I have been super busy evolving and changing my mindset. On January 30, 2017, I made some tough decisions that propelled me to my next level. Many of you know that I have has a small business for 10 years. However, I considered it to be my part-time business.
In February, I decided to pour into my small business so it can become a major contributor into my multiple streams of income. I am proud to announce
The Resource Center has been certified as a Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) by Texas Comptroller. What does that mean? It means my business is a vendor for the State of Texas. I am also going to be a vendor of other agencies. Yes, that means I am now an employer for multiple people instead of a few.
Thanks to this awesome group, NAACP’s SMAART Incubator, lead by Mr. Allen Provost, chair of NAACP Economic Chair Committee, and Khufere
Qhamata, I am surrounded by African American entrepreneurs pitching their business ideas and plans. Khufere Qhamata, called Q, helped me move to the next level of branding myself in the publishing industry. Thanks to Q’s fabulous knowledge of the publishing business, I have my own publishing company under the umbrella of my company, The Resource Center.
Under the umbrella of The Resource Center, I have also earned my first tech client, Peoples United Summit 501c3 (nonprofit). I am their website designer. I also built their social media platforms, and I manage those platforms.
I make sure their mission and goals are visible via social media. I am helping to build their brand. I am finally a CEO of a tech company! Peoples United Summit and my company, The Resource Center, have partnered together to serve the Sunnyside Community. We are focusing our efforts on improving education in the schools and ending sex trafficking.
My partnership with Peoples United Summit has helped me see myself as a Superintendent, CEO, and an employer. It is an exciting time in my life.
I also joined this fabulous group on Facebook called Courage to Earn-The Community (closed Group with 2.3K Members). I am learning so much about using my blog to earn serious income. The women in the group are powerful entrepreneurs. More important, they support each other, and they share valuable information that is practical to use.
I have more to share, but I will stop here. I will start posting weekly blogs from this day forward. I have had a ton of false starts with other business partnerships, but they paved the way for me to reach this level in my adventure.
Well, it finally happened; I have fallen in love again! For the last 10 years, I have taught my English classes at Texas Southern University (seven years) and Worthing High School with my personal Epson projector, my Logistics speakers, and my laptop computer. Finally, when Worthing’s students and teachers moved into their new building and classrooms, we were given new technology.
I love all things tech! I loved and cherished my Epson because I paid for it out of pocket. I understood the value of having a large screen, great visuals and clear, loud audio in a classroom. Yet I could not interact with my content until now.
I walked into my new beautiful classroom and was instantly interested in playing with my SMART BOARD. No one provided training, but I did not really need it. At first, I just tried to move the screen up and down with my hands. I like making the text shrink or expand with my fingertips. I started downloading more of its software.
Gradually I began to develop strong feelings for my board. The more I played with it, the more I appreciated its capabilities. One day last month, my baby crashed. I was sick! I always incorporate tech into my lessons.
When it was working, I started playing my videos using surround sound. My computer was always locked into its docking station. Then, I was given a remote. The IT guy, Mr. Albert, reset my baby when it crashed. After the crash, I was more determined to learn more about its abilities.
I learned it has so many superpowers! I became excited; I laughed as I learned what real interaction and engagement with content meant. I quickly learned I loved my SMART Board!
Today, I am a part of the SMART Board community. I am still learning what it can do, but I love the way it makes me feel when I annotate text on the screen. I love pasting stamps. I think the spotlight is my favorite tool.
This is the beginning of a beautiful love affair. I cannot teach in another classroom without a SMART Board. When I attended a training at another campus, I passed by a classroom with a chalkboard and laughed. I did not think teachers were still using a chalkboard. I am blessed to work in a district that promotes high-tech tools.
There are a few issues with my SMART Board, but the joy I feel when it works makes me continue to love it.
I have been quiet for a couple of months. I finished my draft of chapters 3-5 of my dissertation. They almost finished me too! I started July with tons of energy and hope. I stopped any activities that would distract me from completing my goal of submitting my chapters by August 15, 2014. I stopped posting on my blog too!
