I have a voice

May 15, 2017

Live your best life

Memoirs and autobiographies are quickly becoming one of my favorite genres. I love being able to see into these women's incredible lives and I'm grateful that they chose to share their stories. Here are some amazing and inspiring quotes from 4 great memoirs/autobiographies to motivate you this week




 "I will claim myself for myself."



"I told a student today: You shouldn't be so hard on yourself. Praise yourself as much as you fuss at yourself.' And I could have been talking to myself. And I was. And I will."





"I'm just really into walking in my purpose and saying yes to life right now. Ya know?"
 
"Change was in the air like a cloud and it was finally raining on me."

"Don't let anyone else take away your joy. If they don't want to be with you or around you, let them go. Pick up your shit and keep going. You came into the world by yourself, and the next person's lungs don't help you breathe."


“Love heals. Heals and liberates. I use the word love, not meaning sentimentality, but a condition so strong that it may be that which holds the stars in their heavenly positions, which causes the blood to flow orderly in our veins.”

 “Don't do anything that you think is wrong. Do what you think is right, and then be ready to back it up even with your life.” 
 

"Read everything. The more knowledge you have, the less a man can use you for poppy-show" 

 "I go from place to place spouting the gospel of courage and survival. I encourage victims to take hold of destiny and chart it for themselves."

March 30, 2017

Reasons to Smile

Two years ago timehop showed me a now 7-year-old tweet that said, "I love me some me" which felt like a message from the universe because I was having a horrible day and finding it very hard to love any aspect of myself. I tried to get myself together by writing about it and trying to feel beautiful. I spent some time reflecting on one of my favorite quotes from Nayyirah Waheed, "I have always been the women of my dreams." That day, despite heartache, I tried to reaffirm my commitment to loving myself fiercely and continuously, to the best of my ability.

The now 7-year-old tweet and accompanying 2-year-old selfie.


Rereading my post from my re-commitment to self love 2 years ago, what really stands out to me is "to the best of my ability." This journey of self love was not linear before this day two years ago and has not been linear since. It's an up and down and sometimes wobbly journey that confuses me but teaches me so much, especially in the last year or so.

I think that one of the more major things that I've noticed distracts from my ability to love myself has been my failure to focus on the good and comparing myself to others or, more dangerously, some idealized vision of myself.  There are so many times when instead of celebrating my success or living in what is good and happening in the moment. I graduated last December and earned my Master of Social Work with a 3.75. Almost 4 months later and I can admit to myself that I actually did really well my final semester an overall. Immediately after finals week, however, I was distraught over my grade on one paper that  I worked really hard on but didn't get the A that I wanted, that I just knew I was going to get after pouring so much of myself into that paper because I saw myself getting a 4.0 that semester. I kept thinking of all the people who don't procrastinate or don't have anxiety attacks over one final paper. That alone made it even harder to work on this one assignment. I spent so much energy on being upset with that one paper and focusing on alternate world 4.0 Kiyanna instead of my current life that I forgot to really celebrate all of this moment. This achievement is my own and although there are many people who have done better and have higher grades, I still deserve to give myself time to be in the moment and celebrate it.

Another big distraction has been running and staying in spaces and energies that make me feel unworthy. Realizing this has been leading me to paying more attention to how I'm feeling around certain people and in different situations. It led me to my 24th year birthday affirmation, "I am deserving." It's been helping me listen to myself and trust my intuitions more. Most importantly, I think that it has helped me question my experiences more. I've been thinking more about what lessons I'm learning from past and present experiences and relationships. I've been been journaling and reflecting more and really just learning so much about myself. Protecting my mental health and my emotional well being are on the top of my priority list and it's been working really well for me these past few weeks.

It's not a perfect journey and I don't think its ever meant to be but I'm really glad to be working on loving myself continuously.  I'm really glad I'm alive to experience the ups and downs of this journey. I love learning about myself and how to better love myself. I love me some me.




ps. if you read all of this, pray for me during this job search!

March 13, 2017

Blessings from Poetry






In honor of Women's History Month, I would like to highlight these wonderful poets whose words truly keep me afloat by speaking to my soul. I've been so thankful for this poets and their work over the past year or so. I turn to their words to relieve stress, to find comfort, to cry, to laugh, to affirm myself, and to heal. I cherish these poets and these collections so much because they so beautifully articulate feelings of heartbreak and pain, childhood, our connections to our ancestors, relationships with ourselves and with others, and so much more. I've carried these books of poetry and prose and shared them to help others heal and be inspired as well.


Here are some beautiful words from these talented artists to help you get through this week. May they speak to you and guide you through anything you may be going through. Enjoy!

