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.

No More Playing Small…

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” ― Nelson Mandela

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Today, I participated in a panel on WCIU’s The Jam TV Show as an expert for job hunters. This opportunity came to me because of a social media post I made a few weeks ago about hiring talented people. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m usually a behind the scenes person. Don’t get me wrong, I can speak live on camera, but when given the option I usually push other people forward to speak, and only speak when I have to.

I was also joined by two powerhouses on today’s panel, and two women I have deep admiration and respect for – Adrienne Samuels-Gibbs and Kris Christian.

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Today I made a decision that I will no longer play small.

When given the opportunity to highlight my accomplishments, my plans or my voice, I will seize it.

When someone sees something good in me that I may not see in myself, I will be gracious and receptive, instead of dismissive or reductive about it.

When someone advocates for me, I will respond to that advocacy with affirmation and confirmation.

When the next step toward my dream is visible, I will take it and will not feel guilty about it or feel bad about it.

When a person wants to take a photo with me, I will pose with great posture and serve face, hip and lip.

I will nominate myself. I will write myself in. I will show up for myself.

I will walk in my calling when I hear my name called.

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You can watch the full segment here.

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Thank you to Producer Melissa Perez for the invitation!

Note: I am wearing my signature Crystal Ball Bracelet in Pyrite + Amethyst, as well as a necklace from Love Peridot. My custom jewelry and accessories can be purchased here.

 

 

Designs By DNS… My New Jewelry Collection

In the spring of 2014, my friend Dana Todd Pope complimented me on the jewelry I had on at the time. She also told me that my accessories are always amazing and that one day I’d “design my own collection.” I remember feeling so good that someone even noticed and my friend Dana is an incredible artist so the compliment meant even more coming from her.

When I was in High School I had a job working at Marshall Fields at the Flagship store in downtown Minneapolis. My assignment? The accessories counter. I sold belts, scarves and other outfit accents. I enjoyed when my clients of all ages would come in and need my assistance finding the perfect scarf or belt to go with their outfits. I was about 16 years old and it was then that I learned how the accessories really make the outfit.

I remember being into crystals as a little girl, but recently returned back to my love of them. I have a great collection of loose stones but my favorite way to work with the energy of the stones is through wearing them. I’ve amassed a pretty impressive collection of bracelets, pendants and rings. One of the things that I’ve always loved is purse charms, but I had not seen purse charms made out of crystals.

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Caption: My collection of non-crystal purse charms. I wear one of them daily with my bags. 

All summer I’ve been going through the process of learning about creating jewelry. Experimenting with different tools and supplies. I’ve finally gotten to a place where I’m ready to begin selling and launched my Designs by DNS collection yesterday! Here are some of the pieces currently available:

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Each of my pieces use Genuine Gemstones and each is created around certain energies. The purse charms are centered around the energies of love, abundance or prosperity. The bracelets are called Crystal Ball Bracelets and have a large stone surrounded by smaller beaded stones. I am excited that to bring another offering to the world and I am looking forward to helping people ROCK their magic as I have done and will continue to do! I’d also like to thank my friend Dana again for her words of affirmation AND for being my first customer! I’m so grateful and appreciate!

Currently I’m…

It’s been a while. Before diving in to a topic, I wanted to catch you up on what I’ve been up to. I’m planning to get back into my weekly routine again. As you will see below this Summer has been intense!

Reading… I’ve been reading social media primarily and spiritual books. I created a list on Twitter called Sources of Light. Here are the Twitter Handles currently included on that list in no particular order:

  • @TheSerpentCast
  • @MillennialTarot
  • @OshunsM
  • @Neptunebbys
  • @AmeliaQuint
  • @thejessicadore
  • @blackgirlinom
  • @LalahDelia
  • @drcrystaljones
  • @blksoltheory
  • @TatiannaTarot
  • @jessicalanyadoo
  • @moonandquartz
  • @thehoodwitch
  • @TheMidheaven
  • @oldewaysbrujo
  • @ashleighdjay
  • @graphicMedium
  • @starsmoonandsun
  • @angelicabastien
  • @JSoAbove
  • @TheMeccanism
  • @heymysticmamma
  • @chaninicholas
  • @GabyHerstik
  • @YungKundalini
  • @amberjfinney

The nice thing about the Twitter List Feature is that you can name your list whatever you want and then you can add whichever handles you want to it. When you click on the list, you will only see the timelines of those who have been added.

