How Blessed We Really Are...

In the past two weeks, God has shown me how blessed I am. I know that there are many instances in life that we take for granted but I want to walk you all through this story about a family member with the hopes of sharing how blessed you are to be where you are right now.

I had a cousin (2nd cousin) who had to stay with me for a week and his situation made me thank God for having me right where I am. Without sharing too many details of his personal life, I can just paint a picture that I hope allows you to understand this situation. Like so many people in the world, when he was born one of his parents realized they were too young or not prepared to be a parent and decided that they could not do it. As you may have thought, it was the father - but not in his case. To this day, he has never seen or spoken to his mom. So as a young child, his dad (my cousin) moved out of state with the hopes of starting over and giving him a better life. For several reasons we lost touch with them and it wasn’t until another tragedy struck that contact was made again. His father (my cousin) was murdered in late 2018, for simply nothing. Of course, his family in NC was contacted and the connection was made again. After hosting a memorial service for him in NC, my cousin decided to move back to be closer to the family - since his dad side was all he knew.

Upon him moving down here, reality must’ve hit hard. Things weren’t going to be as easy as he might have pictured. He had to get up and make a way for himself in a new state, basically starting over. Without any higher education or technical skills, the past few months have been trying on him. For most of 2019, he’s lived with several family members with the hopes of him saving his money and being able to stand on his own two feet. Unfortunately, that plan has not been fulfilled yet and I was one of the last options for him.

For a week, I took him to places to find temporary job placement, picked him up, looked for housing options with him, gave him hard talks, talks that I could tell have never happened before, encouraged him, and gave him so much needed family history. I explained to him that none of us have had a perfect life like I think he assumed. I explained just my story of my parent's life of drugs, alcohol, living with family members growing up (heck, I went to 5 elementary schools, one school I enrolled twice because of it), working my butt off to get to where I am and to have what I have. All that to say was that I hit him at an angle that I’m sure was not expressed before. We’re essentially peers (although I am older) and I expressed to him things from my perspective. Not an older aunt, not a grandma, not a friend - but someone who is close to his age and can understand today’s struggle.

In that week I helped him accomplish several things, some small and some pretty impactful. I was also helpful in sharing some light on family history and help to motivate him to do better because that’s what his deceased Father and Grandmother would have wanted. But in that week, he helped me too. He helped me appreciate the fact that both of my parents are alive and I have a relationship with them. My mother and I have worked hard over the past few years to develop even the smallest relationship and I’m happy that I can continue to build that. He made me appreciate the simple things that we often take for granted. Having people in my corner to push me growing up to ensure I had a great foundation (thanks Tesh, Aunt Brigette, & Granny). This situation made me appreciate my job because it enabled me to be able to purchase things like my house, car, and even a phone (which he didn’t have). I can go on and on about the moments where I stopped and said “thank you God for blessing me” but at this point, I’m sure you all get the picture.

There are a million and one reasons for us to complain. A thousand things that we wished we had or could get. Hundreds of people that we may want to trade places with, but I am here to tell you that things can always be worse. Those seven days made me appreciate the small things in life that I didn't even consider to be impactful. I hope that this story has helped you realize those things in your life and make you appreciate things a little different.

Love, Brown Girl

When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around" - Willie Nelson

Countdown to 30!

As the big 3-0 approaches, I would be lying if I said I felt like where I am now is where I imagined I would be entering 30. I think for a lot of women, we assume that our lives would be in a different place when 30 approached. Some may imagined that they would be either engaged or married, have a child or children, or be further along in their careers. I can’t say that I have not had those thoughts of my own. Seeing people around me accomplishing these things make you feel as if you’re behind on some sort of race….
To all women who are like me approaching a big age milestone - I hope that you have faith that all things will work out for you in the end.

The New Black Friday

After watching the first episode of “Trigger Warning - Killer Mike”, it definitely made me really think about things in a new way. I know I have not been the biggest advocate for supporting black businesses because my own experiences have not been the greatest but this doc-series really has changed my perspective.