---


From Nectar by Upile Chisala


From Soft Magic by Upile Chisala


From Questions for Ada by Ijeoma Umebinyuo


From Nejma by Nayyirah Waheed


From Bone by Yrsa Daley-Ward


From Preparing My Daughter for Rain by Key Ballah


From Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire



From Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur




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You deserve to have a good week. Take care of yourself.


February 24, 2017

Books I Read: Imani All Mine



Imani All Mine by Connie Rose Porter has been one of my absolute favorite books since I first read it in the seventh grade. I loved and still love reading stories about black girls that feel authentic--stories that felt like they were about people I see in my own life. I had already loved reading and was always getting lost in books long before I read this book but this book holds a very special place in my heart because it took me on an emotional roller coaster. I'm a very emotional person. I feel emotions very intensely and this wonderful piece of literature had me sobbing uncontrollably in my room the morning I finished it when I was supposed to be getting ready for school. I had no idea that books could have that power over me. I fell in love.

I personally think it's a must read. Imani All Mine is a honest and real story that anyone can find themselves in. Imani All Mine tells the story of Tasha, a fourteen-year-old single mother. Throughout this book we see the various impacts of race, stigma, trauma, poverty, and faith on Tasha's life. I was excited to read this book again as a part of The Free Black Women's Library's 2017 Reading Challenge, a book from your childhood. I was really excited to read this book again as an adult and compare the experiences.

Reading it as an adult, what I find the most interesting about this book is Tasha's relationship with religion and Christianity. We're able to see what, I feel, is a very honest relationship with God. One that relies on faith and blessings but also openly questions how this religion can work in a world where horrible things happen to innocent people and where horrible people can be forgiven for the awful things that they have done. This is a challenge for a lot of people trying to maintain their faith when going through difficult times.
"God is a mystery to me."
Another really important part is the description of the way that memories of trauma not only live in our minds but throughout our entire bodies as well. When incredibly stressful or traumatizing events happen to people the impact that they have on their bodies can last for a long time after the initial event happens. In Tasha's world it would be expected to get over things quickly and move on with life but the body remembers.
"The places where there is memory in you. Underneath your tongue. The middle of your bones. The lonesome spaces deep inside."

I loved reading this book again! It definitely took me back to the seventh grade and I discovering some themes I didn't notice when I was 12. I was definitely moved to tears and uncontrollable sobbing again. I'm still so in love with this book. If you have not read this book yet, you definitely should.



Happy Reading! ♥

December 31, 2016

The Sisters are Alright



I started my year of reading The Sisters Are Alright by Tamara Winfrey Harris and I’m so glad that I did! Reading The Sisters Are Alright so wonderfully reminded me of the black girl magic within me. It truly is a wonderful read. It’s fun and east to read and it covers so many different important aspects of black womanhood. What’s wrong with black women? Not a damned thing! It’s so empowering to feel the love for black women flow through the pages. Black womanhood is complex and special. It would be impossible to fit all of that magic into one book but this is a great place to start.

            “I love black women, and I want the world to love black women too.”


 On of my favorite components of the book are the "moments in alright" that highlight some of the amazing work that black women are doing in this world. Here's a really important one that actually helped me find a great resource for a paper and a group therapy that I designed. This moment also further affirms me on a path of becoming a black therapist.

 Moments in Alright:
"Believing that sexuality educators, therapists, counselors, and doctors must have more representation by women of color, the Women of Color Sexual Health Network is devoted to empowering and including more women of color, including black women, in he field of sexuality, sexology, and sexual health."


This book wonderfully covers so many important topics including the stereotypes we face as black women, the strong woman narrative, motherhood, respect, relationships, health, and so much more. It leaves you with a desire to continue to learn more about black women. This book was the beginning of a year of reading amazing works by and about black women. I made a short list of nonfiction and fiction works that would be great to read after reading this wonderful book that gives you so much to think about.

Further and Recommended Reading:
  • Sister Citizen by Melissa Harris-Perry
  • For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf
  • Fast Tailed Girls
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • Jessica Valenti – Full Frontal Feminism
  • Ain’t I a Mommy
  • Mammy, Jezebel, Sapphire, and their Homegirls
  • Soft Magic by Upile Chisala
  • Salt by Nayyirah Waheed
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  • Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in School by Monique M. Morris.
  • We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Assata: An Autobiography
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  •   Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay



  •  ---
    A Few More Quotes I Loved:

    "Why am I going to fight what I am? I am made to be a beautiful woman on my own terms, why not just embrace that and be that? Am I going to hate myself forever...or am I going to be free?"

