Overcoming Obstacles: How Climbing a 50 Foot Tree Taught Me How To Reach My Goals

This isn’t the exact tree. But it’s what the tree I climbed looked like.

Back in September, I was inducted into a class, Leadership Atmore, in which individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences and have demonstrated talent and commitment for leadership, come together to learn more about the social and economic changes that impact the community to devise a plan to help it grow. To kick it off, we spend a 2 day trip to Camp Beckwith participating in team building activities, to teach you how to learn to interact positively together with one another to overcome obstacles.The group activities were amazing and taught me a great deal of trust. I, for one, have never trusted anyone to boost me over a 10 foot wall. LOL! At the end of the day, the final obstacle we were asked to complete was to climb a tree that was approximately 50 feet and then connect to a zip line, which you would be required to jump from the elevated platform to do.

There would be 16 of us who would complete the task. And I would be number 15. Why would I be the 15th person? I’m sure this is your thoughts. First of all, I had convinced myself that it was ok for me to opt out of it. I have a terrible fear of heights, so the thought of dropping 45 feet didn’t appeal to me. Although they had assured me the protective gear that I’d be wearing, along with the lady who would “Balay” me would keep me from tragedy. As each member went up the tree, I began to think more and more that I was doing the right thing. Even when others told me that the ride was worth the climb, I still didn’t think that my feet and hands would allow me to safe climb that tree in tennis shoes and no gloves. My hands grew sweaty with every other person who finished. Then there was one teammate who continued to tell me it was what I wanted to do. So he took the harness and raised my legs to glide the harness over them. He and another teammate helped to fasten the buckles around my hips.

As I walked over to the tree, I had begin to tell myself that I could indeed do this. And there was no turning back. From the first step, to the first grab of the peg that looked like a science lab cabinet fixture, I talked to myself telling myself that I was the person to conquer this. I hurried to the top of the tree to make it to the landing. As I thru my thigh over the platform all I could hear was my breathing that was causing my chest to beat incredibly fast. As the assistant at the top secured me to the tree, and waited for the zip connector to reach us, all I could see was the tops of other trees across the forest. Once the assistance secured my harness to the zip line, she told me that I was free to jump off and repel across the forest. I kept asking her to make sure I heard her correctly. After the third time I asked her if it was fine for me to leave the platform, I paused…and told her to push me because it was the only way I was going to leave that platform. As I stopped breathing knowing that I had dropped off the platform and was now zipping through the air. I finally decided to open my eyes. I had to make sure that my body hadn’t splattered on the ground.

Once I slowed down and the guys disconnected me from the line, I walked back to where it had all began. As I walked, I could see the tree in the distance and tears began to flow down my face. Overwhelmed with emotion, the crying continued on. And my roommate came over to make sure I was ok. Looking up at my fear and knowing I had overcame it, was one of the best things I’d ever experienced. After I regained my composure, I started to reflect on the beginning of my journey and I realized that the tree climb had taught me 4 key things about myself and what it will take for me to accomplish my goals.

Obviously, this isn’t me. But the zip line that I went across looked like this, and the scenery was quite similar, as well.

#1. Think Positively With the End in Mind – The first thing I had to do was tell myself that I could do it,  and be consistent. From the very first step, I was talking to myself and positively affirming that I would make it to the top of the tree.

#2. Tune Out People – As I was climbing the tree, I remember a teammate telling me that I didn’t have to go so fast. But to take my time. I remember thinking to myself that if I slowed down, I may actually think about what I was doing and freeze mid way. So, I tuned those out and moved on to….

#3. Remain Focused: Look Straight Ahead – Although I moved steadily, I didn’t look anywhere but towards the platform, which I had to reach. I didn’t look down (back), nor to the sides of the tree. I looked straight up and suddenly I felt that I was actually walking up the tree.

#4. Will Sometimes Require A Push to Move On – There are some things in this life that you aren’t willing to do on your own. They will require a push. When I got to the platform, I had met my goal of getting to the top. But the truth to the matter is…I was going to have to be pushed to jump off of it and move on to the next thing.

When I reflect back on my life and all of my accomplishments, those 4 things above were always in place for me to reach and exceed the things I wanted to do. I’m thankful that God provides opportunities to speak to you, to give you a better understanding of what may be hindering you from getting where he wants you to be. Have you thought about what things are necessary for you to achieve your goals? I’d love to hear about them. Share your 2 cents with me….



