Happy New Year!

My goodness! I can’t believe we haven’t spoken since 2018! I hope that you effectively closed the chapter that was 2018 and opened the chapter that is 2019. The beginnings of things and the endings of things are important.

Caption: Photos above of the beautiful Evolve Her! The perfect place to “master mind and plan” 2019! Photos by Terrence Crayton (t_cray on IG)

I am super excited to share that this past Saturday I hosted my first face-to-face Spell Well Event in partnership with AARP. The event was called Manifest 2019: Vision Board Party. We had around 20 guests, provided all of the materials (cork bords, push pins, magazines, markers, cute frameable quotes, YOU NAME IT!) and we had food and a Mimosa Bar! The event was held at the beautiful Evolve Her space, which is a co-working space for women in downtown Chicago.

Caption: Thank you to everyone who came out to our FIRST EVER Spell Well Event and our beautiful partner AARP! Photos by Terrence Crayton (t_cray on IG)

We are hosting a 2nd Vision Board Workshop this Saturday to accommodate those who were not able to participate in the first one. Register for free here.

Also, the “blog” section is now alive on Spell Well! It’s called “Manifest” check it out here:

https://www.donnienicolesmith.com/manifest/

I will also have some exciting Art of Culture news to announce soon! Like MAJOR! Just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes. The news will come out in February! Stay tuned!

I feel in total and complete alignment as it relates to my physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health and because of that MANIFESTATION is at an all time high for me right now. There isn’t too much of a gap between what I think about and what I experience. That is the mission of Spell Well – to help us close the gap between our reality and our dreams.

Next week will be my 35th Solar Return! I have been blessed to travel around the sun for almost 35 years! That is roughly 12,775 days! 153,300 hours. What a blessing! So many people who I know and respect have been passing away and it is a reminder to me that every single day is a gift, that the thing that truly matters in the end is how we treat others, and that we have to make the most of every single second we have. My word for 2019 is abundance (which I share with my friend Heather, HEY HEATHER!) and I have to say that I have been experiencing that in so many ways!

I am rich in love!

I am rich in laughter!

I am rich in space that is warm, inspiring and reflective of the things that I care about!

I am rich in worth! The people that I love make me feel like I am needed, wanted and valued.

I am rich in family! Both blood related and the family I choose (my friends).

I am rich in impact! From my former students, to my Art of Culture (formerly Donda’s House) participants, to people in the nonprofit space who I’ve supported.

I am rich in creativity!

I am rich in mental capacity and emotional capacity!

I am rich in my basic needs! I can turn on lights. I can do laundry in my home. When I want to go somewhere I get into a vehicle that is free of issues that effortlessly takes me from point A to point B.

I am rich in faith. I am rich in hope. I am rich in positive energy!

I could go on and on! What a blessing that I have so much wealth and so much abundance that I can’t event count it all!

I will be sharing my 35 lessons starting tomorrow here on the blog and on social media. Sending you love, light and digital hugs!

Donnie

3 Things to Consider Before Selecting Your 2019 Planner

It’s about that time of the year to start thinking about your daily planner. When it comes to keeping my life organized, I use a combination of a digital calendar (Google Calendar) for my appointments and events, and then a daily planner that I use to track my To-Do List and important tasks.

The planner market has really exploded in the last few years. You can find planners in the following places:

(1) Target

(2) Walmart

(3) Traditional Office Supply Stores (Staples, Office Max, Office Depot)

(4) Craft Stores (Hobby Lobby, JoAnn and Michaels)

When it comes to selecting a planner, these are the 3 things to consider that have made a difference for me:

(1) Size and Portability – Planners come as small as around 4 x 6, or as large as 9 x 12. Consider where you will need to use your planner and how it will fit in with what you already have to carry. If you are lugging your planner to and from work daily, you may not want to purchase the larger, daily models. You could also consider using a larger planner that you keep at work, and one that you keep at home. For 2018 I used an 8 1/2 x 11 planner that included both monthly and weekly pages. It was the first planner that I consistently used from the time I purchased it (around March) until now.

(2) Binding – Some planners are bound like a traditional book, some are spiral bound and some are in binder format. I used a spiral bound planner this year but what I didn’t like about it was that each individual ring had it’s own closure and over time those rings start to wear and tear. and pages and/or the cover starts slipping out. I have found that the binder style planners are a bit heavier (even before you add the pages) and it is harder to write in the pages (especially in those that are smaller than 8 1/2 by 11. When I did use a binder style planner, I preferred one that zipped all that way up that way I didn’t have to worry about pages or things falling out or water damage.