For those of you who have not seen or heard about, I suggest you watch it. I have not watched the entire series, but what I’ve seen so far has been inspirational and inspired me to challenge my thinking and was something I wanted to write about. Just to give some context, the first episode was about his 3-day journey of attempting to live black. Meaning, he could only stay at places that were black-owned, eat food that was from a black farm and cooked at a black establishment or received services from black people. During his travel to Athens, GA he had to go to extreme measures to get there and find housing. From not having food to eat or cook because appliances were not made by black people. Him having to sleep on park benches because there were no hotels that were black-owned. His journey really displayed a lack of black-owned businesses.

He mentioned how segregation, although horrible, was actually better for black people. It forced black people to go to black doctors, go to black restaurants, shop at our stores, and support each other whether we wanted to or not. That really gave me a perspective that I honestly had never even considered. That by being forced to shop within your own community actually helped your community. During the episode, he mentioned how there was a book commonly used by black people in the mid-1900s called "The Negro Motorist Green-Book" (commonly known as the Green Book), that guided a black person journey from state to state that informed them of where they can shop, stay, and visit that was black-owned. Although this was probably used me because black people could not travel to just anywhere to stay or eat, but the book helped keep the black dollars within the black community - which is something that we should try to do even when we have other options.

At the conclusion of the episode, he mentioned that it would be nearly impossible for us to do what he did for those three days because of the lack of resources we currently have. But he challenged us to create a new meaning to Black Friday. Instead of waiting until Thanksgiving to go buy things we don't need, why do we make a conscious effort to purchase items from a Black-owned establishment on Friday’s. That can be going to a restaurant, buying from a local boutique, or ordering something from a family or friend that you know personally - that is black.

I cannot promise that everything I own or wear will be black-owned, but I will make an effort to keep my money within my community and buy black. A great place to start is weshopblack.com but there also may be local sites or outlets that you can find more info on but this is at least a start.

Love,

Brown Girl

“Black people need to share collective dollars and demand equal representation, and the way you do that is by controlling their own economy and putting money behind candidates” - Killer Mike

What Soulja Boy is Showing Us

After watching interviews that Soulja Boy had this week, there are a few things that he stated that I think we all could learn from. I may not agree with every comment or his delivery, but there are two main points that I think we all could all take away.

You have to be your own biggest fan. Often times we all downplay our accomplishments and hope that other people give us the credit or ensure that people know what we’ve done - but that shouldn't be the case. Women, especially black women, often times downplay what we have done while a man will quickly boost and let others know. In my own experiences, I have done and heard other women say “we” completed this when it was an independent venture. We will say, “the group has been able to accomplish” when it was something that we found and spent hours doing. Soulja Boy may be exaggerating the truth or it all may be facts, but what I can say is that we all should take a page from his book and let others know that it was our thoughts, ideas, and work that got us here.

The second thing Soulja Boy has done that we all should do is to have multiple streams of income. During this interview, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sd9ZNYV8NZk, he was asked: “why do you have so many businesses?” - as if that is a bad thing. The little-minded interviewers made it seem as if that was a bad thing and that he should focus all of his energy into one area. I don’t think the interviewers realized how ignorant they sound or how it would have been perceived by the public, but this just shows that we need to do better. Having multiple streams of income is giving you security. In the event that one area does not work out, you have back up plans. You have another source to depend on. For him to be picked on for having that is insane. This is something that billionaires have stated as the key to success, we’ve seen A+ celebrities doing this, we’ve seen average white men doing this but once a young black man states that he is going to do the same thing, we are quick to judge. Regardless of if we agree with how much money Soulja Boy states he is bringing in or if we agree with the industries that he is working in, the point is that he is investing his energy, time, and money into several places to ensure that his finances are set up for the future.

There were a lot of antics and distractions during these interviews that may have watered down the main points but when you sit down and think about the message he was trying to give out, its something that we should all take into consideration.

Be your biggest fan and take credit and pride into the work you’ve accomplished. No one is ever going to support you as you support you.

We often spread ourselves thin when it comes to other things in life, but we hardly ever make it a practice to ensure that we have multiple streams of income. It can be starting a side hustle, getting a part-time job, putting your crafts on Etsy, Youtube’ing, or whatever else you can think of. You should ensure that you have other seeds that can help grow that money tree.

