No Pain, No Gain.

Unfortunately, in order to become who we are meant to be, pain is apart of the process. That being the case, I have had my share of pain that has been inflicted by rejection, abandonment & disappointment. As time progressed, I learned how to not allow what hurt me to cripple me from advancement & that beauty is morphed from my pain.

I was born a fatherless child to a young single mother who harbored her own pain. Although I did not know it then, I carried that pain for a long time & used his abandonment as an excuse to distrust & dislike people. I chose not to live my life or engage with new people out of fear of becoming a familiar friend to abandonment & rejection, yet again. I had a personable personality, but put the people who loved me through hell to ensure their intent was genuine. As time progressed & I loosened the reigns, I began to trust the wrong people. People who were less than worthy of my time. People who reminded me of what it felt like to be that little girl who was rejected by her father. People who took advantage of my vulnerability & my new attempt to forgive & disguised it as love. People who made it difficult to trust when amazing people who are worthy step in.

As I pursue new adventures with new people, I hold certain lesson extremely close to my heart. For instance, putting people under strict confines, not only made me a sh*tty person, it is asking for people to screw up. There is a clear difference between bad people & people who make a mistake & just because someone makes a mistake, does not make them a bad person. Being anti-social does not hurt the people that hurt me, but instead limits me from reaching my potential & engaging with people that can offer enjoyable experiences & lasting relationships. Some people are not supposed to be around forever. Sometimes their season is to serve a purpose & to go on their way. However, I learned to appreciate the people who stuck around even when I was not worth sticking around for. Although I still work through my trauma, I am healed enough to know that it is important to take ownership of my pain, regain my power & live my life.

The aftermath of my pain has given me the ability to empathize with those that are hurting & has allowed me to speak life into those who need it. I encourage you to do the same. People need your testimony. Your pain alone gives you a story to tell. A story of a journey consistent with perseverance & healing. Pain, although the effects can be long lasting, was never meant to be around forever. It’s purpose is to make a bad situation a positive transformation. What we gain from the experience, we are to help pour into others. We should never get it mixed up – pain is temporary. YOU are FOREVER.

Magic in Vulnerability

Emotional vulnerability is the ability to emotionally “exercise openness”. People often think that being emotionally vulnerable is a bad thing. Society has conditioned us to think that the exposure of too much emotion is in fact a negative attribute that no one should aspire to have. As a result, we are forced to live our lives amongst people who lack the ability to express themselves- resulting in a slew of dysfunctional relationships & misunderstood behaviors. I, for one, was one of those people. Growing up in the city taught me some very flawed ways of communication, which in turn severely effected how I maintained my relationships. Aggressive behavior was praised while any expression of vulnerability was chastised & frowned upon. So to avoid being the subject of ridicule I embraced this perspective. So much so, it became natural for me to behave in ways that hurt others while rejecting those who did not act as I did.  

It is no secret that I have made some unintentional, yet welcomed changes as of the past year. My ability to reflect on my past & change of perspective has allowed me to recognize the flaw in my previous way of thinking. I can say to you with certainty that the benefits of allowing myself to be emotionally vulnerable have truly surpassed the benefits associated with how I was living my life before. My willingness to accept my emotions, how they affect me & how I manage them has been the biggest saving grace in my life. My outlook & perspective has done a complete 360 & I say pridefully that the things I took for granted are now appreciated beyond measure. I now realize that people are not disposable. People make mistakes. If I am unwilling to recognize this, then I allow myself to miss out on amazing experiences with amazing people. I find beauty in the most minor things, live a life full of genuine joy & find substance in simple day-to-day activities. I have taught myself better ways to communicate & I love freely without condition. This all would not be possible if I refused to allow myself to succumb to my feelings without being ashamed. My willingness to embrace my emotions (good or bad) along with my ability to think logically has opened so many doors for me that I know would not have been opened before. 

