End of Year Rituals

Rituals are important. Chani Nicholas, one of my favorite astrologers says, “We set an intention and create a ritual to house that intention and that is making magic. That is creating a spell. That is creating our intention.” 

The etymology of the world ritual: The English word “ritual” derives from the Latin ritualis, “that which pertains to rite (ritus)”. In Roman juridical and religious usage, ritus was the proven way (mos) of doing something,[5] or “correct performance, custom”.[6] The original concept of ritus may be related to the Sanskrit ṛtá (“visible order)” in Vedic religion, “the lawful and regular order of the normal, and therefore proper, natural and true structure of cosmic, worldly, human and ritual events”.[7] The word “ritual” is first recorded in English in 1570, and came into use in the 1600s to mean “the prescribed order of performing religious services” or more particularly a book of these prescriptions.

The thing that strikes me about the definition is that it is the proven way of doing something. Rituals are often things that we inherit, because they have worked for someone else. So here are my end-of-year rituals: 

1. Reflect on the lessons learned in the year. I usually take the last digit of the year and reflect on that number of lessons learned from the year. You can check out my 2017 post here.

2. Update my Manifesto. My manifesto is where I keep my “bucket list” or lifetime goals. I wrote the list about 10 years ago. My manifesto is important because I try to pull at least 3 things from the list to act on in a given year. I also add new things to the list.

3. Clean house. This was a ritual that I learned from my mother. Before the New Year, you do a thorough cleaning of your home, dusting, laundry, sweeping & mopping, etc. The idea is that you don’t want to “carry” any of the clutter, mess or disorder into the New Year.

4. Do a year in review scrapbook page. Similar to reflecting on the lessons learned, except this doesn’t have a limit. It is the opportunity to celebrate all of the accomplishments, big and small and highlights of the last year.

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5. Construct my vision board. Vision boarding in serious in my house. I collect things throughout the year that I’d like to add to my Vision Board. I usually do this ritual on 12/31. Here are my Vision Boards from the past:

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2016

2015

2014

6. Write out my personal, professional and marriage goals for the year. I don’t necessarily consider these resolutions. I consider them goals. These are the tangible things I’d like to work on and manifest within the next year. My husband & I also spend a lot of time talking about what we want for ourselves and each other the next year. Some of our goals our collaborative. For example, we both want to improve our health & fitness routine. The great thing about shared goals is that you have a built-in accountability partner.

How To Conduct Your Own Annual Review 

Couple’s Strategic Planning

31 Days To Reset Your Life

7. Cook collard greens and black eyed peas. This is another ritual I inherited from my mother. I was always taught that both represented prosperity in the New Year, with the greens symbolically representing money.

In terms of New Year’s Eve, I haven’t gone out to do anything in years. It’s always super cold in Chicago and frankly by the time I finish my rituals – I’m exhausted. Last year, my husband & I did a new ritual that was beautiful. This year, I think I’m going to bring in the new year meditating – sage & incense burning, candles, crystals, the whole bit. The beautiful thing about rituals is that you can always start new ones!

Here are some other inspiring ideas to bring in the New Year:

Listen to Myleik Teele’s Podcast. She is the founder of Curlbox, and she gives amazing business & personal growth information! You can actually go back in time & listen to her Podcasts.

Really good Reflection Questions here, and you can download it and print it!

Mark Zuckerberg sets and acts on one intention every year. It’s a pretty cool idea. Read more here.

33 Daily Habits Highly Successful People Have (and the Rest of Us Probably Don’t) – I truly believe that the key to long-term change is in our daily habits and our daily routine.

 

 

 

 

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?

Moving Forward By Looking Backwards

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Caption: Me looking out towards the Ocean at the Door of No Return. 

Identity, agency and affirmation are three of the most important things that we can develop as human beings. Identity is significant because it serves as a fingerprint on the hand that is our culture. It is developed individually but adds to the spectrum of the communities that we belong to. Agency is the pulse of our experiences. The more agency that we have, the richer our experiences are in life. Social stratification has lead to some individuals having more agency than others, but it is agency that serves as our motivation. Those who have it, enjoy the full power of free will and curate the museums of their lives. Affirmation (or lack thereof) powers agency. To be validated. To be seen. To be heard. Affirmation comes from those who serve as our parents and guardians. It comes from our communities. It comes from success.

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Caption: This was the first building constructed on the island. Initially it was a church. Now it is a Police Station for the island. 

Two days ago, I visited Goree Island. Goree is a 20 minute ferry ride off of the Coast of Dakar, Senegal and it serves as a physical reminder of one of the most horrific atrocities in human history.

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Caption: The view of Goree Island from the Ferry as you approach it. 

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Caption: Entrance to Maison Des Esclaves (Slave House) where the “Door of No Return” is located on Goree Island. 