Love, Brown Girl

“It's not bragging if you can back it up” - Muhammad Ali

Girl, Where Have You Been?

I spoke to a friend recently and they asked me, “what’s going on with your blog? Are you still doing it?” It took me a few seconds to determine if I was going to give the real answer or the answer that everyone wants to hear. But I replied truthfully and stated that I took a few months away (which I didn't realize it's been that long) to gather myself. After losing my Grandfather, I needed to take some time away and work on life without him. Most people’s relationships with their Grandparents are not even close to the relationship that I had with mine. The relationship I had with them was more like a parental relationship and not a traditional grandparent relationship. They were literally factored into my weekly plans and sometimes daily. So for me to lose both of them within a year and a half, it has been a hard adjustment for me and as a result, I lost some of my drive and creativity. I needed to grieve and mourn the loss of them without thinking about blogging topics and posting on Instagram. I needed to take a few moments for myself to get my mind in a better place before I could even consider blogging again.

But this is a new year and I plan to continue to do the thing that I felt most at peace with. I plan to use my experiences and learnings that I had with Grandparents to continue to drive topics and discussions. This year, I plan to be unapologetic with my thoughts, stand 100% in my truth and handle whatever the universe throws my way.

Thank you all for being patient and understanding why I’ve been absent. But we all should take however long we need to make sure we take care of self.

Love, Brown Girl

“You can't pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first” - unknown

Ever Just Wanted to Get Away?

As some may be aware, I recently lost my grandfather and I’m still dealing with the impact of that. Unlike most people my age, I was extremely close to my Grandparents. If I didn’t see them at least once I week, my week was off. They did so much for me growing up like ensuring we had the best Christmas’s (even once I became an adult), working to get my first job, my driving permit & license, teaching me to drive, buying my first laptop for college, countless motivation conversations, numerous accounts of them sliding me $20 just because, and the infinite amount of love. 

For that, I vowed that I would do whatever I could to help them as they got older. On Wednesday’s, I would go and sit with my Grandfather while my Grandmother went to choir rehearsal. On Sunday’s, I would go and sit with my Grandfather while Granny was at church.  If there was a grocery trip, nail/hair appointment or doctors appointment and I could take - I would, easily. Once we lost my Grandmother, I went in to go mode for my Grandfather. Every Saturday the nursing staff at his nursing home knew I was coming and knew that I didn’t play about him. I would check on medicine, his clothes and iron them if needed, ensure that he had his cigs (yes he still smoked), & that he was taken care of. I made sure I did whatever I could for them because they had that same energy for me. 

I said all that to show how much of a role they played in my day-to-day. How much they had an impact on my decisions. But now I’ve been questioning “what’s next”? What’s the next thing that I can do and focus my energy on? I’ve always wanted to pick up my life and relocate to another place, but I would never have done that knowing how my presence helped them. It would’ve felt like I betrayed them or just forgot about them and I could have never done that. But now, what’s my hold up? Yes, I’m in a relationship & I have family here - but I can’t shake this constant urge to just get up and leave. It feels like the universe is giving me all the signs to do so and I think I’m going to answer. Heaven only knows when, but I think the time is now for me to put forth the effort and step out on faith. 

I know that this is something that my Grandparents would want for me. I know that they would be proud of me for stepping out there and trying something new. I know that they’re in heaven pulling strings, making moves for me, and guarding & guiding me so I have nothing to fear. The lesson is for me to listen to God and the signs that he is showing me. To not fear the unknown and be willing to move forward on faith and not by sight. To force myself out of my comfort zone and live life a little. 

I hope by me sharing my story it will help you think about those things you’ve put off doing and go for the things that make you uncomfortable. Life’s too short to not try new things & go to places! 

Love, Brown Girl 

“What feels like the end is often the beginning” - Unknown 

Wonder What It Would Be Like To Be A White Woman

I know, interesting topic but I sometimes think, “what would it be like to be a white girl?” Let's be clear, I love everything about being black. My hair, these lips, this complexion, our music, our food, our shapes and our culture. But I have thought to myself what is it like to be a white girl in America. To wake up and be 100% of yourself all of the time. To be able to speak your mind and not have a label like aggressive or ‘too direct’ attached to you. To be able to wear any sort of outfit or hairstyle and be labeled unique or trendsetter and not ghetto. For me to wear my hair a certain style I have to explain how it happened, how long it took to do it, how the ‘hair is connected’ - I wonder what it would be like to just be. 