    "I do have a right to be treated with respect--to demand respect. I wasn't wrong for doing that. We are never wrong for doing that."

     "What's wrong with black women?
    Simple answer: Not a damned thing."


    Happy Reading!!

    August 31, 2016

    24.


    It's the last night of my birthday month so I wanted to make sure I've given myself some time to reflect on growing another year older and record my thoughts. I am 24 years old. (Mid-Twenties? At the foot of mid-twenties??) I feel like the years are going by faster. Fast or slow, I'm so thankful to be here. So grateful to be here--still breathing, smiling, crying, and the whole lot. So welcoming of this new year and everything it will bring.

    I'm claiming this year as a year of continued growth and self-love. If I could give this year a tagline it would be, "I am deserving." That's a truth that I've been reminding myself of daily lately. I'm deserving of love and self-love and I'm committing to loving myself completely and without apology this upcoming year because I am deserving.

    I'm working on forgiving myself for pain that I've caused myself. For the years I didn't love myself. For the time I spent and still spend comparing myself to others and discrediting my own successes and achievements. Forgiving myself for being annoyed with myself when being trapped in the unpopular emotions like anger, sadness, embarrassment, etc. All emotions are important and serve a function. I'm working on forgiving myself for neglecting to validate my feelings because I am deserving.

    I'm working on maintaining healthy self-care practices. With 4 more months left of Grad School I'm committing to taking more breaks and remembering to practice self-care even when I have so much work to finish. I learned in this past stressful summer semester that neglecting self-care is not going to reduce stress or anxiety, it's not going to make me work faster, and it's not going to help me get a 4.0. In my experience it makes me sad and stressed--not a great feeling. I've been working on releasing feelings of guilt that make me feel like a slacker when I take a break or a day off from doing my work. I'm working on healing from shame and guilt because I am deserving.

     I'm working on healing. I'm working on celebrating myself and loving myself for who I am. I'm working on surrounding myself with clean healing energy. I'm working on leaving toxic spaces and "leaving the table when love is no longer being served." I'm working on loving myself unconditionally and learning as much about myself as this year has to offer because I am deserving.

    I'm still full of dreams. I'm complex. I'm strong and soft at the same time. I am deserving. 


    Happy Birthday to Meeee!!!

    February 10, 2016

    Ain't I A Woman


    In 1851 at the Women's Right Convention in Akron, Ohio, Sojourner Truth delivered her famous "Ain't I A Woman?" speech and it is still a very important part of our culture and history. This speech is still highly celebrated, shared, and taught. We're still having conversations about who women's rights are for. Sometimes when we're talking about rights we forget that our identities overlap and therefore the rights we're gonna fight for should overlap as well.

    Ain't I A Woman is always a great read. Unfortunately there's no way to see these words being read by Sojourner Truth herself but many women have recited them and there is so much beauty and power in all of their performances. I posted some of my favorites below. Enjoy!














    ---

    "Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?

    That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?

    Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

    Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

    If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

    Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say."
    -Sojourner Truth

    January 25, 2016

    Changes in Self-Care

    Self-care is so important! It's how we take care of ourselves and taking care of ourselves is how we continue to grow and thrive. We face a lot of stress on a daily basis. On some days more than others but stress is a reality and self-care allows us to cope with that stress and sometimes recover from the damage that stress can have on us.

    What I learned recently and what I wish I knew before I thought I was broken is that sometimes there are shifts and changes in your self-care. I was finding that some of the things I was doing for self-care no longer interested me. Some of them, like writing, were unfortunately starting to feel more like work. Some of them just aren't convenient for me at the moment like retail therapy. I love it but I need to be saving so it's not the best option for me. Some things became too time consuming like scrap-booking and I felt it was using up some of the creative energy that I could have been putting towards school.

    What I was doing for self-care didn't make me feel as good as it used too and I got pretty worried. Thankfully all of my classes this semester have been covering self-care in great depth and I've learned even more about self-care. It's okay if you find that activities or practices that you once enjoyed no longer help you relax or relieve some stress. That just means it might be times to switch things up! Maybe you need to slow it down or speed things up. It's really trial and error.

    I used my month long holiday break from school to catch up on some self care because as my Fall semester progressed, it was harder for me to do the self-care activities that I usually enjoyed when I had the time like taking walks or kickboxing. I put on lipstick and dressed up for self-care on days and weeks that were really busy and I had a lot of assignments due. I felt in would increase my productivity too. I haven't don't much research on the link between lipstick and productivity but I did feel cute and I got my work done!



