Grace Beat Grind in 2017

Can you believe 2017 is coming to an end in a few days? What a year it has been! 

As bad as things may seem in the world, if you're reading this - you've made it and that's more than enough to be grateful for. 

This has been a really good year for me. Did I get everything I wanted and planned for? No. But by God's grace I received more than I asked for.

Two of my favorite scriptures in the Bible are:

Ephesians 3:20; "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us." 

Matthew 6:34; "Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."

These messages basically sums up my 2017. I started the year with a very detailed, bullet'd set of goals. Things I had to accomplish in order to feel progressive and good about myself. I don't do as most, and put away my list by the end of January - I kept it posted on my office and bedroom wall. Every quarter and each month I did action steps to make sure everything was going according to plan. I had accountability meetings with my sister and mother and we encouraged each other to push forward. I was focused, determined and on the GRIND. And just to make sure God was on board I fasted and prayed at the beginning of the year. Setting my list of details before the Lord - essentially giving Him my plan for my life (side-eye). I was ready! 

The year started out good. I had recently (November 2016) parted ways with an ex-boyfriend. I was at peace with that decision and told God I didn't want to date anyone for at least 6 months. Relationships and/or dating were not on my goal list, no judgement to anyone who does plan for love, I just don't. Anyway, I was good and taking life one bullet point at a time. Until March, when the bottom sort of fell out from under me. See, many may not know this but I still have a day job. I shouldn't, but I do. One day I'll write about keeping a day job when God doesn't want you to but that's not the burden of this post. In March my job gives it's yearly reviews. I was super excited about mine because I had really worked hard (GRIND) in 2016. I got a bunch of accolades etc for my work, so I know I was going to crush this review. Except for one thing, back in February, a month earlier, I got in a heated disagreement with one of my sales persons. She's a nice lady but when it comes to her bottom-line she tends to only think of herself, it's my job to think of the brand and team. I'll spare you the full details but my boss heard about it and it was just not good with us from that point on. I didn't stress it too much as it related to my review because; 1) that happened in 2017, this was a 2016 review. 2) I had receipts to verify my awesome 2016. Fast forward to March, my boss and I are sitting across from each other. I noticed my review form was blank but didn't think into it too much. She sits back in her chair and says, "well Undra, I just don't think you did your job well, so we're going to not give you a raise or bonus this year...". That statement took the complete wind out of me. Not so much about the money, I was making more than the bonus in my business anyway, but that fact that I put in the work and we both knew it! The feeling I felt sitting across from her can only be described in comparison to getting robbed. If you've ever been mugged (I have), you feel empty and violated. Like you're looking for something to grab onto emotionally, but can't. We went back and forth a litter bit but to be honest I was in shock, so I didn't have much of a comeback. I went home that day and cried myself to sleep. The next day, I got DRESSED (lol - it's my amour) got to work and printed every email from 2016 where I was commended, praised and encouraged for my great work - it was 19 separate emails total (over 100 pages when printed). I had a follow-up meetings with the VP of the company, HR and my boss - the short of it is, the battle (for me) ended in September when my boss told everyone, "I don't know why I feel she didn't do a good job, I need to think about it and get back to everyone" I haven't heard anything since - It's Dec 27th. I'm telling you this long story for a few reason, first, the experience changed my life. The experience brought me to the feet of God, in an entirely new way - I was emptied. I have never really been emotionally emptied before, I always had something to "give" or tell God. Secondly, around this same time the hashtag #blackwomenatwork was popular and this is my story too. Yes, my boss is a white woman. Yes, the salesperson is also a white woman. Yes, I'm the only black face on my team. Yes, the HR person and VP who essentially did nothing are both white. The popularity of that hashtag gave me a little life and made me feel less alone. It was divine timing (God can use who or what ever He wants). I can write a book (I won't) on the perils of #Blackwomenatwork but that also is not the burden of this post. God allowed that incident to empty me so his GRACE could take over. 

In May, almost 6 months after I broke up with my ex, I met the love of my life. We actually met 3 years earlier but i didn't like him. He would call me once a year, every year - this time I agreed to go to dinner with him and it was as if my eyes were opened to this amazing man. He admitted he'd made some changes in his life as well. Whatever it was, we have been inseparable ever since - GRACE. 

In August, I had designed an entire collection with the hopes of showing during NYFW. I had a meeting with Brandice, the CEO of Harlem's Fashion Row and did a presentation of my collection. A few days later I got an email that I wasn't ready and maybe next year. I literally thanked them for their time and thanked God for whatever the lesson was in the rejection - I did not fret or stress. In September, 6 days before the show. I got an email that someone had dropped out of the show and if I wanted I could be in. When I spoke with Brandice, she literally said to me "girl God must want you to be in this show because everything is falling into your favor". My team pulled together an entire NYFW show in 6 days. It was AMAZING. The collection received praise on Essence, NYT, Fashion Bomb Daily, The Root, Fashionista, Hello Beautiful, The YBF, Getty Images and so many more. It was more than I imagined the experience would be - GRACE. 

Then in November I got another email asking to be a part of a design collaboration that will change my business forever. I can't speak on it now (confidentiality agreements and such) but it's the literal manifestation of Eph 3:20 - GRACE

This year I also launched Well Read Inc, a children's subscription box that provided culturally relevant books to African-American children ages 3-12. This was truly GRACE because it was totally outside of my comfort zone, but the Lord put it in my head and heart to start it. Well Read is ending the year in the black (woohoo) - GRACE. 

I can positively say GRACE beat out GRIND in 2017. So much so I've been having a hard time deciding if I should even do goal for 2018? I recently listened to a podcast by Think & Grow Chick - Grace vs Grind, it's so bomb and packed with gems, I had to listen twice! The main take-away for me was that it's okay to plan and work hard but we have to leave room (a lot of room) for GRACE. Similar to the faith and works concept. God can do anything, use anything or anyone to grant you your hearts desire but we have to put Him first (Matt 6:33).

I have decided to make some goals for 2018 - mostly around my health and well-being. I want to move and buy another home, start another business, grow UCNY and Well Read, publish my children's book series I wrote in 2013...and just grow in every way that God needs me to grow in order to be truly of service to Him. Society make us (especially Black women) feel that we have to "hustle", "grind", be "team NO Sleep" all the time - it's a lie. Because of GRACE I'm going into the new year with peace, feeling accomplished, guided and loved!!!!

Happy New Year Everyone!!!!