I wonder what it would be like to not have to tone yourself down so that what you’re saying is received. To have not had to force a smile or add unnecessary pleasantries to emails to ensure that I don’t come off too harsh (even when I need to be). What it would be like to have opportunities without even realizing it. Every position or role that I have ever worked, I had to earn it. I had to prove myself day in and day out that I am more than qualified for that role even when I have more experience and higher education than some of my white counterparts. 

I wonder what White Privilege feels like? To automatically to innocent then proven guilty - what a concept? I was watching the news yesterday and saw a video of this white women crying and hugging police after they were able to get her child out of a locked car. I was happy that the kid was safe considering it was 80+ degrees outside; however, I couldn’t help but think what if that was a black woman? Would I have made headlines in such a positive manner if I had locked my toddler in the car? Or would the headlines have been ‘Unfit mother locks a child in car’ with questions asking how it happened and what was I doing that resulted in it? I can almost bet that I would not have made national news and most certainly not in a positive light. 

Also, saw on the news a young bartender body slammed a white man for groping her. They praised her because sexual harassment has been an issue in their area and they were proud to see her standing up for herself. That made me think, ‘what if that was me?’ Would they have been so happy that I stood up for myself or would I have been too aggressive? Would I have been facing assault charges for doing the exact same thing she did because I am a black woman? 

You would think that in 2018, I wouldn’t even have to think about what it would be like to be a white woman in America but I do. I shouldn’t have to think about what a day-to-day experience as a white woman is like because it should be pretty close to mine. We should be able to speak our minds the same, we should be able to have the same opportunities, we should be able to get paid the same, have the same living conditions, and be able to be ourselves 100% of the time. Sad that today, that is not the case. 

For the record, this wasn’t a post to put white women down or to say that I want to be white, it was to simply explain how I feel and the thoughts that I have. Would love to hear your thoughts and start a conversation. 

Until next time. 

Love, Brown Girl 

“I think, part of it is, accepting that there is so much beauty in being black” - Tina Knowles 

Working Over 40 Hours a Week? Stop, It Could Cause Diabetes!

As I was driving home from work one afternoon, I saw an alert on my watch from an article from CNN titled “Hard-working women, go home earlier to avoid this disease”. Immediately I was curious as to what this could be discussing. Especially since I am guilty of staying at work late to finish things up and it doesn’t help that my team at work has gotten smaller while the workload has not. 

As I am scrolling through the article I saw the main message was “if women work fewer hours, it’ll lower their risk of diabetes.” Canadian researchers conducted a 12-year study that found that women who worked 45+ hours per week have a 63% greater risk of diabetes compared to those who worked between 35-40 hours. They considered if there were other factors like smoking, working out, or alcohol consumption but that only reduced the impact slightly. 

Interestingly enough, men who worked longer hours were not at risk. Throughout the study, it was not clear why there were differences between genders but it could have something to do with what with women do during our off time. For instance, when we're off we continue to do stressful tasks like taking care of children, cooking and cleaning, paying bills, etc. while men often can go home and relax. 

To top it off, even though we're working long hours we still are getting paid less than our male counterparts. So not only are we trying to work long hours like men, we are putting ourselves at a higher risk for diabetes and getting paid less.  

Being a female who has a family history in diabetes (literally almost every woman on my mom’s side has it) and being a person who has worked over 40 hours a week for as long as I can remember, this article really hit home for me. I need to really evaluate what’s important to me and figure out how I can live my best life! 