Playing… More than last Summer, I have been really being intentional about getting out in Chicago. I attended Pitchfork Festival to see Chaka Khan, Dram and Lauryn Hill, and I also have gone to a few social events including Sophistiratchet Radio’s Brunch-n-Trap Event (thanks to my Bestie Jamila for the invite).

Watching… My favorite TV Shows currently on the air are Queen Sugar, Love Is, Insecure & Power. The season finales of Queen Sugar and Love Is aired this week, so they won’t be back until 2019, but one of my other favorite shows Greenleaf comes back next week. Most of my favorite shows are on OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network). It is so encouraging to see a black woman be able to green light and provide a platform for such rich, beautiful content about black people. I pray that as I pursue and achieve my personal goals that I can continue to make room and create opportunities for others.

Trying… Honestly I’ve been removing the word “try” from my vocabulary. I believe that “try” is like a chicken exit to not do something. Either it is… or it isn’t. If I am still in “try” mode there is usually something else there to unpack… fear, reluctance, etc.

Cooking… My hubby was away more often than he was home for most of 2018. He has been home for about a month and I have been practically living in my kitchen. This week alone I made 3 new recipes – Spinach Enchiladas, Chicken Gumbo (I bought boneless or filet chicken thighs and non-pork Chicken Andouille Sausage). and Tonight I’m making Teriyaki Wings. I won’t link to the recipe until I taste it to make sure it is actually good! The first two recipes will definitely be in regular rotation.

Eating… I’ve been eating well. Drinking more water and cutting out sugar. I’ve set some health goals for my birthday in January and eating well is a big part of my ability to achieve those goals.

Drinking… Since I’ve been hanging out more socially, I’ve discovered that my favorite alcoholic drink besides Moscato Di’Asti, and Prosecco is a Mai Tai.

Calling… my bestie more often. We have the best conversations…

Texting… using lots of Emojis and GIFs.

Pinning… I’ve been thinking a lot about my Fall Wardrobe. The weather today felt very Fall-like. Fall is also my favorite season. You can check out my latest Pins here.

Tweeting… I’ve been super active on all of my social media platforms. My favorite thing to do is watch TV and Tweet at the same time. You find the hashtag for the show to see what everyone else is saying and you can contribute to the conversation. Most of the time I’m laughing and having super insightful and reflective conversations with people who are taking in the same content. It’s pretty amazing.

Crafting… I’m working on a major craft project that involves crystals and gemstones. I’m hoping to have some things to unveil no later than the beginning of October.

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Caption: Beads for an upcoming project. 

Scrapping… My honey and I took the most epic road trip. We drove from LA to Tucson, AZ, to Marfa, TX, to Dallas, TX to my family reunion in Atkins, Arkansas, and back home to Chicago. We drove 7 – 8 hours during the day and then would hang out in a different town each night. We had a chance to see places in America that we’d never see, catch up and spend some good quality time together. I’m excited to scrapbook that trip. My husband jumped out of a plane for the 60th Annual Air and Water Show with the Golden Knights. I have of ton of pics. I have to order prints from my favorite Printer – Persnickety Prints and then I can get busy.

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Doing… Exercise. I’ve been back in the saddle for two weeks now and it feels great. Someone asked me if I’d gone Vegan recently because my skin looks so good. I said no, but have significantly increased my water intake and I’ve added exercise back into my life.

Going… Connected to my craft project I’ve found a wholesale Bead Store in Downers Grove that I’d like to go to. First I need to make a list of the beads I’d like to purchase.

Loving… Life. This has been a great summer.

Discovering… myself. I finished up a journal that started in April of 2017 recently. I started writing in new journal today and look forward to continuing to work on and with myself.

Enjoying… So every night before I go to bed, I usually watch my two favorite Instagram Comedians – @iamzoie and @yep_im_kajun. I really enjoy falling asleep laughing every night and the first thing I remember when I wake up is going to bed laughing!

Thinking… As the organization I’ve founded Art of Culture Inc. has been undergoing a rebrand from Donda’s House Inc. it has given me the opportunity to really comb through our business model, our infrastructure and our future. I can’t wait to share publicly some of the things I’ve been thinking about! Stay tuned…

Feeling… productive! The sun is in Virgo, and since my Moon is in Virgo, this feels like a really good time for me. Eclipse season really tore me up! I’ve been feeling grounded and rooted and I am certain that is because of the energy of the earth sign!

