What does happiness, empathy, loving yourself and others as well as pursuing your passion have in common? Something you would have never thought: it means, according to Life Hacks "20 Signs You're Succeeding at Life Even If You Don't Feel That You Are." Also included on the list is not being afraid to ask for help, raised standards and self-growth. "Setbacks and failure are part of self-growth. Not everyone can have success 100% of the time. That’s just not realistic. Life is about victories and losses. So look at your setbacks as stepping stones to something better. In reality, there really is no such thing as as setback. It’s all just part of a wondrous journey."
“I want to be clear young girls, I didn’t have to change who I was to become a Covergirl, I didn’t have to become perfect because I’ve learned through my journey that perfection is often the enemy of greatness. Embrace what makes you unique, even if it makes other uncomfortable." -Janelle Monae
Janelle Monae continues to shine differently! With the continuation of objectifying women in the music industry, I love strong and positive images and messages in pop culture. There is a lot of controversy surrounding contemporary female artists from album covers (particularly this past week) to lyrics and image. However, Janelle Monae continues to make a difference. She's brought back the FUN and GIRL POWER in music as an ARTIST. And as a CoverGirl, she teaches us that in order to be successful in the industry, you can be different! In fact, embrace that which makes you different! She's creative and she's innovative. And, yesterday on her website she shared the official music video to the title song of her latest album, "Electric Lady." The song celebrates powerful ladies and she includes her mother in the video as her mother! She also speaks of her mom in another song featured on the album, "Ghetto Woman," which has a message of hope and resilience. As an Electric Lady herself, she shared her inspiring story from janitor to Cover Girl on BET's Black Girls Rock. She also explained the significance of wearing black and white. (Click her to read the full story and watch on Colorlines.)
"I am honored to be the first Electric Lady... I love that [Janelle] is one of the young artists here who is making music that means something. She has a message. She has a voice. She has a power in her. And she understands the responsibility she has within her grasp to take these opportunities and just take off with them. She serves as a role model and an inspiration to so many young people. And I am happy to call her my friend. I am so proud of her." -First Lady Michelle Obama
Yesterday, I decided to cook one of my daughter's favorites for dinner: grits, fish and spinach. I had all of the ingredients she love and I was feeling all Paula Deen-ish (y'all)! I had the grits, the cut leaf spinach, tilapia, the muenster cheese, mild cheddar cheese, 2% milk (to make the grits creamier, it works wonders) and the seasoned mix for the fish.
"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
My daughter is about to become a teenager and these moments are precious to me. I'm also coming to realize what many of you already know: raising a teenager can be challenging! There's the moodiness, the 'everything is boring' (when it doesn't entail spending the entire day with friends) .... and finding one complaint after the next. But, I'm dealin! (and, she's livin') ...so we're good! (laughing.) Seriously, I understand her. I was her. I remember the bad days. I remember my mom comforting me just by being there. I recall the impact of the intimate talks we shared in my life. These are the moments I look forward to having with my daughter in hopes that they'll, too, make a difference as she faces life's growing pains including the pressures of fitting in.
"I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself." -Rita Mae Brown
So, there I was in the kitchen cooking. Pots on the stove, evening sunshine coming in, Esperanza's Junjo - Short and Sweet playing in the background and a mother's love in the air. She walks in (because by now she really smells the aroma of her favorite foods cooked) and we both fixed our plates to our very own liking.
"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation." -Oscar Wilde
We sat at the table together (we don't get to do this often.) As she sits with her plate, I laughed with the critical words coming from my mouth: Why did you mix your grits and spinach together?! That looks nasty? She cared less about what I said (or that I was laughing....oh, that teenager.) She proceeded to enjoy her food while telling me how good it was and that I should try it that way myself. I told her I was going to post it on Instagram (where we are all chefs) for the fun of it. I also wanted to see what others thought. You know I wanted to get the "opinion of others" as they took a look at her 'weird' creation in expectation of "gross" or "yulk."
"Where’s your will to be weird?" -Jim Morrison
Just the opposite happened. I received praises on both Instagram and Facebook from people who had never tried cooking both spinach and grits, not along mixing them together....they loved it! They were inspired to try it the exact same way and soon. I received comments as well as messages from Facebook friends ... I showed my daughter. The excitement on her face as she made claims of 'being an inspiration' were hysterical, yet I learned a lesson:
The very thing that we may find weird and different can inspire others.
I try to instill in her to be herself. The teenage years are a crucial point in our children's lives. So much of their life is constructed by the choices they make during these years. Many young adults suffer because of the choices they make as teenagers in attempts to fit in and in fear of being their authentic selves. It is important to know that our authentic selves are gifts and will inspire others no matter how 'weird' they may feel in the process. Those things that we like and find 'weird' that doesn't conform to what we think the majority likes ... wear it - flaunt it - show it ... hey, eat it! Mix your cheese, grits and spinach TOGETHER!
I was so free.
We lie the most to ourselves.
I was free in a prison of my own making.
Why am I here? What in the world am I doing? I feel scattered. At times, lost. It's not going to measure up. This was the noise in my head as I am often torn on writing with purpose and on various topics for my blogs among other ventures I'm working on. This work takes dedication, vision and courage. You know for the past couple of months, this is what I wanted. I wanted to embrace my gift of using words to heal and teach...even when my opinion wouldn't be the most popular. The more I wrote and the more passionate I became, the more I questioned my gifts and capabilities. I even felt as an open book, which brought discomfort. Many times while encouraging others, I was encouraging myself. But, I heard in my spirit . . . knowing it was the voice of God, "keep going," with an assurance that it will all come together.
In that very moment a freedom so true erupted from my heart and I've done just that, "kept going." Sometimes we allow the lies in our head of inadequacy to discourage us when we are on the road toward our destiny and purpose. In that place, I wanted to believe I was free. I wanted to believe I could just 'shake it off.' But, I allowed my own self doubt to get in the way and become a limitation along with the expectations of others and what felt as hopes of failure from naysayers. It takes courage to do those things that we are most passionate about. It takes being willing to stand alone. It takes honesty with ourselves and commitment to our vision. It takes us showing up and doing the work. We cannot allow anything on the outside to come on the inside and deter us from what we already know and are assured, even when we don't see clearly. When we're challenged and in battles of uncertainty our vision may become foggy. However, it takes courage and a clear vision to have faith in where we desire to go in life. We must free ourselves from the prisons we've created and "keep going."
Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
If you haven't heard by now, United Kingdom Singer, Adele, won damages over her son's published photos. Actually, her son is the winner here. The five figure sum of damages will be placed in a trust for her son later. According to attorneys, the photos were "milestone moments." In a statement read out at the High Court, Adele and her son's lawyer Jenny Afia said that Adele ‘accepts and even embraces her public profile’ and acknowledges how the public and press helped make her an international star. ‘But she is emphatic that her two-year-old son Angelo is not, and must never be, 'public property',’ said Afia. Yes!! I agree! It is way passed time OUT for paparazzi and their shenanigans, particularly when it comes to kids!! Every person (celebrity or not) deserves the right to have intimate moments with their children in PRIVACY. You may recall a bill urged by two American celebrities and mothers, Jennifer Garner and Halle Berry, that was signed into law over a year ago. SB606 was an anti-paparazzi bill protecting children from overly aggressive paparazzi. In a statement released by her publicist, Halle Berry said, "On behalf of my children, it is my hope that this is the beginning of the end for those overly aggressive paparazzi whose outrageous conduct has caused so much trauma and emotional distress." Way to go MUMS! Read more about the bill and it's passage on: USA TODAY.
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