My husband and I are quickly approaching our one year anniversary and I cannot believe it!!! It’s so beautiful to me when I talk to friends who desire to be married and have a beautiful sparkle in their eye, signifying their hope toward one day experiencing a covenant love all their own. It reminds me of when I was her and she was me.
I remember having a conversation with a married friend years ago (she has been married for over eight years and my now husband and I were dating for three at that point). I said to her “I can’t wait to experience the beauty of marriage!” Her response was simply a soft-spoken response, “It’s not what you think it will be.” I immediately thought this:
Wow. Why would she say that? What does that mean? Maybe experiences allowed her to become jaded, but I will not allow them to get me to that place. I will never speak that same words to a woman dreaming and hoping for her time and season of marriage.
Now, almost 5 years later… I am meeting my dear friend for lunch as a married woman, almost one year in— and I get it. I get her beautiful, honest, yet graceful response to my inexperienced perspective. Her words years ago prepared planted a seed of remembrance for me.
When I think of her statement now, I ask for forgiveness for the judgement; I pray for her continued strength as a wife and mother; I pray for myself, that I may grow into that level of grace within my own marriage; and I remind myself to be gracefully honest with the women I love so dearly who desire to follow the same path.
Marriage is absolutely beautiful. It also requires an act of selfless love that we’ve never experienced before. Parenthood is an agape love through nature and nurture. When dealing with two grown adults, the act of agape must be learned and developed over time. I’ve so thankful for her love toward me to tell me an open truth, and I want to encourage other beautiful women with the same level of advice.
As you dream of your upcoming marriage that you’ve prayed for fervently, also pray for grace to see His creation through His eyes, and not your own. Our vision is flawed but His is the view of beauty that we desire.
Corporate America is full of great opportunity and deep land mines. As you climb the corporate ladder, it’s critical that you learn the career pitfalls through shared wisdom instead of personal experience. Although experience is the best teacher, learning from others can help you miss the mistakes and mishaps that could be avoidable.
Here are five words of wisdom that were passed on to me from career mentors and professionals:
- Stop asking if you can have it all. Men have been doing it for years, so the question is unnecessary. Just go after what you want and just do it.
- Balance is not only important but it’s necessary. Don’t spend so much time investing in work that you forget the ones and things that truly matter.
- Attire does matter so dress for the job you want, not for the job you have.
- If you’re in the midst of a difficult conversation via email, it’s best to type your response and hold off on sending it.Walk away or come back to it later in the day to review the draft.This will allow you the opportunity to ensure the appropriate tone and response. When in doubt, save draft.
- Do not participate in gossip. Simply don’t do it. People that you think are not paying attention, see and hear it all and your association with the drama can become detrimental to your career growth.
What are some words of wisdom that have helped you navigate your career?
An unfortunate reality centers around the need for higher education in America and the lack of resources and support around educating students (and alumni) about student loan debt. it is the responsibility for the borrower of the student loans to learn the various outlets, payment plans, and resources available to them.
For people like me, I have both private and federally funded student loans. Federal loans are regulated by the government and often have lower rates and loan forgiveness plans for respective fields. Private loans are at the discretion of the lender and often vary through the terms and conditions within the loans.
Some people accept that student loans are a part of life and plan to pay them for the rest of their lives; I refuse to be one of them. As crazy as it sounds, I’ve always declared that I will be free from student loan debt– or all debt for that matter. As I began my journey last year, I found out some things that are truly eye-opening, and worth sharing with you.
Student loans can never be included in a bankruptcy.
Contrary to all other forms of debt, by law student loans can never be forgiven into any form of bankruptcy. They are also transferrable after death (which will be noted within the terms and conditions). This means that for some, family members and loved ones will be responsible for your debt after you die.
Private Loan interests can roll into the principal amount, and it’s legal.
When I originally signed for my loans– my collective amount for undergrad was approximately 35K. during my forbearance period after graduation, the principal grew from 35K to 55K. How in the world did that happen?! Well, during forbearance periods after graduation, the maximum amount of interest accrues on the loans. Once your forbearance period is over, the lender can transfer your interest amount to the principal, essentially securing the payment of that interest for that time given. The worst thing anyone can do is continue to place student loans in forbearance when they have the funds to pay them. It will only hurt you in the long run.
Co-signers can be released.
After you have paid your loans for some time and have made on-time payments, borrowers can request the lender to release the co-signer from the responsibility of the loan. There are quite a few required steps to make this happen (like an age requirement, credit check, proof of income, etc.) but it’s worth investigating. Im sure the co-signer will be grateful.
Loan consolidation is not always best
With student loans, borrowers can consolidate (also called refinance) student loans ONE time during the lifetime of the loan. Most decide to do that to minimize the multiple interest rates, which can ultimately lower the monthly payment. For those who want to pay the loans off before the expected term end date, loan consolidation may not be best. Why? With a large loan amount, it’s much harder to pay that off vs. multiple small loans. It’s easier to see a “light” at the end of the tunnel if you’re focusing on paying off a student loan of 10K instead of a large loan of 80K. If you go this route, always tackle your lowest loan first and use the Dave Ramsey Domino effect and move to your next loan to pay off.
