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.

 

 

BoHo Berry Challenge

At the beginning of the month, I started the July BoHo Berry Challenge. Time got away from me, so I wanted to spend some time sharing the responses to the rest of the questions, since tomorrow is August 1st! The questions that I am responding to are in bold and different colors so feel free to scroll to read the answers you’re most interested in!

Day 9: My Best Habit 

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I am obsessed with keeping a clean bag/purse. My favorite purse to carry is the Coach Turnlock. I’ve written about looking for the perfect [carry-on] bag here. One of the my best habits is that I use a pouch system for keeping my bag organized. Depending on what I need to carry, I can swap out my pouches to make sure that I have everything that I need. Sometime soon I’ll write a post about what I keep in each of the pouches.

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Day 10: My Worst Habit 

My worst habit is that I don’t clean out my e-mail inbox. I’ve heard lots of debate about both the benefits and the ridiculousness of attempting to achieve inbox zero. While I am not on the side of Inbox Zero, I would like to figure out some regular sorting, processing & deleting schedule so that my inbox isn’t too out of control. I process e-mails daily, but once the emails are processed they pretty much sit in my inbox. This is a habit that I am working on. I am equally bad with responding to text messages (after I’ve read them) and responding to Voice Mail Messages (if I could delete my voice mail entirely I would)…

Day 11: 10 Things That Make Me Happy

  1. Scrapbooking
  2. Pinning Things on Pinterest
  3. Glitter (on anything, anywhere)
  4. Sending people mail (I love to send handwritten notes and greeting cards)
  5. Bubbly Drinks (Prosecco, Champagne & Moscato D’Asti are my faves)
  6. Live Music (I’m a huge fan of live instruments & live performances, I regularly go to concerts. The last concert I went to was The Art of Rap (featuring EPMD, DMX, KRS-One, Ghostace Killa, Raekwon, Crucial Conflict, and Rakim). It was amazing! My girl and I are going to Made in America in September to celebrate her birthday and I most look forward to the kick-off of Jay-Z’s 4:44 Tour and to seeing J. Cole, I loved his last album.
  7. Organizing and cleaning things (brings me a sense of peace and calm)
  8. Good TV: Right now I’m watching Power, Insecure, Love & Hip Hop (all of them lol), Being Mary Jane, Queen Sugar and I’m so excited about the return of Greenleaf!
  9. Shopping (I enjoy shopping, especially at Thrift Stores & Electronic Stores)
  10. Things That Smell Good (I’m obsessed with candles, bath products and home fragrance products).

Day 12: Book(s) I’m Reading Right Now 

I just finished reading John C. Maxwell’s The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. My favorite books to read are nonfiction. I taught High School English for 12 years, so it is difficult for me to read and enjoy fiction (unless it is my favorite author Toni Morrison). I also really like classic literature (behind Toni Morrison, F, Scott Fitzgerald and Zora Neale Hurston are my favorites). I love to learn, so I prefer to read nonfiction because it helps me to stay sharp.

Day 13: My Greatest Talent

I’m super resourceful. I very good at research and I’m very good a teaching myself things that I don’t know.

Day 14: A Note To My Younger Self 

Dear Little Donnie (Don-Don, Metaphor (my poet name):

Do not worry so much about what other people say about you or think about you. You won’t even remember the names of most of these people in 10 years! Don’t allow their bullying to affect you. 

Stop thinking so far into the future! When you think so much about the future you are missing out on the present. 

Done is better than perfect. As long as you are doing the best you can, you should be proud of yourself. You don’t have unlimited time and you don’t have unlimited resources. Do the best with what you’ve got. 

None of your boyfriends are your future husband! They are simply warming the bench for the love that you will eventually experience and the love that you need and deserve. 

Study abroad when you have the opportunity to! Don’t wait until you’re out of college to start seeing the world!

You are loved. You are needed and you will leave one hell of a footprint on this world! 

Love,

Yourself

Day 15: How Can I Make A Difference? 

For the longest time I’ve wanted to start gathering my mentees for a monthly breakfast. I’m hoping to implement it in August or September (I think I’ll wait until this Mercury Retrograde ends lol)….

Day 16: My Life Philosophy 

My mission in life is to close the gap(s) between my reality and my dreams and to help others do the same. 

My life philosophy includes the following tenements:

(1) Train your replacement. I believe that we should always be sharing our knowledge and experience with others so that they can have the skills, the tools and the competency to replace us.

(2) Money is a by-product of success. Money is a tool, not the ultimate end goal. I’d like to earn and make money in order to do other things.

(3) Be of service, not self-serving. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to consider oneself and one’s own needs, but its equally important to think about others.

(4) Don’t make it to escape it. Our neighborhoods are often considered things to “escape” or to run away from. The very definition of success is often to “make it out the hood.” I think we need more people to stay, to be the examples and to own businesses and social services and social programs in our communities, especially those that have concentrated poverty and are considered low-income.

Day 17: How Can I Grow Today? 

I want to spend more time journaling. This article talks about the value and importance of journaling daily. One day I’d also like to become an author, so I like to keep copious notes that can be used for the books I hope to write and publish one day.

Day 18: What I Love About My Life?

The most important thing that I love about my life right now is the freedom. I have the freedom to do what I want to do, when I want to do it. I’m married to a man who supports me as I grow as an individual and evolve. I have lived in houses and been in relationships where that was not the case and more than ever I have peace of mind because of the freedom I enjoy!

