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This is 35

Updated: Aug 20, 2020

If I had to sum up the journey to 35 in just one phrase, it would be that LIFE GOES ON......and fast too! Sheesh! Make sure that you’re going on as well or life will trample all over you.

I decided to take a moment to reflect on the journey to 35....the highs, the lows and everything in between. For those who don’t know, I’m from the DMV, but currently residing in LA County. I’m a wife, mom of two, a Project Manager by day, a business owner - s/o to DCLA Productions, LLC, and a fitness enthusiast. Now I guess we can add blogger to that list! I intend to share transparent moments in each of these categories so near and dear to me, and hope to relate to many of you along the way while allowing my transformation to inspire you. I will be providing tangible steps in goal setting whether it be launching your own business, goals of home ownership, fitness, financial, relationship goals, or simply self improvement.  

In the last year leading up to 35, I began experiencing severe anxiety about what my legacy would be, questioning whether I was doing enough, wondering if retirement at 50 would still be feasible, and so many other uncertainties. I started thinking that I should have more things set up by now. They say most millionaires have seven streams of income. I started looking around, and I only had four. Y’all, the freak out was real! Lol This is why my husband is so vital in my life because he knows how to hear me, understand me, and still talk me back into reality. He said “babe, I understand how you feel and we’re gonna keep working hard towards all of our goals, but I need you to stop for a second and recognize the fact that you’ve done A LOT. I don’t know one person who knows you and isn’t proud of all you’ve accomplished.” He was right. There is nothing wrong with striving for more, but there also isn’t anything wrong with enjoying where you are! 

It’s been a pretty interesting journey getting here, but so glad I made it. Equally as important, I don’t look like what I’ve been through, although I do have my scars. Scars are beautiful though because they remind us where we’ve come from and how strong we actually are in those moments of uncertainty. For starters, my mother was on drugs and in and out of jail my entire childhood. My biological father was murdered when I was just six months old. My dad (the only father I’ve ever known) was a great guy who just couldn’t seem to lay off the bottle or keep a job. He spent most of his best years chasing behind my mother and dealing with her addiction. If you can follow the picture that I’m painting, that leaves a lot of room for neglect for the children involved. As life would have it, I’d lost them all by the age of 28. 

Quite frankly, we witnessed things that no child should, ever. My sister just texted me something recently about a reoccurring nightmare that she’s been having, stemming from a childhood event. I use to have nightmares all the time, to the point, that my uncle or granny would throw water on my face to wake me up. They always centered around finding my mom dead. I think I always knew that she wouldn’t have a super long life, just by the pace in which she lived. However, the way it all actually unfolded was completely different than any nightmare I had, and the timing couldn’t have been more unexpected. 

I can distinctly remember being five years old and waking up to nobody in the house besides my one year old sister and myself. We were in York, PA at the time so I would call my grandma, who would call the police, then they would come pick us up, and take us to my Aunt Pat’s house. At some point, I just stopped calling. I started getting up, warming her bottle, and changing her diaper myself. I recall that time frame as the first period in my life having to make a decision. Most people probably learn that lesson much later in life, but being able to recognize and identify that was pivotal in me unpacking so much. That season was pretty short lived because my granny wasn't having it. She picked me up, brought me back to MD, put me in counseling, and made every accommodation that she possibly could. She is God’s gift to me in this life, I’m sure of it. Anyone who knows what it's like to watch a loved one suffer from drug abuse knows how emotionally draining it all can be. It's literally a roller coaster ride that you didn't ask to get on, but you're locked in and there is no real option to get off. You just pray one day it finally stops and everyone makes it off safely.

My family hails from Southeast DC, though many have now found their way to PG County, MD. I represent both equally and proudly. I was born on Trenton Place in SE. That’s where my mom grew up and my family still has very strong ties to the people from there. I spent the majority of my childhood in Anacostia although I bounced around a lot. We were true city kids, taking Metro since 4th grade, commuting from school in NE back to home in SE. To be exact, it was two trains, one bus, and a three block walk, going and coming. My grandmother raised me with the help of our village, which consisted of my aunties and uncles (my mother's siblings).

By high school, we were situated in PG County. By that time I was just realizing that MD kids had buses that picked them up from in front of their homes, or at minimum, within their neighborhoods. Talk about floored! So you mean to tell me that every American child does not travel the underground railroad to get to school?! Lol Anyway, I went to Suitland High School and then NC A&T State University. I am a proud Ram and an Aggie for life! #AggiePride

I identify freshman year in high school as another critical decision making point. Because I already had college goals in mind, at that time believing it was my ONLY option, I was intentional about the company I kept. I won't say that college is an absolute necessity to build the life you want, but it was definitely the best/most impactful four years of my life! I’d discovered the importance of surrounding myself with those that I could draw from. I've never really been interested in any friendship or romantic relationship with someone who had nothing to offer.....except that one time.....ok, I digress. For the most part though, my relationships had to have meaning and I had to find value in it or else it couldn’t hold my attention. That said, because of that intentionality, I acquired so many dope go-getters as friends along the way.

