Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My Golden Ticket

So, I have been searching my brain for more blog ideas and as I searched through my phone's photo album, I realized that I didn't mention attending the 2012 Commencement at Spelman College, my alma mater. I didn't know anyone graduating but at the same time, I saw myself in all of the young women receiving their degree. The best part besides supporting my alma mater, of course, was that Oprah Winfrey was the commencement speaker.

Let me give you a run down of how I received my golden ticket, who knows, it may make you chuckle! So checked my email as usual and I notice an email announcing who will be speaking at commencement and a petition to reply to the email if you would like to be considered for a ticket. I thought to myself, "Why not?" So I replied and few days later I received the confirmation email. Some people may laugh at what happened next.... But I had to sit down! My knees were weak, no joke. I was acting like I was going to meet Oprah instead of just hear her speak. This makes me wonder what will happen if I actually met her? My heart is racing just thinking about it...  Moving on.

So, I go to pick up my ticket on the Saturday prior to the commencement, which worked out well because it was Mike's 10 year college reunion weekend. So my daughters and I walked to the grounds of Spelman while hubby gathered with his old college friends over at Morehouse. I get my ticket and guard it with my life by placing it the only place I know is near, dear and secure.... my coupon holder!

Fast forward to Sunday morning...  I am feeling festive and simply because I can't help myself, I wear the customary white dress and black shoes. I arrive about 30 minutes before the doors open at the Georgia International Convention Center and the line to enter is already at the end the block!!! Doh! I get in line and stay positive. As the line starts to move, I realize that the line has almost tripled in size. Now, here is my rationale for finding a good seat: I only needed one really good seat because I went alone. It cannot possibly be hard a respectable seat. Of course, I was right. I found a seat right behind the section for the graduates. Translation: I could see Oprah without looking at the jumbo projector screens. YES, with a fist pump!

The title of Oprah's message was " Three things that I know for sure." I have listed the highlights and major points below:

  1. Knowing who you are! She said, "Ask yourself, Who am I? and What do I want?" This is tricky because a lot of times we identify ourselves by roles, responsibilities or titles. Oprah stated that this is the way to fulfill the truest expression of oneself as a human being. That's deep right!? That's the primary reason why I don't watch reality TV anymore. What kind of life am I living if I continue to let time pass watching someone else "live"? I can't enjoy things that merely entertain me. I have to strive to find activities that edify.
  2. Find a way to serve. The main tagline for this talking point is, "Your greatness is determined by your service and your significance." I thought it was extremely helpful when she mentioned branding yourself. This seems to be a prevailing theme among successful people. Oprah stated that using your product or brand to be a service to others. How will others remember you when you have been of service to them... a problem solver or problem starter?
  3. Always do the right thing. Be excellent! This talking point sounded an alarm in my head! "Let excellence be your brand. When you become excellent, you become unforgettable!" Oftentimes, in this society, everyone wants the shortcut or abbreviated path to success, stardom, wealth and fame. I always make an attempt to put my best foot forward in all situations but, at times, I have others around asking me why do I go to such lengths for even the most trivial things. Why? Because my name is on it, that's why. I told my husband recently that if he thinks that my final product of a project that I have been working on is over the top, then I should have shown him my original plans. I have tried my best to drill this into my daughters: Always try your best and do the right thing even when no one is looking because God is watching.
Oprah's closing remarks are as follows: "You will be rewarded with peace in the end. Be sure to surround yourself with people who fill up your cup and avoid "pint" people. "Pint" people are individuals that don't have much to offer you and only take from you. Periodically, ask yourself who do you want to be in this world? The answer can be found by being connected and aligned with the Source. Remember to honor yourself first. You want to the sweet life. So, even if the storm comes, this too shall pass and Grace and Glory will follow."

Monday, June 4, 2012

Our quest continues...

Amicalola Falls - That's actually a picture that I took with my camera!

Amicalola falls was the next stop on our All About GA tour, in Dawson County, GA. It was absolutely breath-taking and quite peaceful. Amicalola in Cherokee means "tumbling waters." It is the tallest cascade in the southeast at 729 feet. I have seen pictures of the falls a few times, but I had to go see it for myself.

Payton and Makenzie flexing their
muscles after climbing up 425 steps.
The drive to Amicalola Falls is about 1.5 hours from our house in South Atlanta. It is a pretty scenic drive once you make it out of the city. It is a wonderful place to go if you enjoy nature, fishing and light to strenous hiking. The hiker at every level there are a few trails to choose from. Since I have two small girls we hike the light to moderate trails and my oldest daughter, who is 5, was the trail leader. If I had to guess, I would estimate that we hiked about 3 miles. 

Payton sitting creekside
 after lunch.
We started at the middle of the waterfall and then ventured to the top of the falls. Once you climbed the 425 steps to the top, we enjoyed a picnic lunch and lingered by a babbling creek just to enjoy the weather. The weather could not have been any better, it was a refeshing 75 degrees, sunny with a light breeze. After lunch, we headed back down to the bottom of the falls to the reflecting pool. 

On the bridge over the
middle of the cascade.

Once we made it back to our car that was parked near the middle of the falls, we took the kids over to the playground. At the playground, we ran into a curious squirrel that enjoyed a goldfish that Payton dropped on the ground. Believe it or not, the squirrel waited patiently for PJ to drop another one.

All in all, we were out in nature for about 4 hours and we enjoyed every minute. Did I mention what it was only $5 to enter the park and enjoy the entire day!?

There's that crew again!

My trail leader

Friday, June 1, 2012

Mission: Summer Break!

We have had a lot of fun 3 weeks into summer break. The girls have enjoyed a puppet show, a few water days, outdoor festivals and picnics. I had a bright idea today... I should note every fun activity that the girls and I do week by week, just in case someone else needs some inspiration. I have found that my days go alot smoother when I have a schedule of activities and lots of interesting opportunities to learn something new.

So this week fresh off of Memorial day, we stuffed ourselves with an impromptu Pizza Picnic on Wednesday. The weather on Thursday called for hot weather and high humidity translation: Find some water to get into! Our first stop was story time and crafts at the library. Next, we headed over to Centennial Park for a music during the Music @ Noon series and then the girls cooled off by jump in and through the Fountain of Rings. I plan on keeping this outing in my back pocket, in case I run out of ideas or fall behind schedule for another event.

After all of my errands were complete, I rewarded the girls for good behavior with a free donut in honor of National Donut Day from Krispy Kreme. Believe it or not, we were able to pick whatever doughnut we wanted, not just one of the original glazed. We loaded back into the car and headed to the library so that Makenie and Payon could turn in their reading logs for a prize as part of the Clayton County Dream Big - Read! program.

Stay tuned for our next installation of Mission: Summer Break!