Hoping for… I’m doing some consulting work and I just put in a bid for a major client. I am hopeful that the contract will come through as I am super excited about what I can bring to the table for them!

Listening to… my Spotify workout playlist almost daily and “Whipped Cream” by Ari Lennox. I’ve also had “Mood” by dvsn on repeat and “Ooh Nah Nah” by SiR featuring Masego.

Celebrating… my company’s 5th year Anniversary was 8/1! We’re planning a super cool Pop Up Event on 9/30! We’re also planning for our first gala in February.

Smelling… I burn a Frankincense and Myrrh Incense Stick every morning when I first wake up and I believe that is my favorite scent right now. I’m also loving the Black Cherry Merlot candle from Bath & Body Works.

Thanking… God, my ancestors and my loved ones for holding me down and making me feel so loved.

Considering… Halloween Costumes. Think I’m going to take a trip to NOLA with the hubby for Halloween. I haven’t been since Mardi Gras and I usually go every 3 – 4 months! It’s been 5 months and way too long.

Finishing… our rebranding work. My amazing team and volunteers have been meeting with me weekly for 90 minutes – 2 hours to discuss updating our documents, policies, mission & vision, etc. We present our work to our larger community on Saturday and have an internal deadline of September 1st for everything to be done.

Starting… two new Media Projects. Hubby and I are starting a podcast together soon and we’re working on a book. More details coming soon about both!

It’s A New Dawn So I Cut My Hair!

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I have probably rocked every hairstyle imaginable – from the Jheri Curl of my pre-K years, to beads and braids, to the locs I wore from age 16 – 24. When I turned 24, I got tired of my locs and decided to have them combed out as I craved versatility.

From there I went to sew-ins, box braids, Senegalese Twists and faux locs. My motivation for hair care has always been whatever is easiest in terms of maintenance. I enjoy my hair looking nice, but I’ve never wanted to be the one to do the maintenance myself. Even when I had my locs, I went to a loctician who would retwist my new growth and put my hair into various styles including rod sets and loc buns.

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Caption: For bad hair days, or when I don’t feel like being bothered I always rock my The Wrap Life wraps. I have about 15 of them of both the Traditional African Fabric and the solid colors. 

Around November of last year, I started getting that itch that it was time to do something else. I can always tell when it was time to get my hair done because I can’t keep my hands out of my head. Not to mention, many of the hairstyles that I was wearing, if I washed my hair the hairstyle wouldn’t look as good. Eventually the hair holds a weird odor, plus I started to get oily build up.

Many of the hairstyles I wore were considered “protective styles” meaning they were meant to protect your natural hair. However I started suffering from hair loss around my perimeter and started getting even more concerned. I’ve tried every growth treatment known to man and nothing was working.  I’ve even rocked frontals with sew-ins.

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Caption: Me before my cut. Super nervous but ready for the change. 

During my research I came across Razor Chic of Atlanta. I lived on her page inspiring by the women who had the courage to make such a drastic change to their appearance. I decided that I was going to cut my hair and that it had to be done by Razor Chic of Atlanta. I also decided to relax my hair. My natural curl pattern is so tightly coiled that with my workout routine and lifestyle, it was nearly impossible for me to manage. I booked my appointment and my travel arrangements and decided to make this change just before my birthday (which is Sunday, January 21st). I haven’t had a relaxer since I was 14 years old! Exactly 20 years ago!

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Caption: Razor Chic doing her thing. Side note: I need a ring light lol. 

Razor Chic confirmed for me many things that I knew intuitively and I’ve already learned so much and it hasn’t even been 24 hours.

(1) The braids and the weaves were too heavy for my hair. I was told to never wear them again to avoid any further damage.

(2) Wigs don’t allow the scalp to breath and in order for the hair to grow it needs Oxygen, All I could think was that most living things require Oxygen, why would my hair be any different?

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(3) It’s incredibly liberating to let go of things that are dead. I wasn’t sure how much of my natural hair we’d keep and how much I’d have to let go. There was much more dead hair than I anticipated, and now I can basically start over.,

(4) Confidence is key! No matter what you decide to do, hold your head up high and own it.

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(5) I’ve always had a love affair with accessories and now I get to showcase them. All of my earrings and necklaces were buried under my weave.

(6) Now that my scalp is breathing, I feel like my brain can breath.