I planned to submit my first draft on August 15. Well, I had to quickly adjust that date. I started typing chapter 4 and began to question everything I thought I wanted to write. Then, I committed to finishing by August 18. I went to my office at my job and worked until 11:00pm week nights; I worked all day on Saturday and Sundays. My oldest son held down the fort at home. I went without fun and money. More important, I went without support. I met with my academic advisor from Capella on August 18. After our meeting, I knew I had to finish on time. He motivated me to keep my eyes on the prize. I was exhausted and frightened. I did not know if I had organized the information correctly. I questioned if I wrote too much. I questioned how to end chapter 5 with a bang. More important, I feared I would not honor my participants’ experiences.
Ending a Relationship
I submitted my chapters on August 19. I knew my mentor was going out-of-town. We communicated via the phone and some in the courseroom. I knew I needed to make major adjustments to the Chapters 4 & 5, but I need his feedback. I was lost; I needed his guidance. I did not receive what I needed in a timely manner. In the end, there was a break in our communication. I felt devastated because I knew ending my relationship with my mentor was necessary to move ahead. I realized something as a professor from a student’s perspective. Online education requires feedback from all parties. Online education cost too much to flounder in the dark. Students have to ask for help and professors have to provide quality feedback in a timely manner. I waited until the end of the quarter before I made my final decision. Changing a mentor is a serious and scary task. I waited until I was thinking clearly before I made my request. I feel changing a mentor should be the last resort, but I believe sometimes it is necessary for survival. My dissertation advisor quickly responded to my request for a new mentor. I still like and respect my former mentor; however, I need someone who sees the finish line and can help get me there.
I did not expect to feel so mentally exhausted after submitting my chapters. I literally needed two weeks to get my energy level back. I taught five classes in person, and I coached two online. I am guilty of teaching with too much passion. Often, I do not realize how busy I really am until my body stops. I took on too much. I was in the middle of designing an online education course. I stopped when I tackled chapters 4 & 5. I have four children and a dog. Everyone ate hot dogs and cheap fast food during July and August. I had the nerve to enroll in the Adobe Train the Trainer (8 weeks) program. I finished the chapters, completed my Adobe Training, and I taught my classes.
I fought with two of my employers this summer over money. There was a change in the way I expected to be paid this summer. No one bothered to tell the employees that they would be paid in three payments for summer. I paid my tuition and got a new car based on money that did not come when I expected it. Child support was MIA too. I spent most of my time praying to have ENOUGH to pay my bills and feed my children. I was mentally tired from trying to collect a check from my consulting work and my other employer. There is nothing worse than dealing with financial issues and writing your dissertation. By August 1st, I was so drained from begging people to cut a check that I wanted to give up. Luckily, I have good friends that prayed and encouraged me. God stretched my faith this summer.
By the end of September, I had enough. I quite trying to get feedback from my mentor. I accepted my employer did not see the value of communicating with their employees when a major change was going to occur with their pay. I knew I could not continue to work as a consultant for that company that never sent my check until two faxes and multiple phone calls. I do not beg for money. That defeats the purpose of working. I realized I would not finish my PhD before December 2014. I also realized that I hated hot dogs! I am still digging myself out of the financial destruction caused by the miscommunication with my employer.
The Turn Around
I realized I was blessed during all of the craziness. I submitted my chapters as a draft. I became an Adobe Education Trainer. I have a safe vehicle that works for a mom that drops off and picks up her children. My wonderful boss did not give me a raise, but she gave me a great schedule that allowed me to pick-up my children everyday and cut down my daycare by $1000.00 a month. She provided an office with a window. I love it. She gave me a promotion and a wonderful TA to assist with the eight classes this fall. It is an honor to help him grow as a professional. Yes, I am still hurt over the way we were paid this summer, but I love my boss and the team I work with. My students are so supportive; therefore, I will continue to teach with passion. Teaching is my lifeline! After this summer, I have more stories to share with my students. I have new reasons to empathize with them.
