Monthly Archives: May 2011

What is Freedom?

Since becoming self employed, I feel extremely FREE.

I have chosen to use some of my additional time surfing Facebook and twitter. Social media for me is a tool to access the articles and world news that has been made accessible by millions of people and companies.

This time off has turned into some major TIME ON, and has led me to believe that freedom is the ability to comprehend communication.

The power to know what is being said, written, or implied; to understand the context of a subject, and to be able to apply a topic to your life or situation, is freedom.

Communication comprehension has allowed me to gain the following capabilities:

  • Quality reading and verbal skills, although not always the best with formal writing.
  • Efficiency at following directions (except while driving).
  • Thorough ability to process information in a way where people do not have to continuously repeat themselves.
  • I can complete tasks without much guidance.
  • I seek information and examples of finished products that connect the dots between how my work integrates with others.

I believe that these assets all stem from greater than average comprehension skills.

The ability to comprehend communications, allows you to make informed decisions while understanding the consequences of your choices.

In October I attended a Latino Diversity training that focused on the dynamics between English-speaking youth and their families/ parents whom could not speak or understand English. The trainer provided examples of how parents lose parental power in circumstances in which the child has to relay/translate information from adults or authority figures, especially when it relates to the child’s behavior or academic progress.

This reality-check, made me begin to think about how I take for granted my ability to comprehend and communicate with others. Overall, I began to look at language and communication differently. I have become more aware of communication comprehension as a tool to success and a form of FREEDOM,if not FREEDOM itself. 

My feelings about comprehension were further confirmed after I learned about George Dawson while watching Oprah. At 98 years old Dawnson made it a priority to learn to read, having not even known the alphabet at that time.

I also believe that optimism and positive thinking are critical elements to Freedom. During trying times, I have remained positive, and the results have been amazing. But, it is about more than just seeing the victory on the other end. Positive thinking is about interpretation, and choosing to interpret life in the fashion of solution seeking and hope.

I have grown a lot in this regard (positive thinking) over the past 4 months. Freeing myself from an environment (the workplace) in which I was constantly on-guard has allowed me to dismantle the on-guard attitude that was beginning to seek into all of my existence.

By making the choice to live a positive life, I have found Freedom. 

What is freedom to you? When and how did you discover freedom?

Below is a link to the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) website that discusses the Freedom Rides and much more.


during the month of June I will offer one complimentary consultation for the top 3 individuals with the highest levels of engagement on my blog. (Once selected, the winners can defer their consultation to a friend or family member of their choice). My complimentary consultation will focus on business and marketing development, grant writing services, and strategic development for a topic of your choice.

I am defining engagement as:

  • commenting on various entries sharing on facebook, linkedin, and twitter and tagging me or notifying me of the share
  • emailing post to your friends or networks (bcc me on the
  • And any other creative ways of engagement you can think of!

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Success Formula: Chanel Ballard

Success Formula: Chanel Ballard

I have yet to meet Chanel Ballard.

We have 57 mutual “friends” on Facebook, and only about 15 of them are my friends or associates in real life.

In mid-February I saw her status feed. She was looking to start a network resource of people doing “big things”. I sent her my information. A few weeks later, she referred a friend to me for business development services. We did not know each other and it did not matter. Her goal was clear: help others so that they succeed.

Currently, she is the Chief Inspirational Officer (CIO) of her growing entity, Rise2Power Network. I asked Chanel how she arrived at the title CIO, “Things come to me”, she said. “When I started developing the Rise2Power Network, CEO did not fit, but CIO did. Everyone that knows me, knows that I live to inspire.” The Rise2Power Network focuses on helping people create the process of inspiration. Through social media and product development, including, t-shirts and wrist bands with motivational quotes (to name a few), Rise2Power encourages individuals to stay inspired during challenging times.

Although Chanel thinks it is great that people choose to serve with a group, she wants individuals to know that they can still serve by themselves. Rise2Power is her personal initiative to inspire youth and young adults. It is only one of MANY projects this superstar 20 something’s has going on.

Chanel has a two-year old son, she is planning her summer wedding, she is growing the seed of Rise2Power Network, and she has co-founded and operates Inspired by Grace, a non-profit for young girls. Furthermore, I was in awe when I found out that she is involved in GEMS- The Girls Education Mentoring Services.

GEMS has helped hundreds of young women and girls, ages 12–24, who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking to exit the commercial sex industry and to develop to their full potential.

Chanels outreach efforts include males and females of all ages, but her passion is women- girls, mothers, and grandmothers. “I am a prosperity advocate bringing resources and support to the community.”

On many occasions her Life Plan has been revised. Chanel is finally at a point where she has the clarity of language and the know-how, to clearly define what it is she wants, and most importantly, what it will take to get there. The most up to date edition of her Life Plan includes a list of degrees or educational endeavors she must accomplish to attain her vision, as well as future titles she wishes to own.

She has a slew of other tag lines, catch phrases, and key words that help to brand her unique product of inspiration. The one I enjoy most is found under her signature “Annoying Teens into Progression since 1984”. The story goes that when Chanel’s mom was pregnant with her at the age of 16, she began to live a more productive life, motivated by motherhood. Chanel annoyingly became her mother’s motivation for success.

Did I mention she is a full-time marketing professional? TALK ABOUT DOING IT ALL!!!!! I have a lot of friends that are active community servants, professionals, and more, but motherhood usually slows some of us down; Not Chanel “Ambitious” Ballard!

Chanel Ballard Success Formula: Wisdom + Inspiration + Refusal to give up

More on Chanel Ballard

How do you multi-task to multi-achieve?

My passion for helping. It is hard, especially with having a two-year old. If I have to stay up late, I stay up. If I have to get up early, that is what I do. I take the bus to work and I do work on the bus. That is an additional 45 minutes of work time each day. I write my blog, write follow-up letters, send out my emails. Do what you have to do. Make it simple.


“Inspired to Give- Destined to Serve”

“Nurturing Minds for Greatness”

What is your idea of community development?

Nurturing what is already there. It is a lot of talent in our communities. But it is about having someone organize the talent, build and uplift the people in the community and bring out the best with what we already have.

S.M.A.R.T. goal

A Star- Studded launch of The Rise 2 Power Network as a business by August 15th.

My favorite quotes from the interview

“I know when opportunity presents itself”

“I do it all. I can be anything from a maid to a Queen depending on what the situation calls for.”


Mobile Office: 773-701-1853

Update from Chanel on 7.21.2011

The Rise2Power Project is still an inspirational vehicle to watch. We continue to build our inspiration fan club and encourage youth and young adults to be active participants in their destiny. I’m confident that we’ll have a soft launch for The Rise2Power Project August 15th.


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Community Asset: Xubex (and other healthcare access providers)

Image representing Xubex as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

I have joined the ranks of MILLIONS of Americans without health insurance. Unfortunately, I have a health condition that requires me to take medicine daily. Since becoming self-employed, I needed a quick fix to ensure my health until I am ready to tackle buying independent health insurance.  I knew that although Walmart was cheaper than both Target and Walgreens, there had to be another option that would not cost me $108.

I asked my health care provider about local clinics that could provide me with medicine at a low-cost. She gave me a few numbers and addresses, but they were income-based and put me at risk of switching medicines, as they did not carry my current prescription. This was yet another unfavorable option.

So, I hit the internet with a quick search and fortunately I came across some GREAT services that offer a variety of low-cost medications. Each provider has its own set of reasonable requirements, but nothing that should prevent you from taking advantage of the services offered.

The provider I chose was Xubex. Xubex offers a variety of medications, but other patient programs as well including:

  • patient discount cards
  • co-pay assistance program
  • diabetes services

What I appreciated MOST about Xubex is that they did not require proof of income.  #SCORE. I consider this to be non-intrusive AND shows that XUBEX takes into account that working people may still need assistance and that your healthcare should be be sacrificed because of that. Not to mention that if you are actually taking the time to complete the form, you must think that your money can be better used than on overpriced medications.

Other programs you may want to look into are:

Although I am sure there are a lot more services that provide medication assistance, I want to hear from you about healthcare programs or other Community Assets that can help those in need. Please share in the comment section.

Lastly, I do not usually encourage you to share on your social networks or via email but I am SURE that a lot of people would benefit from this information. Please find a way to share with them in a way you are most comfortable.