Genetically, I am 94% African. My great great great grandfather Syrus Williams was born into slavery in [insert year]. Had I been born at that time, I would have been a slave. I would have been a person who was stripped of my humanity, who would have been disconnected from my born identity – as a Ghanain, a Congelese, a Senegalese, etc. My agency would have been shackled in the iron balls and chains that I witnessed and my only affirmation would have been my ability to work, to bear children and to collaborate and conspire in the continued destruction of our continued humanity.

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Caption: This room was for “young girls.” Their value was determined by the fullness of their breasts. They weren’t allowed to come out of the room and were expected to relieve themselves inside of the room because if they were seen outside of the room, it would cause a disturbance with their parents who were sometimes only a few yards away in a different holding area. They were often removed by the room and taken upstairs where the slave masters stayed and sexually assaulted. Parents often prayed for their children to become domestic servants so that they could avoid the life of traveling to America and exiting the door of no return. IMG_2042

 Caption: This area was for children. We were told that the value of boys was determined by their teeth. 
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Caption: This area is the view of the door of no return from inside of the slave house. Originally there was no wall and all you’d see is the water. They added the wall for the safety of others. 

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Caption: This is what you see when you step outside of the door of no return and look right. This is the auction block where enslaves persons would be taken two at a time, chained to the floor and the boats would line up to purchase the enslaved persons and take them away. 

“Move on.” “I did not own slaves.” “That was a long time ago.” Are all things that are said. The danger in that is if we do not remember something, we are likely to repeat it. The human experience on earth, outside of these human-caused nightmares has been one of abundance. One of development. Who are we to cut up earth into imaginary boundaries? Who are we to prevent the development of growth of other human beings? Who are we to call anyone an alien. To deny entry. To deny exits.

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Caption: Former President Barack Obama on a visit to the Goree Island. The curator’s area of the museum is filled with photos and notes from some of the celebrities and historical figures that visited. 

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Caption: I used to teach Elie Wiesel’s book “Night” about the Jewish Holocaust. It was exciting to see his name on the wall. 

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Caption: Harry Belafonte is one of the most philanthropic human rights advocates on the planet. It was great to see his photo and letter at the museum. 

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Caption: Mugabe, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe visits Goree. IMG_1941 copy

Caption: Nina Simone visits Goree Island. 

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Caption: Nelson Mandela visits Goree Island. Mandela is an important symbol, not only for South Africa but for many countries. IMG_1932 copy

Caption: What a blessing it was to write the name of my great, great, great grandfather Syrus Williams into the visitor’s registry at Goree Island. 

Many of the buildings on Goree Island are still in shape. The “door of no return” is located in a Museum called the Museo de Esclaves (or slave house). For those Africans who find themselves in South America, the Caribbean and America, it was our collective forced removal from our ancestral home and would lead us to a path of poverty, of second-class citizenship (when our humanity was finally recognized by constitutions) and we’d become a permanent threat – a people to be feared, to be experimented on (often against our will) and to be the worker bees of European and Western Economies. We’d be lucky if our contributions were recognized and our inventions often made our collective burden easier for us all.

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Caption: Barack Obama and Dr. Martin Luther King were two important symbols visible throughout the continent including this mural of Dr. King on the wall of a hotel. 

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Caption: This brother makes wood sculptures that he uses oil to paint into the dark color.We were able to catch him in the middle of a new piece.

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This brother makes “sand tattoos.” He also demonstrated his technique. I purchased four bottles from him.

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Caption: This statue captures a woman clinging to a man who has broken the chains of slavery. It was powerful! They are standing on top of a drum. 

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Caption: Cheikh creates art out of sand. The sand he gets from all over the continent. The orange sand is from Mauritania, the country that was the source of our delegation’s mission. I purchased four pieces from him! He also demonstrated his technique and studied at the Art School in Dakar. 

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Caption: This brother made quilts out of Fabric. I also purchased two pieces from him because his work is so beautiful! He also made his outfit. 

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Caption: Several artists incorporate found objects into their practice, this includes everything from cell phones to trash collected. The art work was absolutely stunning and unique. 

Some of the most beautiful pieces of art and most creative artisans live and work on Goree. I purchased lots of pieces and I was able to get a picture with the artists. I believe that art is therapy and it is one of the ways that our people have processed and coped with the devastation that slavery was for us and it’s horrible remnants that still impact our communities worldwide.

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Caption: This monument was meant to depict a sinking slave ship. 

As our tour guide spoke to us about the history of slavery as he knew it to be on Goree Island I went through many emotions. One was a deep sadness. One was anger. One was disbelief. The men, women and children and the unspeakable horror that they endured made the air thick. I wondered whose fingers had made etches in the stone. I imagined the literally blood, sweat and tears that mixed into the dirt we were walking on. I touched those walls. I walked into those holding cells. I picked up two small rocks to add to my collection. I bore witness, to remember and to keep telling the story. I hope that the language that I speak (English) and my dark skin serve as an advertisement for the strength and the resiliency of the people whose DNA powers my existence today.

