My 30th Birthday: A Solo Trip to Bali

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I traveled to Bali, Indonesia for my 30th birthday: a birthday that usually marks new beginnings, deep introspection of life, and less-than-megan-the-stallion-knees.

Introducing our newest writer: Cash!

Written By Cash., – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

I am thrilled to be introduced as a writer on The Crowned Series Blog. This group of amazing women have blessed my eyes with their stories and advice for the past year or so. And to be asked to accompany them in sharing words is a dream come true. To mark this (among other) new adventures – I traveled to Bali, Indonesia for my 30th birthday: a birthday that usually marks new beginnings, deep introspection of life, and less-than-megan-the-stallion-knees.

I can say that all of those things reigned true for me as I spent two weeks on the other side of the world. But the most important experience was the deep introspection. I took a solo trip to Bali for my 30th Birthday and here is what I learned…

Fear is a personal construct, created to keep us from achieving our own next-level greatness. I know what you’re thinking, so cliche right? I was thinking the same thing as I recited this to myself on the balcony of my Kuta hotel. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was in Bali by myself against ALL odds that had been put against me to be there. The weeks before I traveled to Bali, I went through illness, canceled plans of comrades and family, inconvenient personal matters, and the almost impossible choice of deciding if I was going to take an interview for a school or pour into myself one last time before letting it all go. Somehow, I made it to the place I was meant to be. You see, if I had let fear guide my decision at any step of the way, I wouldn’t have been able to be in Bali reflecting and guiding this new journey into my 30s. Allowing fear to be just another emotion gave me the control that I needed to make the decision that was right for me.

Self-love sometimes means critically acknowledging the pain you’ve created for yourself, and that you’ve allowed others to create for you. Yep, this wouldn’t be a self-reflection journey if I didn’t talk about self-love. Self-love is probably the most amazing form of self-care we can participate in. But, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. Sometimes, it’s about acknowledging pain. Period. And this particular form of self-love actually creates the stepping stones to liberating yourself from creating the same habitual responses you have been used to when faced with a difficult situation. I realized during this journey that I had shown everyone in my life that I was okay with not being held and cared for (in the ways that I preferred to be). I was so used to being the rock and prided myself on being the strongest person that everyone knew, that I forgot to show them that I was, in fact, human. The weeks before my 30th birthday, I found myself reaching out to the people I cared about most, in a way I never had before – asking them to see me and to acknowledge that I was in pain because I felt lonely and unseen. This was new for me, but also inhibiting. It reminded me that I, too, deserve love and it’s my job to communicate the ways that I want to receive that love. Which brings me to my next point…

People do not naturally understand boundaries. It’s your job to set and communicate them. Just as I’ve learned that you can’t get upset when people don’t know how to love you, if you don’t tell them; You can’t get mad at someone else if you’re showing them through your actions that you are always available. Trust me, the time is never better than now to communicate that you are not. This is actually healthy to share what you can and can not do to support others in times of self-care. Don’t think of this as being selfish, but being self-full. You deserve the space to be in joy alone if that’s what you choose. You can say no and decide not to always be “that friend” that shows up whenever people need you. This is not because you don’t care about the people in your life. This is because you, too, are a vessel, a cup that needs to be filled. How can you carry another’s energy when you haven’t even dealt with the emotions and feelings in your own vessel?

And finally – Forgiveness is necessary to create a clean slate for your next opening/adventure in life. Joy comes from a clearing. There, deep down within yourself, are situations and people that you need to forgive to create that clearing. So often we think that we are defined by the burdens that we carry. But, who we are without them is authentic and ready to explore whatever new moments life has for us. In Bali, I did things I never did before! I took chances – I ate food foreign to me, I threw up on a catamaran, I got a tattoo. But at the end of it I realized that these actions were just metaphors for a space that I was creating for myself to invite new experiences into my life this year. I don’t know what this journey has for me. However, I do know that this year my practice is to constantly forgive myself and create those clearings so that I might be ready for the next authentic journey.

I went to Bali on a solo trip defining the mark on this new 3rd decade of my life and there I found greatness, self-love, boundaries, and forgiveness. My charge to you on this next birthday is to sit with your own clearing and see what authentic experiences you can create. Thanks for having me as a part of your journey this year on The Crowned Series!

Cash., Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

Long Live MAMBA

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Written By Mesha G., – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

As the world celebrates the lives of Kobe and Gigi Bryant, the last week of February and a month after their passing, I still find myself with polarizing feelings.  On one hand, I am completely heartbroken. Their deaths were nothing shy of a tragedy and horrid to hear. I mourned their deaths as if I knew them. I consistently found myself in tears and questioned (as I always do) what makes God decide when you’ve done a good job on Earth and calls you home.

On the other hand… I am compelled by their legacies and have the utmost admiration for “The Ultimate Girl Dad”, huge shit talker, ball hog, fantastic basketball, and his daughter. I would be remiss if I didn’t call out a few things before I continue:

1. I’m not the biggest  basketball fan. However, whenever I attend an NBA game, I’m all in; the TV sidelines don’t do it for me. That said, MJ vs Kobe debate.. Kobe. LeBron vs Kobe debate… KOBE. I’ve always been a stan from afar throwing out arbitrary facts from clips on ESPN or the nightly news when necessary. Sometimes, I landed myself a winning argument, others, I googled until I became right. 

2. I am very aware of the “complicated” person that Kobe may be to some people but I’ve intentionally chosen to recognize and praise him and his daughter for their impact on the world.

Which leads me back to how compelling their legacies are and how just within a month, has impacted me exponentially and even more so than my superficial fangirl moments.  There are some things about Kobe that’s just undeniable and he instilled in his children at such a young age. Yesterday’s success wasn’t enough for today.  The push and drive that he had to be better than what he was yesterday was consistent energy and the definition of perseverance.  

Basketball was just a vessel that displayed his purpose.  Although most of us, me included, have bragged about his ferocious and relentless skills on the court, Kobe lived a life of legacy and helping others and living in his purpose.  His energy has inspired me to be a better person. Now, I definitely don’t want to play basketball, got hit in the face once in 5th grade and barely ever wanted to pick up a ball again.  But I’ve been inspired to live within my purpose daily. To become a better person than I was the day before. To reconsider the 4ams and how I dedicate my time to my craft. To ensure that with or without children of my own, my legacy will continue after my days on Earth. To use every opportunity as an opportunity to grow.  To be an infectious perfect that breathes life unto others. 

Greatness is subjective, but most of us know when we’re half assing something… giving 1,000 percent to doing what you’re calling is, is greatness. Not giving up is greatness. Being intentional with your actions in a way that helps you achieve your goals is greatness. Challenging yourself is greatness.  Before anyone contests me, you don’t need to be rich to live in your purpose and to strive for greatness. I’m not rich yet but I find ways daily to ensure that I’m living in my purpose and investing in myself with small contributions to become a better me.

It’s quite strange, for the lack of better words, to be so inspired by someone’s death to do all you can to live in your own purpose and to do it wholeheartedly and fully. Many celebrities that I’ve had some sense of admiration for have passed and this one is one that hit differently for me. It’s one that hits many people.  And that’s when I realized that no matter what God has called me to do within my time on Earth, I, too, can (and will continue to) live a life of purpose and drive.

Mesha G., Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

 

The Principle of Balance

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Written By Vica., – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

Everyone knows or should know, that to have a clear space is to have a clear mind. As spring quickly approaches, I have come to realize that my space/zen/paradise is in desperate need of attention. I find myself rummaging through clothes, books, papers, empty Amazon boxes every day to get to what I need. I have noticed that since this begun (a few months ago) I have debuted an extreme loss of motivation in almost every aspect of life. 

Yesterday evening, I reached a point of enlightenment and declared a new start.  I have realized that my paradigms are not aligned and this has caused an extreme obstacle in my drive. I learned about the different paradigms of one’s life in high school as apart of my leadership role in the Marching Band. We were made to read the book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens” and complete its workbook and I have never been more grateful. In this book, certain common paradigms were described as self, school, work, love, enemies, etc. They are the principles in which we lead our lives. If one becomes more apparent than others, there is an imbalance which can disrupt one’s life entirely.

 “Before you’ll ever win in the public arenas of life, you must first win the private battles within yourself. All change begins with you.” (Sean Covey) This quote has stuck with me for years. One must master themselves before they can master anything else. The first step is to identify what areas you need to improve upon. I’ve focused more on social interactions rather than self-care. As much as I love being surrounded by many people, I need to make time for myself to decompress and recharge, if you will. 

When a person is given the chance to establish their principles and lead their life through the lens of their paradigms, they are then able to achieve great things. This shouldn’t be viewed as daunting but rather exciting. It is important to start off with small steps. This can turn into a snowball effect and can finish as a complete shift.

 First, change your outlook on life. As cliche as it may sound, look at the glass half full rather than half empty. Positivity breeds positivity. When the outlook changes, then your response to certain challenges become better in a sense that you say, “I can overcome this” rather than, “Why me?”. 

Next, find a passion project. Do something that makes you happy while simultaneously making others happy. For example, if you enjoy creating things ,you can make jewelry and sell it. This way, you are doing something you love while enhancing the beauty of others, all while making some COIN!

Lastly, keep it personal. If there is something that goes against your principles (values) avoid it at all costs. Doing so will save you from feeling off or “guilty” if you do something that goes against what you truly believe. Say no if you really don’t want to do something and treat yourself like you would treat your best friend. 

  With love,

  V

Vica., Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

Self Care VS Self Love

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Written By Aspen S., – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

Valentine’s Day is here and in the air! After an exhausting work week and the constant movement that has been my life in the past few weeks, I am quite looking forward to a night filled with homemade brownies, a bottle of wine, and a hearty Netflix binge.

Now, that sentence alone gave it away that I am very much single, but Valentine’s Day is still one of my favorite days to celebrate. Even as a young child I loved the way the day could be so inclusive. We made our mailboxes and then gave everyone in our grade school classes a valentine so that they felt special. As I got older, it was important for me to continue these traditions but more selectively with my friends. Over time, I outgrew the Valentine’s cards and have replaced them with a simple text, a Valentine’s Day meme that fits their sense of humor, or a quick phone call reminding them how much I love and appreciate them. Platonic love is still love and telling everyone I care about that I love them is something I am actively trying to make more commonplace.

Something else that the spirit of love has me thinking more about lately is self love. In grad school, I gave a lot of thought to the idea of self care as a display of loving oneself. In recent days, I stumbled upon an Instagram post that self care and self love are not one in the same. Self care is making sure that I am ok mentally and physically. For me that looks like binge watching television to mentally disconnecting from stressors in my life. It means lighting candles, listening to soothing music, and taking a bubble bath with a bottle of wine. It’s blocking off time on my Google calendar to go to the gym and meal prep.

In reflecting upon my experiences, I see that surely I have made the space in my world to navigate self care. But self love is something that I want to be more conscious about making time and space for. Self love is exactly what it sounds like. It is all about loving your body and who you are as a person in both your glory and your faults. It takes the idea of acknowledging who you are as a person and what you bring to the table and expressing grace and gratitude towards your existence as you would for the many other people that you’ve grown to love.

I’ve started thinking about the ways that I can better express self love. I’ve come up with three small, but tangible ways that I hope to do this moving forward.

  1.     List the qualities that I love about myself. Just like the people who I care about in my life, there is a reason that I enjoy my own presence. I contribute a lot to the world and to the relationships that I engage in and I need to do a better job of actively acknowledging those traits.
  2.     Speak to myself with grace. Something that I am realizing is that the way I speak to myself is not the way that I speak to others. I speak to others with kindness and understanding. I find myself often speaking to myself with anger and disappointment. I need to change that narrative immediately. While there will be times that I am disappointed in myself, that is not the case most of the time and I need to use the down time to speak to myself with love, expressing some kindness and praise towards my self and my accomplishments.
  3.     Prioritize myself. My other two goals will mean nothing if I don’t make time for myself. I often hear people saying that we will make time for the people and the things that we love and care about. If I’m making a conscious effort to love and care about myself then I need to first make myself a priority.

I’m looking forward to going into this Valentine’s Day with a brand new perspective. I now understand that self care is about building stability while self love is about building confidence. This year I vow to tell those that I care about how much I love them, myself included. I’ll use the holiday as a kick off to my new goal of maintaining a healthy balance of self care and self love.

Aspen S., Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

Being Realistic with Your Goals

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Written By Mesha G., – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

As the new year begins (February 1st for some of us), we all make our new year resolutions.  Those resolutions typically involves some part of our lives to become more cultivated, healthier people.  Goals to lose weight, to read, to get of our debt, to travel more, to stop smoking, to eat better, to drink less, finish school (or begin), to declutter, or to be more social are all goals that we all make top of the year.  We become incredibly optimistic but achieving them and live off the high from the ideal of being successful. 

But what happens when we fall short? I will be vulnerable enough to be honest with you all.  When I fall short of my goals, I’m ridiculously hard on myself to the point it makes absolutely no sense…. (the real life of a perfectionist). There are times I make goals that no one even knows about but I don’t achieve the plan that I made for myself, disappointment is an understatement.  I know that I probably am not the only who have similar sentiments about being too hard on yourself. But as I mature, I realize the importance of making realistic goals.  

Setting realistic goals provides is with the chance to give ourselves grace,  decrease anxiety, and lower depression. If you are anything like me, I created so many huge goals for myself and some I would accomplish but many I did not and it set be back so far to where I created burnout for myself.  

S.M.A.R.T. Goals has been recently trending at indeed, it does make sense.  In order for your vision to come true, it is important create smart goals to ensure the success of your vision.  

S – Specific. Being specific with your goals cuts the ambiguity that could prevent you from your goals.  

M- Measurable. Measuring your goals align very closely to being specific. How will you track to make sure that you’re doing exactly what you set yourself out to do?

A – Attainable. Make your goals realistic.  Do not make a goal to lose 20 pounds in a day. Not. Realistic. 

R – Relevant. This is all about alignment.  If your goal is to lose weight, then are you eating healthy, cutting calories, or working out more? Doing actionable items that aligns with your big goal creates relevance to make it happen. 

T – Time-based. Creating an end date keeps you accountable for your goal.  Again, the time should be attainable… 

SMART goals are something that’s a little new to me, but since I have been incorporating it in my life to do all the things I want to do, I gained some perspective about how I ran myself like hamster on a wheel.  I was running and felt like I was going nowhere. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve accomplished a lot but I wasn’t efficient with the actions that I made to accomplish all that I have. 

All and all said, my goal of this blog post isn’t to create a world where we all do more, but to work smarter and not harder for ourselves.  We live in a world now where we see the highlights of everyone’s lives on social media and have the perception that they all got there in a day… which is far from the truth.

Mesha , Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

Invisible Pain

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Written By Vica., – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

Well, you don’t LOOK sick. It’s probably not even that bad.

Living with an illness that isn’t explicit to the eye can be quite challenging, especially when people start to doubt the pain you’re in. It’s like a slap in the face because it took all your strength to even get out of bed that day. For someone to dismiss your pain just because you carry it well. This is something I have had to deal with for many years. I have so many back issues and injuries that it’s hard to even recount a time where I was just “me”. 

Live your truth.

Since I don’t wear a cast or am missing an extremity people like to pretend that nothing is wrong. Yes, I am fortunate that what I have to deal with isn’t as extreme as what others go through, but does that diminish my experience? The notion of “Well at least you’re not… or at least you can…” undermines one’s struggle. I recall my senior of High School when I missed 66 days of school. Of course, they were all excused but I had teachers and even friends make implicit remarks questioning if I was really sick. One of my classes laughed when I came back and said they thought I had died (which is soooo not funny). It’s important that people realize this and think twice before they make comments regarding someone else’s health. 

Moving Forward.

Because of this, I often downplay my pain and brush it off as nothing to make other people more comfortable. I recognized this and realized that it is deleterious to my health and am actively trying to break that habit. Sacrificing my well-being for those who don’t really care is not in the cards for me in 2020, nor the rest of my life for that matter.

A History.

Unfortunately, the denial of truth is often felt in the medical field as well. I can’t even count how many doctors I have visited and how many times they told me there was nothing wrong. I even had an MRI done in 2016 with results indicating a herniated disk and other ailments and the “treatment” suggested by a physician was to take 2 Motrin. This attitude can be expressed towards all patients but is undeniably present in Black patients. Racial bias in the assessment and treatment of pain is something that stems from false “scientific” evidence made by doctors during the slave trade. They proposed that the Black race or “Negroids” were a different breed of human and felt little to no pain compared to the “caucasoids” or white race. This “science of race” was obviously a means to justify the inhumane treatment of Africans. In fact, a great deal of medical advancements were made because of the experiments carried out on enslaved Africans. Although this view is no longer revered as true, the effects are still felt to this day. A lot of people remain undiagnosed or even end up irreparable damage or death because of the disbelief. It’s way past time for a total change to be had.