Many of us are looking for a drastic change to occur in our lives. We wait forever for the “ah-ha” moment that will reshape things for us. However, sometimes our inability to fully embrace what is going on around us keeps those moments from happening. I have learned that our perspectives have a big influence on the way we live. Therefore, the best way to live is to allow ourselves to feel so that we may experience life’s little blessings. Today, I encourage you to stop shutting down your feelings out of fear of being vulnerable. Start allowing yourself to feel, engage & relish in the moments that makes life great. Life is too short not to feel all of its wonders. There is magic in the freedom you will have once you let yourself be free—without constraint. Give it a try.

Be Accountable

You have to be mature enough to understand that you have some toxic traits too. It’s not just the other person.”

These are the words etched in a meme I discovered on Instagram this week. Of course, I reposted it because the substance in those two sentences can not & should not be ignored. Weekly, I advocate the importance of preserving our energy & recognizing when certain people or situations do not work in our favor. However, I have never addressed the importance of being accountable for the things we may have done to others. I, for one, can recognize that I am not perfect. I understand that in pursuit of finding myself & navigating through the different stages of my life I have caused pain to others; whether intentional or not. I would be utterly naive to believe that I am the only person who has walked away from negative situations hurt. I must even recognize that I have hurt & caused pain or damage to others I am unaware of. Therefore, it is important to acknowledge the roles we have played in someone else’s pain. As adults, we must acknowledge the facts – we are not perfect; nor were we created to be. However, acknowledging that we have had a hand in the experiences of other people, whether good or bad, would give us the most realistic platform for self-reflection.

If we fail to be accountable for our actions & the roles we play, we still leave those we love susceptible to pain while further crippling our own ability to grow. In hurting others & failing to remain accountable, the cycle of pain is never-ending because the opportunity to learn from past behavior will becomes non-existent. Furthermore, those interactions & experiences have the potential to ignite a plague of dysfunction that spans through the lives of many people if not dealt with appropriately. So the last thing we should want is for our behavior to have lasting negative effects on people that inhibits them from evolving past negative experiences they may have had with us. People, regardless of how amazing or horrible they may be perceived, deserve the right to heal. More specifically, from pain we have foisted upon them.

As I write this, I am able to reflect on my healing process & what I needed to receive in order to heal sooner. Although I could not identify it then, in hindsight, I realize that my struggle to fully move past what was done to me (without anger) was significantly hindered by my inability to accept the other person’s disinterest in recognizing the role they played in my dismay. Though I have learned that I have total control of my healing in it’s entirety; in those phases of my life, I would have appreciated solid recognition of the situation instead of the offerings of sweet nothings, broken promises & cruel & dismissive behavior.  

However, please recognize that in being accountable, I do not prescribe that we carry the burdens of someone else’s pain like bolders on our shoulders; nor do I believe that we should drag them behind us as if they were shackled to our ankles. We should never be slaves to our past. However, if given the opportunity (directly or indirectly) it would be most conducive to growth if we understand that some of our traits are toxic too. Having toxic traits does not make us bad people, it simply just makes us human. We owe nothing more than that to anyone but ourselves. We are not required to be anything more or anything less than– human. Not perfect. Not a superhero. Just human. Just the best version of human we can be.

Relishing in the Small Wins

From youth we learn the importance of setting goals to achieve success — “when I grow up, I want to be...” In return, we are given the steps needed to achieve these goals, — “to be … You must first…” So, early on, we recognize that life is about goal setting & that some simulant of work must be done to obtain these goals. However, I recognize that we often just celebrate the large wins; the big milestone wins that significantly propel us or gets us to our goal (i.e. becoming a doctor, lawyer, writer, etc). It was not until starting Nickkie&Co, where success was in the 1 follower I gained or the 50th memoir that I wrote, that I realized that in some way, my original conditioned way of thinking was flawed & sends the wrong message. It truly was not until recently that I learned to celebrate the small wins. Small wins allow relishing in the moments & enjoying the things that makes life worth it.

Usually, it’s the journey to the goal that allows us to feel accomplished when the large goal is achieved. Regardless of the overall goal, the small wins are just as important to celebrate because a win, regardless of it’s size or significance, is still a win! A win we should be proud of. Any accomplishment & any step that propels us closer to our goal, or an unexpected triumph is something to celebrate. So often we get caught up on the final prize that we discourage ourselves from being proud of what smaller steps we have accomplished to get it. News flash! Every step, every movement in our journey contributes to what is to come of us. We have to stop minimizing what has been done or how far we have come & start standing firmly on what has been accomplished. The expectation to achieve large goals contributes significantly on us being so hard on ourselves. Today that comes to an end.

Let’s start practicing — speaking life & praise on our accomplishments (regardless of the size) until it becomes second-nature, naturally. Let’s make conscious efforts to toot our own horns, often. Let’s celebrate the slaying of our giants & triumph like David did. Let’s appreciate all our accomplishments because life is too short not to relish in the small wins & too long to ignore them. Let’s stop beating ourselves up when we are not where we want to be, when we want to be. Let’s stop focusing on where we fall short & start focusing on where we don’t. The days where we feel like failures are long behind us. Because as we acknowledge the wins, the right sentiment follows; We are champions, always, regardless & forever!

The New Year is approaching, instead of making this a temporary resolution let’s make this a permanent way of life. We are powerful, victorious & we WIN always– regardless

 

The Reemerge

Hello Gorgeous!

 I am excited to announce that another Guest Inspiration has come forward to share her testimony with us. Ms. Subhana Wrights is a warrior who is surviving, serving & slaying daily with a condition that causes her immune system to attack her own body. She is a shield-maiden that takes her condition, Psoriatic Arthritis, head on while still LIVING! Her condition can leave her susceptible to skin lesions, unwanted stares & comments, joint pain, stiffness. swelling, etc. on a regular basis. Although there is no cure for her condition, she has not allowed herself to be defined by it. In fact, she has done the exact opposite. She has defined what it is to LIVE, SURVIVE & CONQUER despite what challenges may discourage her. She understands the weight of her testimony & has chosen to use this platform to share with others. Please read & share this young woman’s testimony & recognize her for her courageousness. Subhana, You ROCK (allat) girl, thank you simply for being you!

 

“If you were looking to be accepted from the world and everyone in it, after what you’ve been through, then you were sadly mistaken & the sooner you come to terms with that, the better”

-Subhana Wrights

Deciding what to wear or what not to wear, which scares to hide and which scares to show. Finally, I got it! I’ll wear this orange off the shoulder dress. It’s not too revealing but revealing enough and I still feel sexy. I get dressed, lay down my edges, put my faux locks in a high bun and head to my best friends hotel. Ding Dong! I’m outside, ready to have a good time.  As I walk in “wow you’ve lost so much weight, are you ok? What are those scars on your body?” Yes I’m ok and I’m stronger than ever. These scars are just symbols of the journey I’ve been through and the strength I have to overcome. These are questions I wasn’t prepared to answer, this was the first time I put on a revealing dress since I’ve been diagnosed. 

In October 2017, my body was 80% covered in black and brown lesions from head to toe. My scalp was covered in dandruff which causes build up. For example, if I were to wash my hair, within 6 hours my scalp would be covered in flakes and the itching caused hair loss. Going from having a head full of hair, acne free skin and a blemish free body sent me in a mental spiral.  The lesions on my body itched 24/7 and burned at night when I tried to get comfortable enough to sleep. My ankles had become so swollen it hurt at night to walk or to even stand for a long period of time. All in all while going to work day in and day out.  A lot of people saw the lesions on my face and thought then said, “OMG!  What happened?”, “Did you use a different soap?” All questions I wasn’t able to answer because I didn’t have a diagnosis yet to what was wrong.

In November 2017, I was finally diagnosed with psoriasis/psoriatic arthritis. I finally had an answer but the journey to recovery was like no other. By the time I was diagnosed I already lost 50lbs and my hair was so thin and brittle with two bald spots due to itching and build up. I was told I still had to wait for treatment to see if my health insurance would approve it. Two weeks later I was notified that my insurance was not approving the treatment due to it being too expensive. One injection alone cost 13,000 dollars which was only a piece of the treatment needed to begin my recovery. Soon after, I was notified of the possibility to be eligible for free treatment through a medication program but I would have to apply first.