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Caption: Restraining devices, chains and weapons that were housed in the museum area of the Slave House. 

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Caption: Me standing at the top of the staircase, directly above the door of no return, facing Mother Africa. 

As we navigate our collective modern day challenges, it is my hope that black people across the globe can learn about what happened in Goree, Ghana, Angola, etc. It is my hope that we can continue to research and learn as much as possible about the many tribes and the many tongues on the continent. It is my prayer that we can all connect to and be proud of our African Heritage. That when we see each other we recognize each other as family members through shared experience. That we take advantage of resources like education and credentials to solve the problems that are really vestiges of the institution of slavery – discrimination, racism, poverty, misrepresentation and oversimplification of our issues in the media, etc. I’m not interested in the people of African Descent inverting the power dynamic, but I am interested in a level playing field, protecting our civil and human rights and ensuring that our culture remains documented, preserved and transferred for future generations.

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Caption: The salt water eats up the iron causing many of the things on the island (including weapons and chains) to stop functioning. Nature always has a way of balancing things out. 

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Caption: Goree Island has a lot of industry. There are restaurants and lots of artists and merchants who also travel to the island on the Ferry with their goods to sell. This photo captures some of the items that were being delivered. 

Video Footage

Below you will find several videos that I captured while in the Slave House on Goree Island. I used both my nice camera and my cell phone to capture video. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate posting them in the comments section below and I will do my best to answer them or find answers to them.

Check Out My Other Pieces About Slavery Here:

The Slave Revolt You’ve Never Heard of: https://donnienicole.com/2011/07/18/the-slave-revolt-youve-never-heard-of/

When The Ancestors Speak: A Tour of Whitney Plantation: https://donnienicole.com/2017/02/26/when-the-ancestors-speak-a-tour-of-the-whitney-plantation/

And the DNA Tests Revealed… Genetics, DNA Testing and Legacy: https://donnienicole.com/2015/08/24/and-the-dna-tests-revealed-genetics-dna-testing-legacy/.

9 Things We Can Do To Combat Racism: https://donnienicole.com/2015/06/18/9-things-we-can-do-to-combat-racism/.

Note: Thank you to the Abolition Institute for making this trip possible. I look forward to continuing to support the mission of eradicating slavery wherever it may be on the globe!

What Do You Truly Believe About Yourself?

How do you know what you believe about yourself?

Pay attention to what you say out loud or to yourself when you make a mistake. Watch out for things like:

“You’re/I’m so stupid.” 

“You/I always mess things up.” 

“Of course you/I messed that up.” 

Pay attention to what you say out loud or think when you are given an opportunity.

Watch out for things like:

“I can’t believe they picked me.”

“I’m just lucky.”

“This will never happen again.”

Really evaluate what you allow people to say to you or around you. Especially friends and loved ones. There is a difference between someone who has a healthy sense of skepticism and someone who has malicious intent. It hits your ears and your heart differently. 

Notice the people who are always critical but not complimentary. Those who try to make you think or feel like you can’t do anything right.

Distance yourself from the people who always have something negative or pessimistic to say about you, your job or the world. Especially when you’re sensitive to such messages. That is a part of the reason why I am not a fan of most broadcast news. The constant stories of death and doom really affect my mood and I have to do what I have to do to protect my peace, so most of the time I turn it off. 

Pay attention to your feelings when you’re scrolling social media. If you notice yourself: 

– Constantly comparing your life to the life of others.

– With strong feelings of jealousy or resentment.

– Feeling the need to have what someone has in terms of material possessions. 

– Being a Social Media thug or bully.

It may be time to detox from social media for a day, a week or longer to cleanse your palette. When I’m feeling off spiritually, mentally or emotionally, I stay off of social media. I turn to spiritual sources or face to face encounters to balance it all out. 

How do you feel about spending time alone? If you feel super uncomfortable, there may be some negative feelings that you are harboring about yourself. Things to watch out for:

– What will other people think about me? 

– People will notice that… (irrational ideas about people being able to see an area of vulnerability or weakness).

Pay attention to how you treat your body. When faced with stress do you turn to healthy or unhealthy practices?

– drugs or alcohol to numb whatever pain exists. 

– Over or under rating to feed or starve the pain (I personally struggle with this).

– Unprotected sex or sexual experiences that you would not do or be comfortable with if you weren’t feeling stress. 

The law of attraction states “you attract what you believe you deserve.” It does not mean you attract what you say. It does not mean you attract what others believe or even say. 

Pay attention to what you truly believe about yourself & whatever you need to do to transform those beliefs, do it. 

Go inside of yourself and ask yourself why. Questioning oneself helps to get to the bottom of lots of issues. 