Be kind.

The global skepticism of pain isn’t exclusive to physical health but applies to mental as well. Many people struggle every day with anxiety and depression and still make look “fine”. But the mask they wear on the outside covers the true pain felt on the inside. Keeping this in mind, ask your friends, neighbors, coworkers, and even strangers, if they’re doing okay regardless if they look fine. Remember, it costs nothing to be nice. Set an example. One small act can inspire many. 

Vica, Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

A New Routine

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Written By Aspen S., – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

The days have gotten shorter and the nights much colder, letting us know that winter is here and she is staying. Having lived in Florida for two years, I think the Florida heat has finally left my veins and I’m ready for winter outfits, snow days, and having to defrost my car twenty minutes before I can go anywhere (which for me means I’ll be late to every function but never mind that!).  Despite my excitement for the winter season, I’ve found the winter weather to be a bit draining on my body. After a long day of work, I want nothing but to curl up on the couch with some hot food and a cup of my favorite honey ginger tea. So, in the midst of Netflix binges, I found myself spending many evenings ordering delivery like I was sponsored by UberEats. Although I certainly had the UberEats appetite, there was hardly a time when I asked myself if I had UberEats money.

So, as I started off the new year, I started planning my budget to save up for the many trips that I am looking forward to take within the next year. It became clear that if I still want to be able to live comfortably I would need to cut out frivolous expenses like $20 for an $8 oatmeal bowl delivery that I can definitely make myself when I want breakfast for dinner.  The new year served as a perfect time to do better but a year-long resolution seemed like too big of a commitment.

I’ve instead decided to move forward with a January resolution to cut back on spending by grocery shopping and cooking for myself. I’ve decided to share my resolution with you all along with a few of my favorite meal prep dishes, especially for those that are exhausted after a long work day. 

  1.    Meal prepping is everything. I know a lot of people do this in order to be more conscious of portion sizes but I have found that it does wonders when it comes to saving time. If I spend an hour or two on a Sunday night then I can be set for the week. I can cook enough food for both lunch and dinners during weeknights, saving me quite a bit of time throughout the week. Now, I have more time for so many other things like the gym, my hair, hanging out with friends, etc.
  2.    Variety is key. One thing that I very quickly am learning about meal prepping is that I can easily get tired of the same things. I need to cook two or three meals to give this initiative some razzle dazzle. The meals don’t have to be complicated but they have to be different enough from each other that it feels like I’m eating something totally different from meal to meal. 
  3.     Supplement with simple meals if need be. I’ve found that if there’s ever a day where I really cannot subscribe to leftovers, I’ve found that having a few meals that I can cook in 15 minutes or less to increase the feeling of variety can really do wonders. I typically bake a potato and load it with broccoli and seasoning or cook a veggie sausage with peppers and onions or sauerkraut. This adds to the variety and helps me curb any delivery hankerings.

Now, enough about how I’m cooking and a little more about what I am cooking in my meal preps. I try to utilize vegetables that are in season. The colder months tend to be forth the growth of some of the more savory and leafy vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, and brussel sprouts. Some of my favorite dishes that make for great meal preps include the following:

  •     Vegetable pot pie
  •     Cauliflower tacos
  •     Chickpea soup
  •     Curry tofu
  •     Vegetable chili
  •     BBQ (veggie) meatballs
  •     Sweet potato bowls
  •     Mushroom ramen

As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, life is a continuous adventure for me. Halfway through the month of January and things are going well with this meal prep. If this keeps up I’ll set it as a goal for February. I’ve heard that it takes thirty days to create a habit so hopefully by then I’ll truly be on a roll. In the meantime, feel free to share your favorite dishes and recipes for me to try!

Aspen S., Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

The Art of Minding Your Business and Drinking Your Water

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I scrolled through Instagram stories of my followers. Read through the daily motivational quotes people post on their stories early in the morning. Tapped through people’s workout accountability reposts. I stopped when I got to my homegirl Tyra’s Instagram story. Tyra’s story was unusually long. She never really posts a lot unless it’s someone’s birthday, the anniversary of her becoming an AKA, or the AKA’s founders day. So, seeing multiple dashed lines at the top of her story indicating that she was posting a lot, intrigued me. 

I clicked through the pictures she was posting of former versions of herself. With the pictures came captions that talked about how during the time when she took said photos, her hair was unhealthy. Her written narrative about the reason as to why her hair was unhealthy was because she was not minding her business and drinking her water. She talked about how she was constantly in other people’s business or in some mess. Her main message was to release yourself from toxicity and focus on yourself, the business that pays you. She then posted recent photos of her hair. She described how her hair was healthier, longer, and better managed because she let go of negativity and began taking care of herself…and of course, drinking water was part of her total transformation.

She posted this story a few months ago. It resonated with me but it didn’t fully resonate with me until recently. Right before the new year, a series of unrelated events happened to me seemingly back to back. Some were good, many others were not so good. I feel as if I went through multiple life changes in a span of two weeks. As I sat with those changes and their outcomes, I became emotional and being the cryer that I am, allowed the flood gates that are my tear ducts, rain down onto my cheeks and neck. I was crying because the outcomes of all the bad were outcomes where I had to choose me. And that shit was hard. 

After I calmed down, I realized that Tyra’s “mind your business and drink your water” mantra was the metaphor for the outcomes of “choosing me”. Let me explain three different situations to paint a better picture for you…

–> In 2019, I was working two jobs, my full-time role, and a few hours a week job at a clothing store. When I interviewed for the clothing store position, the store manager and I chatted about what hourly rate I wanted to make because I had previously worked for the same company in a different state, so I had experience. I told her the rate, she agreed, and we went about our business. Now, silly me for not checking my pay stubs and essentially they were paying about 4 cents less than what we talked about when I started. 4 cents isn’t that much of a difference but it adds up if you think about back pay. I’d been working there since February of 2019. One day, I asked the store manager for a raise (before I knew about the 4 cent thing) and she said she would talk to the district manager. Word came back from the district manager and I was told that the raise would go into effect in mid-December. During the waiting period, was when I noticed my pay stubs. I inquired about that and about my raise. Long story short, I was told that they weren’t going to give me back pay and I couldn’t get the raise I requested unless I take on other roles at the store. 

I decided to mind my business (choose me):  I told the manager that it wasn’t worth staying at the company, and I resigned that day. I didn’t deserve that. But resigning wasn’t the only way I chose myself. I went home and started thinking of a plan. I would be fine without the part-time job but it was time for me to make some moves. I had already purchased an LLC, so it was the perfect time to map out a plan for it. My LLC focuses on training in diversity and inclusion special topics AND I will now be making waist beads. I am taking control of my own money and destiny.

–> For too long, I surrounded myself with toxic relationships. At 30, you would think I  had a handle on which people were toxic and who were not. And I do. But not when it came to my heart. When I had feelings for someone or cared about someone deeply, I put up with things that I knew in the back of my mind that weren’t good for me. I had feelings for one of my male friends. I honestly don’t know how to describe our relationship. It seemed like he had feelings for me, especially by the things he would say, or how connected I felt we were when we were around each other. A few months ago he told me he wasn’t “ready for a relationship” and I accepted it. Even after that point, there were still signs that contradicted that. Because of this, I kept part of my heart open to the possibility that there would be something in the future. It wasn’t doing me any good. Along with the signs, there were also signs that he really wasn’t interested in a relationship. Weeks and months would go by and I wouldn’t hear from him. When we did talk, he never really asked about things I had going on outside of him asking how I was doing. Before the new year, he hit me up asking to come see me.

I decided to mind my business (choose me): After I sat and pondered about my response to him, I drafted what I was going to write back. I wanted him to come because I missed him. But the other part of me knew that if I said ‘yes, you can come’, it would have continued the cycle. I wanted more and he didn’t, so when I responded, I was honest about why he could not come see me. I told him that I didn’t want to make our relationship more messy because I had feelings for him that he did not have for me. It was hard. I knew that saying no would alter the situation that we did have and I was afraid to lose the connection we shared. But again, I wanted more. Because we weren’t on the same page, I had to step away for my own healing to be ready for the actual person God is preparing for me. I love myself too much to continue going down a path of nothingness.