My Blog My blog focuses on various topics. I talk about everything from gardening to politics. My struggle to complete my PhD will take center stage for the next couple of months. I think my blog is different from other blogs because I share my experiences from a female middle class point of view. Although I am an instructor, I am a student too. My views on education varies depending on which set of lens I use. In my posts, I share my honest personal opinions. I use my blog as a place to express my views, my fears, and my faults. Moreover, the blog questions other people’s position on sex, socioeconomic standings, education, and politics.
I met Deirdre through Capella University. We met in Dallas, Tx during a colloquia. We bonded instantly. Dee is attractive, ambitious, a leader, smart, funny, and determined to obtain her PhD. We share the same characteristics and determination. We met almost six years ago.
Along the way, I became seriously ill, divorced, and ran out of student loan money. Dee was promoted on two jobs, dated, and traveled around the US. However, we managed to speak to each other regularly. Our friendship grew because we needed each other.
We found the journey to complete our doctorates from Capella University required support and understanding from true friends/supporters. We learned we needed to surround ourselves with people who understood our plight. We have heard horror stories along the way. Some of our Capella Sisters graduated and some quit their programs to complete other goals. As a matter of fact, Dee quit for one year. I had to stop for a year due to health issues and financial setbacks. Yet we came back to Capella and decided we would complete what we started.
I went to Dallas as a delegate for the Democratic State Convention. However, I wanted to see my family and my Capella Sisters. I met with Deborah W., Wanda M., and Deirdre Hill. The four of us share a special bond: we are single African-American females completing a PhD online. All of us enrolled in Capella University with the goal of earning a PhD in psychology.
Deirdre was about to complete her dissertation before me this summer. However, she realized she needed to make some serious changes before she submitted her dissertation to her committee. So, we met on a Sunday morning on June 29, 2014 to edit her draft.
Luckily, I was able to obtain some participants for my study. Therefore, I could write-up my cases and finish this summer too. I knew how I wanted the format of my dissertation to look. Dee gave me vital information to help me write my dissertation. I gave her my two cents on edits. I had not planned to stay another day in Fort Worth, but my friendship with Dee is a true sisterhood. I knew we could help each other finish what we started six years ago.
Looking at our photo tells the story. I did not comb my hair; Deirdre was doing the natural look. We were a hot mess! We were in Starbucks inside of Tom Thumb Grocery completing the journey. It has taken me almost 10 years to complete my doctorate. Dee has been my friend for six of those years. We have searched the literature, shared our frustrations about collecting data. We have shared our ah moments. We see ourselves in the literature. We call each other Dr. Hill and Dr. Pope.
We are currently writing chapter four and five of our dissertations. We will complete our journey by the end of this quarter. We are both single, determined and grateful for our journey through Capella University. She will walk across the stage ahead of me at our graduation (Hill before Pope). Yet we will both stand by each other after graduation and throughout our lives. #Capellaproud
Thanks to Ms. V, my 70-year-old neighbor, I got my front yard back into shape quickly on Independence Day (July 4th). Yes, I spent my holiday cutting the yard. I love the idea of cutting my own grass and maintaining my yard. Ms. V loves to take care of her yard too. There are three single women on my street; however, only one of us pays to have our yard maintained. Maintaining the lawn and flowerbeds is fun and relaxing.
When I work on my yard, I can really “see” what the bugs are doing around the house. Ants are resilient little monsters that invade my house and build empires around my trees and fences. I can also detect if water is leaking from the A.C. I can spot the weeds taking over my flower beds. I can feel how thick and healthy my grass has grown. I also keep an eye on my neighbors’ yard too. I am competitive; I enjoy watching the men on the street watch me cutting the grass. Sometimes, they make a few comments when they see me outside. Immediately when I finish my yard, one of my male neighbors will start on their yards too.
I really felt honored to have the ability to take care of my yard on the 4th of July. I am an independent woman, and I love my freedom; I am a home owner with a beautiful yard, and it takes a great deal of time to maintain the lawn.