See a therapist & talk to a counselor. That objective (& professional) set of eyes is helpful to uncover & reveal certain things that may be suppressed.

Notice the patterns. When you notice the patterns you can predict (and change) future behavior.

Think about your whole self. We sometimes think that because we have our mental life’s together, everything else is in tact. Think about your emotional self, your spiritual self, your physical self. Even if one area is off, it has the potential to negatively impact the other areas. 

Pay attention to your parents, family and circle. I believe that not only do we inherit our looks from our parents, we also inherit a program from them. Many mental illnesses are genetic, and our parents stuff often becomes our stuff. Unpack it! When it comes to the people we choose to spend time with. It’s only natural that they impact you. You’re breathing the same air. Their waves (vibe) come crashing into yours & your waves often sync to theirs, depending on who has the strongest vibes. I believe that is what makes group think so dangerous. All of they group energy syncs up, for better of for worse. 

You cannot attract what you don’t believe you deserve. I hope this was helpful. I wrote the title of this blog last night before bed & woke up abnormally early & felt the urge to finish this piece & publish it. I hope it’s helpful for you!

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.

 

4:44 – Another Possible Meaning To Jay-Z’s Album

 

4:44 has been in heavy rotation in my speakers! Just when I thought I had it all figured out, I came across this possible meaning of the title of Jay-Z’s new album. I’m not going to lie, initially it went right over my head, but that’s the beauty of good art. I was doing my spiritual work and came across this on AstroStyle.com.

“444: Home base calling.

Four is the number of home and family. In astrology, the fourth house governs the feminine realm so if you see 4:44, an important woman may have just come into your life. What are your loved ones up to? Your inner circle could use your attention. You may have just met someone who is a soul sister or a friend who will achieve ersatz family status in the days ahead.

Your body is your soul’s home: are you honoring it with proper rest, exercise and nutrition? 4:44 could be a reminder to eat more live, organic greens and purge your environment of toxic stress…including people who you don’t really trust. Listen to your heart: are you getting the warm fuzzies or feeling panicked when you think about the people around you? This might be a wakeup call to protect your space and the loved ones who inhabit it.

In tarot, 4 is The Emperor card, the wise, protective father figure, seated firmly on his throne. The appearance of 4s may also call you into protector-provider mode. What do you have to share with friends and family? How can you make life safer and more secure for your brood or entourage? Be a leader.”

It’s interesting because in interviews Jay-Z has said that he woke up at 4:44 a.m. to write the song. I wonder if he knew that the universe was also talking to him?

Meeting Extended Family Members in Colombia 


Caption: This beautiful woman said that I looked like her daughter and she sang a song for us. 

Yesterday my mother-in-love, my husband & I had a chance to tour Palenque de San Basilio in Colombia. Our tour guide was Alex Rocha of Experience Real Cartagena. Palenque is significant because it is the first free town for Africans, established in the Americas by former slaves.


Cartegena de los Indias, had over 1.1 million enslaved Africans enter their ports. Some of the slaves escaped & established these Palenques which means “walled city.” Palenque de San Basilio is one of the last of the surviving Palenques & thru still maintain many African traditions & customs. Cartegena is 70% black, and Afro-Colombians make up 10% of the national population. 


Caption: Benkos Bioho was the liberator of the people of Palenque. There is a school there named after him and a statue in the town square. 

Palenque is about a 60-90 minutes drive away from Cartagena, into the mountains, rural area. When we arrived, I felt super emotional, to learn about my people, to see where they lived with my own eyes & to know that they had been making their way since 1691, when the Spanish Crown guaranteed Africans of San Basilio de Palenque their freedom. 


I am so grateful to Alex, who also runs a youth Center in Cartagena & his family for the experience. Alex teaches the youth English, which is the key to better a economic future. My experience in Palenque is one I will never forget & it is one of the most impactful experiences I’ve ever had traveling abroad. 

BoHo Berry Challenge – Day 7 

An Area I’d Like To Improve
I’m always on a quest to find more efficient productivity systems. I find myself constantly downloading new apps, purchasing new planners, and reinventing my productivity structures because I don’t feel like I have yet mastered or feel 100% comfortable with my current systems.

I’d like to eventually develop and stick to processes that include:

1. Daily routine 

2. Strategic Planning 

3. External Communication (for both private and professional affairs)

4. A system for keeping up to date with my scrapbooking and writing 

5. A system for clearing digital clutter.

If you have any suggestions for any of the above! Please let me know! 

BoHo Berry Challenge – Day 6 

Day 6: I Need Less…

1. Social Media – seriously considering putting myself on a tight schedule. 

2. Emails – the constant avalanche!!! 

3. Items in my office – my home office is a super cluttered. I need to purge it!!! 

4. Apps on my phone – too many apps! 

5. Files on my computer – too many files!

When I look at my list I realize I need less clutter!