2018 Planner

(3) Design – Design really matters when it comes to planners. You have to be sure that whatever is on the cover or the color inspires you and brings you joy. I had already purchased a planner for 2019 (mainly because of it’s binding) but as i started to slowly use it, I wasn’t crazy about the design on the cover.

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I went to Michaels recently, where all of their planner stuff was 40% and found a design that speaks to my soul (hello, Glitter + Magic) AND it is slightly smaller than 8.5 x 11, so it will be super portable.

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I actually prefer for my pages to be pretty minimal, because you can personalize it using your own stickers, quotes, notes, etc. I also prefer minimal design in the interior of the planner because I  like the space to write. Also when it comes to the design you have a few options.

Monthly – These tend to be super light as they only have the 12 months inside of them. Usually one month covers 2 pages.

Weekly  – This design has one full week on two pages. Usually Monday – Wednesday on one side and then Tuesday – Sunday on the other side. This is my preferred format because it allows me to set my 3 – 5 priorities for the day. Most of these designs also have the monthly pages included.

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Note: Many planners in the weekly format put Saturday and Sunday side by side, reducing the space. I am excited for my 2019 Planner because it includes equal space for Saturday and Sunday. For many corporate-preneurs and and entrepreneurs the weekend is prime time. Some of us need all of that space lol!

Daily – This design has one day per page. These designers tend to be heavier because they have around 182 pages in them. These formats are great for people that use their planner for both scheduling and task lists. You also have more than enough space to do what you need to do.

Also shout out to my bestie Jamila who shared that she likes planners that have a dedicated space for goals!

Here are the popular planner designers:

The Happy Planner: https://www.thehappyplanner.com/ – I’ve seen this planner at Michaels and at Staples if you’d like to check it out in person.

The Passion Planner – https://passionplanner.com/ – Creatives RAVE about this planner. I haven’t tried it yet but I’ve heard nothing but good things.

Day Designer https://daydesigner.com/ – I tried the daily version of this planner. It was beautiful but too bulky for me.

Full Focus Planner https://fullfocusplanner.com/?utm_source=direct&utm_medium=url – I have been following Michael Hyatt’s Podcast “This Is Your Life” Podcast. What I love most about this planning system is that it is structured quarterly.

Recollections Plannershttps://www.michaels.com/2018-2019-planners-by-recollections-and-the-happy-planner/ia-2018-happy-recollect My 2019 Planner is by Recollections which is available at Michaels. They also have Happy Planners available at this link.

Erin Condren – https://www.erincondren.com/ People rave about Erin Condren’s planner. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.

Simplified Planner – https://www.emilyley.com/collections/simplified-planner I’ve heard great things about the Simplified Planner. The designs are beautiful. My original 2019 Planner was a Simplified Planner.

Franklin Covey https://shop.franklinplanner.com/store/ – Franklin Covey is the “OG” of the planner business. I have a great Aunt who used to work in corporate that swore by their system. She introduced me to it in High School and it was my preferred planning system until I bought a spiral bound DePaul University branded calendar my freshman year and converted. As an English Major I had to lug around 1,000+ page books and there was no practical way that my Franklin could come along for the ride without my straining my back and shoulders. Anywho, Executives LOVE the system and their planners have been around for years.

At A Glance – https://www.ataglance.com/ataglance/home/

You can find this brand at most Office Supply Stores. I also noticed that they have a collection with Emily Ley (of the Simplified Planners). The same can be true of Target. I’ve seen Day Designer branded planners in their store.

I Am Powerful Planner – http://whoseshoesbook.com/2019 – I actually received this planner last night in a gift bag. I was super excited to find out it was co-created by Christine St. Vil. Christine and I used to write for Black and Married with kids together. The planner is super colorful and has tons of inspirational and motivational content.

Lunar Planner By Modern Womenhttps://modernmysticshop.com/products/pre-ordermanymoonsplanner2019 – I preordered this book as I am a fan of the Many Moons Book they published this year. This calendar includes all of the astrological events as well as recommended rituals. I’m excited to make this book a part of my 2019 routine. If you Google It, you may be able to find it from another source.

Also, if you’re looking for inspiration to see how you can use your planner check out the following hashtags on instagram:

#bwwpc – This is a hashtag specifically for black women planners. Representation matters and I love seeing how creative black women are in the planning space.

#planneraddict – Over 4 million posts. Once you click on a post click on any of the other hashtags.

If you use another branded planner please leave it in the comments section including comments on why you like it and maybe even a link on where to purchase it.