I was happy to receive help from Ms. V. Ms. V is in great shape and she loves to care for her yard. I told her she could start a lawn service on the block. I hate to admit it, but Ms. V looks younger than me! She still wears short shorts. I hope I am as active and sexy as she is at 70!
She brought her wisdom and cutting skills over to trim the hedges. I would have been a fool to not accept her help. After all, she has the best yard on the block. I told her if they started a “Yard of the Month Contest” I would have to work extremely hard to beat her efforts. I was glad to share gardening ideas and lawn care tips with one of the coolest 70 year olds in the neighborhood on my July 4th.
Today, my five-year old daughter pointed out that our grapes were growing. I immediately rushed to see the growth. I was shocked at how much the grapes had grown. Last year, I planted the grape plant in a different location. I could tell my plant was not flourishing; so, I moved it to its own corner of the yard. My son found a YouTube video on how to grow grapes. After watching the video, we attached the vines to the fence and waited to see growth. It took an entire year, but I actually have grapes growing in my back yard.
I also have a lemon tree that was transplanted last year. The tree had one lemon on it when I purchased it. Yet, the lemon never grew. It stayed hard and turned a dark green color. Eventually, I moved the lemon tree too; there are two lemons on the tree this year. I am so proud of my small beginnings in learning how to grow produce. Actually, my son is the one with the green thumb. I have a gift of making money, but my 15-year-old son has the talent to grow produce. I love the fact that we can share in the process of watching fruit and vegetables grow in the yard.
It is good to teach my son that he can eat the fruits of his labor. More important, I have the opportunity to share stories of how everything starts out small and grows. I am growing everyday as a mother, business woman, and writer. I am learning to enjoy the small things in life-like watching plants grow. My ambition takes a back seat when I am out in the yard. My focus is only on family when I am digging holes and planning my flower beds for next year. When I touch the plants, I feel a sense of accomplishment. I watch my children faces glow with excitement. I listen to their discussion on how to stop the birds from eating all of our peaches. My children are problem solving. My son talks about his produce business. My children thinking about their finances. I see science at its best when I inspect the plants. I feel God’s touch when my entire family is laughing, sharing and exploring the plants in our small part of the world.
I love the commercial that asks: If Bill Gates, Micheal Dell, and Steve Jobs created products that changed the world in their garage, why can’t you? I responded: I can and will!
I have a home office, but my children are too noisy to make videos. It is difficult to wait for them to go to sleep, to stop tattling, and to wait for them to sit down and be quite. Once I start on a project, I often work until midnight or later, but I get distracted by other “time consumers”. I have to grade papers too!
I am launching my On-Demand Lecture Series thismonth. I must make several professional quality videos. I needed a recording studio. So, on April 5, 2014, I decided to use the garage as my recording studio.
Using my new studio, I have worked until midnight on April 5, 6, and 7, conducting research, watching videos on YouTube, and practicing what I learned from the videos. Tuesday was not pleasant because I had two bags of stinky trash in the garage. Yet I created my first advertisement called “Advertisement for Writing Essentials 101 5.7.14” (see previous posts) using Keynotes, Premier Pro, and iMovie.
The first video was good, but the one I posted tonight was much better. Watching a 4:36 second video by AllAboutMac27 was life changing. I learned how to eliminate Premier Pro and incorporate iMovie. It sounds complicated, but thanks to Royalty Free Music.com, AllAboutMac27 and Northern Tech, I was able to quickly create a professional quality 51 second video.
It is amazing what you can learn from two 4-9 minute videos. I am pumped about producing my own on-demand lecture videos.
Almost two years ago, I attended a Teaching and Learning Excellence Center (TLEC) workshop on how to develop a winning proposal to submit to book publishers. Two powerful African-American females presented. One presenter was an editor for a major publishing house and the other presenter was an editor with a successful publication record. They explained the process of getting a book published.