–> Reflecting back on the last decade, I thought about all of the things I missed out on because I was scared or I told myself I couldn’t do something. I allowed negative self-talk and my mental health to hinder me in many ways. For example, I started making myself waist beads in 2015. Why did it take me over 4 years to decide to turn it into a business? It was because I was too scared to take risks and try something that was outside of my comfort zone. This last decade, I didn’t manage my money right. I was never to a point where I didn’t have anything but I could have saved more. I was too busy spending and not investing…trying to keep up with the world around me.

I decided for this next decade to my mind my business (choose me): Although some of the examples I mentioned in this post happened very recently, I’ve also been making slow changes for a couple years now. So, moving into this next decade of my life, I’m going to be smarter, take risks, and not hold myself back from the things I want to do. I already have a plan on how I’m going to run my businesses, finish my Ph.D., travel more, and live my life without limits. The first thing I did was get a financial planner. I met with him a few days ago to talk about my goals and it was super helpful. I recommend everyone getting a financial planner. Do this sooner, rather than later. They really help you get a sense of how you’re managing your finances and will assist you in planning for the future. I’m also working on being a better friend to the ones who are in my circle. I often find myself centering our conversations around the things I have going on so I’ve been more intentionally on providing my friends space to center the conversations around them. My friends are some of the most important people in my life and I want to continue to mold myself to being the friend they need. 

Be selfish going into this next decade. Remove toxicity from your life, take risks, and learn from the good and bad mistakes of those risks. I’m not going to lie, choosing you is going to be uncomfortable. But bask in the uncomfortability because that means you’re growing. If you’re never uncomfortable, then you aren’t growing. If you aren’t growing, you aren’t evolving. So, please, mind the business that pays you and drink your water and watch the seeds you’ve been planting sprout into something beautiful. Trust me, the process and outcomes have been fulfilling. 

…And if you don’t believe me, just look at how my locs are flourishing in the photo for this blog post 🙂

❤ Queen T

P.S. Since November 2019, I’ve been drinking a gallon of water a day 🙂

10 Things I Wish I Would’ve Known Before Pursuing My Ph.D.

 

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Written By Mesha G., – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

Y’all, I’m officially a Ph.D candidate! I honestly couldn’t even image how the day would be once it came, but it’s here! It’s been a long 3 1/2 years but ya girl made it.  So, this month, I really want to focus on ten things I wish I knew before beginning this journey. Some of the items that I will mention, I honestly didn’t know I had until the moment arose and others are truly moments of “damn, well x could have been y.”

  1. Don’t do it if you don’t have the passion for it.

I know so many people who pursued a doctoral degree for the earning potential and not because they truly care about whatever they are getting a degree in.  But I want to have a newsflash moment for anyone that’s pursuing a doctoral degree in the soft sciences or humanities…you will not be a million off the strength of your degree, what has your bachelor’s degree do so far? I will not discredit the earning potential will rise, but let’s not get carried away, especially if you’re paying out of pocket. (Take it from me, I work in Financial Aid).

2. Find your interest topic before you apply

I have loosely had the same topic since I applied for my doctoral program and what I blessing it has been.  Going into an investment like this with a plan is the best thing that you can do for yourself. And depending upon your program, they may require for you to know what your interest is to ensure they have faculty available to support your research.  A disclaimer for this, be open…I have broadened and narrowed and broadened my general topic over the last few years. Be open and accepting of the feedback you receive. 

3. Have a supportive environment

You need support from everyone. You will need a supportive partner, whether that be a FWB, boyfriend, husband, wife, common law spouse, whoever he or she is needs to be supportive. They will need to understand that you have competing priorities but you’re not necessarily neglecting them on purpose.

A supportive family. Nothing is worse than being guilted for not spending the entire weekend with your family because you have to study or coming home to visit and bring books and your laptop with you.

A supportive workplace. Your supervisor at your place of employment has to have some consideration for this new addition in your life.  You will be miserable if you do not have a workplace that supports and respects your time and effort at the job while pursuing your degree.

4. Apply for scholarships

Even if you get your tuition for free, apply for scholarships! Period.