During the waiting time my condition worsened and depression started to settle in. My ankles and joints became so swollen that the skin around it felt tighter and tighter every step I took. My liver became enlarged which is a common factor patients with psoriasis. Getting out of bed everyday was a struggle for me. I was contemplating the purpose of living with this condition and if I was going to be limited. In my mind this condition was the worst thing that could happen and since it was passed on through genetics, why not kill myself to prevent it from being passed on to future generations. This was my silver lining, suicide and ending it all.  I went from being a lifelong athlete to being frozen in life. Everything stood still. Each day went by slower and slower. Every day I woke up waiting for a phone call with an answer and every day I didn’t get it drew me closer to ending it. My outlets in life were always going to the gym or playing sports but when my outlets caused more pain than relief I had to let it go too.

In the process of letting go I had to find something to hold on to, to keep me present. I began to dig deep, past my thoughts and my depression. I had to go beyond myself to save myself. While being frustrated about the problems with my chronic condition and the lack of answers; I began to create hope not only for myself for the others suffering in silence too. I decided I can’t be the only person going through this pain, although it’s not a common condition there are other people out there who share the same pain as I do. This is when I decided to fight. The biggest battle I’ve had to conquer yet, the battle of myself. 

 Every day I woke up I verbally told myself to get up and fight. One step at a time, sit up, stand up, brush your teeth, and take deep breaths then fight. I decided to put my mind to use on something positive to keep my mind occupied to fight depression. I created a charity called ”Bhana’s Purple Meals on Wheels”. The Purple Heart represents Auto Immune Disease Awareness. The meals provided were home made by me and were sold for no more than $10.00. Proceeds went to research for people suffering from Auto Immune Diseases. I decided to be the voice I couldn’t find, I decided to shine the light I never had, I decided to fight.

Also, while in the process of letting go, I drew closer to my passion for writing which brings me into sharing a piece I wrote while in this journey but first, here’s what writing means to me. Writing is like painting to me. I can’t paint with a literal paint brush but with my words I can create the reality of which I wish to paint only using words. Every word is a stroke, every placement of my words is an accent. Every statement is a stamp. A stamp with the pigments of my imagination attached. Pieces of my mind painted with words that flow as times goes. The more time moves forward the more pieces of the past I paint using my words of color bringing life to my thoughts, experiences, hopes &  prayers and words of wisdom. I hope you enjoy and know that you’re all stronger than you think. 

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, feel free to email me at :  subhana.wrights@aol.com

The Process of Being Submerged

The process of being submerged

To reemerge taller, stronger, wiser

Having the darkest of days

Trying to find my way

Questioning my way

Thoughts of ending my way

Forced to choose crush or be crushed

Finding the voice

Emerging the voice

Making a choice

A choice to end the battle with me

A choice to carry this battle with the voice I have seen no one have

The strength to carry mountains

Mountains of silence by the millions carrying this

This voices of those who are currently silent, I choose to carry it

I choose to bring life and strength, and light to darkness

I choose to fight with the power of millions silently behind me

See, through this all I’ve realized none of it is about me at all. I was the strength that was chosen to carry this with my natural fighting spirit

I was chosen to fight, punch, and kick, with the power of them behind me

I’ve always questioned my purpose and why I am the way I am before all of this began and now, now it’s all so clear

I’m here to fight

“I decided to be the voice I couldn’t find, I decided to shine the light I never had, I decided to fight”


Promise in a Rainbow

Happy Self-LoveSelf-Care Sunday Loves!