I knew I wanted to write and publish a book. The seed was planted, and I never let an idea slip into oblivion. A couple of months later, I was given an opportunity of a lifetime. I talked via email and on the phone with Michelle Smith, Great River Technologies Acquisition Manager and Instructional Consultant; we talked how we could incorporate my love of technology and English with their need to produce digital textbooks. It wasn’t long before we decided to meet and discuss the process. I love teaching and using technology. I knew I had a niche in the book publishing market. I wanted to write for an urban audience. A year earlier, I had developed a hybrid WRIT class at Texas Southern University. Writing this book would solve several of my needs as an instructor. Before long, I was signing a contract and discussing royalty payments.
Teaching with Technology
I am a proud NERD and a former computer programming major. I love teaching and playing with various tech tools. Snagit, Camtasia, Prezi, Xtranormal (no longer exist), YouTube, Adobe Creative Cloud, and my Bamboo tablet were just a few of the tools that I planned to use to create an interactive digital textbook. I planned to use Adobe Illustrator to draw my own original art work for the publication. I submitted the blue print for my book and the GRT team liked it. Billie Jo Hefel, project manager and Michelle Smith discussed timelines and GRT’s expectations of me. I thought I was going to crank the book out in a five months. Instead, I started focusing too much on the technology behind creating videos and other activities instead of focusing on the book’s content. Before I knew it, July had passed and December was fast approaching. Michelle was supportive, but I felt the pressure.
My digital textbook was my chance to reinvent myself as a published author and as an expert in my field. I was given a chance to design a book from start to finish. I had the freedom to do anything I wanted. Yet I did not know if I could deliver. By December 2012, I had produced a short e-book for my hybrid WRIT 101 class. I could teach without having to bounce all over the internet to find materials. My students could have all of my content and videos in their hands on multiple devices. All of my WRIT 101 classes were held in a lab, a digital textbook was the right medium for what I wanted to do. I ran blindly into the future of textbook publishing. My dream had materialized. My book had a name, Writing Essentials: Strategies to Master Freshmen English and Writing Placement Exams; it had an ISBN number and customers. Although I produced the book on time, I knew the first edition of the publication did not represent my capabilities.
Major Changes Implemented
In 2013, I went to work on correcting my mistakes. I reinvented my book and myself as a writer. I spent hours conducting research on writing placement testing requirements for college freshmen in Texas. I studied strategies to help students with dyslexia. I learned tools to offer students that are classified as English as a Second Language learners; I determined veterans needed unique tools and strategies to utilize in college classes.
I decided I would rewrite my textbook, and I completed it in one semester. I added twelve chapters with research based strategies to help students pass their writing placement exams, and to help freshmen college students improve their English. I worked hard to provide my students with a book that was filled with practical and useful videos, images, and exercises. Today, my goal is to add more activities that will help students learn how to conduct research, use electronic databases, and to integrate reading and writing exercises.
April 29, 2014, Michelle and I had a working lunch at Fogo de Chao. We discussed ideas to market the publication. I told her about my other partnership with Everyday Intellect to produce On-Demand Lectures online. She talked about all of the latest updates on Great River Technologies’ Website and my website. I was able to show her finished activities included in the textbook. I was selected for an author’s spotlight on GRT’s blog. Today, I am more excited about my book. I feel supported by Great River Technologies. They are watching me grow as an author. I have reinvented myself and my brand. Next, I am going to teach On-Demand Lectures using the book’s content in some of my Everyday Intellect Workshops starting May 10, 2014.
It seems like celebrities are coming out and telling the world their secrets every day. Finally, I feel comfortable enough to share my secret too. No, I am not gay; however, I am a homeowner! Yes, a year ago I decided to purchase a home. No, this is not my first new home. I purchased my first custom built home in 1996.
Why did I keep it a secret? I did not want to hear the negativity that some people bring to the table when you share your dreams. I learned early that some people cannot handle your dreams or your success. One “friend” asked me if I bought my home via housing? It was shocking since she had never seen my home. To this day, I wonder why she thought I would qualify for housing. That stung and it told me a great deal about how she viewed me.
