Brilliance in Spite of Bullying & Brokenness

Celebrated Athlete Turquoise Burroughs Uses Faith & Fervor to Overcome Obstacles

In recent months, I’ve been overwhelmingly grieved to learn of young children who’ve been compelled to tragically end their lives. Bullying – in person, in e-mails and in social-media (and at all ages) – has heightened at an alarming rate with many families feeling devastated and helpless.

After reading about yet another student that was only 9 yrs. old who recently took her life, I was quickly reminded of a conversation I had with an esteemed athlete and record-breaking track star who shared her own heart-wrenching story of being subjected to coarse and unkind actions. Her challenges not only showed parallels in many of their stories, but offered insights into how to thrive amidst bullying and brokenness.

While many 5 yr. old girls are incomparably excited about Kindergarten and playmates, Turquoise was beginning an adventure as a member of the track team that was spearheaded by her parents. Setting records locally and abroad, she quickly proved to be a fiery contender.

As a dedicated athlete, she pursued her love into middle school and high school. Initially believing she was embraced by peers, she later recognized she was targeted for bullying. At its worst, she was even placed in a life threatening situation with a fellow team member and was later banned from participating in the sport as a result of a coordinated plan to bar her from competing.

Nevertheless, Turquoise persevered with unwavering passion. When life seemed to throw hurdles into her path, her parents and her faith provided the strength that she needed to soar past each one of them with greater resolve than before. She outperformed her rivals while breaking records, silenced the naysayers without saying a word, and amidst her most challenging year, still mesmerized scouts, cementing a full ride scholarship to UCLA.

Her successes were frequent, and her travels were many. Her personal performance catapulted her to Trinidad, Jamaica, Brussels, Hungary and the Cayman Islands among others, and her talents led her to compete with athletic heavyweights and to be trained by icons like Bob Kersey (husband of famed athlete, Jackie Joyner Kersey).

With the Olympics in mind, she set her sights on the highest goals. Debuting with the same diligence she’d committed to the sport throughout her life, she was devastated to discover a fierce contender in her personal life – debilitating bouts with Sickle Cell Anemia. Her original goals there remained out of reach, so she later determined to change her path in a new, positive direction.

Turquoise experienced heartbreaking setbacks and was crushed by experiences from unhealthy relationships. Nevertheless, she bathed her thoughts in Bible study, processed her life with prayer and maintained open and extensive communication with her parents who became her personal heroes.

Anchored by these ideals, she was able to transition into inspiring and motivating others through various industries, blogging, speaking and social media. Still an American sweetheart, she reminds audiences everywhere that bullies are not to be believed. Their actions should be conveyed and countered with the help of the appropriate authorities.

She also expresses that though life may leave you feeling broken, an unfailing faith and supportive family remind you that you are beautiful and loved. Turquoise has a timeless testimony that illustrates to everyone that their is hope even with heartache. Celebrate your successes and never forget, there’s always a better way.

#listentothequietvoices #rememberyouareloved #faceyourfearswithfaithandfervor #turquoiseburroughs #trackstar #trendsetter #lifechampion #catchyourdreams #carlamichelle #speakerlife

Celebrate The Simple, The Serene & The Surreal

Photo by Edward Eyer on

A look into the past of anyone who had love for their grandparents would yield a wealth of fond recollections. Old stories. New loves. Precious memories, and something that for many of us may seem uncommon these days – a little peace. Nevertheless, it sheds light on an imperative we often overlook – the importance of celebrating the simple and the serene. In hindsight, it today feels…surreal.

I am one of those who nestles into the nostalgia when I see things that remind me of the grandmother who helped raise me. Deep in the South, her vignettes of Memphis, Tennessee’s sun drenched summer days and wonderful watermelon patches filled my heart with excitement and envy. Born near the turn of the century, she certainly endured her heart-wrenching struggles: ostracism, racism, classicism and unthinkable tragedies. While she educated me on the inhumane and the importance of kindness, she never failed to overshadow her obstacles with stories of her optimism.