Day 19: I Feel Happy In My Own Skin When…

I feel happy in my own skin when I look good. I started working with a stylist about two years ago and that was one of the best choices and most useful decisions I’ve ever made. To have someone whose job is to worry about what I look like is a beautiful thing. It means that I can spend time on other things. I also feel happy in my own skin when I’m only in my skin – lol. That’s an entirely different conversation for an entirely different day.

Day 20: What I Need To Hear Today… 

Today I need to hear “thank you.” I do a lot for a lot of people not because I expect anything in return, but I’m not going to like, “thank you” feels good. Sometimes I feel like people take my kindness, my time and my optimism for granted… When I feel that way I usually withdraw into myself, or really withdraw into my own mind.

Day 21: I Am Grateful For…

So for this I’m going to set the timer for one minute and I’m going to just write a list of everything that I’m grateful for, as much as I can get to in one minute. Here it goes (in no particular order): my home, my vehicle, my washer and dryer, my husband, my dogs (Muffin & Marley), my bonus (step) babies, my sissy and the fact that she lives across the street, my family, my eyeglasses, my laptop, my iPad, my phone, my organized closet, the work that we just had done in our house (we had a floor repaired and have some more work happening the next two weeks), my plants that have lived for as long as they have, good TV shows that inspire reflection and dialogue, my blender and fresh fruit smoothies, Crazy Crab (the food is so good and its so close to my house), my spirituality, the ability to travel (I’ve been so many places this year and am heading to Africa in September ;). That’s all I had time for. I could keep going. I find that whenever I feel like things are bad, thinking about what’s good and how I’m good is a great exercise in healing.

Day 22: What Negative Self-Talk is Holding Me Back?

I’m hard on myself and like most women I can think and talk negative about my body. I find myself in a bind because I am always in the process of trying to have a baby, while also trying to maintain a positive lifestyle. Sometimes I worry that if I go too hard on the fitness side, I may be creating a dangerous situation for the child that I pray will be in my womb sometime soon. When you add to that, we’re also having health care issues, it’s just a recipe for disaster. Please just pray for me and us that I find the perfect balance of a healthier lifestyle and (one day) a health pregnancy and full-term safe, healthy delivery for baby and me.

Day 23: If I Knew I Could Not Fail… 

Failing is a part of growth and a part of the process of life. Failure is an opportunity to try again. “I don’t lose, either I win or learn.” – Nelson Mandela. I think it is irresponsible to try to teach people not to fail. I believe in failing spectacularly, laughing, dusting oneself off and trying again…

Day 24: Who In My World Inspires Me… 

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Right now I am most inspired by my friend Kris Williams. Kris is the owner of Fame Marketing and she does so many amazing things. She runs a full graphic design/marketing company, she produces an amazing magazine. She just launched a social-enterprise that involves coffee. I love Kris because like me not only is she a dreamer, but she executes and moves toward her dreams. She doesn’t just talk about it! Plus she looks amazing doing it all and has the sweetest spirit.

Day 25:  My Sweet Spot…

I’m going to answer this literally. I’m in need of some good banana pudding! I’m also a fan of Dulce De Leche Ice Cream.

Day 26: How I Want Others To Describe Me… 

When I was a teacher, I used to have students to write their own obituaries, during our Edgar Allen Poe unit. It was controversial, but it was also incredibly powerful. Here is how I want other people to describe me (without going into too much detail):

Kind, Creative and helpful. A good listener, witty and smart. A person whose presence was more welcomed that it was dreaded. Someone who positively impacted and changed the lives of people. A person who created the change I wanted to see. A dreamer. A doer. A Humanitarian. A Philanthropist. A lifelong educator. A mom to her own children and to her children by blessing.

Whew! When I got to the end of that my eyes started to well up. Sometimes it is important to step outside of our bodies and to consider how other people may be receiving and experiencing us.

Day 27: I Feel Successful When…

People are able to do something better because of my influence, my guidance and my instruction. I also feel really good when I accomplish something super technical. I recently installed a Smart Lock. I just knew that it was going to take all day and be terribly frustrated. I mastered it in less than an hour!

Day 28: My Ideal Day… 

I’m going to be real specific here. My ideal day would go something like this:

6:00 a.m. – Wake Up – writing, prayer & meditation.

7:00 a.m. – Work-out

8:00 a.m. – Breakfast & setting the agenda for the day.

9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. – Work, work, work, work, work, work (meetings, writing, responding to e-mails, etc). Lunch would happen somewhere in the middle.

2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. – Home stuff (cleaning up, meal prep and planning, bill paying, family time)

7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. – Me Time (TV Watching, scrapbooking, friending lol).

9:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. – Reading (I would like to read every single night)

10:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. – Whatever needs to be done

12:00 a.m. – Bedtime

Right now 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. is my work time. I’d like to get a better handle on that sometime soon.

Day 29: Positive Affirmations…

The thing that I have been telling myself the most lately is “Everything happens for a reason.” It helps me to roll with the good and the bad punches. I’d like to start actually considering the reasons in my journal/reflection time.

Day 30: I’ve always wanted to… 

Learn SPANISH! Before I go back to South America I want to spend more time learning Spanish. I studied in High School for 3 years but have forgotten most of it because I haven’t used it. I’ve also always wanted to take a cruise, so I’m hoping to cross that off my list in the next 2 to 3 years.

Day 31: Lessons Learned This Month… 

a. You are exactly where you are supposed to be, with whom you’re supposed to be with.

b. Everything doesn’t deserve a response.

c. You have to write things down, otherwise you will forget them. This was something that I’ve always known, but a process I have had to remind myself of over and over again this month.