Dear Faith,

I bet when you think about all the things that happened this year, one word has to come to mind; Faith. Had it not been for Faith, you wouldn’t have accomplished half the things you did.

2017 was filled with so many different complex emotions and issues for me; youve felt some of my lowest moments, while also experiencing some high points. Through it all, the only thing that brought you confidently to the end, was faith.

There were some points this past year where you just couldn’t get past being depressed, suffering from anxiety and even being diagnosed with chronic migraines. This was the first year you ever had to take any types of medications or even see any types of specialists. It definitely affected you mentally and emotionally. There were times you wanted to be upset, frustrated, scream, kick, cry, etc; and you did. You did all those things and still do sometimes, but you also try to stay grounded in the faith that this is only a temporary circumstance in your life, it will pass, and your health will improve. Until then, you have done everything to keep yourself well, from meditation to prayer to positive affirmations.

Despite the moments you wanted to let everything go, and through all the moments you felt like quitting, you continued to have the trust in faith that you will succeed and you will achieve things beyond your wildest imagination.

One of your biggest accomplishments; your baby, Writing in Color Publishing. You NEVER thought in this lifetime you would publish books under your own publishing company name. As an extension to that, you’ve even worked on expanding to editing and hopefully publishing other authors under your company in the coming years. All it took was the belief in faith that you could make this happen and you’ve already begun planning the next phases and how you want them to come into fruition.

You also challenged yourseld to be more affirming in positivity, and in October, created 62 affirmations. That was HUGE. Who would’ve thought you could generate 2 affirmations a day for an entire month, but you did and it was one of the most reassuring and positive months you had all year.

Overall, the year was one filled with growth, re-evaluation and reassurance. Faith continued to keep you uplifted and believing in your power to turn things around for the good. Without it, you wouldn’t be where you are today, 12.31.17.

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Self-Care Sunday: Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

For 2018’s first segment of Self-Care Sunday, we will be highlighting the topic of planning.  Last year (a couple of weeks ago to be exact), I wrote about planning out my 2018 year for writing (you can read about it here).   In this post, i outlined the importance of planning your writing out in advance and how it will lead to a more stress-free way of blogging and writing for the year.  I also touched on a little bit of organization last year in a self-care post here.   Last year, I was pretty consistent with writing and scheduling posts a couple days in advance; however, this year, I want to be proactive about having all of my posts (or at least most of them) scheduled out at least a month in advance.
Now, I’m sure you’re wondering by now, what does this have to do with self-care?  Well, I’d be happy to share some insight on my personal experience with how organization and planning help to enhance my wellness and self-care.
I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older, that the more hectic and out of sync my life is, the more heightened my anxiety is, the more stressed out I become and overall, my mood is just not that great.  All of these things have a direct effect on my self-care.  Even in your self-care, there is a level of planning that has to be done in order for it to be successful; you have to schedule out time for yourself, decide what you will consider your routine, research the pros, cons and benefits to your designated method of self-care, etc.  There are many aspects of this idea and I believe that a well thought out and planned life is a life destined for a reduced amount of stress.
Here are a few tips in order to plan for a successful 2018 personally and even professionally:
  • Get a calendar: One of the first things I did was buy calendars for the 2018 year.  I bought two; one for my personal/family life, and one for my blogging/writing.  I like to keep both separate, and plus i need more space in the writing one in case i need space to write more things down (lol).  Also, I buy colorful pens and highlighters and highlight all the important deadlines and due dates for projects, events, etc. that I have coming up initially at least six months out. Then, at the beginning of the summer, I will sit down and plan out the second half of 2018
  • Schedule in “me-time”:  While you have your calendar out, be sure to schedule your “me-time” getaways as well.  Although they are important, and we often do not forget about the time we have allotted for ourselves, it makes it more tangible and realistic when you look at your calendar and see that you’ve already got time booked with yourself in your calendar.
  • Make sure all your work is done between Monday and Friday: Professionally, I find that I work too many hours on the weekend, for FREE! I am an exempt employee, which means I do not accrue overtime, and anytime I am working after 5, it is for free and with little to no ability to flex my time.  My personal policy is I’d rather work a possible hour or two later, or come in an hour or so earlier, if it means I can leave my work laptop at home on Friday and not look at it again until Monday.  It is something I hope to adapt and keep in place in the 2018 year.  It will also give me more time to focus on my blog and my publishing company.
  • Learn to say no if your calendar is getting too full too quickly: it’s perfectly ok to tell someone that you cannot do something.  It is important not to spread yourself too thin.  It is also important to note that if you’re committing yourself to so many things for others, when will you have time to focus on your personal goals?

3 Ways to Improve my Emotional, Mental and Spiritual Health

Now that I have surpassed a big milestone in my life (turning 30 in November), I am consistently pulled into a position of how I feel that this next chapter in life is a part of a big transition for me in life. I feel like im at a point in my life where there are so many opportunities that will come into fruition for me after I turn 30 that I want to make the most of what life has in store for me when I turn 30. In order for me to achieve this, I must be emotionally, mentally and spiritually aligned and healthy so that I will be able to properly receive what is for me in this next phase in my life. Without these three aspects of my life in check, everything I feel will not fall in place and be completely out of sync for me.

Oftentimes, and also do many times in my life, I’ve walked around in life not knowing which way to go or how to get to my desired goal in life. As I’m sure we all have at one point in our lives, I’ve suffered from several emotionally trying events in my life; some that I’d wish I had never had to experience; however those experiences are what shaped me and molded me into who I am today, and they also shaped how I view how to prepare myself into becoming more emotionally, mentally and spiritually healthy for anything else that may arise in my life.

I want to highlight at least one thing I do to remain emotionally, mentally and spiritually healthy throughout my life and hope that it helps someone else in their life if they are going through trying times, or need any suggestions in these areas as well:

1. How to stay emotionally healthy:

  • Conquer my self-awareness: in order for me to remain emotionally healthy, I had to remember that the first step is to always be aware of my inner self and stay grounded in that. If I kept on the forefront of who I was emotionally first, those around me will realize my worth and watch over me when I truly need it most. For me, this and my overall happiness were things I had to and continue to have to work on, because if I’m not happy with these things about myself, then others around me will not see these qualities in me.

2. How to stay mentally healthy:

  • Take charge of your self-care: There is no reason that in 2017, no one is not abiding by a self-care regimen by now. I feel as if this is not s staple in your life, it needs to become one quickly. I adapted a self-care attitude early in 2017 and have not looked back since. Making my self-care a priority has not only improved my mental health, but it has also proven to make me a healthier person inside and out.

3. How to stay spiritually healthy:

  • Take time out of the day to meditate: Meditation has become a lifesaver for me in many circumstances. Taking as little as 5 minutes to breathe has been quite a lifesaver and a refreshing restart that I never thought it would be. Meditation has also allowed me to gain more spiritual awareness with myself, especially in the times when I feel I’m losing touch with it. With my busy schedule I get very lost in everything that surrounds my job that I sometimes lose sight of taking the time for those things, and that is where meditation becomes a big priority for me.

PSA: Bullying Doesn’t Make you Cool.

**this post was edited and reposted after conflicting information regarding Keaton’s actions and his family’s actions.

I’ve recently discovered several posts regarding children taking their lives because of being bullied. With each article, blog post or update via social media, the sight of a story involving a young child committing suicide does not get any easier to bear. Then, to find out the child suffered by being constantly bullied is even more sickening to hear.

In my line of work, along with child safety, I also deal with circumstances surrounding children who are suffering from suicidal ideation. The reasons vary; however, a lot of times, it is due to bullying at school. I’ve had several children state that they are bullied in school and it makes them very depressed.

Recently in my city, there was a child who committed suicide because she was bullied. She was 13. Just recently, a 10 year old child (Ashawnty Davis) took her own life because of bullying in Auroro, Co. another 13 year old child (Rosalie Avila) spent years being bullied, and took her own life because of it. It breaks my heart to see a child feel worthless and talk about themselves as if they don’t matter to the world, because their peers have put that into their heads. To know a child is being bullied, for as little reason as how they may look (something totally out of their control), is a scary thought.

Most people may not understand how a child can allow themselves to get tied up into what others think of them; however, I also believe that this is one of the reasons bullying becomes so underreported and unaddressed. When children often feel as if they have no one to connect to, it causes an even greater divide between that child and their parents, and their parents’ ability to get resources that they need to deal with the depression or negative feelings that are associated with being bullied.