Life today is filled with challenges. Change is a constant, but it seems, so is trouble. When I find myself at a loss for the ills I see in the world, I remind myself that among the simplest solutions – is love. The most special, I believe, comes from the Father. It is this simple and unique love that I believe will ultimately be the answer to the problems that are otherwise, inexplicable. It is this love, this solution, that I celebrate. It is grounded in simplicity. It leaves me serene, and when I compare it to all of the failed solutions that so many have tried to devise on their own, it seems surreal.

I wish at times that I could fix the world’s problems. I haveth not the capability to do so; but what I can help, I do. When I can alleviate pain, I try. I’m convinced the most powerful thing I can do, is pray, and endeavor to demonstrate in my own choices how to show love in a world that is too often unkind. As you consider who and what you treasure, remember not to get lost in the chaos of conflict. Instead, reflect on the simple – those things that are often the purest sources of our joy. Find your serenity in knowing that one day, things will be better than they’ve ever been. It won’t be surreal then. It’ll be a reality! #keepliving #keeploving #keeppraying #Hecanfixanything #dreamcatcher #carlamichelle #speakerlife #Istillhavehope #gettoknowHim

From Loathed to Loved…

Photo by Pixabay on

I listened in amazement as the seasoned educator recalled her traumatic, classroom experience. Despite the years that had transpired since she’d been in first grade, her memory was as vivid as if it had occurred the day before. Her shared sentiments were in response to the inquiry, “What were your best and worst experiences with math as staff or student?” Her recollection was heart-wrenching.

“I didn’t understand subtraction at all, although I tried my best. My teacher gave me a worksheet with a hundred subtraction problems. I guessed on everyone, but I was never sure. My tears led to holes in my paper as I peered out of the window and saw my friends enjoying recess. My dad was a math teacher, and my mom taught special ed(ucation); but, at six years old, I was already done. “

On so many occasions, the most traumatic encounters are those that occur in childhood. Replete with intense emotion, upsetting moments can affect us for the rest of our lives. As I facilitated this mathematics training for teachers, it was clear that many of the unfavorable experiences had charred their confidence in math during their formative years. Nevertheless, their pain fueled their commitment to change outcomes for their own students now.

I’m pleased to say that the former saddened six-year old met a lovely interventionist the following year named Mrs. Freeman. She took her from where she was and guided her to mastering math so well that she was the highest performing student in her class. Today, she uses that same fervor to keep other children from experiencing the anguish she did. Her expertise serves to teach them to love what she once loathed.

Here, we shared a common bond! My heart is what catalyzes my excitement in empowering our future generations. I’m convinced that school should not be a place where you are stressed, worn and weary. Whether educated in a formal building or a house hold living room, learning should elicit excitement, intrigue, discovery and an appreciation for the divine.

When you couple your passion with your profession, you can remove the stigma that others may feel who simply don’t understand the essence of your efforts. Cultivate your craft with excellence in mind, and you can exchange what is loathed for what is loved. Class is in session (smile)! Teach them well…

#pursueyourpassion #eachoneteachone #fromloathedtoloved #dreamcatchers #carlamichelle #speakerlife

A Love Like This…

Yata’s Love for Community Resonates from Aspiration to Action

I am elated, excited, enthused and enamored when I see this scene early in the morning. They are two of my favorite people! Now, as I’m 5’2″ and 118 lbs., Yata looks like an Olympian to me. The football fanatic, fitness guru and trainer I’ll now be seeing every weekend (for FREE, message me!) could easily be a hard core coach that leaves you breathless; but, his careful steps and kind demeanor in this picture convey a message that is very different.

