Life Lessons features one of my dear friends today. Laila Muhammad and I go back, way back to when I met her one year at a convention and talked her out of getting married, just after meeting her. Yes. I did. There’s more to the story but that’s the juicy part. Laila’s since gone on to carve out a spectacular career in the news business but with an eye on what’s next. Here she is now, in her own words. Remember, we’d love to hear from you too; if you want to be part of our Life Lessons feature, drop us a line here; we’ll get the questions right out to you.

Are you happy at the moment?

Absolutely. The happiness I’ve experienced within the last year has empowered me with a new sense of confidence and self-awareness and in a way, freedom. I am happy with my personal life, my family, my relationship with God, my health and all that I’ve accomplished professionally. But that doesn’t mean I’m complacent; I’m now at a point where I’m pushing my happiness to the next level. There’s so much more I want to accomplish in all areas of my life and I feel like the best is yet to come.

If you could go back and say anything to your 16-year-old self now – what would it be?

How much time do I have to sit down with myself?  LOL! I would say, “Girlfriend, you are on the right track, so take time to enjoy the ride. You cannot control every situation nor can you make people change who they are. Trust your instincts, especially about phony people. Take more time to laugh. Mom and dad are right 99% of the time. Good eyebrows can never be overrated. Those big lips you hate will one day be a part of your signature look! And believe it or not, when you are in your 30s, you will flashback to your 16-year-old self for inspiration and motivation, because the drive, focus and determination you have at 16 is remarkable”.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned this year?

Family is so very important. A family’s bond is not only the foundation from which we stand upon; it is also a shield that supports us when we fall.  And I’ve learned love will catch you when you least expect it, even on a highway going 70mph….. I will leave it at that…

What do you most want to achieve in the next 12 months?

I want to accomplish more dreams! I have a few short-term goals in mind but I don’t want to jinx them. I will check in with you guys here at GEM nation in 12 months with an update!

What’s your secret to happiness?

Surrounding myself with people who genuinely have my best interest at heart and who are often more happy for the good things that happen in my life than I am for myself. People like Good Enough Mother!

What one ritual or practice keeps you grounded?

Whenever something major happens, like a promotion or a new opportunity, I look in the mirror and have a reality check with myself before I celebrate. It’s like a pep talk that reminds me of where I’ve been and how hard I’ve worked to overcome obstacles. It’s very humbling.

What’s your biggest regret?

Sometimes I regret not sticking with playing the saxophone or not continuing to play basketball throughout high school and into college. But I really do try not to think about what could have, should have or would have been had I made other decisions in life. I am happy with the physical and mental place and space that I’m in. Every hardship, obstacle, heartache, success and struggle has led me to now, and I am grateful for the lessons learned.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve taught your kid(s)?

I don’t have kids but I pray God blesses me to be a mommy one day. The most important lesson my mother has taught me is to trust my instincts and never allow anyone to tell me that I can’t accomplish something. I share those lessons with my younger sister as well, and I hope to one day share those lessons with my children.

What bad habit would you most like to change about yourself?

Sometimes I procrastinate on a few tasks, especially “big picture” items because I’m a perfectionist and want things to be just right. For example, has been a work in progress for a year and so has a book I’ve been writing.  I’m still on chapter one! I’ve got to get it together!

Aside from motherhood/fatherhood and marriage what are you most proud of in your life?

I’m proud to be a homeowner. I’m proud to be living the dream I set for myself at 16. And I’m proud that I’ve figured out what it is that I want to do to eventually go into business for myself.

When were you happiest?

Right now. When I wake up in the morning. I smile and thank God for a new day of life when my feet hit the floor. I’m also happiest when I’m spending time with family and when I’m taking a spontaneous girls’ vacation with my friends.

What ten words best describe you?

I had to get help from others for this but here goes: Strong, witty, honest, loyal, smart, charismatic, determined, romantic, adventurous, a leader.

Laila Muhammad is the morning/noon anchor at NewsChannel 3 in Norfolk, VA. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Laila loves to mentor aspiring journalists and still believes the art of solid news gathering. She is also passionate about media coaching and public speaking training for young athletes who struggle with articulating themselves in front of a television camera. Laila is an active member of the National Association of Black Journalists. She is a military brat, raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina and  her off time, she is a ZUMBA fanatic. Follow her on Twitter @lailamuhammad