I hope this is helpful for you. I will be sharing pictures on my Instagram as I move into my 2019 planner. Right now I’m carrying both, but plan to decommission my 2018 planner and put it in archive (on my shelf) on January 1st!

 

 

2019 Vision Board Reveal

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I have finished my 2019 Vision Board, which will remain in place until the end of December of 2019. 

A Vision Board should be a tool that inspires you to manifest your intentions. I speak more about how to set intentions in my Vision Board Masterclass here. I also speak about the process here

Here is a closer look at my Vision Board:

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I cut my hair earlier this year. Danai is so beautiful with her short hair. This image is a reminder that strong & sexy are not mutually exclusive and it is also connected to my intention of living a healthy lifestyle.

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This photo of Naomi Campbell connects to my intention of “looking good, for good.” This phrase was coined my our friend Kenneth Cole. I love fashion and style and when I step out, I want to do so with confidence and with class! 

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This graphic represents the many hats that I wear, as well as the type of clients I’d like to work with. I am now offering consulting services and would love to work with people, women in particular who are in these different industries. You can book one on one time with me here.

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I always have some form of travel on my Vision Board. I’d really like to travel to the following places in 2019: Mexico, Morocco, Egypt, Senegal (for the 2nd time), Italy and I’d like to go mining for gemstones. I was not able take a trip out of the country in 2018, so I plan to make up for it with at least 2 trips in 2019. 10781705248_IMG_8808

I want to be more present in my body and I want to DANCE more in 2019. I’ve also been really focused on doing more with less and living a life rooted in abundance and not lack or scarcity. 

Here are some sample pages from the Ultimate Guide to Creating A Vision Board Book: 

Sample Page 1Sample Page 2Sample Page 3

Vision Board Book

Vision Board Book

I would love to see your Vision Board! Post a link in the comments or e-mail me at wespellwell@gmail.com! I believe that when others see our Vision Board it adds good energy amplifying our intentions & manifestation process. It is also a built in accountability system when we make our intentions public or open. 

 

The Sweet Life: Michelle Obama’s Becoming Tour Recap

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The mood was festive! When we walked in there were large photo backdrops with lines of people, mostly women, getting their perfect shots. Merch tables were selling photos, posters and of course books! I overheard one person asking if there were any more signed books. “We sold out of those already.”

When we walked in to the stadium we were greeted with festive music and a backdrop of photos from Michelle’s Obama’s Journey both personal and professional. From clips of her on Sesame Street, to Lebron James, to Will Ferrell, during her family’s time in office Michelle Obama became a part of pop culture. Once she had her initiatives, Let’s Move, Let Girls Learn, she went to where the people were and spoke to us in a language that we could understand. It was a reminder that when we saw Michelle Obama, a black woman from the South Side of Chicago as the First Lady of the United States, our country’s version of the “Queen” we had visual proof and confirmation that anything was possible.

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Caption: L, Kris Christian, my friend, myself and Del-Marie, an alumnus of Art of Culture and one of my mentees/musical daughters. 

My mentee Del-Marie, my friend Kris and I made our way to our suite. Our suite was stocked with food, snacks and a mini fridge filled to capacity with soda & water. The room was filled with women non-profit organizational leaders and their mentees. We all introduced ourselves while enjoying the very delicious spread. We quickly made our way to our seats as the chatter in the stadium quieted in anticipation of the show beginning.

Michelle Obama and Oprah

Photo Credit: Rob Grabowski, Invision, AP News. 

The show started with Oprah Winfrey coming out to introduce Michelle via a video about her life. The graphics and visuals were all on point! That was followed by a powerful montage of people sharing who they were becoming in person and on video. Once the video ended Michelle and Oprah came onstage to take their seats. The backdrop was a large screen on top of golden yellow curtains. The seats were a dark teal and perfect frames for Oprah & Michelle’s beautiful brown skin.

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Michelle rocked a shimmery off one shoulder top, white pants and hot pink heels. I wrapped my head around the fact that I was sitting in the United Center for a book tour, and it was a packed house. According to Time Magazine, 14,000 to be exact. People attend the United Center for concerts, sporting events and now, thanks to Michelle Obama – book talks. Despite the fact that there were so many people in the stadium, Oprah & Michelle managed to make it feel like we were sitting in a small room with them. You could hear pockets of laughter, “Amens” and cackling when certain points were made. Here are some of the nuggets from the conversation which lasted 90 – 120 minutes. Although I wish I could represent the conversation in it’s entirety, I’m highlighting those things that stood out to me.