I watch HGTV almost everyday, and I beam with pride when I watch women of all ages and races purchase homes from $100,000-$500,000 by themselves. They are proud, fearless, educated, independent and ambitious women. They let camera film their every move while they go through the stressful process of buying a home. I had to face my fears when I got ready to purchase my second home.
After my divorce, my credit rating was shot. I had to rebuild. It took years to pay my debts off. When I got ready to purchase my home, I had to make some tough decisions. I had to decide if I would postpone completing my PhD in 2012 or pay for my home. My great friend Dr. Hill, a Capella Sister, told me, “A doctorate degree will not provide you and your children with shelter.” She was so right! I made the right choice. I do not regret paying my credit cards and other debts off to increase my credit score. I do not regret taking a break from Capella, selling my Mustang to have cash on hands, and using every penny of the money I had in savings to pay my closing cost on my custom built home. Now, I am ready to tell the world that I too am a fearless, proud, and independent female taxpayer that is living the American dream.
Talking with Loice Cottingham, my Realtor, from Realm Real Estate about purchasing a home provided me with tons of wisdom and advice. She was the voice that said, “Sheila you should build a home.” I had my eyes set on a few homes that had been previously built with great landscaping.
The home that I envisioned myself living in had a huge backyard, three car garage, and was on a corner lot with beautiful mature trees. Loice was the one that said, “Sale one of your cars. You can only drive one at a time.” Sometimes I did not like my realtor’s advice. I worked hard to pay off two cars. I wanted to keep my Mustang. However, my family had outgrown the car. Five people could not fit into my Mustang, but we could fit into a home.
I am so glad that I listened to Loice and built my custom designed home and sold my 2000 Ford Convertible Mustang. When I first got a divorce, I left my Mercedes Benz on the lot and drove off in that 2000 Mustang. The Mustang was with me through some tough times. I had owned that car for over 8 years. However, shopping for new items for my home decreased the pain of selling my car.
There is nothing like selecting your own stuff for your home! I love the idea that I am the first to live in my home. I had fun in the KB Home Center with Loice.
When I went to the KB Home Center, I knew what I needed in my home. I wanted granite counter tops, an island, ceramic tile throughout my home, a beautiful door, and a garage door opener. I knew I needed dark carpet in my children’s rooms.
I searched for what I needed to make my home look beautiful. I made practical decisions because I understood resale value; I also made decisions that felt right in my soul. I knew that I needed grass to sink my toes in and to hide Easter eggs. I wanted enough room to park my two cars.
I wanted fruit trees in the back yard. When I adopted three of my children, I knew I needed more space for all of us to continue to grow. Home ownership is the way I sought to provide my children a sense of stability and to show them how much I loved them.
I purchased a home to share my political views and be a real member of a community. I can put political signs in my yard. Being the Democratic Precinct Chair for Precinct 12 means a great deal to me. I want to share information with my neighbors.
I entertain everyday at work. I am a professor; my students demand my knowledge, my time, my energy, and my humor. When I go home, there is very little juice left to give my family. I feel peace when I am at home. I get replenished.
There are days that I want to share my time with others. I look forward to entertaining in my home. I love playing cards, watching movies, and eating great meals. So far, I have been able to have a few close friends and family members over. Now, I am ready to expand my home to other friends. It is important that I continue to grow socially. I have spent most of my life pursuing degrees and other material goods. I am ready to do other things to enhance my life outside of school and work. I love being a mother and working in my yard.
When I was selecting bricks and other items for my home, I really did not know what I was doing. I am proud of the outcome. I love the archway to my home. I love my choices; I am a proud home owner. When I look at the photos that I posted, I see God’s sun rays shining in most of the photos. I know He blessed me and my family.
I hope sharing my secret helps other women decide to purchase a home. I love my life today. I feel more at peace with myself, and I know owning a home has influenced my attitude. I am finishing up my dissertation within the next couple of months; I am conducting interviews for Chapter 4 of my dissertation. I love the fact that I am 45, a single mother, a business woman, a published author, and a homeowner.