My Savvy Two Cents


For more information about Camp Beckwith and booking a Challenge Course retreat, go to http://www.campbeckwith.org/

For information on Leadership Atmore, visit http://www.atmorechamber.com/


It’s How You Live That Matters Most

Dee Stewart, also known as Miranda Parker

Yesterday evening, I discovered that a very special person had died. Instantly after getting the news, I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. The first thing I thought was why, as if I had a momentary lapse that we’re only here for a short while. My heart was so broken. Last year when I entered the literary world, destined to sharpen my marketing skills, I didn’t realize how tough a journey it would be. And for the droves of people I reached out to for assistance in navigating this often difficult publishing game, there were only a handful that were open and eagerly willing to help.

Dee Stewart, also known as Miranda Parker was at the top of that list. She would always stop what she was doing to share what she could to help answer my questions and concerns for growing my business. Never once did she make me feel bothered by my inquiries and we started to exchange them quite often. We had talked about our dreams and goals and she was definitely determined to meet them, but enjoying the experience of it all instead of complaining about the strife. And the fact that we grew even more closer through our admiration for the incredibly handsome, Shemar Moore, which we chatted about weekly in a facebook group, further built our connection.

Dee’s life, while a quite short one on this earth, has left me with a renewed understanding of my purpose here. First, while we were initially connected to each other through our professions, there was still so much I was looking forward to learning about her and now will  never get to know. But I will definitely take the time to relax more and seek balance in the relationships I build, determined to never take the time you have to share with someone for granted. Secondly, Dee’s vibrancy was always apparent, even though she never quite reached her goals. She never stopped, nor dwelled on the things she hadn’t reached. But remained focused on the things that would get her there, all the while helping others anyway she could. Looking at my facebook timeline this morning, I know that those who had the pleasure of even interacting with her once, can attest to it. Her spirit was large and you couldn’t help but gain energy from it. Lastly, she took time to have fun. Even in our group every week, you could tell that it was little things like commentating on Criminal Minds (one of her favorite tv shows) that gave her pleasure and all of us enjoyed the fellowship, as well.

Although it has only been a little over a year, I have been blessed to know her.

While I’m saddened that she’s gone, Dee will always be missed by me and countless others. And the greatest lesson, I’ve learned from knowing her is that it doesn’t matter about when and how you die. It’s how you live the time you’re here that matters the most.

May God give comfort and the peace that surpasses all understanding to the family and all those affected by the loss of Dee Stewart.

Life is but a vapor….

The Sadness of the Madness: The 2012 Election

The countdown to the 2012 Election has brought out the worst in people, whether you support our present President Barack Obama or the Republican nominee, Mitt Romney. It’s unfortunate that many have such disdain for two men that most of us truly don’t know, nor will we ever. The disappointment really lies in those who claim to be Christians, yet feel the need to proclaim that the world will come to an end should their candidate not win. We’ve seen the videos from left and right wingers pitching part truths to try to sway a person one way or the other. Yet I haven’t seen much speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). And it’s not surprising that most aren’t making any headway in swaying others opinions one way of the other. You see, you can’t expect to be listened to if you’re hollering.

The agenda as I see for any Christian isn’t to convince others that we’re better off with one Man or Another. But bringing folks to Christ, should always be the agenda, all day every day. I’ll be completely honest. Initially, Satan had ALMOST….listen to me when I say it….ALMOST had his way with me, as I pondered over both candidates of this election. However, what I had to remember is that I AM A CHILD OF GOD. With him, despite what the outcome of this election is, I still will have all of my needs met.  I see fear as Satan’s play on us and how we handle it is indeed a true indication of how strong our faith is. Now to say that a person is going to be responsible for the end of the world, makes you a liar at least according to the scripture, because Matthew 24:36 says that no one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  Not only are those who proclaim this a liar, but clearly they consider themselves to be GOD.