The decorative accoutrements are not his own. He’s holding her handbags while gently guiding Georgia to her seat. It’s an admirable, weekly routine that includes bringing her in from the door in the back because it’s much easier than the steps out front. They have a special bond. Not only is it grounded in honesty and integrity, but it transcends generational boundaries. Their relationship is powered by something unrivaled by any other expression: faith-based love.

I can’t help but notice a pattern I see in corporations, campuses, churches and communities everywhere. Many of our matriarchs are maturing. Often, our gifted gentlemen are graying, and though they possess endless treasure troves of knowledge, wisdom, experiences and expertise, we don’t seize meaningful moments often enough to live and laugh with and learn from them- especially in our younger generations.

Among the relationships I prized the most was growing up with my grandmother. From her Southern sass to her incomparable compassion, sitting at her feet (and in front of her late night TV shows) was among my favorite past times. She was my coach and my confidant. My in-house comedian and my constructive critic. And as I consider the world in which I live today without her, I’m reminded of what we need more than anything else – a love like this.

Yata is one of many whose love is grounded in a faith that I find most comforting at Crosspoint Community Church. There, I see potential opportunities turn into practical realities! Next generations can become future leaders, shaped by the seasoned and the savvy to share love with communities near and far. This gives me hope! In a nation that’s hurting and in need of healing, I pray pictures like this will be everywhere. Because I love a love like this.

#priceless #myloveforChrist #crosspointcommunity #faithbasedlove #loveforcountry #loveforcommunity #oneofmyfavoritepairs #thankyouyata #happymlkday #drkingwouldbeproud #whattheworldneedsnowislove #alovelikethis

Hone What You Heart

What Happens When Heart Work Meets Honing

When I met Heather nearly a decade ago, I couldn’t resist the decadent chocolate chunk cookies still warm from the oven that beckoned me to her 2nd grade classroom. She was an amazing baker who was in the kitchen at her leisure. However, her tasty treats were in high demand – even though she was an educator by profession.

Fast-forward to present, she decided to pursue her passion and transition from casual cooking to premier pastry chef – and the results have been oh-so-sweet! Her heart work has earned her prime real estate in Nordstrom’s, coffee shops, universities, and a host of clients from small business and single patrons to corporate giants. She’s easily a culinary contender!

Collaborating with her regularly for presentations in my speaking career, I’ve enjoyed many powerful lessons from her journey. Chief among them is “Hone What You Heart.” Heather has not only poured her passion into each product, but she educates herself about her craft, the industry, contemporary trends and classical culinary insights that give her a one of a kind competitive edge.

So often, we find ourselves interested in and/or intrigued by things in which we could easily lose ourselves; but, if you find it to be more meaningful than menial, what are you doing to master it? If others consider you to be the “go-to” or “resident expert” for what you do well, find out how you can enhance your acumen to be the best.  If you’re an entrepreneur, maximize your potential by staying abreast of what’s happening in the industry. Add a healthy dose of your ingenuity to show what sets you apart from everyone else.

Does this require you to own your own business? Not at all. This applies to foundations, community entities, worthy causes, professionals, and even personal preferences. I met a lovely lady recently whose cookie couture parallels the industry’s finest – but, she donates all of her proceeds to worthy causes. Her passion isn’t profit, but partnering with those who can positively impact the lives of others.

Whatever you determine to commit yourself to, reward yourself – and others – by honing your craft to match the intensity of your passion. Learn more. Work smarter. Push farther – even when difficult – and savor the scent of sweet success! You may be surprised at the difference it makes. Hone what you heart! #heatherdavis #mychicsweetscom #allheartwork #simplydelicious

Cut the Rope

Photo by Riccardo Bresciani on

The bones in his leg were crushed, but not more than the resolve in his spirit. Prior to the seemingly insurmountable obstacles they’d so recently discussed, they both understood the gravity of the event. He’d be too heavy to lift and impossible to carry in sub-zero temperatures. Death would be inevitable; but, if the pair continued to stay linked, neither of the friends would survive. Despite the anguish and the guilt, with mutual consent – he cut the rope.