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(7) My nighttime routine is so much more simple. All I have to do is sleep on a satin pillowcase. No bonnet. No scarf. It’s the simplest evening routine I’ve ever head.

(8) In the morning all I have to do is shake and go. No curling irons. No elaborate time consuming processes. A little spray sheen here and there. A quick comb and I’m done.

(9) My features are popping in all of their glory and I’m happy about that. I can see my cheekbones, my jaw line and I feel good.

(10) Razor Chic gave me several products that will help me maintain my own hair and make it healthier. Shampoo, conditioner, wrap lotion and even a special hair growth treatment for my problem areas.

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Razor Chic recommended a stylist for me in Chicago that I will see periodically to maintain my style. She told me to commit for at least one year to the cut so that I can see what my hair will do, before deciding to do anything else.

This was one of the scariest decisions I’ve ever made but I jumped. I’m thankful to my husband who supported me 100% and I’ve received so many wonderful comments on social media.

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Just wrote the first page of Chapter 34! Thankful to God that I’ve been able to revolve around the sun 34 times and hopeful for more blessings, courageous acts and radical acts of self-love and acceptance.

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Couple’s Field Trip: Oriental Institute

“And as an mc you will study verbal magic
But watch what you say ’cause you’ll attract it
Control your subconscious magnet from pullin in havoc” – KRS-One

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Che & I decided to visit the Oriental Institute to check out the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead Exhibit. One of the pillars of our marriage is learning together. For the last year or so, I have been studying Metaphysics, Reiki and Energy pretty heavy. As I get older I am concerned with alignment of my mental, physical, spiritual and emotional energies as well as growing my capacity to be a better human being in all ways. I’ve had glimpses of experiences where I’ve been in total alignment and I’d like to make that my norm. I also have high blood pressure. In addition to changing my diet, increasing my physical activity and transforming my relationship with stress, I have been interested in holistic approaches to addressing.

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The Ancient Egyptians basically used the Book of the Dead to guide the deceased person into the afterlife. They believed that if a person could navigate the afterlife, pass the judgement of Osiris and the other Gods, then they could attain immortality.

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Here are some of the notes from the exhibit

“Osiris, his sister wife Isis, and their son Horus, formed one of the primary divine triads of ancient Egypt. The trio evokes the epic myth of Osiris involving his murder by his brother Seth, his mummification by Isis, and his redemption by Horus. Through the spells in the Book of the Dead, ancient Egyptians sought to emulate Osiris by triumphing over death. They assumed his identity in spell 69 by reciting: “I Am Osiris, brother of Isis, while my son Horus with his mother Isis, saved me from my enemies who do everything evil against me.” The dead gained their Osirian form as a result of the appropriate funerary rituals, which ancient texts described as “giving an Osiris to” someone.

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“They believed that language and writing were imbued with magical power and that reciting and recording such declarations would make the statements come true.”

“Like all of us, the people of Ancient Egypt wondered what would happen to them after they died. to alleviate the anxiety about our human mortality, a life-affirming religion developed in ancient Egypt that emphasized the possibility of immortality – an everlasting life in the hereafter among the gods. Each Egyptian needed to undergo the proper rituals of embalming and burial to ensure their continued existence in the next world. Magical spells of ritual power accompanied these rites. So powerful were these words that Egyptians wanted to take the spells with them to the grave. To do so, they gathered the spells into a compilation we now call the Book of the Dead.”

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In addition to using papyrus, “spells” were also inscribed on other items including linen bandages, amulets, coffins, sarcophagi, statues, stelae and the walls of the tomb.

“To the ancient Egyptians, these spells were called the ‘spells of going forth by day,’ a reference to the ability of the soul to leave the tomb at dawn.”

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“The Book of the Dead, then, is a grimoire of magical incantations intent on resurrecting the deceased, and turning them into a powerful immortal spirit, called an akh in ancient Egyptian. As an akh-spirit, the dead joined with the sun god Re as he sailed in his solar barge across the sky during the day and with Osiris as he ruled the netherworld at night. Living relatives often petitioned the akh-spirits of their ancestors to intercede on their behalf in earthly and spiritual matters, for akh-spirits were divine entities like other gods.”

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“The ancient Egyptians sought to change reality by speaking words out loud while performing accompanying ritual actions. Through the power of magic, they believed that saying it made it real.”

IMG_7896“The heart was the seat of thought for ancient Egyptians and carried with it the memories of the individual. In the afterlife, the dead recited spells against their own heart, using magic to maintain control over it to prevent the revelation of any misdeeds in the tribunal before Osiris.”