When you look at both sides neither one looks appealing when you truly think about it. Both sides are ruled by fear. One’s the fear of not having money and the other is ruled by the fear of losing it. As a Christian what I do know is that four years ago, many said the exact same things….yet, here I stand and the world continues to go on.  And even when the country was presided over by who I consider the worst President that I’ve ever lived under took office, God still provided me with my needs. Last night while sitting up late, I saw a documentary style program on HGTV, entitled Living Abroad. On this show, they were showing three different American families who were living in Shanghai, China. At first thought, I had believed that at least one of the families would be living depressed considering Shanghai is Communist. However, one of the couples admitted that it was different. But still they were happy with their decision to take job opportunities there. One couple actually had a couple of kids and purchased a home and have been living there ten years. And one couple had two children and one on the way there. Yet, they weren’t tackled to the ground for stepping out their back door. Their lives didn’t feel threatened, as they spoke. All still was relatively normal and they seemed truly happy. I say all that to say, we fear the unexpected. But what we forget is that when we’re truly with God, he is with us to handle those difficult times. And in the end, we have to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, Phillipians 2:12. What I’m certain of is that regardless of what the law of the lands begin to allow, my faith isn’t going to be shaken to succomb to it. While I know certain things aren’t in accordance to God’s will, just because the laws of the land may allow it (abortion) doesn’t mean I will use it, no more than I will become a part of a brothel if I should visit Nevada. I’m diligently seeking God’s will for my life and stand firm on that.

Lastly God is Love. And he shows us just how much in the scripture, “Love your enemies. Pray for those that persecute you”. How many of you have truly prayed for the leaders, those present and incoming? Just maybe if as many prayers were sent up for them, as there are advertisements or shared posts attacking those candidates, they may actually change for the better.  Just some food for thought….

Just my Savvy Two Cents

Cricket & Honey: The Decent Start to What Could Become A Great Sequel

Cricket & Honey: The Right to Remain Silent, by Author Charles “The Storytella” Burgess

I had the pleasure of reviewing, Cricket & Honey: Right to Remain Silent, a novel written by author, Charles “The Storytella” Burgess. Now, I will be extremely honest. I don’t particularly have a favorite genre of book, and I’m quite difficult to satisfy, as I love reading all types of books, magazines, and periodicals.With that being said, my overall impression of Cricket and Honey if I were using a grading system would be about a B-.  I thought there were a few scenes in the book that I felt were quite predictable for a novel about two black females, smart, savvy, and sassy who are undercover police officers that are reassigned after taking down two very detestable men, who would like nothing more than to get their hands back on them.

Make no mistake I indeed liked the characters who reminded me of a modern day, Black American version of Cagney & Lacy, although their clearly more sexy than the former. What I didn’t exactly enjoy were those plots that I felt were based off familiar movies. (You know…what I mean? It’s like the fact that Tyler Perry used the Soul Food story line in Why Did I Get Married Too).  I understand that there’s really no original idea. However, I felt that the author could have done it in a more creative way, as opposed to easily recognizing what movies he more than likely watched, such as Seven and Faceoff.

The story is left obviously with a cliff-hanger. It seemed a bit rushed, but I’m sure that’s due to the fact that the author may be anxiously working on the sequel, which I believe could be phenomenal, should he stretch his imagination a little more to develop a story that isn’t based upon things he’s seen in movies. I think it’s a good start to what could be much, much better and I am definitely rooting for him. It would be great to finally see a sequel top the original.

My Love for TV Returns Like Dallas’ Larry Hagman

Dallas returns to TNT for a 2hr premiere on 6/13/12 at 8pm cst/9pm est.

Whew!!! What a ride it’s been and I haven’t felt this great before! While other critics have been incredibly pessimistic about the return of Dallas to TNT, after seeing the 2 hour season premiere, I for one can’t be more excited to see it’s return. The writer’s of the show do an excellent job with casting. Josh Henderson comes out of the box making you loathe him, as he portrays John Ross, JR’s son who is eager to prove his worth as a Ewing. There’s no denying, it’s in him…But there’s only one original, JR. Larry Hagman’s arise on the screen awakens me and countless others (read the tweets!) as he returns to his old ways. His energy is like it’s never left, and he’s got a ton of tricks just waiting to get out of the bag.

The other side of the coin consists of Patrick Duffy (who I’ve always loved) returning as Bobby Ewing, the more even-tempered and loveable of the late Mrs. Ellie’s sons. I have to admit I was a little skeptic when I learned that Christopher Ewing (the adopted son of Bobby and Pam) was being played by Jesse Metcalfe. But I stand corrected that he’s more than capable of holding his own against such legends.

From start to finish, I was glued to my seat and this show definitely delivered on the drama, scandal, turns and twists, that the Original Dallas was made up of. I can’t tell you how elated and excited I am to see such a positive return to great scripted television. It’s clear that the writer’s have done a phenomenal job with making sure they capture the true essence of the original show and translate it properly to these modern times. The parallels of the original to the new are definitely obvious and helps bridge the gaps from the old fans to the new ones that they’re sure to gain.