On Motherhood

  • Michelle shared how when she called herself “Mom-in-Chief” she received a lot of criticism for that.
  • She shared a story about how she wanted to try to normalize the experience of living in the White House for her daughters so unless they were doing formal dinners, she wanted the staff to dress more casually and not in full tuxedos. She said living in the White House was like living in an expensive hotel.

On Marriage

  • During her 20/20 interview with Robin Roberts she spoke about how she and Former President Obama went to marriage counseling. Oprah highlighted the fact that had become headline news. Michelle went into more detail about that.
  • She described how when her husband was Senator he had to travel a lot and how that impacted the family. When they went to counseling she wanted the counselor to tell Barack his issues, but wasn’t quite prepared for them to help her deal with her own issues. Her biggest takeaway from counseling was that she was responsible for her own happiness.
  • She also talked about how she didn’t want the girls and her to be in a position where they couldn’t eat because they were waiting for their father. They made adjustments and dealt with it from there.
  • There was a really cute video clip of Sasha & Malia sharing how they had more ice cream during the campaign season than they ever had in their life. They also talked about that night in Grant Park seeing everyone crying and screaming. They also talked about how proud that their mom as First Lady had, and how cool it was that she was also their mom.
  • She described having children as the first “joint project” for many couples. In many cases the wife has her thing and the husband has their thing, but the children is “our” thing which presents couples with challenges.

On Negativity

  • Oprah asked Michelle “How do you continually go high when the game is set against you?”  Michelle’s response was to “Do the work.” She said “your work will speak for itself.” She also talked about “having a lot to do distracts you from the pettiness. If you’re pushing a real agenda you don’t have time to play those games.” Finally she spoke of learning about moving the needle and the importance of removing our ego so that we can get things done.
  • Her parents encouraged her curiosity and they encouraged her and her brother to use their voice.
  • In safe spaces and private moments she would have “bubble moments” where she would really say what she wanted to say but then when she would come out in public she would say what needed to be said. She also said “You do not say the first thing that comes to the top of your head” and cautioned against that being acceptable.

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On Women

  • She said that we were still trying to figure out what we believe women can do. She described Hillary Clinton and others hitting a ceiling.
  • She also described how women were voting against their interests, and both her & Oprah mentioned wrestling with the why.
  • Oprah asked her a question about what she has learned about being in rooms with powerful men from Sidley Austin (the private law firm she used to worked for) to others. Michelle said “Our fear that our story doesn’t matter, it chokes us.” She then went on to talk about how we are often more qualified than some of the people who don’t believe that we should be there. How important it is that we speak up when we are in those rooms and at those tables, otherwise we are not making the most of the opportunity for ourselves and others.
  • She talked about how women often have ourselves 4th on our list, and we need to put ourselves closer to the top.

On The Writing Process

  • While writing she wrote the majority of the book before sharing it because she wanted to be transparent. She would share chapters with some of her early readers one of which included Oprah Winfrey and also her mother.

On Leadership & Life

  • She talked about the pressure being the first black family and how she felt the need to be perfect.
  • She described how hurtful some of the criticism was during the campaign and while her husband was in office.
  • She described reading the newspaper and seeing everything that was going wrong in the country being her husband’s responsibility, which is also where her empathy for anyone holding that seat emanates.
  • She talks about learning how to play the piano from her Aunt Robbie on an imperfect piano. The “middle c” was where you were supposed to start to play. On her piano at home the middle C was chipped and brown, but all of the other keys were yellow. When she played her first recital on a Baby Grand, she thought “This isn’t a piano” because all of the keys were perfectly white. She then used that as a metaphor saying that “Many of us are learning to play music on an imperfect piano and don’t even know it.” That was probably the story and the image that stuck with me the most from last night.

 

Caption: The above video features Non Profit Leaders + Their Mentees! We were all in the suite together. 

I highly encourage you to purchase and read the book. It is 426 pages! I plan to start reading it today! For those who were in attendance, if there was something that resonated with you that I didn’t cover but that may be helpful for others please share in the comments below.

I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to share this experience with one of our Art of Culture alums Del Marie Nelson. Del is a creative powerhouse with a beautiful soul. I will never forget the image of her writing notes during Michelle’s talk and her sharing the moments that resonated with her throughout. Our mission through Art of Culture is about providing access and information, and last night we were able to do just that. Thank you to Derrick Christian and Kris Christian for making last night possible for Del & I. I pray that you both are immensely blessed. Sometimes you feel overlooked. Running a non-profit is not easy and the stack of no’s is often towering over the stack of yes’s. Last night you guys said yes to us, and for that we are forever grateful. We needed that energy so much!