So the next time you think about staying late to finish a task, leave - it's not worth your health

Love, Brown Girl 

"Diabetes... Don't nobody got time for that" -Brittany D. Dunlap 


To read the full article, click here: https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/02/health/diabetes-long-hours-women-study/index.html

I Can’t Complain About My Plate When I Asked To Eat

Whew, I have been working my butt off lately. From taking on new roles at work (like another person’s full-time job), expanding into YouTube and making a conscious effort to be more connected with family & friends - I have gotten my butt kicked. As I think about all of the things and being overwhelmed, it made me think about something my grandmother used to say when I would complain about paying bills. “Be thankful that you could, because some people can’t” and that is what I remind myself often. There are people that wake up everyday wishing for the things that I complain about. Wishing that they had the means to get a site going. The resources to create a vlog. The friends and connections that I have made in order to make that happen. This was a reminder for me to know that all the things that I have on my plate right now are setting me up for a bigger goal. This is the season for me to put in the work and do the things to get my brand off the ground, in order to live out my dreams and live in my purpose. 

Last year, I had no idea what my calling was or what my next steps in life were going to be. So I am thankful that I got to a place where I know what makes me happy. I am so grateful that I am able to connect with so many people online and (hopefully) motivate them to live out their dreams and push forward. I would rather be overwhelmed with my plans for the future and consistently thinking about what’s next than to be somewhere trying to figure out what my purpose in life is. 

I understand the importance of getting rest and regrouping, but I do believe that seasons in our life are important. This season I am taking the necessary time to put in work to get important things done. I am not encouraging you to follow in my footsteps and ‘overwork’ yourself, but I am saying if you have the motivation to do something - do it. 

I’m writing this blog, planning the next YouTube video, thinking about work tasks that I need to complete, all while visiting with family. I have to keep moving and getting things done while I can. Tomorrow isn’t promised, so I need to make moves today & I hope that you do as well! 

Love, Brown Girl 

“The Secret Of Getting Things Done Is To Act” - Dante Alighieri  

Nope... Don't Really Need It!

I can’t really explain it. Not sure where it came from or what caused it. But all of a sudden things that I used to care strongly about or couldn’t live without, simply don’t matter that much to me anymore. Things that I recall saying I would never give up, I gave up without hesitation. Maybe this is what people feel when they state they have ‘found themselves’ or maybe this is just a season but for right now I consider myself embarking on a new journey. 

You probably think I may be going crazy (and you could be right) but if this is what crazy feels like, I am 100% good with that. Right now, I am focusing on things that matter and letting go of things that don’t. I am focusing on removing elements of my life that do not add value. For instance, ever since my 5th-grade social I have always had my nails done - I know, I started young. Of course, I have gone through periods where I took them off but for the most part,  acrylic nails have been my thing. This past week I looked into how much I am spending on that and I was embarrassed. There are much more important things that I need to focus on other than what color my nails will be for the next 2 weeks. Under the same vein, I thought about how much I was spending on my hair each month and this was even worse than my nails. The list goes on and one from SiriusXM radio, having Netflix and cable, to eating out for almost every meal. It was simply out of control. So I made the decision to cut out things that will not continue to move me forward. 

Not just financially have I made changes, I have also decided to reduce the amount of TV that I watch. I saw a post several weeks ago about how watching TV is one of the worst things for the mind. At the time I didn’t think too much of it until my cousin Jasmine came over to catch up. She asked me had I read several books that she recently finished and my answer to each book was no. I stopped to think about what was the last book that I read and it had been over a years ago. Reading has always been something that I enjoyed doing and I can’t believe that I allowed myself to get to a point where it was no longer apart of my routine. 

Additionally, I made myself finally take a trip to the grocery store so that I can start cooking. Let's be clear, cooking is not something that I enjoy doing; however, once I am done I feel amazing about it. Nothing feels better than to know that your food was cooked correctly and most importantly under clean conditions. I have vowed to cook throughout the week and allow myself to have a break on the weekends. I can’t make promises on how long this will last, but at least I am heading in the right direction. 

I didn’t say all of this to make you or anyone feel bad for having SiriusXM or eating out daily but I said it to say that I have determined to live a more simple life. I have reduced the things that were not allowing me to be my greatest self whether that was financial, mental, or physical. 
You may discover that you need to give up eating sweets at night, or you need a break from social media, or workout more or you may be like me and need to make some executive budget decisions. Whatever your choice is, do it so that you can be a better you. Don’t do the things that I did because that may not work for you and each of our journeys are different. 

I have no idea what other changes in my life God has in store for me but honestly, I look forward to growing and glowing while doing so. 

Love, Brown Girl 

“If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” -Albert Einstein