Each week I write a memoir in hopes that someone will be able to relate to the topic or knows someone who can. However, today I have been inspired to empower you in a different way by discussing a topic I am certain we can all relate to. While you read this memoir, whether it is something you have experienced before or something you are experiencing now, you will be able to reflect humbly on this period & hopefully feel empowered to get through, consistently- every time. Today, my heart has been moved to speak to someone who may be suffering, who is  “undergoing pain, distress or hardship” in their own way. Today, I am shouting to you that regardless of the adversity, circumstance, shortcoming, disappointment, heartache or loss you are experiencing — you are fierce, strong, powerful, able & will overcome. Despite what you feel like today, tomorrow or next week, I can assure you that your suffering is temporary. In the pits of your hell you will triumph. Adverse situations, despite how debilitating they may be, are created in your favor. Like a diamond you morphed under pressure becoming something more valuable to be desired. 

As I write this, I am unaware of what you may be experiencing. However, I am a walking testament of someone who has suffered & has watched the people I love suffer all the same.  Though our suffering may not look the same & have lasted different periods of time– all suffering, regardless of the cause, is relevant- including yours. As someone who has fought through storms, who has wanted to give up & who has overcome; I encourage you to have faith & keep pushing. I encourage you to find the glimmer of hope that resides in you & push it forward. The promise is your pain will not be permanent. Any obstacle placed before you will not outlive you. It does not have longevity. What you believe to be your strongest battle has & will work in your favor. The magnitude of the pain you feel does not even scratch the surface of the joy that will come your way. Again, I reiterate — you are fierce, strong, powerful & able. What was created to debilitate you will lose momentum. What was created to defeat you will not find victory. What was created to keep you out of the race has put you in first place because anything you will feel on this earth does not have the strength to take you out. You are anointed & protected by the most high. There is no way you can lose. 

The day will come in which you would reflect back on this time & though all pain does not go away, your ability to become resilient will manifest. What once seemed to cause havoc on your life will be meek in comparison to what you have become. What almost took you out before will crumble in your presence & what will come of you after this will amaze you. You can not even begin to imagine the force you are about to become once this is over. You have no idea what testimony you will testify or the people you will inspire. You just have to keep pushing. Not for anyone else but for yourself. Your storm is almost over, you must not give up. What will come of your life, what will become of you is depending on it. After all, as God promised, …”when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the clouds; & I will remember my covenant which is between me & you & every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh” Genesis 9: 14-15.

In sum, there is no storm placed before you strong enough to take you out. You got this!

Psalms 30:1-5

Happy Sunday beautiful Conglomerates!!! Today, I have a treat to share. Long-time friend, fellow sister in christ, full-time wife & mother has stepped forward as a Guest Inspiration to share her testimony with us. I have watched her growth & admire the woman she has become, despite the obstacles she has overcome. She has evolved past her testimony & is wise beyond her years. To see her now is to understand that her growth has come with great sacrifice. I appreciate her for recognizing that there is substance in her testimony. Together, we pray that what she says will help other women find the strength to step up & speak out against mistreatment- physical, sexual, verbal & mental abuse.
Let us welcome her.  

My name is Nadia Shannon and I’m a survivor of domestic violence. I believe my story began as a child. I was a witness of abuse between the ages of 3-6 years old. My parents were married and I watched my mother get abused physically, emotionally, mentally & verbally.  As a child you really don’t know what’s happening, so at the time it didn’t affect me. Where I was affected, was in the separation and divorce my parents went through; once my mother finally gained enough strength to get out of the horrible relationship. In the years to come, my father was always there for my sister & I. He was and still is an amazing father. Although he didn’t have great characteristics of a husband, my father never separated himself from his children. It wasn’t until my teen years that I started to feel the horrible abuse from my father. Around the age of 14, when I was trying to find myself, entering high school, and showing signs of liking boys is when my father started to become verbally abusive. Many times, as minorities, we write it off as being protective or as if it is acceptable because he’s Spanish but in reality, verbal abuse is never all right. As time went on, I began to grow a dislike for him and started to, in a sense, see what my mother went through. My father still showed his love and affection but when he was angry he was enraged- cursing and very demeaning. I started to hate it so much but somehow I ended up being attracted to that very type of boy.  

There was this guy who I knew from middle school and because I moved we lost touch. One day, I went to a high school basketball game with my cousin and we reconnected. We were freshmen in high school and by then he hit his growth spurt. Furthermore, I had developed assets I didn’t have in elementary school.  We exchanged numbers and my life changed forever. We were on an off from 9th grade to senior year. It was a long distance relationship but because my father lived in the same town we were able to see each other more than a little bit. The relationship was so rocky that my family warned me it wasn’t healthy.  One particular incident I remember was in the summer of my junior year of high school. We got into an argument and he slammed my head into a brick wall. This was the first time he ever put his hands on me. I was in shock. In my mind I tried to reason with myself– “Its no big deal, Nadia.” “Don’t trip, he’s never put his hands on you before.” “You better not cry, it’s not that serious.” But regardless, tears started to fall. He looked at me and said, “Man it wasn’t even that hard, you’ll be alright.” Little did I know, this would open the door to what would become 3 years of hell. Fast-forward 2 years later, I became pregnant with our son. We moved in together and the gates of Hell flew open. He cheated, had women in my home when I was at work, would steal my car, beat me, force me to have sex, break my phone so I had no contact with family and trap me inside our apartment. All the while still telling me he loved me. Somehow, I still believed him. 

This was the darkest time of my life. I felt trapped and lost with no way out. I kept holding on to the thought of “I want my son to have what I didn’t. He needs his parents in the same home together.” So somewhere in my immature, 18/19 year-old mind it was all worth the abuse. On one particular night, I found a thong on the passenger floor of my car. I flipped out and had enough. I hid my car keys in the window seal of our bedroom so he couldn’t steal my car. He beat me so badly. He tore my clothes off me and he trashed the entire apartment looking for my keys. The entire time it was like my conscience was talking to me. One minute I was telling myself to just take the beating, that it will be all right and I reminding myself that I cannot tell him where the keys are. The other part of me was telling myself “Nadia it’s not worth it, give him the keys.” The entire time our son was sleep in his room. He finally got in his own car and left. I was naked in the corner of my room soaked with lotion, hair products & powder. In all of his rage, he was pouring these items all over me. When they ran out he would throw the empty bottles at me, etc. 

I promise you, while this was happening to me I screaming at the top of my lungs but no one came to save me. He threw my phone in the fish tank so I had no way of calling 911 or my parents. When he left, I got into the shower to clean myself off. He came back into the house, kicked the bathroom door in and intentionally turned the hot water up to burn me. I fell out the shower trying to escape the scorching water. At this point, I was yelling for him to kill me. I didn’t want to be tortured anymore. He took a knife to me but the sound of my son’s cry saved my life. He left the bathroom, took my son out his crib and left. I knew this was my time to escape. I dressed myself as fast as possible and left the house. I hid in a bush because he was circling the block and I stayed there for an hour, terrified. I got in my car and drove to a friend’s house. After that night, I knew it was time to get out of the relationship. I finally made it known to my best friend what I’ve been going through and she helped me take the next steps toward survival. I changed the locks in the apartment, kicked him out and started my independence. Three months after I left, there was one more altercation that  landed me in the hospital fighting for the life of my new unborn child. Sadly, it took these life-threatening situations for me to realize LOVE DOES NOT HURT. Love is kind and by the grace of God, I survived. I wanted to share a piece of my story because I believe there are so many young women who currently are afraid to get out. So many young women are believing the words they’re being told by their abuser, just like I did– “You are nothing without me.” “No one will love you like I do.” “No one will ever want you.” I am here to tell you the devil IS A LIE. God took me out of my darkest storms. Beloved he will rescue you as well. 

If you need assistance or some direction please visit or call

https://courage4change.org/

https://www.thehotline.org/what-is-live-chat/

1-800-799-SAFE

There are professionals and resources available to assist you.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalms 147:3

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

 “Love is kind and by the grace of God, I survived.” -Nadia

“I will exalt you, Lord, for you rescued me. You refused to let my enemies triumph over me. O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you restored my health. You brought me up from the grave, O Lord. You kept me from falling into the pit of death. 
Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the nigh, but joy comes with the morning.