Many times in life, when we’re endeavoring to scale our greatest challenges we are carrying weight that we perceive to be an integral part of our journey. We’ve planned it this way. We’re compelled. Sometimes, we feel obligated, but along the way, things can take a turn for the worst. The greatest danger is not what happens, but how we respond at the zenith of strain.

Do we hold on to the weight because we can’t fathom our fears of the outcome? Would we bear a lethal burden because we don’t want to see another way? At what expense? While some burdens are noble, there are others that induce demise: toxic relationships, malignant musings, torrid rhetoric, destructive dialogue. Truthfully, we often carry many problems – and at times – people…whose added weight to our lives can place us on the brink of destruction. Should we continue to do so?


My advice, for myself and others – is to learn when to cut the rope. While the photograph is borrowed, the aforementioned story is true. Two climbers enthused about conquering a mountain were indeed faced with this scenario, and one painfully cut the rope to preserve one life in lieu of none. Miraculously, both lived, and the friend whose leg was broken was thankful to have been cut because it was the separation that saved their lives. It gave them the ability to seek shelter in extremity, the flexibility to move without overwhelming strain, and ultimately, a chance to survive.

If we are ever to grow, to learn and to thrive, it is imperative that we disallow ourselves the detriment of carrying burdens that fuel duress. Whether choices that chide or people that poison, it is unlikely to ascend to goal realization, when linked to negativity that can pull us down – and ultimately cost us everything.

Consider your journey and its most critical parts. Don’t carry more than you can handle. If burdens are injurious and weighing you down, placating others is not a requirement for your ascent. Be fearless. Be focused. Be fervent. Be faithful. If you find yourself in danger, cut the rope. Your salvation will be the ultimate reward.

#cuttherope #releasethenegativity #befreetomove #letitgo #befearless #befocused #befervent #befaithful
#catchyourdreams #carlamichelle #speakerlife

From Miniscule to Magnificent…You’re Invited

Photo by Pixabay on

So you’ve arrived. In one piece. With countless blessings, more than you could ever imagine, in fact. Welcome to 2019. Please note, however, that this is no ordinary year. It’s one which you’ve never seen. It is filled with possibilities and presents, potentially precarious situations, adventures and anxieties, but most of all, it features you. You are a central character in a global and intricate landscape. Life may have led you to believe that your role is so small, that it doesn’t matter very much. Conversely, I disagree.

Years ago, researchers studying the subtlest variations discovered that the gentle fluttering of a butterfly’s wing could be a precursor to a powerful tornado. It seemed, insignificant. A tiny appendage. A soundless movement. A molecular shift of air. The brevity of the butterfly’s life is unbelievable, rivaled only by the extent of its beauty. Yet, its lifespan does not stifle its impact. Its power is in the push – of its wings.

You may be one of millions, compelled to compose a list of robust resolutions. I vow to eat healthier. I promise to try new things. I insist on seeing the world. I’ll be a better friend. I implore you to consider not the size of your yearly suppositions, but the significance of your subtle changes as time progresses. Contemplate dedication to forming purposeful habits, instead of fueling hollow hopes in futility. No one knows better than you which commitments you’ll find most meaningful. Select them carefully. Discerningly. As if your choice was connected to a most significant affair.

Your sphere of influence is far greater than the tiniest butterfly! Therefore, even your miniscule decisions have exponential impact. Whose lives do you touch with your tenderness? Who hearkens to your voice when you speak? Who follows both your path and your passion. Who falters when you fumble and you fail? You are needed. You are knowledgeable, and you are known for your effect on others. You will determine what that effect will be. Treasure your trials and your triumphs. Both of them make you stronger. Each of your decisions in 2019 can transcend from miniscule to magnificent. Power your flight with prayer and precision. Make this year, one to remember.

Stay tuned for more. #2019 #carlamichelle #educator #speaker #writer #coach