 They say everything is cyclical, so I’m just happy that Dallas’ return to television is a true sign that reality tv is definitely on it’s way out! And I for one am more than happy to see and will be making plans to be back for more Dallas next week!

The Original Dallas cast

Dedication of a Mom: Vanessa C. Rankins

Me and my mommy at age 2

There’s just no substitution for the love and dedication of a mom. So here’s my dedication to mine….

You were there…

When I spoke my first word

When I rode my first plane

When I ate a coconut cookie (that lead to the discovery of my coconut allergy) and passed out.

When I got stung by wasps after picking up a block

When my legs would lock and cause me to fall often

When I traveled back and forth to Chicago for summer vacations by Greyhound

When I rode my first horse

When I enrolled in kindergarten

On my first day to school

When I rode the bus home for the first time

When I made my first mudpie

When I got off the bus for the first time

When I walked in my first parade standing, on the sidewalk cheering me on

When I nearly died from an appendix rupture at the age of 7

For every cheerleader tryout, (which I never got:))

For every Parent/Teacher’s conference and those unexpected pop up meetings

When I got my period at a very young age and had to explain what was happening to me

When I learned how to drive (and the initial how not to drive stage, as well)

When I got dressed for my first, second and third proms:)

When I graduated from high school

When I loss my tonsils

When I obtained my Bachelor’s degree

When I received my promotion for a new job and move to Atlanta metro

When pieces of my neck was replaced

When I gained a husband

When I lost my dad

When I lost my husband

When I regained my footing

When I gained my first child

When I lost my first child

When I regained my strength

When I found my way once again…

So, I guess it’s safe to say. I can be sure of one thing…as long as there’s life in you, I can always count on you to be there no matter how major and/or minor the situation. And I appreciate and love you for it! Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

My mom and me on my first Christmas!

I was around 3 here with my mom. I’m sure I was talking her head off! Just look at her face! Haha!

Me and my mom at my Aunt Linda’s house. We were inseparable! Could you tell I love her?

Inspired by True Events…Dear Ashley!

Ashley Rena Bivins

Whew today has been a joyous ocassion, one I will never forget. I witnessed God’s inspired words when I was able to see my cousin and (honorary little sister from birth) receive her BS in Business Administration from Auburn University in Montgomery today. As hard as I tried to fight them back, I couldn’t help but shed tears up from the moment I helped her put on her cap and gown, to seeing her come out with her fellow classmates, and ultimately cross the stage to receive her degree. Emotions were so high because so much has transpired in such a short time that indeed we could see the devil’s determination to make the possible impossible. But a it is written, God is the Alpha and the Omega and he holds ALL the power!

Luke 18:27 ~ “And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”

Dear Ashley,

From the moment you were born, you held a special place in my heart. On March 2, 1990, I remember how excited I was for your arrival, and although I had asked Aunt Linda to have you on my birth date. I was still just as happy and content that it was just one day afterwards. I would spend the night over to your moms just so I could play with you. My favorite thing to do with you was play, “This little piggy” on your toes. It would make you laugh. You see, I never had a little sister that I could play with, so I instantly took to you.  It was never a chore to give you a bath or pick you up from school or my favorite, take you to the carnival. My most vivid memory is always taking you and your nephew Mark to the carnivals and riding all the big rides (but making sure I always sat at the door’s opening. So if it happened to pop open, I’d be the one to fall out and suffer the injury instead of you two). I guess you could say, I love you that much.

Anyway, I want to say that although you asked me to be your mentor when you first graduated high school. And I tried to do my best to most importantly be a positive role model for you. However, I have to say as much as I hoped to have impact your life positively. I want to tell you that you’ve inspired me so much more. I love you truly and can’t describe how much your determination to make today possible has benefited me to no end. Never ever hesitate to call on me for anything. You’re a beautiful young lady and although these last few months have been trying for you. You still overcame it. God still gave you the strength to get past it. And continues to bless us tremendously each and every day! Never ever forget that! He knows your make up. And he knows that if you have a load, it’s never to heavy for him to help you carry it.  You’re an amazing young lady and I’m so, so happy to know you and share your space. The sky is truly the limit for you! Never be afraid to just soar!!!

All my heart,

Tanisha Rankins

aka ~Tanisha’s Savvy Two Cents ~

PS. Here’s to some of the most precious memories I have with you:)

Ashley, 8, with a winner’s spirit

1996 Ashley, 6, is watching me get ready for my Senior Prom.

Fast forward 12 years and I get the honor of watching Ashley and her best friend, Candace get ready for their senior prom (2008).