Donnie and Del

Lastly, thank you to Oprah Winfrey and to Michelle Obama for being shining examples of powerful, strong, unapologetically intelligent and graceful black women. You both have been North Stars for me throughout my personal and professional journey. If I am ever afforded the opportunity to meet you both in person, I will share that with you! I pray that my life and my work can have a fraction of the impact that yours has had on me and so many others.

Side Note: Exactly one year ago today, I had the pleasure of participating in the first Obama Foundation Event, and had the opportunity to meet President Obama.

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I recorded clips throughout the night for all of the people who for whatever reason couldn’t be in attendance. I want you to know that I thought of you last night. Here is a Dropbox link where you can view some fo the footage I recorded: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/6maqej50q5nw7ro/AADFZnMpTHu-OXQLWUtX66ADa?dl=0. I hope it inspires you and you can get an idea of what it was like to be there!

It was an absolute miracle that God pulled through in the last minute for me to attend. Read the full story here.

 

The Power of Manifestation – My Michelle Obama Ticket

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My best friend and I signed up for the notification when Michelle Obama released the announcement that she was doing a book tour. We we were already experts because of our ability to secure Beyonce tickets. After all, we are card-carrying 20+ year Hive Members. We were on the phone searching for tickets. Once we found the tickets we wanted they were way out of our budget. We decided not to purchase. As the owner of 2 businesses, I have to stick to my budget. When I don’t stick to my budget, I am unable to meet my financial goals. I will be 35 in January and when I took the entrepreneurial leap, I also walked away from my growing 401K, a paycheck every two weeks, my amazing health insurance – it was a real sacrifice for my dreams.

I started thinking about how badly I wanted to go to the Michelle Obama Becoming Tour, and thought & felt that I would be there, despite deciding not to purchase tickets.

About two weeks ago, one of my friends and colleagues e-mailed that they were working with the Obama Foundation and were working on securing tickets. I was super excited about it. This is one of those “plugs” that always comes through. I also know how things work though. “Working on it” is not guaranteed. I managed my expectations and hoped for the best. This person has come through time and time again.

As of 11/11, I hadn’t heard from my connect. I watched the Michelle Obama special on 20/20. I live tweeted. It felt refreshing, it felt inspiring. At 54 years old Michelle Obama represents strength, resilience, beauty, class and grace! She didn’t have to choose between family, career, her dreams and her husband’s dreams. She welded them together. Her fertility journey had me in tears. Having had 4 miscarriages (one at 5 months), and quickly approaching my 35th birthday, I realized that was the age when Michelle Obama started IVF, giving birth to two beautiful black girls. I was reminded by her that all hope is not lost.

I hop on Facebook and realize a South Side Bookstore was giving out 300 tickets to get Michelle Obama books signed. The tickets came and went and by the time I saw the announcement all of the tickets were gone. Another opportunity lost. I made peace with the fact that I may not be in the building Tuesday night… and that was ok. So many of my friends and colleagues were posting their tickets on social media. I was excited for them and made a mental note of who was going so that I could tune in to their social media profiles to catch as much of the show as I can.

When things are meant to be they happen. Yesterday morning I finished up creating content for social media for Spell Well, my new company. One of the videos included this:

It is now Monday. The event is in 24 hours. One of my good friends (not the one from 2 weeks ago) calls. She says “Are you available tomorrow night?” She then starts explaining and it turns out that not only am I getting a Michelle Obama Ticket, I also have the opportunity to take one of my mentees of a certain age. It’s a special thing that I am uniquely qualified for. As I type this message I am in tears. I matched the vibrational frequency of what it was that I wanted (see Oprah video above). I made peace with either outcome and divorced myself of the outcome. What’s for me… is for me. Never underestimate the power of your mind, your heart and your actions to draw the people, things and experiences you desire. I am a witness. It is now Tuesday morning and I am considering what I’m going to wear and preparing myself to show up for this amazing experience that I KNEW I would have. I didn’t know how but I knew the when and the where and I kept my schedule open…. just in case!

UPDATE: Read my full recap of the Michelle Obama Becoming Book Tour experience here.

Emotional Manipulation 101

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I can remember agreeing to do things I didn’t want to do…

I can remember wanting to prove my loyalty… my love… my commitment…

I can remember feeling like what I was experiencing was not love…

Each of us is unique in terms of our experiences, our trauma and our capacity and bandwidth. Even more difficult is that all of these factors change over time – sometimes day to day.

What felt good yesterday could make me sick to my stomach today.