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Financial Freedom: Every Little Bit Counts

Financial Freedom: Every Little Bit Counts

A few weeks ago I was talking with a friend about my income activities. Since becoming self-employed, I take on a lot of random opportunities that lead to (some) of my bills getting paid. Tutoring, taking surveys for ClearView research, managing small projects for individuals, and my unemployment check is how I currently survive. Paycheck to paycheck is an understatement. 

My friend went on to explain that she and her husband budget their lives based on one income without even maxing their expenses at the top of that salary. I was flabbergasted! How was this possible?

After describing her family’s financial history, it became clear that she learned to manage money by observing the ebbs and flows of her parent’s financial maintenance. At that moment, I realized that I too learned from watching my mother maneuver financial sources like a chess game each month (I will save that lesson for a future entry).

My friend had learned financial management better than I did, and now I have some catching up to do. 

I don’t think it’s too late. In my late 20’s I can actually visualize my financial freedom. I am on a two-year plan that involves learning all that Suze Orman has to teach.

On a daily basis I figure out how I to practically cut corners and save on my most common expenses. One thing I have started doing is using coupons to save on purchases at grocery stores.

Also, on my previous post, Shaped by Budget: Aligning Goals With Personal Finance, Ruben Berenguel commented that I should figure out how to increase my income instead of being confined to what I currently take home.

Since then, I have consistently found ways to make more money. The additional income, whether it be $20 or $60, helps cover mandatory expenses, including gas and groceries.

In the comment section, please share some of your convenience saving tips or legal ways to make a few bucks quickly.

Below is an article from Shrinkage is Good by Jonathan Rivers. The post contains cost saving tips on common expenses.


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Constructing Resilience Through Criticism

Constructing Resilience Through Criticism

Disregard for constructive criticism infects the lives of many each day, ultimately having an adverse affect on one’s personal growth. People resent being corrected and/or having to accept that their options are not the only solutions. Plainly said, they are not resilient enough to be wrong. 

I appreciate receiving constructive criticism and I respect individuals that can accept constructive criticism.

Receiving constructive criticism is a process that involves considering the thoughts and perspectives of someone else, reflecting on the critique and suggestions provided, and deciding whether or not to incorporate the given advice into your plan.

I was not always capable of handling the processes involved in constructive criticism. As a child, I could not see the learning opportunities in being “wrong”, therefore stifling my creativity and the ability to improve my coping and communication skills.

Theatre eventually provided me with the skills to do so, however.

There were eight of us in my theatre class beginning my sophomore year of high school. It was in the consistent space of open-minded individuals that I learned to embrace the idea that others were creative, smart, and caring enough to offer better, or improved options, in a variety of situations.

At 15 I realized that cooperation is the foundation of constructive criticism, and it is a fundamental aspect of the creative process. Acting, script writing, and directing encouraged my close-knit class to attempt new elements of engagement during rehearsals. I was not allowed to be the only person that was “right”; in order for the audience to be satisfied, the role of every person on and off stage was valid. It was with this group of artistic players in training that I felt safe receiving and sharing criticism.

My potential to co-exist was growing peacefully. 

Believe it or not, I never had a conflict with a member of my theatre cohort in high school. For three years, we spent one hour and 45 minutes together, 5 days a week, for 9 months out of the year. We brought the drama to the script and to the stage. We learned and practiced resilience as we criticized one another with care and a desire for excellence, instead of the unknown place, better known as, insecurity.

On a regular basis I observe people of all ages disregard constructive criticism as “hating”, “jealousy”, “minding my business” and other foolish terms that create isolation and “yes man” relationships.

By accepting that I am imperfect and that others are “good enough” to redirect me, thus embracing constructive criticism, I remain humble and susceptible to unimaginable success.

Are you able to give and receive constructive criticism? If not, what do you think holds you back?


