When You Get a Curve Ball

I’m a planner, type A perfectionist, control freak, germaphobe, cynic, skeptic, middle child loner that has good people skills, but an island to myself sounds beautiful. Quite a contradiction, but it is me. In an hour, I can go from hymnals, gospel, classical, pop, soul, R&B, blues, Benny & the Jetts, Lenny Kravitz, to rump shaking Latin or hip hop. I like variety, yet there is something inherent in our DNA that desires consistency, predictability, and stability.

I know change is the only constant and if I’m not adaptable and willing to learn, then I’m just taking up space. In my last post, I talked about the three stages of a dream: birth, death, and resurrection. I think the death and resurrection process are the scariests. Think of Simba from Lion King. He knew his destiny was to be king – “I just can’t wait to be king.” However, an encounter with his dream killing uncle made Simba abandon his dream and inheritance. His dream died, seemingly never to be revived, and at this stage complacency becomes our worst enemy. We sing “Hakuna Matata” – no worries and a problem free philosophy – merely scratching out an existence instead of living our dreams, as if eating bugs and worms is satisfying. It may be sufficient for survival, but at some point you have to stop trying to survive and chase down destiny with the ferocity of a lion on the hunt. The Hakuna Matata mentality turns us into caged or cowardly lions. We’ve forgotten how to roar.

Even when Nala discovers a grown Simba eating bugs and tells him to reclaim his throne/dream, Simba is hesitant. When the dream resurrects, it does not come in the previous version of how we preceived it – vain glorious and a tad self righteous. It transcends “I” and focuses on a greater good. Like Joseph and the colored robe, he initially saw his dream as his family bowing and serving him. However, his resurrected dream, after years of slavery and imprisonment, involved him showing forgiveness, reconciling a bitter familial wound, serving and saving a nation. Good dreams help one person. Great dreams and visions have impact beyond the person (i.e. Gandhi and MLK). The resurrected dream can be as daunting as the initial dream because now it’s not about you but others. It has the potential to change the world.

So what’s the point of all my rambling. There’s always a method to the madness that is Ronda-isms. I came here with dreams, goals, and plans. The first six months things looked promising and I drank the kool-aid and bought into the hype like “OMG it can really happen – NYC is the place where dreams are made of.” Then without warning, I hit a brick wall as if the animaniacs from the Looney Toons cartoon dropped an anvil on my dreams. I wouldn’t say that I’m in the death stage of my dream because moving to NYC was the resurrection of my dream. However, I think in the resurrection phase there are still issues that we need to work out to get more clarity on the direction of the dream. Like diamonds, “through years of intense heat and high pressure, they become pure and strong.” There is no pressure cooker like the Big Apple. I had plans of what I wanted, but I needed time to learn the lay of the land – the nuisances and quirks of this city. The past two years was a cultural immersion of my new hometown. It’s like getting married. You love the person and you think you know them until you start living together. That’s when it gets real and tough. I love this city but it gets real and tough early on and doesn’t let up. Most people leave when the going gets tough – possibly why New Yorkers don’t make an effort to get to know new comers – you may not be here in six months. A real dreamer accepts falling down and stumbling as necessary learning tools. I had a post about the difference between a knock down vs. a knock out. NYC is the concrete jungle and the never ending pace can beat down on you and your dreams. That’s when you have to throw it back at the city like “What that’s all you got?!” If this is the concrete jungle, a dreamer must quickly decide if they are going to be the hunter or prey. One must beat these streets for respect. It’s that moxie and chutzpah New Yorkers talk about.


For all your planning and preparation, remember that this is a city where being at the right place at the right time is equally as important as being talented. When a door opens, you must be ready to pounce and walk through it. In the words of EB White, “New York can destroy an individual, or it can fulfill him, depending on a great deal of luck.” In the past few months,different opportunities have presented themselves. Some anticipated, others not. I was surprised to recognize that I was actually fighting against them because: (1) it wasn’t the time I expected or even planned; and (2) it required more work on an already harried schedule. Where would I find the time, resources, and finances to devote to all this new work? I have to remind myself to be flexible, adaptable, and enjoy the moment. I am guilty of being so busy trying to anticipate the next issue that I fail to get lost in the moment. I have to remember that my best experiences were unexpected and beyond what I hoped or planned for.

However, there are times when all the prepping and tilling the soil can have you reach your breaking point. Maybe it’s the oppressive bout of heat and humidity. You need to remove yourself from the everyday grind to get a fresh perspective. If I were living in Chicago, I’d retreat to the quaint, cozy, small town life of Springfield. A weekend with my godparents – no cell, no computer, no TV, walks in the park, biking through the preserve, taking pleasure in the little things, spotting a cardinal or robin, or watching nature play in their backyard. I refuse to go out when the hawk appears – quite vicious the way he devours prey.

My biggest challenge in NYC is being ambitious, aggressive, yet centered. Balance in all aspects of my life is something I need to carefully guard. So when life throws a curve ball, instead of running from it, lean into it for the homerun. The first time my Chicago boxing trainer hit me with a body punch, my instinct was to step back to avoid it. Wrong! He said in doing so I actually opened my entire body to attack. Instead, protect your side with your elbows and lean into the punch so the opponent gets hurt hitting your elbow and you can counter with your left.

Curve balls are opportunities to counter – turning lemons into lemonade. However, we must be ready and in shape. Currently my physical and mental shape are horrible. If my trainer could see me know he’d shake his head in disbelief. I’m far above my “walk around” weight. If my granny was alive, she’d put it this way (what she told me the last time I picked up some extra weight), “Girl your butt is big as all outdoors.” Tis true, granny never lied. Go ahead laugh. Sometimes you need that blunt honesty to get you back in the ring. Time to ready myself for the different punches life has and get in shape (mentally and physically) so that my balance-equilibrium properly adjusts.

Warning – Construction Zone – Work in Progress – Watch out for falling debris

Ronda Lee
Founder, Editor-in-Chief
Ronda is an attorney, writer, and entrepreneur. She is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post. Originally from Chicago, she has lived in Los Angeles and New York. She loves to travel and is passionate about education equity, especially for first generation college students.