I hope that there is more research and awareness effort that goes into bullying, cyber-bullying and the negative psychological effect it has on children and teenagers, and I hope this brings more attention to the need for more crisis intervention and programs that help address signs of a child suffering from any depression or possible suicidal ideation. I believe it takes seeing to believe, and more people need to see that bullying has a horrible effect on children. Children are committing suicide at younger ages because of how much they are bullied. To know a child is so young enough to position in their minds that they no longer want to live on this earth is completely heart breaking.

I say this in memory of Rosalie, Ashawnty, and all of the other children out there that may be struggling with their emotions as a victim of bullying: never let someone take your joy. You were made in God’s image, and for that, you are beautiful no matter what people say. Don’t let anyone take away your smile, and don’t let anyone steal your joy for life.

I am saddened that these young girls were so devastated by what was happening to them, that they felt that taking their own life was the only resort to the damage that was done. I hope that more awareness is made around bullying, as it is real and there are children becoming victims and ending their lives because of it.

#StandWithAshawnty #StandWithRosalie

Would You Rather Win with the Team or on Your Own?: Collaboration vs. Competition

In the African American community, it is so common to see so many people excel in different business ventures and entrepreneurial endeavors that they have branched out on and it makes me wonder to myself, is it possible that people can achieve satisfaction from collaborating with their peers, as opposed to being in competition with them?

What would have happened if two people would have come together to make that happen, instead of having so many different avenues of the same business running at the same time.  I believe it is because more people thrive off healthy competition with one another; as opposed to collaborating and sharing the spotlight with someone else.

People who are individually competing in something are naturally going to want to overshadow anyone else they are competing against, because they want to make sure they are seen as the number one person.  This reminds me of the “crabs in a bucket” mentality; where we constantly step over and manipulate each other, just to be the person at the top.

Humans live for the validation of others, believe it or not.  Even when you do not realize it; you live for some form of validation in your hard work and dedication to a task.  Even when you don’t expect it, a kind gesture, a thank you or some written recognition goes a long way when you have put in the time, dedication and effort t to get to a certain place with someone and you competed and won.

I also believe there is some level of competition within collaborating with others; however, when sharing a project with someone, it is just that.  It is a shared and joint effort, and therefore the work and end product is presented and shared amongst the group.  No one person is anticipated to be outshined by another person, because that is not hte purpose of a collaborative effort.  The point is to allow all parties to have an equal and conscious effort into completing the task.

So, again I say, we all have plenty of opinions on whether or not competition is good or bad for you; however, I like to think when using competition in a positive framework, it can be utilized in a morale-boosting way in a professional workplace and things of that nature.  I also like to think that collaborative efforts are just as creative and deserve just as much credit as welll.  In the end, it all depends on how or what your personal rewards-based system runs on: do you enjoy collaborating and sharing the positive efforts  with other peers, or  do you live with a competitive mindset on getting things achieved?

What Are You Leaving in 2017?

This question continues to surround me, and has been for the past couple of days; “what are you leaving in 2017?”

I believe that we ask ourselves this question every year around this time. As we prepare and plan for a new year, we set our new goals and intentions and manifest new and great things for our lives. During that, we tend to bring up the conversation of those people, places and things that we need to keep behind us as we are moving forward and progressing in our lives.

I too, have asked myself this question and given it deep reflective thought for the last couple of days. I’ve tried to summarize in words what, or who I want to leave in 2017 so that I can have a prosperous and successful 2018.

I’ve decided that can be summarized into one concept: Insecurity.

I’ve been insecure about so many things in my life, and it’s time that those thoughts and feelings get left in the past and not be brought into my present. Whether it be about my appearance, my own creative abilities, or my ability to succeed in various business or professional avenues, I have made a promise to myself that I will leave the concept of being insecure about myself and my life in 2017, and go into 2018 confident in myself, secure in my convictions and my intentions and not allowing anyone or anything stop me from pursuing my goals or dreams.

I ask that you do the same thing for yourselves: think of one thing that you want to leave in 2017, but think of how that thing has affected you in a way that you did not feel it was beneficial; and how you plan on reinventing yourself for the new year and leaving that one thing behind in hopes to manifest great and positive thiings for the new year!