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HEAVY- Poetry for a Graduate

Some call this a milestone 

     I call it a monument 

It’s HEAVY….this achievement 

This collection of experiences composed of perseverance, multi-tasking, late nights, early mornings, group projects, train rides, miscommunications, one too many power points, department coffee, red bull cans, and all that we know as sacrifice 

This day is the output of all that’s been put in 

For some of us, this was a test we took to prove to others we were worthy

     Worthy of the accolades, the salary increase, credentials for promotion, and much more 

But for some, this day is all about you 
Passion for learning

Lust for knowledge

Infatuation with making a difference in the world

     It is HEAVY…this achievement 

This monument, that no longer makes it okay for your ignorance to be excused 

This mountain that demands you make a certain amount of money per year or the purpose of your further education gets called into question 

This statue that makes some idolize and congratulate you for accomplishments that they only dream of 

This tribute that you must balance with pride and humility, pledging to help those that come after

It’s so HEAVY….to big to hold

Too many words to describe how it feels,

The thought of carrying responsibility to this degree makes you sweat,

Makes you lose sleep, workout and eat Wheaties

It’s so HEAVY….intangible,

Feels like a figment of the imagination because tomorrow,

     You cannot rest 

Tomorrow you will be pulling the weight of this monument 

I don’t know, some may continue to call it a milestone,

But during my pursuit, I felt like boulders were on my shoulders 

I cannot call this a stone, and I definitely walked more than a mile to get here 

And will walk much further than that in the future. 

          It’s HEAVY…..this achievement.

Graduation 2008- Columbia College Chicago- before the hooding


Posted by on May 19, 2011 in Poetry, Uncategorized


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ASCW Life Plan (part 2)

ASCW Life Plan (part 2)

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now”- Alan Lakein

Each time I work on and review my Life Plan, I am more confident and reassured that I am on the track destined for me. Regular engagement with my written Life Plan serves as a point of accountability.

Reflecting on the Family segment of my Life Plan, I realize that I have not being doing enough.

Over the past week, I have not called any of my family members, nor have I visited them. The week before I participated in the Y-ME breast cancer walk with my father, older sister, three nieces, boyfriend, his sister, and a few close friends. During the walk, we laughed together, reminisced on old times, and shared encouraging stories about our future plans.

By looking at my Life Plan this week, I’m reminded that the quality time from the breast cancer walk is not enough to fuel my family engine; I have many more miles to trek as I work toward my purpose in my Family category.

Today’s entry provides a deeper look into life planning. Using the suggested strategy and a tweaked format from Michael Hyatt, I provide an up close and personal overview of my Family account.

I am usually great at helping others visualize more than what they can imagine but the vision section was challenging for me to write. I was finally able to write a more in-depth description after reading the post “Setting Up Your Dream Lifestyle: How to Prepare for the Life You Really Want” by Christina Crowe.

I include a “resources needed section” for each action plan as I think it is important to begin to gather, or work toward obtaining all that I need in order to see each action completed.

Family Account for Ashley S.C. Walls Life Plan

Purpose: To support and enhance my family legacy

Outcomes: “Ashley was a reliable support system that helped with financial and physical needs to keep our family close in fellowship and during family crisis.”


– I help family members when preparing for life milestones both hands-on and financially.

– I award and congratulate family members during life milestones.

– I communicate with a variety of family members on a regular basis to encourage them to be physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy.

– I know enough about my family lineage to inform doctors of family health issues.

– I assist with funeral arrangements and health crisis by being physically and emotionally present.

– I host quarterly meetings/gatherings with my local family annually.

– I cook 4 times a week for my significant other and child(ren).

– My significant other and I dine out atleast once a week.

– My significant other and I enjoy a new restaurant atleast once a month (children will attend on occassion).

Reality:  I do not have any savings which prevents me from supporting my family financially. My family is spread out across the Chicago metropolitan area which can make it difficult to fellowship. We do not have annual family reunions. Some of my family is in New Orleans, Cali, New York and ATL and my limited finances and time to travel prohibit me from spending time and communicating with my relatives that live farther distances. Facebook has increased awareness of my family’s regular actions and life happenings although I am still generally unaware of family members’ upcoming milestones.

Action Plan:

  • Participate in a family outing or visit atleast once a month. Resources needed: Phone, email, Facebook, transportation
  • Revise maternal family lineage info booklet. Resources needed: Email, phone, Facebook
  • Create paternal family lineage info booklet and scrapbook. Resources needed: Email, phone, Facebook, scrapbook materials, pictures, documents

My vision section will continue to expand as I grow and experience what is important to me.

I believe that in a year or two, I will have a system and annual calendar created that will enable me to regularly meet the goals described in the vision section of my Family account.

I dare you to take a few minutes and write your vision for a portion of your Life Plan in the comment section! You will definitely find an accountability partner in me.

Below is a link that provides steps on how to detail the vision portion of your Life Plan.


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