time or the 10th time I tried it. Why? because I have become more accommodating emotionally with the journey of learning, making mistakes, truly understanding why I made that specific mistake, coaching my emotions, developing a solution to continue learning, and celebrating each step that is closer to the finish product that I see in my mind. Finally, knowing that each opportunity I get to improve slowly removes the ignorance and the unknown factors of life that fuels inactivity or progress. 

Still to this day, I shrink in my confidence when trying something new due to the programming of perfectionism that we all struggle with but there is apart of me that now knows how to flourish in the unknown when faced with learning something new. This was not the case when I was younger but now I proceed almost automatically beyond excited to walk through that fog of uncertainty in front of me. 

I have spent so much of my life scared in fear of what is next that life decided to teach me to become a superhero to save me from myself. Life has showed me that it doesn’t matter what is next, you have to live full in the version of who you are now and continue to work on who you will be tomorrow.

It sounds like such a cliché, but most of the time we are numb to our own processes or routines that dominate how we function daily. This lack of awareness tends to block our own progress depending on how long it takes of to recognize it and then actively try something different. Being wrong is not we like being so we mask our efforts in knowing it all and being right. 

I know that who I am has been groomed by 3 people throughout my life.

My grandmother is my reflection of the unconditional love I have for everyone and all living things under the umbrella of what God intended. So I don’t take any moment or any involved in an experience for granted. That enables me to respect and support others on their own journeys. 

The way I monitor my routines and patterns is a reflection of my uncle. He represented accountability and emotional intelligence in my life. How to quickly get results through analyzing my actions, take responsibility for them and making small adjustments that creates new opportunities to learn. He is also the reason I am solution focus. I don’t identify a problem without providing a solution. So I look at failures and mistakes as opportunities to try something new that I never thought was even possible for me. 

My mother taught me how to live, laugh, and enjoy myself in the process no matter how hard life gets. Indirectly she taught me to work hard but also find the time to enjoy the fruits of my labor. So as it pertains to this blog even when I am wrong I am accountable but because of her I don’t take myself too seriously because I know I am learning and that is always ongoing. 

We are so incredibly hard on ourselves in new learning experiences but here is what I want you to take from this blog. So often we make one mistake and then get so discouraged that we convince ourselves that this new experience may just not be our thing. 

However, I employ you to consider some of my influences in life. Try your hardest when you go after something new. Be present and intentional while in the process of learning. Truly find ways to love your selves and everyone involved in the process like my grandmother taught me. Be accountable for your mistakes because it creates space for you to work on understanding yourself like my uncle taught me. Additionally, take your progress into consideration, no matter how small it is, while simultaneously respecting/separating the progress of others without comparing yourself to them. Lastly enjoy every moment of your successes and failures, like my mother taught me, so you grow more from the journey. That makes the destination that much sweeter. 

Story Time with Susie – Living Life with Intention after Loss

This past weekend was full of life, celebration, sadness, joy, tears…. I turned 30 years old this past Sunday. However, the weekend was not only about celebrating my birthday, but also remembering my brother Matt who died last year, just 3 days before my birthday. He had just turned 34 years old. I can without a doubt say that last year was the toughest time of my life. There was so much grief, sadness, and anger that came from this loss.

But as with most horrendous and life-changing events, it helps to put things in perspective. After starting the process of working through the initial emotions of his passing, I began to be more intentional about my thoughts day to day and how present I am in each moment – being sure to intentionally feel gratitude each and every single day.

So fast forward to this year – A year after his passing – myself alongside of my family made sure that we held space for us to feel the pain of him not being here, but also to celebrate who he was and enjoy a beautiful weekend together. My sister came in to town from Seattle as did my brother and his family from Rochester, and we spent a day doing all things that Matt would have enjoyed.

The Fam at the East Aurora Town Pool

We started the day at the East Aurora pool, which is where we spent our childhood summers. Matt LOVED water and being in the pool. That was followed by ice cream, cause… Well… We’re the Kushner family. We’re known for getting ice cream. We then made our way over to the cemetery to spend time with Matt and my Dad (such a weird but beautiful experience). Matt was ALL about family, so we finished our day enjoying each other’s company at my house and eating pizza and wings, which he always loved getting.

My sister and I at Village Ice Cream of Orchard Park

What saddens me the most is that we dedicated a day specifically to Matt, doing the things that he loved, but he was not here to experience and enjoy it with us. That just seems so wrong.

I want to start doing things to celebrate people NOW, while they’re here with me. I want to LIVE LIFE, not just to walk through the motions every day, then on my last day here wish that I had done more. Something I’ve made a priority since my Dad died almost 8 years ago, and definitely since Matt’s passing, is seeing my Mom every weekend. That and prioritizing staying active, cause when I move and push my body past its limits, that’s when I feel most alive. And I want to continue to do more of that.

Life is short. It truly is what you make of it. We can’t control a lot of things, but we can control our perspective on each day, so I encourage you to find gratitude in each and every day. (There’s always something to be grateful for, even on bad days.) I hope you move towards the things that make you truly happy and spend your time with the people who matter the most. Tell the people you love that you love them while you can. 

If this blog inspired you at all to take action to move towards a more intentional life, let us know in the comments a step you are going to take today to move in that direction. ♥️

Story Time with Susie – Finding My Purpose

We’ve all been there… Asking ourselves, “What’s my purpose?”

I don’t know about you, but it’s always seemed like such a big question, almost too big to even try to find an answer.

But I’ve recently realized I was making it too complicated. By simplifying it, I was able to find my purpose. Figured I’d share my revelation, cause I know I’m not alone in my quest to figure out what the heck I’m doing here.

I’m just gunna get right to it.

Your purpose is NOT your career. If I could boil it down to one thing, it’s the IMPACT you have on the people and world around you.

So how you have or create impact? You do that by BEING YOU – Your most genuine and authentic self, in all situations. Maybe it sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth.

Before you can “be yourself,” you have to know yourself. Who are you? If no one  or nothing else was there to influence you and your decisions, how would you live? Take away all the “shoulds” that we hear from our friends, our parents, society…. Start paying attention to what truly makes you happy at your core, and move towards those things!

This may be where we start talking about career paths. I know I said your purpose is not your career. And I stand by that. However, we are meant to be our authentic selves, and with that, we all have our own passions. Things that truly light us up inside. And when we do those things, we tap into our true selves. So whether it’s your career, or your other day-to-day activities, I encourage you to follow your passions, regardless of what other people say or think. Because your passions are where YOU LIVE.

Which then brings us back to living in your purpose.

Let me give you an example based on how I understand this in my current life.

I LOVE dance. It’s where I feel at home and most like myself. Sometimes I can’t even handle the different emotions I feel when I watch dance because it’s so overwhelming to take it all in. But dance is NOT my purpose. It’s my passion. When I create routines, perform, or even simply watch someone else who also has a true passion for dance, I shine from the inside out. My whole being lights up. You know when you’re around someone who just loves what they do? You can feel their passion for life. Those are the people that you gravitate towards because you can tangibly feel the energy beaming from them. That’s because when we live in our passions, the right people are able to authentically connect. Our vibe attracts our tribe, right? #facts

But what if you could live your purpose through other day-to-day life activities, not just through the “big” activities such as dance? I’ll give an example.

You’re walking through Wegmans, and you see this woman who has an adorable haircut. You immediately think, “oh my gosh, her haircut is so cute.” And you have a thought of sharing that with her. But you stop yourself. You don’t want to look weird or feel awkward. And then you think, “no, I should tell her.” But then you stop yourself again. And then alas, the moment has passed, she’s now in a completely different section. In that scenario, you stopped yourself from being you because of some weird societal thing that makes us feel uncomfortable making a connection with someone in passing. But for all you know, maybe that compliment was exactly what she needed to hear that day. Maybe she’s going through some family health issues, and just that little compliment would have lifted her spirits.

Again, living your purpose has everything to do with you allowing yourself to be truly you, in every and all moments. So stop caring what other people think about you! I know, easier said than done. But it’s the truth. The more we can stop caring about what others think and what you “should” or “shouldn’t do”, and we start living in a way that makes us truly happy, that’s where the impact comes in. Whether it’s in a small interaction with a stranger at the grocery store, or it’s through you letting your light shine through your passions.