What was acceptable 5 years ago could mean all bets are off today.

We change. We evolve. We transform.

When we say “if you love me you’d…” to a person that we love and care about, that is a form of emotional manipulation. The person on the other end of that comment is being put in a position to “prove” their love. They are being guilted into doing something for you. I’d like to propose that we consider another form of communication.

Replace “if you love me you’d…” with “I need X” or “I would like for you to…” That is much more direct and you can know that the behavior of the other person is coming from a place of love, support and care versus guilt or a sense of obligation. When we stack up the things that we do because we feel guilty or the things that we do solely from a sense of obligation, all that is left is resentment.

Plus, we have to allow people to show up for us in the way that they can. For example, when it comes to supporting other sin business, we can’t assume another person’s financial situation. If someone doesn’t buy your products or services or they don’t show up to your event, don’t be so quick to make their perceived lack of support about you.

  • Perhaps they have medical bills
  • Perhaps something pressing or serious came up
  • Maybe they are not ok spiritually or emotionally.

I am the mom to 4 angel babies. The first loss was the most devastating because I had a miscarriage at 5 months. For the next year or two I was not ok. I could not bear to attend baby showers. I could not watch Pamper’s commercials. I could not even walk by the baby section in retail stores. I remember going out of my way to walk around stores to avoid the baby section. I missed a lot of my close friend’s & loved ones baby showers during that time period. I didn’t want to show up and have an emotional breakdown.

I know people who have lost loved ones and have a very difficult time during the Holiday Season. I don’t expect those people to show up to my holiday gatherings. I’ve also been in situations where people say things like “You just want to hurt me.” If someone truly loves you, their intent is probably not (or at least it shouldn’t be) to intentionally cause you harm. If that is the first thing that comes to mind there is more unpacking to do beloved but those are YOUR BAGS to unpack.

Lastly, we have to communicate what we wish and what we want from our loved ones. Instead of putting out open/super public invitations on social media, we have to personally reach out to people and invite them to the events, causes and gatherings that we care about. The way these social media algorhithms are set up, they may not see it (even if they are following you). You may have a conversation with someone about something happening 30 – 60 days later. Give them the grace of a reminder when it gets closer. I can attest to the the fact that if something isn’t written in my calendar, it will likely not happen or remembered. Plus sometimes there are competing priorities and we just can’t be everywhere, all of the time. I would hate for someone that I care about to believe that I didn’t loved them or wished them ill intent or I didn’t are about them over a misunderstanding.

It is emotionally manipulative to guilt someone into doing something or to reduce a friendship or relationship to one decision. There are so many more layers and things to consider. We can sometimes fall into our destructive and unhealthy patterns and project this energy on those closest to us.

If someone is not in the mood to talk… that doesn’t mean that they don’t like you or don’t care about you. It simply means they are not in the mood to talk… it likely has nothing to do with you.

If someone doesn’t show up for your event… it doesn’t mean that they don’t want the best for you, and the best for the event. Check in with them later. Step outside of yourself for 5 minutes.

Communicate what you want and what you need with clarity and with specificity and watch those wants and those needs be met – fog, guilt and sucker free!

Register For My Free Online Vision Board Workshop

There are 55 days left in 2018. Insert distressed emoji here. This is the time of year to start reflecting on 2018.

I recently did a ritual created by Gaby Herstik that involved looking at experiences as either thorns or roses. It was such a beautiful metaphor for my experiences this year.

What worked for you in 2018?

What didn’t work for you in 2018?

What do you want to amplify in 2019?

What do you want to leave behind in 2019?

As I come to grips with these questions, I thought it was only fitting that we think about these questions together. I am hosting a free Online Vision Board Master Class on Saturday, December 1st at 10:00 a.m. CST. You can participate from anywhere in the world as long as you have access to the internet and a device (laptop, cell phone, iPad or tablet, etc.). Here are a few examples of my Vision Boards over the last few years:

2017 Vision Board

Vision Board 2014

Vision Board 2016

In this class we will explore:

(1) How to set annual goals and match images to those goals.

(2) Where to find images, quotes and other content to put on your board.

(3) Examples of Vision Boards including other formats and sizes besides the traditional Cork Board:

Cork Board

(4) Basic Principles of Manifestation.

There will also be time at the end for Q & A, and I will be going live on Instagram from my @donnienicole84 handle to show you how I take down the current year (2018) and put up my 2019 Vision Board! The start time for that will be 1:00 p.m. CST!

Click here to register for the free Vision Board Masterclass! There is limited space so please grab your seat ASAP!