“Ancient Egyptians employed Book of the Dead spells for over 1,500 years from the Second Intermediate Period (ca. 1700 BC) down to the Roma Empire (ca. AD 200). Afterward there was a rise in a new set of texts called the Books of Breathing. These Books of Breathing represent the las stage of Egyptian funeral literature before the Christianization of the country in the third and fourth centuries AD.”

The thing that I will take away from me from this exhibit is the power of the written and spoken word, and the importance of documenting culture in a sustainable way. My fear is that as we rely so heavily on technology that future generations may not be able to easily access our cultural artifacts. I also think that one can and does achieve immortality through legacy. Lastly, there is nothing more humbling than standing in a room of artifacts that predate not only your existence but that have endured for thousands of years. I can only hope that something that I, or that we create lasts that long!

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We were also excited to see the Ancient Nubia Exhibit with CRYSTALS!!!! Nubia was originally called Kush.  There was lots of jewelry that included Carnelian, Quartz, Shells & Rose Quartz.

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Lessons Learned in 2017

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Caption: A photo of the Spellbound Sky Metaphysical Store in Los Angeles, CA, that I had the chance to visit today for the first time! 

I have several rituals for ending the year. One of my favorite rituals is to reflect on the lessons learned so that I can make the following year better.

In no particular order – these are the lessons I’ve learned in 2017:

  1. Very few people will give you anything without expecting something in return.  Ask people up front about their goals, wishes, desires, so that you can be clear about yours & move accordingly.

If someone gives you anything without expectations, that is blessing. I’ve experienced people giving me things – recommendations for grants, connections to a contact, free marketing, etc. without expectations and I always express my gratitude. Understand that most people want something in return for what they give you. Sometimes what they want can be non-tangible – your time or your energy, but there is still an expectation. Similarly, you may give or do things as a “downpayment” or “deposit” for something that you’d like from someone else.

What I’ve learned this year is that it is better to be as clear, specific and direct as possible with your expectations so that you don’t have to waste time or get hurt feelings later when someone doesn’t (or can’t) deliver. Even if you are not sure about what you want from someone, just being clear about your goals, your trajectory and your intentions are helpful. What I’ve found is that even if someone can’t give me something because they don’t have it, or they don’t want to give it, being clear about my intentions, they can give me pointers or recommendations on where to go to get my needs met.

If you are on the giving end, get in the habit of asking people about their goals, intentions, dreams, desires etc. If you are on the receiving end, express your goals, intentions, dreams and desires.

2. You won’t like most things that are good for you. Do it/them anyway. 

This year I made a commitment to add exercise to my lifestyle. I purchased a (super affordable) treadmill from Amazon, gathered all of my fitness equipment (Kettle Bells, Free Weights, jump ropes, yoga mat, etc.) and created a workout area in my basement. I worked out for 40+ days straight for an hour per day. Since I started my journey in October, I’ve lost 12 pounds. I do not like working out! If you were to ask me “Do you want to work out?” 99.99% of the time, my response would be no… but I never regret working out. As a woman with high-blood pressure, and with so many other ailments that I’m predisposed to, working out is an essential component of my life – if I want to continue living, free of illness and pain. It’s childish and irresponsible to think that you’re going to WANT to do the things that are good for you. Suck it up. Chin up buttercup. Put on your big girl panties and big boy undies and DO IT/DO THEM ANYWAY!!!!

3. Try to live your life in a way where the best is always yet to come.

I’ve accomplished amazing things in my life and I am very happy, proud and grateful for those accomplishments. I am also grateful for my past, because the past was the pathway to my present. However, I want to live my life in a way where the best is always yet to come. I want to have things to look forward to. I want my future accomplishments to outshine and expand my past accomplishments.

Have you ever met people who seem stuck in the past? Whether they are holding on to traumatic events and experiences that they use to justify something happening today… Whether they are holding on to their best bodies, the best experiences of their lives, or the best accomplishment that they had, they seem to be tied to last year, five years ago, ten years ago? Until I die, my prayer is that next year is better than any year before. This trip is better than any I’ve ever had. This moment is the best I’ve ever had. I believe that when the best is always coming, you have a sense of purpose, direction and fulfillment that is unmatched.

I want to be mindful of the past, so that it informs today and tomorrow but I don’t want to live in the past.