If you’re still not sure what your purpose is, start taking note of the things that make you happy. Do you love dogs? See if there’s a way to spend more time around dogs. Maybe volunteer at a dog shelter. Start a side business of walking other people’s dogs. Heck, just go hang out at a dog park. Notice how you react and respond to being in those scenarios, surrounding yourself with the thing you love. You start feeling like yourself again. You start feeling ALIVE! And you know what, the dogs and other people there with you will be able to feel the energy of your true self, which encourages them to be their genuine selves.

My biggest takeaway – The world doesn’t need me to be like my mom, my sister, Rishone, Beyoncé…. The world needs me to be ME!!

So get comfortable with being unapologetically you! Screw what other people think. When we are our true selves, the right people come into our lives and this ripple effect of positivity happens that can’t help but spill out into everywhere we go. And THAT is us living our purpose.

If you want to hear more on this topic from both myself and Rishone, check out our latest Mindful Monday video on Facebook or Instagram.

Drop a comment below if this resonated with you at all or if you had any of your own revelations about what it means to live in YOUR own purpose. We love to hear from you!

Story Time with Rishone – The Year in the Rear View

Most of us would prefer Will Smith’s character from MiB, Agent Jay, to remove his neuralyzer from his black tailored coat pocket, put his cool, dark shades on, adjust the time knob to 1 year, instruct us to stare into the blue light as it flashes and wipes our memory of everything that took place right after the ball dropped for 2020. Then with an assertive demeanor explain to us that “2020” was a bad movie that shouldn’t have made it to the theatre but we all had to see it to prepare for a better 2021. However, as much as we desperately want 2020 to be a movie, it’s not, and looking at it in review is the only way to pave a new less traumatic experience for the up coming year.

We all started the year like any other. The 10 second count down started as our eyes focused on the digital numerical transition, 2020 made its way into this reality like the bride of Chucky. LOL, smh, ok, okay, I promise I’m done with all the movie references. 

2020 was a year that completely took us for a emotional roller coaster ride that never seemed to deliver the hands up and hair blowing in the wind exhilarating experience we were looking forward to. After the first 2 months of resolution setting and forgetting, Covid-19 made us see everything in the world a little different. It made jokes of our plans and laughed in the face of what we once considered normal. Due to that fact, we can no longer live each day as unconsciously unaware of everything that created headlines in 2020. 

First of all, so many of us lost members of our family that meant the world to us. As emotional beings we empathize with you and want you to continue to live even if it is hard without that person you valued so much.

Susie lost her brother during this time and I lost 3 family members (2 uncles and 1 sister in law). To be fair none were because of Covid-19 but for those who lost a family member, a friend, or a coworker to the virus or any other causes of death we empathize with the hardships you experienced in trying to be present for their last moments and facing all the emotional hurdles as well as pit falls you faced in properly laying them to rest. We know a gap already exist in your life because of it and it didn’t help to wrap it in feelings of frustrations out of your control. So we send our love and support for what you endured because of it and moving forward with your own life. 

For those that lost their jobs, their careers, their businesses, we empathize with you as we understand the fear and feeling of hopelessness you experienced not knowing how you would pay the rent much less feeding yourself or even worst your families. If you survived those 6 months of uncertainty and is experiencing something close to that again, we want you to know that it will be ok. As gloomy and as far fetched as a recovery looks beyond the horizon, the sun will rise again for you. It will take a collective effort as a family, a community, a country, a world, and a universe to recover but if even 60 percent of the world works at it we will make it through to better times. 

On the contrary, it proved to us that we can survive beyond the luxuries that we thought we couldn’t live without. It reminded us that family was more important than work. It reminded us to live life one day at a time and be more intentional about our relationships especially the one we share with ourselves. It forced us to question all the pacified truths and to seek more knowledge. It created discussions that were meant to be had for centuries on a global level about race and equality. Overall it taught us that nothing was important than the procurement of human life and that we have so much more work to make the world a place that we all can really live equally. 