-Psalms 30:1-5 (NLT)

Social Media: Our Lives on Public Display

Social media is an experience many of us relish in for entertainment. With the right momentum, social media can significantly propel our dreams into unforeseen heights, spread awareness at extremely quick rates & contribute to movements that link you to other like-minded people. However, as with many things, social media has a nasty side many of us see all too often. Just as social media contributes to positivity it can, in turn, magnify negativity. Social media is an implosive avenue that allows people to put their mental health, emotions & relationships on display. As an aspiring entrepreneur, I am grateful for the opportunities & benefits that social media makes available to our generation. I have been able to watch social media morph the lives of “regular” people into “celebrities” practically overnight. Hashtags & profile layouts have become the new “resume” that aid in propelling an entrepreneur’s popularity on the specific platform they use. Just as one’s success can multiply over night; the nasty, yet private aspects of our lives can do the same. From experience & observation, I have learned that negativity spreads faster than positivity, especially when fueled by pain & aggression.

Therefore, we must be mindful of the areas we share with the world until we are truly ready to share it. Social media is fun but once people are invited into the entertainment of our lives they will likely never leave. This will make it more difficult to heal & move past difficult phases of our lives. I have experienced this first hand with breakups or friendships that have gone south. Giving the world access during these phases of my life simply added more fuel to the fire & has caused more damage than it needed to. Over the years I have learned to be private in my affairs while dealing with my sadness intimately. Instead of sharing it with the rest of the world, I have taken that time to reflect & love into myself in a way I never knew before. As a result, it has done so much more for my self-preservation than I ever could have imagined. In fact, using that time to reflect & grow is why I can share personal testimonies with you every week on this platform.

I often promote sharing testimonies in order to heal & empower others. However, more than anything, I promote putting our health (physical, mental & spiritual) first. Often times, during extreme periods in our lives, we showcase our pain for the world to see without taking into account that it just may be too early for us to process what these periods mean for us. If we are still processing & healing from our trauma’s having the space to process alone without the prying eyes of others can be most beneficial to us. I believe in full transparency (in due time), however broadcasting our lives when we are most vulnerable leaves us susceptible to hurtful retaliation, negative statements, & abrasive actions that are not conducive to our healing. Granted, our profile is our expression & we should never have to filter who we are or how we feel for the likes of other people. But the truth is, it is not about other people. It is about us. There are certain phases of our lives that people should not be privy to on LIVE. Our lives should never be on display for people to tune in to every week. If it does not add to our growth, spread awareness, or propels our mission live updates are not required. Preserving ourselves for a better version of ourselves is most certainly ideal. After all, caterpillars always morph into butterflies in private leaving the world in awe of their beauty.

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Date Nights With Girl Friends

This past month & a half has been amazing. Nothing over the top happened like a spontaneous road trip, or falling in-love with a stranger at first sight. However, what made them worth talking about was that I took myself away from my hectic life & spent a few hours with my girlfriends. For the first time, in a long time, I did not think about my finances. I left all the things I needed to do on pause until I could deal with them afterwards. Weekly, whether in a memoir or on a post on Instagram, I constantly discuss the importance of having an empowering tribe that are so goal-oriented that you all, in one way or another, can build together.

What I have not discussed, is the importance of turning off life & spending much-needed girl-time with your girlfriends. With all the day-to-day stresses of the world, I did not realize how much I just needed time with my friends until I woke up the next day & felt refreshed. So today, I want you to make conscious decisions to spend time with those who encourage you & push you to be better. These dinner dates & mid-day girl sessions have made me feel so rejuvenated, productive & empowered for the coming workweek. Aside from that, I was able to spend time with people I love so much but hardly ever get to see. Excuse the cliché, but it is so true; life is too short. It is extremely important to take time to make memories with our loved ones while everyone is still around to enjoy it.