Behind The Scenes of Building A Business

I am excited to share the news that my new company Spell Well LLC, has been born. The first stage of starting a company is to identify a problem and consider a solution to that problem. Research says that people support businesses that offer a solution to a problem that they are having.

Spell Well in a nutshell is a company that will offer educational courses and products in order to help them experience greater mental, physical, spiritual and emotional alignment in order to help them manifest their dreams and goals. Spell Well is the 2nd company that I am building. The first was Art of Culture Inc. (formerly called Donda’s House Inc.). Art of Culture is celebrating it’s 5th birthday this year and is continuing to support young artists and creatives in the Chicagoland Area. I am also pretty heavily involved in supporting my husband’s Rhymefest brand.

So what is it like to build a second company? How am I carrying the lessons from building the first company over to the 2nd one?

(1) Writing a business plan is essential as early as possible. There are so many decisions that have to be made when you start a new enterprise. You have to consider the products and services you will offer. You have to determine the strategic alliances and partnerships you will pursue. A business plan is one way to get all of your ideas out in one place. It is the opportunity for you to prioritize your activities. Contrary to popular belief it is also a super creative process. As you are meeting with partners and investors, a business plan will be your roadmap. It helps you to articulate who you are in the market and set a course for where you are headed. Here is the template that I am using for my business plan from Malta Enterprises. I like it because it is written in question format, and as you answer the questions you are crafting the plan. Right now I have completed sections 1 – 4 with a goal of finishing the entire business plan before December 1st.

We didn’t create the Art of Culture Business plan until Year 2 of operations and I was shocked at how much clarity and direction it brought once we did that. To this day, we refer to our business plan when making decisions about programming. It is also the place where we shelve future ideas. When the time is right we are able to move those ideas to the development and implementation phase.

(2) On developing a social media presence. 

Social Media is essential in developing brand awareness and connecting to potential supporters. Social Media gives you the opportunity to give your brand an identity and it allows you to communicate that message to the world unfiltered.

Art of Culture Inc. built a following organically on social media to over 30,000 followers. We are super proud of that and our social media continues to be the primary place that people meet our brand. Social Media is also an extension of our mission of providing access and information.

A Marketing Strategist shared a formula for me a couple of years ago. She said that social media should be 80% about the people following you and 20% about yourself. In other words, you have to figure out how your brand can connect to and support those who decide to click the “follow” button. You have to give them value. I have also learned the power of a good campaign on social media. Past campaigns included “Rewrite the Narrative” and “Deck the Halls of DH.”We generally do a campaign for Giving Tuesday (the Tuesday after Thanksgiving). We also do an end of the year campaign.

Invest in good photos and video content. These resources have been really helpful for me in developing content for Spell Well:

Free & High Resolution Stock Photos – Pexel –  https://www.pexels.com/

This site helps you avoid copyright infringement as the photographers determine the licensing agreements right there on the side of the image. Most of the photos are fine for personal and commercial use.

Design & Document Creator – Canva –  https://about.canva.com/

Canva has beautiful templates for social media, documents, presentations and more. There is a paid version of the App that I’ve been using for about 3 years now. It really helps take your visuals and aesthetics to the next level, which matters on social media.

Social Media Publisher – Hootsuite – https://hootsuite.com/

Consistency is one of the most important things for social media. It is time consuming. For Art of Culture, we actually hired people to assist with managing our social media accounts which lead to exponential growth. (Shout out to our first Social Media Manager – Kelsey, and our 2nd Social Media Manager – Hakim).

Hootsuite allows you to schedule posts. The only thing you can’t do is automatically post videos to Instagram. In those cases I just make a note in my calendar for Spell Well and do it first thing in the morning on those days. Hootsuite has a paid version that is totally worth the investment. It gives me peace of mind to know that something will be posted at least once a day on Instagram for Spell Well. Our audiences comes to expect things from us based on the rhythm that we set. Once a day is considered consistent enough but you may want to increase or decrease the frequency depending on the nature of your business. It is also important to diversify your content. People don’t want to see the different versions of the same content every day. For example, Spell Well has bracelets available. My audience would get bored if I only posted photos of our bracelets every day, but I try to be very strategic about showcasing photos of the bracelets periodically so that people know we have them!

As far as video content I am sharing other people’s stuff on Spell Well with plans on developing original content in 2019. Research suggests that content that includes video is more likely to be engaged with on social media.