     I went a little overboard in planning self-care activites for my break. I somehow obtained enough yarn for a year of craft projects, I got a few coloring books,  made a list of shows to watch and catch up on, and my book collection grew 2 sizes. However, life is unpredictable and I mostly slept and colored. I also made one very cute scarf and played The Sims 4 A LOT.



    Here is a list of some fun self-care ideas:
    • taking a walk
    • enjoying a hot cup of tea or coffee
    • Zumba
    • Kickboxing
    • Cooking
    • scrapbooking
    • bubble baths/hot showers
    • shopping
    • crafting
    • crocheting/knitting
    • painting
    • coloring
    • turn off your computer/phone and do something mindless for 30 minutes
    • meditation
    • yoga
    • put on some makeup
    • wear your favorite anything
    • write down some of the things your thankful for
    • watch your favorite movie/show
    • call someone you love or care about
    • listen to music
    • create a new recipe
    • volunteer/sign up for some community service
    • play your favorite game
    • organize something
    There are so many unique ways to take care of ourselves and sometimes we need to switch things up because what we're used to is not what may help or be fitting at the time. It's important that we take care of ourselves. Do what feels right for you!

    December 31, 2015

    2015 Happiness Jar Reflection


    This is my second year keeping a happiness jar. I loved it so much last year that I had to do it again and I plan on doing it next year as well. I didn't have dates on my memories last year so I made sure I did that this year. There were still some memories that I read and had to think about for a minute because I did not remember them happening at all. Next year I'm going to try to keep up with it better. Between maybe June and December I forgot to add memories so a few weeks ago I tried to remember every happy "jar-worthy" memory and add it to the jar. Despite forgetting about the jar for months at a time, I really love this activity.

    I love that it's given me two great traditions. I love decorating my jar at the beginning of the year and I love sitting in my pajamas on New Year's Eve reading the moments from the year that brought me joy and reflecting on what I've learned over the past year. It's really nice.

    One of the challenges of reading what I've put in the jar is reading and remembering great moments with people you are no longer on great terms with. This year I learned the importance of moving on. I found a 3 year old tweet today in my timehop that I think it just as relevant today, "at 11:59, keep the good and let go of the bad." Sometimes people are just passing through our lives but it doesn't mean that the shared moments aren't' memorable or that the lessons you've learned from them aren't significant.

    Taking the time to reflect is what makes all the difference in how we're able to move on from certain moments. Take the time to love yourself and understand how the people in your life and your experiences are impacting your life and your energy. You are so deserving of love! I love that this activity gives me a chance to remember what good energy I've had around me during the year. My mind already does a great job at keeping bad memories so I'm thankful for a place to keep the good...in print too!

    Overall I think I had a pretty good year. Life is full of surprises and challenges but I think I've really grown this year. I've learned to love myself in ways that I haven't before. There have been so many days when I've been so happy to be here and so appreciative of life and the people I love. I hope I can continue to bring this self love into the next year. I've felt more beautiful this entire year (life 98% of the time) and that's been so important for me. I'm so glad to have had another year of life and lessons, good and bad, and I'm excited to see what 2016 will bring.

    I hope that 2016 brings you joy, happiness, healing, and anything else you need or desire. Good Luck! Sending you love and good wishes!



    September 22, 2015

    Black Girl Magic: Emmys Edition


    I've always loves award shows because I think it's so inspiring to see people being awarded for their work. I love seeing people so proud of themselves and their peers. It's even more special when there a beautiful women who look like me. Beautiful shades of gorgeous brown skin, amazing women making history. So many women supporting each other. Looking beautiful on the red carpet and basking in excellence! May all the Black Girl Magic from that night continue to inspire us.

    ---
    The hugs felt around the world

     Viola Davis and her incredible acceptance speech



    “'In my mind, I see a line. And over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me, over that line. But I can’t see to get there no how. I can’t seem to get over that line.’
    That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s. And let me tell you something: The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there. So here’s to all the writers, the awesome people that are Ben Sherwood, Paul Lee, Peter Nowalk, Shonda Rhimes, people who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black. And to the Taraji P. Hensons, the Kerry Washingtons, the Halle Berrys, the Nicole Beharies, the Meagan Goods, to Gabrielle Union: Thank you for taking us over that line. Thank you to the Television Academy. Thank you.”






    Regina King's win and speech



    Uzo Aduba's win and speech




    And of course, the red carpet





     I hope that we continue to see more and more black girl magic. At award shows, in television and movies, in books, and anywhere and everywhere else!

    ---
     
    "The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.
    -Viola Davis



    Quote of the day: