Spirit Driving Institute Leila Johnson – Transformation Teacher


What’s Going On – My Response to Charlottesville


Last week, Brett and I attended a great business marketing class. The instructor mentioned a long standing rule for businesses - don't share your views on politics or religion through your business. He stated that people assume their customers share the same views as them. And that posting your political or religious leanings can alienate your customers. All the participants nodded in agreement.

Then, this week happened and I can't be silent any longer. I'm not going to apologize if this alienates anyone.

The Charlottesville white nationalists rally and the responses from the president had me speechless for awhile. I shook my head knowing that white supremacy is still such a force. Even worse, I can't believe that we have a president who isn't bothered enough by it for my liking.

You see, Data-Scribe is owned by me and my husband, Brett - two black entrepreneurs who check the "Independent" box on our voter cards. Some of you might wonder what's the big deal in sharing that.

For more than half of the 14 years we've been in business, most of our clients were outside of New Mexico and we never met them in person. Also, we haven't posted pictures of ourselves in too many places. All of that was on purpose.

We noticed that staying largely anonymous online gave us a level playing field. Sometimes when people meet us first instead of seeing our website and portfolio first, they just treat us "differently". It's something that I'm sure other black business owners encounter, but don't like to admit.

This didn't stop us. We feel honored and humbled by all the times we've had a "seat at the table". The number of high profile projects we've worked on, client relationships we've built, and business experiences we've lived through are mind boggling anytime we take a minute to reminisce.

Our parents lived through the Civil Rights Movement. We feel so blessed to have had the opportunities we've had just one generation later. Also, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't wonder what my grandmother would think about the life I lead. I'm sure she would have a sense of pride. And we want to pass down that sense of pride in our heritage and gratitude for today to both of our daughters so that they can strive to do even better than we have.

We often play the "What would life have been like for you in the 1950s?" game with our older daughter. It's a way to show her how much she has to be grateful for and not to have a sense of entitlement. (Don't know if it's working, but, hey, we're trying!)

We ask her things like "Would we have lived in this neighborhood?" No. "Would you have gone to this school?" No. "Would you have had the white friends you have?" No.

Then we ask her "Why?". And she says "Because we're black and black people didn't get to have those things back then." Simplistic, but hopefully gets the point across.

So, now I think about that game in today's context and can't help but feel like we're going backwards. Could the white supremacy movement gain enough momentum that the 1950s picture I painted could once again become a reality? How do we deal with having a president who continues to reveal his true colors in increasingly disturbing ways? How do you encourage your young black children with the usual rhetoric of growing up to be whatever they dream about? How do you say, "You could even be president!" with a straight face...

Let me return to where I started with this post. As far as I can remember, this is the first post where I've mentioned anything related to politics and race. I was inspired by the CEOs of public companies sharing their views and disassociating from the president. It feels good to share how I've been feeling for so long in this way.

So, where do we go from here? My knee jerk reaction is to donate money to an advocacy or human rights group. That seems like an easy way out to make me feel like I'm doing something. But, how do you know which one and whether your donation is really making a difference?

I don't have the answers right now, but will continue to seek ways to make a difference. I'd love to hear what other small business owners do when they feel moved to take a social stand.

In the meantime, I'll continue to play the "1950s game" with our daughter and hope that those conditions remain a thing of the past.


Coming Full Circle

The Universe's interpretation of my request to make a professional change has come full circle. I continue to be intrigued by this journey.

One of my quiet prayers has been to use more of my writing and business analyst skills. (Thankfully, my louder prayers were largely ignored!) Over the past couple weeks, I have secured two long-term contracts that allow me to use both. The first one seemingly fell out of the sky by my being in the right place at the right time. It will allow me to provide technical editing services for a federal government project. The second one was the result of a quick, but thoughtful, e-mail response to a position posting. It will allow me to provide business analyst services for a quality assurance company.

When I initially started my business, I primarily provided writing services. Over the years, writing has always been a part of my work either behind-the-scenes within the business or formally when working with clients. I realize now that no matter what work I'm doing, I get my "fire", so to speak, from writing. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to use my skills and challenge myself. My goal was to do something new instead of trying to rehash anything from my prior professional paths. I believe that these new professional opportunities have allowed me to accomplished just that while coming full circle.

Sorry for being so cryptic and not naming companies, but I prefer to keep this confidential for now. I'll start working with these clients later this month and will post updates periodically.

So, my lesson for all of you is to keep the faith, stay happy, live in victory, and help others do the same. If you ever need a pick-me-up when your prayers seem to be taking a long time to be answered, try listening to Pharrell Williams' "Happy". I can't get through it without smiling!


The Universe answers “quiet prayers”

At the beginning of this year, I was battling the flu, colds, and laryngitis off and on for 6 weeks. It was the strangest thing. I don't get sick very often, but when I do, it's much milder. I think that part of it was stress-related. And the other part was the Universe telling me something.

You see, at the end of last year, we shut down for 2 weeks for Winter Break. I remember saying to myself how wonderful it was to have this time off. Then, I remember also saying that I wasn't looking forward to getting back to our typical routine--waking up early, getting our daughter ready for school, making and packing her lunch, getting into office mode, and getting down to work.

It was such a fleeting thought. I only said it to myself, once. But, boy, did the Universe ever turn it into a prayer to be answered. My "quiet prayer" seemed to result in the Universe saying, "Oh, you don't like your routine. Well, let's shake it up a bit."


I Am Blessed, Not Obsessed, with Victory

I had a fabulous time last night! Sometime last month I was invited to speak at the last service of the Lenten season for the Grant Chapel African American Episcopal Church in Albuquerque. It was my spiritual coming out party of sorts since this was the first time I spoke under my newly acquired title, Rev. Leila Johnson, M. Div.

So, onto the title of the post. My topic was Victory. I created a custom presentation for the event called "I Am Blessed, Not Obsessed, with Victory". It was all about realizing that victory is a state of mind that we should all embrace in order to lead successful lives. Also, victory involves helping others by using your gifts. I gave examples from my life, quoted some bible passages, and left the congregation with some takeaways that they can apply to their life.

The response was phenomenal. I really felt divinely inspired. Plus, it was a great honor to sit in the pulpit in the pastor's chair. I was thrilled because my husband, daughter, mom, mother-in-law, and father-in-law were there and it was the first time that they had heard me speak on a topic like that.

I felt so at peace and humbled afterward. My Spirit was definitely driving the entire day today. It's a feeling that I can't quite explain, but want to replicate at every opportunity. I look forward to being able to speak again very soon. In fact, I added the retitled version of this presentation to my Speaking page: "I Am Blessed, Not Obsessed, with Success". Contact me if you're interested in having me speak at your event.


When Life Closes a Door…

...the Universe opens a window, as they say. Sometimes life is so random. I'm sure it makes sense somewhere in the grand architecture of things.

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been feeling "driven" to make some changes professionally. It's been an interesting experience so far. I've heard many "no's", which is to be expected. It bothers me in the moment, but then I get excited because I realize that it means I'm one step closer to a "yes".


Continuing the Journey

I have had a wonderful year of self-reflection. In looking back on my career, I have always made some type of career transition in the Spring. It's appropriate that I am writing this on the first full day of the season (our meteorologists made sure to clarify that Spring officially started at 11a MDT yesterday!).

Recently I purchased the book Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.0. It has changed the way I look at myself. For the past 10+ years, I have primarily seen myself as the co-owner of Data-Scribe. Now, there's nothing wrong with this. It's just that my professional identity has BEEN this instead of having it be a PART of it. This book has helped me to define myself in a new way. You can see some of this reflected in my LinkedIn profile. For instance, I've added this blog and my food blog to my current positions and I've rebranded myself as an information professional, which ties in all of my skills. (NOTE: Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn as I am eager to grow my network!)


I Did It – Received My Masters of Divinity!

What a fabulous way for me to start 2014. I turned in my Master's thesis in November and heard back this month that I passed with flying colors! I now hold my Master of Divinity and am an ordained reverend through Wisdom of the Heart Church.

This accomplishment holds a very special place in my heart because I have been working on it off and on for 3 years and wrote my thesis about my daughter. It is titled, "Sharing Spiritual and Religious Beliefs with Your Preschool Child" and includes a nice library of research showing how parents of different religions and spiritual backgrounds share their beliefs. I weaved in my family story and the ways that my husband and I help our daughter to explore her world.

What a wonderful journey it's been. I have learned so much about myself and my place in the Universe. If anyone is interested in taking a similar journey, I highly recommend attending the University of Metaphysical Sciences.

I feel re-energized now and have relaunched my Spirit Driving Institute Website. You'll see some new Drive. Align. Shift. services for couples. I look forward to working with you and your partner to support you in your health & wellness, career, and spiritual journeys.


Authenticity in Your Journey

I just looked back on my last post and can't believe that it has been almost a year since I felt inspired enough to write something on my blog. Instead of beating myself up about it, I realize that it is indicative of who I am and what I am all about.

Yes, there were many times when I had an idea that I wanted to write about, but didn't feel a strong reason to do so. This past year has allowed me to experience so much growth on a personal and professional level. If I had written something, I think I felt that it would have been forced. After all, how could I comfortably sit here giving advice about travelling an authentic journey when I wasn't feeling that I was doing the same.


Why the Rearview Mirror is Small

I thought it was time to break radio silence since it's been 2 months since my last blog post. Coincidentally, I was inspired again by Joel Osteen this morning. He used a driving analogy that I, of course, couldn't pass up.

He talked about the rearview mirror being small and the front windshield being large because your past is not nearly as important as your future. Have you been stuck in the past and looking to it for meaning too often in your life?


Have You “Gotten Lost”?

I was watching Joel Osteen's Sunday service this week with my family like we do on most Sunday mornings. The message title was "#533, Go After the Prodigals" and focused on bringing back those who have "gotten lost" and are no longer going to church. I'm usually tuned into his messages of prosperity and abundance, but this one rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe because I felt like he was talking to me and I disagreed!

You see, I used to be an avid churchgoer. I went through a good part of my teenage years proselytizing and witnessing to others about the word of God. I'll spare you the details, but somewhere along the line I decided to take a different, more spiritual path not connected to a particular religion. I think of myself as a freelancer when it comes to religion, taking philosophies and approaches from different beliefs in order to shape my world.