4. Plant more seeds than food you need to harvest.

Life will make you a skilled gardener, fisher(wo)man & farmer. There are so many elements of the growing process that are out of your control – the amount of sun, the weather, etc. It is important that you plant & cultivate more seeds than you need, to ensure that you and your family will have enough food – despite the variables that are out of your control. One of my favorite shows is Queen Sugar! While Ralph Angel is passionate about and the show centers around Sugar Cane, he has to plant Soybeans which are an easier crop. The decision to plant soybeans proves profitable for the Borderlons! In life, we don’t have the luxury to JUST plant collard greens, or to JUST plant tomatoes. If we’re smart, we will have multiple crops, plant way more than we need, and really study and learn what it takes to get a good harvest.

5. Do great/epic/right stuff and divorce yourself of the outcome.

Do great things. Do epic things. Do the right thing. When you do great, epic and right things USUALLY good things happen. The only outcome that you have to worry about is that it is a good outcome. That is not to say that there will be a good outcome all of the time. When there isn’t a good outcome, usually there is a lesson for either you and/or someone else. Sometimes outcomes actually have nothing to do with us. They are for our fellow humans, and we just so happen to be the chosen vessel, example or outlier for the creator to showcase his (or her, depending on what you believe) power & authority over this realm.

Earlier this year, my husband Executive Produced a powerful Black History month program called “Creating History.” In it, he showcased some amazing people doing great work including Emile Cambry of Blue 1647 and Beverly Davis of Prosperity House. It was an intense couple of weeks as they shot & edited all of the segments. Once the final product was finished we were proud of it. After a while, we forgot about it. About 3 months ago we received notification that the segment was nominated for an Emmy. We were amazed, because when we made it, we weren’t thinking “This Creating History thing is going to be nominated for an Emmy.” We did our best. We created a pathway to shine a light on other people. Magic happened.

I’ve been studying metaphysics and the law of attraction a lot this year. A lot of times we think we can just will ourselves to becoming a millionaire. Or will ourselves the partner of our dreams. It’s a lot more complicated than that. The earth and the universe are ecosystems and our wills have to align with our purpose in order to truly manifest. Our wills cannot intentionally cause harm to other people. We have to be prepared in every way – mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally for whatever it is that we are trying to manifest. If we we are not, we will likely not receive what we’re trying to manifest.

6. Spend time with people who are doing what you want to do or who do what you want to do better.

In 2017 I’ve been intentionally putting myself in rooms and with people that are out of my comfort zone because that is where growth happens. I’ve been seeking the council of nonprofit executives that clear $1 million+ per year. I’ve been intentionally spending time with women who make great friends, who have good energy and who make me laugh. I’ve been studying millionaires and wealthy people and finding myself in rooms & company with them to learn!

If you’re the smartest, most capable, strongest, most creative, etc person in the room – I won’t say that you’re in the wrong room, because you have a responsibility to help and teach others who may not be where you are, but you have to intentionally put yourself in situations and rooms where you may not be the best at something. You will be uncomfortable, that’s ok. You will feel imposter syndrome, like you don’t belong, that’s ok. You will say things and do things that you later feel embarrassed about, that’s ok. I swear, every time I go to a formal dinner I have to consult my phone discreetly to figure out which fork to use lol & I still have yet to master chopsticks. I don’t allow my inexperience, insecurities or lack of expertise to keep me out of experiences and out of the company of people who will only sharpen me and help me get better.

7. There is no such thing as one size fits all for anything. Find your own formula.

When it comes to diets. Relationships. Employment and Career Choices. Spirituality. Politics, etc, you have to find your own groove. What works for your family may not work for you. What works for your spouse, may not work for you, and that’s ok. Just like we all have our own unique fingerprints and genetic code, we have the right to design, and live our lives as we see fit. You may be the only one in your circle or in your family that does things a particular way. Don’t apologize for that and don’t feel bad about that. As long as you aren’t encroaching on other people – I believe that you can do whatever you want to do, and will live a more joyful & fulfilled life that way.

When it comes to decisions, I’m of the mind that you can always make another choice. As hard as it is, you can also always start from scratch. I’ve had a few of times in my life where I literally had to start over, from scratch. Whether it was moving from one state to another with my mom when I was 14, just before I started High School. Whether it was moving to another state to another when I graduate from High School, to start a new life in the big City of Chicago, or whether it was getting a divorce from my first husband after 5 years of marriage, and only having the clothes on my back and trashbags filled with clothes. More often than not, those experiences were opportunities for me to “begin again more intelligently,” and although terrible, they did not kill me, they made me stronger.

Tomorrow, I plan to publish a comprehensive blog about my end of the year rituals. What have been your biggest lessons this year?

My First Magazine Cover

2017 has been a great year for both my husband & I. I am excited to announce that I am ending the year as a Cover Girl! I was able to sit down with Halfstack Magazine to share more about my personal & professional journey, including highlighting my work as the co-founder and Executive Director of Donda’s House Inc. For the cover I was styled by my stylist @truvanity.  My makeup was done by @iamleahlu. Hair by @cityonloc.

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Today, Halfstack hosted an event at Eloquii in downtown Chicago. The funny thing is that I am wearing an Eloquii print shirt in the cover photo and had no idea that the event would happen at the store.

Thanks to my photographer Juan Anthony for capturing these shots!

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Caption: You can never go wrong with Gold during the holidays! My outfit came from 8ty4 Vintage

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Caption: My cousin Arionne stopped by. So thankful that she was in town to celebrate this milestone with me! 

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Caption: Cousin Crew

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Caption: My Cousin’s friends also stopped by! 

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Caption: With two of the beautiful fashionistas at Eloquii. Seriously, stop by the store! They will get you together! 

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Caption: Me with the store manager. 

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Caption: Hanging out with some of bloggers & members of the Halfstack Team. Shout out to @mindycityy, @curvatude, @michelleswoons and @theplussizedprep.

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Caption: Me with Jennifer M. Veguilla-Lezan, Editor-in-Chief of the magazine. I cannot thank Jennifer enough for selecting me to grace the cover. Jen is so inspiring in her own right, and has an incredible spirit. Also shout out to one of my best girls Laurinda, for connecting Jen & I! 

Our First Face to Face Meeting

This morning I had to pick my husband up from Midway Airport. The funny thing about that was that after speaking on the phone for a month, our first face-to-face visit was at Midway Airport. So we decided to retell the story and re-create the moment.

We have different versions of what that day was like, but almost 9 years later, I’m just grateful that we can still make each other laugh, and smile until our faces hurt. Before Che, I prayed for and craved that type of love. I’m thankful that God answered my prayers. Enjoy this candid video:

Gasp… I Met My Husband On Social Media!

Earlier this week, I posted a photo of a little Twitter themed pen container and shared that I met my husband on Twitter. I received several comments – “What?” “How?” and decided that I’d write a blog about it. It’s my favorite story that I never tire of telling…

The year was 2009. I was a High School English Teacher. Married (to the man that would quickly become my ex-husband). I spent a lot of time on social media at the time. Twitter was super popular but was relatively new in my world. Lots of people that I knew and respected were on the platform. At the time my handle was @engteacher. One of my favorite people to follow was @rhymefest, who would play this game every day called the “Vs.” Game. He would ask a series of 4 – 5 questions and people would have to anwer the questions. He’d engage with everyone and retweet or share his favorite responses. For example, “would you rather be a vampire or a werewolf” “would you rather be blind or deaf.” I was also in grad school at the time, and enjoyed playing the game before my classes started. I also wondered about the brain behind the game. The questions were always so interesting and sparked great debate.

One night I was on Twitter, and @rhymefest started tweet-ranting:

“I’m tired of being owned by corporations.” He proceeded to talking about wanting to be free of debt and he wanted to do something. I agreed. He then invited those who wanted to do something about it to direct message him. I sent him my phone number. He called me during my lunch break the next day. We started putting a plan together. We would create an organization called “N.F.F.M” which stood for “New Found Freedom Movement.” We talked about building a community together. We wrote a mission statement. We started writing bi-laws. I started researching grants. We planned to put this community in Atlanta. Our conversations started out very innocent. We would get chunks of work done on our phone calls. At the time he was living in New York City with his girlfriend. I was unhappily married. Our 2 – 3 hour conversations would turn into 5 – 6 hour conversations. We were getting so much done.

Before you knew it, we started talking about more personal things. He told me about his children that were living in Chicago. He confided in me about his music career. I told him about my life as a teacher… and I started to complain about my marriage. He interrupted me… “I’m sorry but unless you’re going to actually do something about your situation, I don’t really want to hear about it.” I was shocked that he would say that, I felt a little anger. At this point we had been on the phone for about a month. After thinking about what he said, I realized that he was right. If I wasn’t happy, I did not have to stay. I was in control of my life. I had gotten married for the first time at 18 years old. I was way too young… I didn’t get married for the first time under the right circumstances… All of that swirled around my head. Little did he know, he was saving my life – as I was in an abusive marriage.

My then-husband and I weren’t on speaking terms. Things had been pretty weird for a year prior to my meeting Che. His mother and I didn’t get along. It was pretty much a mess and I had thrown myself into work (I had perfect attendance at the time, sponsored several clubs and did whatever I could to be out of the house). One day, my then husband asked me if I wanted to go to the movies. I said “no.” He then came back about 15 minutes later and asked if I wanted to go out to eat. I said “no.” He then left and came back 10 minutes later and asked if I still loved him. His way of dealing with things was to not deal with them… until that moment. I thought about what he asked me and I said, “I do love you, I’ll always love you but I’m not in love with you.” He then asked another few series of questions that I gave difficult but honest answers to. An hour later I found myself at Starbucks, speaking to my mom about what happened. I then decided that I needed to move out, and called my best friend Kristie who was there no questions asked, tennis shoes on, ponytail tied, earrings out, she was ready lol.

About two weeks later, Che came to visit Chicago in person for the first time. By this time we had been talking on the phone for 2 whole months. We were like teenagers. We would talk and text every free moment that we had, about NFFM, about our lives, about our hopes and dreams. We would often fall asleep on the phone and then wake up and speak before we started our day. The weekend Che came to visit for the first time, we went to see the Watchmen (which came out 3/6/09) during opening weekend. When I picked him up from Midway Airport and he came down the escalator, he gave me the biggest hug. He actually picked me up and spun me around. No one knew that was our first time being in the same space face-to-face. He smelled so good. After that first weekend Che went back to NYC. Shortly after that visit, I moved into my own apartment. Che came back to Chicago, and we moved in together. My friends thought I was crazy… until they saw us together. When I met his family, they all loved me, and before we knew it, in October of that year we started talking about marriage. I officially got divorced in the Summer of 2009 – I believe it was sometime in June or July. Che and I tied the knot on 2/24/10. We didn’t pick the date to be something special. We just went to the Courthouse. We later found out that our wedding anniversary was the exact date, five years earlier that he got divorced from his ex wife. Just thinking about that gave me goosebumps because it was a total coincidence.

We both were married to other people for 5 years. In Che’s case, he said he’d “never get married” after his ex-wife. My first marriage had also left a bad taste in my mouth about the institution of marriage, but we found ourselves saying “I Do” less than a year after we started officially dating. Here is what I do know:

(1) We found love when neither of us were actively looking for love.

(2) Our foundation was truly built on friendship. Because we were in two different cities, we didn’t have the distraction of sex and being physically together during those first few critical months of a relationship.

(3) Our failures at our previous relationships made it easier to navigate all challenges that came up. We were better communicators because we had both experienced what happens in a relationship when you don’t communicate and you allow resentment to build.

(4) The very thing that initially attracted us to each other was this desire to build. Our honeymoon was Che’s City Council Campaign. Donda’s House is a manifestation of our dreams. Our marriage is just the icing on the cake. We believe that our marriage was divinely ordained. Just thinking about it gives me goosebumps.

(5) When two people want each other, there is nothing or no one that can stop them from being together. We both took a huge risk, but ultimately we allowed our hearts to lead the way.

Next year we will celebrate our 8 year Wedding Anniversary and 9 years of being together. We’ve already started talking about what we want to do for our 10 year anniversary in 2020. If you have questions about dating online, or about our courtship please let me know. I’m happy to share whatever I can. Thanks for reading!

Writing has always been my way of processing things. Check out some of my posts about marriage:

What I Know About Marriage – Part 1: https://donnienicole.com/2010/04/22/what-i-know-about-marriage-part-1/

What I Know About Marriage – Part 2: https://donnienicole.com/2010/04/22/what-i-know-about-marriage-part-2/

What I Know About Marriage – Part 3: https://donnienicole.com/2010/04/22/what-i-know-about-marriage-part-3/

What I Know About Marriage – Part 4: https://donnienicole.com/2010/04/22/what-i-know-about-marriage-part-4/

You’re Unhappy? Now What: https://donnienicole.com/2014/05/07/youre-unhappy-now-what/

If you’d like to read more of my pieces on relationships, click here.