I usually work on social media content every two weeks on Sundays. Right now, Spell Well is only on Instagram, with plans to start posting some stuff on Facebook soon. Here is the format I use for developing content:

Content Calendar

(3) Thought partners are key. There are a few people in my network… Shout out to ya’ll, who give me great advice and great ideas. Be prepared for people to push back… ask questions… poke holes. Those are all things that help you improve your products, services and strategy. I have also been spending a lot of time on the following this website.

(4) How I organize my paperwork and time.

I love binders as organizers. I am sure that I carried that over from my teaching days. Binders are durable, and they make it easy to keep everything on one place. Even with my students I always recommended carrying one large (zipper) binder for all of the classes to keep up with notes and remain organized.

Binder.jpg

Caption: I purchased this binder Staples. It has the capacity to hold 400 sheets of paper, which should carry me for a long time before I need to add a second binder. Most Office Supply stores have really beautiful options. I also like this binder because it has a lot of symbolism with the triangle. It is the elemental symbol for fire. When turned upside down it becomes the symbol for water.  The colors represent fire and the upside down triangles (the white space) represents water. Triangles are also the strongest shape. 

I have the following dividers in the binder:

Dividers

Here is the index of the dividers and also the structure of the business:

  1. Finance
  2. Human Resources
  3. Marketing
  4. Operations
  5. Strategy
  6. Tech & Equipment
  7. Events
  8. The blank tab is where I keep the Business Plan, just haven’t had time to add the label 😉

The final thing that I have that is important is my Social Media/Content Notebook:

Green Notebook

The Color Green symbolizes prosperity, abundance, money, physical & emotional healing, growth, luck. I also selected green because green is the color of nature. Post coming soon about sympathetic magic. 

Garden Plants

Caption: This is a page from inside my Garden Notebook. I consider these to be seeds or fruit, and use this notebook when I develop content for social media. It is helpful to keep it all in once place. 

I will continue to share this type of content. Click here to subscribe!

If you’re interested in staying informed about all things Spell Well, including a free download of recommended people to follow on Instagram & Twitter, click here to join that list & get the download.

 

 

 

 

 

In Loving Memory of Ntozake Shange

I will never forget the first time I experienced Ntozake Shange. I was a High School student in Ms. Melissa Borgmann’s Writing as Performance Class.

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I remember feeling excited because the woman on the cover looked like me. I attended High School between the years of 1998 – 2002. At the time I was dealing with a lot including having survived a sexual assault at the age of 12, reuniting with my mom who spent a part of my childhood incarcerated, and at the age of 14 (the summer before starting high school), leaving one state – Missouri for another – Minnesota. Plus you add the normal coming of age stuff with hormones, falling in (and out) love, rejection, making life decisions about college, and trying to figure out who you are. It was a lot. 

I found myself between the pages of Ntozake’s book. These women looked like me… they sounded like me… They also looked and sounded like women I knew – my mom, my Aunties.

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This text is one of those cornerstones of influence in my life. Shange’s words affirmed who I was as a blossoming black woman, and they also provided me with the courage to discover my own voice. I wrote poetry extensively at that time (I started writing poems in middle school), and I was (and still am) an avid journal writer. I felt like I couldn’t process the many emotions and thoughts I was having until I wrote them down. Writing was therapeutic for me. It gave me power.

You can imagine my excitement when the film came out in 2010. I actually took my students to see it, after we read the text.

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More than anything, I just want to thank Shange for walking in her truth as a writer. I want to thank her for writing in a genre… “the choreopoem” which defied the rules of structure at the time. I want to thank her for picking up the baton where writers like Zora Neale Hurston left off. I want to thank her for giving words to my pain, my frustration… and my hopes.

Below you will find a few poems that she inspired me to write as well as one of my graduate school Reference Letters because I actually used for colored girls for one of my undergraduate projects and my professor referenced it in his letter. I was always weaving black authors and experiences into my coursework. I usually only share my poetry with family these days, but it is fitting to put these words, inspired by Shange out in to the atmosphere. I can’t believe I was writing AND PERFORMING this stuff in High School! My maiden name is “Belcher” so that lets you know when these pieces were written. Also, Ms. Borgmann was a strong influence on my decision to become an educator, and she was also the reason why black literature was a staple in my classroom! If it wasn’t for her, I would not have met Ntozake, and the many other powerful writers she introduced me to.

I will be adding Shange to my altar in reverence after her funeral and hope that my writings, my work and my life can provide even a fraction to others of what her writings, work and life have meant to mine. You can read her obituary in Essence Magazine here.

“i found god in myself
and i loved her
i loved her fiercely.”

 

 

Grad School Letter Final

Promiscuous Cycle #1

Power of the Pen

Angel of Innocence

Concrete Memories