As a business we failed and learned how to succeed in other ways. We became more comfortable with learning and doing. Recognizing that the only thing that held us back was ourselves and how we manage our time. We exhausted our creative energy and found joy in your support and positive feedback. Above all, we recognized that even in our struggles, and your own, we kept each other afloat because that’s what we were meant to do for each other. So we thank you for giving us smiles when were lost. We thank you for encouraging us when we didn’t quite deliver our norm. We thank you for showing up for us when showing up for your own lives was a challenge.

So Agent Jay can take his neuralyzer and stick it up his you know where, because we lived through a battle in 2020 to make it to 2021. Yes the scars still hurt, yes we lost many good souls, some of us even lost our livelihoods but we made it regardless. We survived and we are looking out onto the horizon renew, and refresh our lives. Make new goals, live more intentional, be present in every moment, and support each other through any challenges we are faced with. We are due for a reunion like Fresh Prince of Bel Air where everyone is invited, even the original Aunt Viv because difficult decisions need to be had in order to make a new prosperous path. So bye bye 2020 and hello to new 2021. We are happy and ready to meet you. 

Story Time with Susie – What being Thankful for 30 days has taught me

Can I be real with you guys? This past month has been especially challenging for me emotionally. As you may know, my brother passed away in June of this year, and my dad died back on December 31st, 2013. For anyone who has ever experienced such a loss, you may know that certain seasons, music, and smells can put you right back in that place of loss and bring the most intense emotions. It’s definitely something I’ve been experiencing as the weather is getting colder and the sky becomes increasingly darker.

But I know I’m not the only one to be feeling all the emotions these days. It’s fair to say that 2020 has certainly shed a new light on our lives. It’s unfortunate but true that hardships, and even devastation, help to give us new perspective on our lives. When we gain new perspective, this can lead us to feeling gratitude for what we do have. And I can absolutely say that the loss and pain I’ve experienced has caused me to reflect on all the wonderful things and people in my life. With that, I’ve certainly been holding on even tighter to everything that I’m grateful for, trying not to take any of it for granted.

Now if you’re not aware, Rishone and I just wrapped up the Thankful Days of November, where each day this past month, we put up a story on Instagram sharing something specific that we were thankful for from that day.

Here are my 3 main takeaways of things I learned about this process and myself over these past 30 days of intentionally expressing gratitude.

  1. Sometimes thinking of things that I’m grateful for don’t always come quick or easy. Now I know that I am a very blessed person. I have everything that I need and more. Not to mention I have an incredible support system through my family and friends. But at the same time, I realize that thinking of something specific that I’m grateful for on any given day doesn’t always come naturally. On some days, it really took several minutes of deep reflection to land on something to share. But what that tells me is that I need to do this more often. It has to become a practice, just like anything else – Expressing gratitude is a skill that we can grow through practice. And that’s exactly what I plan on doing moving forward; I plan on restarting my daily, written gratitude practice.
  2. I had many challenging days that I felt heavy and down overall. On those tough days, I realized that it can be really hard to think of things that I’m thankful for. But those are the days that it’s most important to be in a state of gratitude. As you force yourself to reflect on the wonderful things in your life from that day, it naturally pushes you into the direction of a better mood. So even when you don’t want to feel grateful, just do it.
  3. When I’m grateful for someone else, I should tell them! First off, it always feels good to genuinely compliment someone else and express gratitude for them. Second, you will instantly lift the other person’s mood, especially when you’re specific about why you’re grateful. And the world needs more of those high vibes these days.

With all of this being said, for anyone wondering how I’m doing emotionally these day…. I’m not gunna lie, it’s still an everyday struggle. But actively working on feeling and expressing thankfulness on a regular basis has definitely helped.

We hope that you were able to take part in our Thankful Days of November, and that you can use this past month as a launch pad to push you forward with your own gratitude practice. Whether it be something you write down, share on social media, think in your head, or tell someone else… We encourage you to make this a practice for yourself. Like I said above, this is a skill that the more you do it, the easier it’ll come to you and the less you need to actively think about it. Cause I don’t know about you, but I definitely want to get to a place where I simply live in a state of gratitude and that’s my vibe throughout the day. Who’s with me?

Let us know in the comments what you thought about our Thankful Days of November! And if you didn’t get a chance to participate with us last month, let us know if you have a gratitude practice you’re working on.