I am proud that a little brown girl that comes from what I come from can have personal friends that are doctors, lawyers, accountants, educators, engineers, administrators, analysts, nurses, entrepreneurs, you name it. This is the picture I'd worked to develop for my kids. I’m proud that they can grow up witnessing this first hand and it being completely normal. I didn’t have that. I found it wasn't just about being intentional in my thought process, but also positioning myself to make my goals actually attainable, despite any circumstance. My high school friends were the reason I even got to visit colleges. They were going on college tours with their parents. I knew we didn’t have a ton of money and I was also a first generation college graduate, so there wasn't much guidance available for me. I just started inviting myself with their families. I did that so much that eventually, I got my own college tour all up and down the East Coast without the typical price tag that would usually come with it....because I didn’t have it at all! Lol 

My journey has been quite different than most of those around me. The cards weren’t dealt in my favor. However, the beautiful thing in ALL of this, and what I really hope comes across to each of you, is the message of resilience, tenacity, strength, courage, endurance, and unique beauty. I say unique because my journey doesn’t have to look like yours to still be beautiful. For me, it’s extremely beautiful and shaped me into the well-rounded woman that I am today. Most people don’t encompass my view of the world, on life, on complex issues, on people. I consider that a strength of mine. My belief in myself is second to none because I’ve experienced the beauty of it being just ME and GOD, that’s it! I’ve experienced his covering and favor in so many instances that cannot be explained otherwise. Literally no other explanation makes sense.

I know that I was chosen for such a time as this, to help people see the beauty in their own pain, but also to give them practical steps on how to turn their lives around, how to recognize opportunity even in struggle, or how to digest and process trying times, without allowing it to defeat you. I am a champion for the underdog and will bet my last on one every single time. I know what it means to spend the first half of the race just getting caught up on basic resources while everyone else appears to be lapping you. That gives me a distinct perspective on life and empathy and makes me relatable to all of those little girls just like me. The little one who is from the whole other side of the tracks like me, who doesn’t quite fit in with her family like me, who doesn’t know the other half of her family like me, who never got to know her biological father like me, who lost all parents early in life, like me, who had higher odds stacked against her at every turn, like me. I am you. 

Having to experience so much grief has definitely been one of my toughest things to get through. However, every single day I’m getting through it, just by putting one leg in front of the other. One thing that helps is knowing my mom had a complete transformation in the last 10 years of her life. She got to see me graduate from college and grad school, buy my first home, get married, and have my first child. What’s even better is that I got to see her graduate college as well! I got to experience her helping me with my wedding and my house buying process, every step of the way. When we first moved in, my mom was there, right beside my grandma, scrubbing all the floors down and helping me arrange furniture. I got to see her be an amazing grandmother too which was super dope. I attribute this to another crucial decision I was faced with.....forgiveness. Look how much we both would've missed out on if I held on to all that pain and anger! 

I share these things only to say, God can use anybody! He used my mom and he is still using me. I’ve realized that so much of what I’ve had to overcome was not just for me. It’s so much bigger than me. In fact, I’m really not that important in the whole grand scheme of what God is planning to do through me. I’m only a vessel. S/O to all my generational curse breakers! It ain’t easy, but somebody gotta do it. 

The biggest part of overcoming anything is mindset, which in turn influences better decisions. Before you know it, you have different people around you, in a different environment, living a totally different lifestyle than what you ever deemed possible. You can be a victim, or you can use pain to find passion that fuels purpose. Basically, in the words of Prophet Future, are you gonna cry in the Phantom or the Nissan? Lol The very same things that I’ve grieved, have given me vision, drive and courage. 

When people ask how I got so into fitness, the answer is simple. My parents died at young ages from things that could’ve been prevented. I never want to do that to my children for as much as I can help it. People ask me where my motivation and drive comes from often. I think it's fueled by coming from the mud, having no other option but to make things happen for myself. When they ask how I maintain a successful marriage, I have to acknowledge the fact that I grew up attending parent/teacher conferences without an actual parent, ever. I use to always look around and count my classmates that were there without their parents. I was usually the only one or one of two. Those things make you strive a little harder to provide the two parent household that you never had.  

Legacy is so important to me. When we leave this earth, we can’t take any materialistic things that we’ve acquired. We can only leave impact. What is important enough to you to trigger your drive? What can you not live without? What do you want your legacy to be and what are you willing to sacrifice for it? What makes life worth living if God calls you home today? Figure that out and the rest just sticks, I promise you. Pray for vision and clarity and don’t make a move until you hear from God. You’ll have to quiet the noise surrounding you long enough to do so. If you’re looking for the easy way out, I’m here to tell you, there isn’t one. I’m also here to assure you that anything you want is attainable.  

I went from losing my entire life's savings investing in my business (told you I'd risk it all for the underdog lol), to gaining it all back triple fold. From begging venues to give us a shot, to being paid well to operate in dozens of venues across eight different markets. From failed phony friendships, to developing many more solid and authentic ones. From living in the hood, to owning property in super suburban LA County. From a marriage on the brink of divorce, to a rejuvenated life-long love affair. From watching my mom struggle with drug addiction, to watching her graduate college. From watching my fragile baby girl fight for her life, to watching her boss the entire house around. From struggling to find a job, to managing an operation of more than 2,500 people. Do NOT tell me what I cannot do. I don't buy it for myself, and I don't buy it for you either! I know that at ANY point, the tables can and will turn. I know that nobody is ever counted out. I believe that every action has a reaction, and every decision should be intentional. But I also know that even when you screw it all up, what's FOR YOU is still FOR YOU.

If I had to sum up the journey to 35 in just one phrase, it would be that LIFE GOES ON......and fast too! Sheesh! Make sure that you’re going on as well or life will trample all over you. I’m so excited to share so much with you! We’re gonna go deeper into some of the topics raised in this introductory post. Also, let me know what topics you’d like to hear from me. Additionally, we’ll be doing some fun videos, some Q&As, some workouts, some interviews.....just all around fun stuff! So come on and Chat with Chelle......if you will:) 

With Love,

-Michelle L. 


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