Student loan debt doesn’t have to be a part of our lives for the rest of our lives (and potentially the remaining lives of your loved ones). Be proactive and get educated on the options that are available to you!
Do you have any additional tips to share?
In the corporate world, having to deal with a hostile or difficult work environment is inevitable. The longer we work with others, the more apparent our differences become. The differences are not a bad thing but how we respond to them can be. Here are the 3 R’s to practice when dealing with a difficult work environment:
- Reflect upon your actions first.
When faced with conflict, it’s easy to play the blame game. “Why are they doing this to me? What did I do to them? Because of them, I can’t.” Sound familiar? Before seeking fault, look within yourself and see what you could possibly do to bring light to the situation. Often times, people resist change and the things (or people) they don’t understand— or can most associate with. We tend to have a lot in common with the people who irritate us the most. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but its worth considering before pointing out the flaws of another person.
- Remember your WHY.
Think of all of your dreams, desires, and goals. Now think of your family and where you envision yourself being 5 years from now. What does that picture look like? Does your workplace align with that vision? If so, remember your WHY. Along with great reward comes great responsibility. The adversity is simply preparing you for the greatness ahead (the resilience you will need once you get there). This very moment is preparing your for something, don’t fight against it. Ironically, when you begin to see it from this lens– the issues with co-workers begin to disappear, simply because it’s not important. Every company has office politics; it’s our job to find the one that we can deal with while striving for our goals . If your job doesn’t align with your WHY, run quickly to find one that does. We all have one life to live– why waste time outside of purpose? The only person dictating your career is YOU. Take ownership of your title as CEO of your life– and do what you must to get where you should be.
- Rise Above
Remember, “Birds of a feather flock together; Eagles soar alone.” Even in the midst of injustice, we must push past our desire to be understood and heard– and rise above. Take the high road and using prayer and kindness as your weapon of choice. Is this hard to do? Absolutely. Is it still necessary. Absolutely. People are always watching and its often people you least expect. The ignorance, pettiness, and gossip within the workplace is not worth stepping out of character. Rise above it all.
When you’re faced with workplace annoyances; Reflect, Remember and Rise.
Do you have any additional tips for dealing with a difficult or hostile work environment?
Share your insight with us!
True Friends are worth making the effort for when life gets busy. As we challenge ourselves to live a life of intentional behavior, here are some ways to help us be more intentional with improving our friendships:
- Periodically Check-in
For some reason, many believe that effort must be equivalent to something grand, or extremely time consuming. This is not necessarily true! Effort could be as simple as a text to say hello (which can be scheduled within your phone, by the way), A kind message on through a social platform, or a brief 5 minute call. For me, life is busy! In the midst of a full time job, a full-time marriage, and full-time dreams– I am still expected to maintain my relationships to the best of my ability. Well- in Atlanta, I am not excluded from traffic! While in traffic (and using my bluetooth and voice command service in my car), that’s when I catch up with loved ones. Every Sunday as I plan for my week, I write down 2-3 names of friends and family in my planner and write down the best day to call. Writing this down helps me to remember, and it also make it just as important as all other things on my calendar. Random “thinking of you” notes are always great too!
- Learn their language of Love
We all have 5 core love languages but the rankings change for every individual! Many apply the love languages to their spouse or significant other but love languages apply to ALL relationships, including friendships. My love language is time for the majority of my relationships. However, a dear friend of mine has a love language of word of affirmation. As her friend, I choose to speak life into our brief conversations and she makes the effort to make time for us to catch up– even in the midst of her busy family life. By us taking the time to truly learn one another’s love languages, it removes any assumptions and helps us tap directly into showing appreciation for one another.
- Seek friendship God’s Way
The word “friend” is taken too lightly in many situations.True friendship takes time, tests, and success through the tests. In the Book, The Woman Code by Sophia Nelson, Ms. Nelson states the following:
“To be a “sister” is to be a friend. To be loyal. Tried-and-true. It is to give a smile, lend a hand, and practice friendship. it is to be forgiving. to be a covering, a balm, a helping hand, a fierce advocate and builder of other women. Being a “sister” means you value other woman as you value yourself.”
Being a true friend goes beyond a word and requires the act of love toward another person. Make it a point to seek God’s Word and guidance as it pertains to friendship. He will never fail you.
If you haven’t had a chance, please pick up a copy of 31 Days of Intentional Behavior, written by ours truly– STRONG Founder, Coupe Scott!!
Want to learn more about Sophia Nelson’s book, The Woman Code: 20 Powerful Keys to Unlock Your Life? Check out my recent book review and be inspired!