I have gotten into the habit of “checking-in” via text messages; however, I realize that in doing this so often, I miss opportunities that allow for conversations that contribute to growth & interpersonal bonds. Bonds that I cannot get behind the blue bubble on the screen of my phone. Sometimes just taking a few hours aside to go visit a friend can be all you need to brainstorm, relieve some stress & be a little carefree. As women, we always let life boggle us down. We make limited time for our loved ones & even less time for ourselves with the expectation that there will be another time. Nevertheless, most times, we need the break right now & we do not realize it until it is too late. Being around friends is a self-care ritual that is therapeutic & empowering. Around the right friends, they will remind you who the *bleep* you are when you feel small, they will encourage you to keep going, they will add wealth to your life & gems to your circumstances. So make time for them. Making time for them is also making time for yourself. We all get busy, unfortunately, that comes with being an adult. However, being an adult does not entail that we neglect ourselves along with the relationships we build with one another. A break away is acceptable & can reap positive results in our lives that can easily become robotic. We are deserving of any time we put aside for ourselves, even if it is just a few hours. In order to inspire & empower others, we need to be able to tap into the minds & energy of those who inspire & empower us. So, make time for your friends. They will be happy to see you & you will be happy you did so later.

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Lovin’ My Melanin

You can’t play with us, you’re too brown.” Those were the words of fair-skinned, 4-year-old, Ashley. I wanted to be friends with her so badly. However, according to her, the shade of my skin did not make me an eligible prospect for her friendship or that of any pretty, light-skinned girl in my kindergarten classroom. Before you get bent out of shape about little Ashley, I want to preface that at 4-years-old, her statements were not a reflection of her. Instead, it is important to recognize that this way of thinking was something she was taught.  In my experience, children, unless taught otherwise, are a blank slate & are molded by their experiences, as well as, the behaviors & morals of those who have a hand in raising them. Whether we realize it or not, the adults that have the ability to influence children in this way, have a significant influence on the way we view ourselves; especially during impressionable ages. It was not until a few years ago that I was able to acknowledge that skin, regardless of how light or dark it is, is beautiful; equally.

Nonetheless, before I got here, before I could look in the mirror & find beauty; I unfortunately, allowed statements, like those of Ashley’s, to dictate my life. I let the world tell me I was ugly by what they showed me was beautiful. What I saw as beautiful did not look like me. My skin complexion added to so many insecurities that took me years to get over. Until recently, I believed I was too dark to date anyone lighter than I was. I convinced myself that anyone lighter than I was would never be interested in me based off of my skin complexion alone. I would avoid wearing certain colors that made my complexion look darker or brought too much attention to it. So my brown skin coupled with what I believed to be nappy hair, had me doing everything except loving myself, as I was.

Now, all women, including the brown ones, are Coming Out & are showing the world that whether big or small, slim or thick, dark or light, tall or short, we are all worthy. Regardless of what we look like, we now acknowledge all these features make us who we are but do not dictate what it is we can offer the world. Now, I say without a shadow of a doubt that I absolutely love my melanin. I am brown, (N)happy & no longer allow myself to believe that certain things are closed off from me because of my skin complexion. I look in the mirror today & acknowledge my beauty. I look at who I am & I see the roots of my ancestors. I see royalty.

The days of being ashamed about it are long behind me & I apologize to myself for ever feeling that who I was took me out of the race. The epiphany of my understanding is important to convey to those who come after us.  We can not fail them by not doing so. We have to empower our little girls to realize that regardless of the message portrayed to them, they are beautiful, smart, strong, fierce, amazing, capable & enough. My hope is that they would never have to learn to love themselves like many of us had to. I hope that we can start to paint their blank slate with so much color it makes them so vibrant that they never feel the need to dull who they are for the likes of someone else. We have to teach them that loving themselves, as they are, is the greatest gift they could ever give themselves; even when the world appears to tell them otherwise. Teach them now that they are perfect as they are & no one will ever be able to dictate who they are in the world.

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**I do not own the rights to the song linked to this memoir**