5. Publish

Imposter syndrome was too real for me, so I did not grow with my writing as I wish I would have because I was scurred lol. Had I had my stuff together way before and was confident enough to just go out there and receive critical feedback, I could have had a few articles out in the academic world.  Understand this, you are a scholar as soon as you start this!

6. Every professor is not the same

Because Professor X did this, doesn’t mean Professor Y will, respect the academic freedom that professors have and let them do their job.  It’s fine to challenge them with respect, but just because one Professor favored you more than another does not mean the experience occurred in the classroom goes out the window. 

7. Not much is different from earning an A or a B

I once was obsessed with getting all As in my doctoral program but regardless if I have a 99% or an 85%, I’m still a whole doctor of philosophy… so focus on actually learning and retaining information than having a transactional relationship focused on grades.  No one will ask you for your GPA of a terminal degree. 

8. Sacrifice is an understatement 

The amount of sacrifice is unreal. I had to say no to a lot of events and vacations and dinners and nights out. I went to conferences and some vacations with my book bag full of work for school. The grind never stops. The doctoral process truly does take over your life, and you might be half crazy just as I was.

9. Be open to learn

This follows the same sentiments that I had earlier about your intention to be in the program.  If you’re going only for the purpose of a fatter check, don’t do. You will not be receptive to hearing opposing views and actually learning.  I remember a few times where the students didn’t like the professors who instructed our class because they weren’t feeling the epistemology of the instructor, not because of something more substantial like just a low quality course. 

10. Self Care is mandatory

During this process, everything will be seem a top priority but you are #1.  Get your sleep, eat well, workout, meditate, take time to stand up once in awhile, get your eyes checked for your prescription…all of that stuff that you think is not self care is self care.  I gained (thank God I lost it) at least 35-40 pounds while being in the Ph.D program. And that’s because I was taking care of everything except for myself. 

It’s still unbelievable that I made it to this point.  It truly does take persistence, dedication, determination, and perseverance to make it happen. I know all these words seem synonymous but they ain’t lol…you will need all of it.

Mesha G., Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

Simply Chic

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Written By Victoria B., – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

Respect the process – Victoria B.

For the longest time I have been obsessed with high fashion, haute couture, bespoke pieces, you name it. My style icons include the Duchess of Sussex and Cambridge (Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton), Nikki Thot, Zendaya, Kim Kardashian, Lydia Elise Millen, just to name a few. While my heart is with their taste, my budget definitely is not. As much as I dream to be strutting in custom Dior and Manolo Blahniks, I realize and appreciate that I am not quite there yet. As a full-time college student with a single mom, I don’t even have the means to spend $2000 on a handbag. With this in mind, I have learned to achieve the same sleek expensive look for less than a quarter of the price.

 Here’s how I do it:

 

  • Develop your style

 

One of the most important things to achieving the chic look is to establish your style. By doing so, it leaves little room for error as you know what looks fall into your persona. I’ll give you mine for example. When asked what my go-to style is, my friends, answered “classic and crisp”. So, keeping this in mind, I tend to go for the pieces that create a timeless look. Whether it’s a structured navy winter coat or camel colored leather riding boots. 

Individuality is another aspect one needs to stay true to. Fashion isn’t any fun if you’re dressing to please others or directly copying someone else. Find what speaks to you, what you feel that expresses your persona/energy and stick to it. 

 

  • Choose your favorite stores

 

Selecting your staple brands or stores will create a cohesiveness to your wardrobe. This has to do with the continuation of cuts, shapes, and fabrics each store has. Let’s take Meghan Markle, for example. Meghan chose Givenchy for her wedding and has sported many of their items ever since joining the British Royal Family. It’s because of her that I can instantly spot a Givenchy dress due to its clean lines and abstract cuts. Of course, I cannot afford a $3000 dress but the same flow can be achieved for a much more affordable price. One of my favorite stores at the moment is ZARA. While some of their pieces are more on the expensive side, I wait for their sales to go shopping. (More on that in the next section) A few other stores/brands I like to shop are TJ Maxx, Nordstrom Rack, and Calvin Klein.

 

  • Keep an eye out for Semi-Annual and Flash Sales

 

As I mentioned before, you must be familiar with sales! This is when I usually do the majority of my shopping as most of the items are 40-70% off. This allows you to have the same name brands at a feasible price. Just a few weeks ago, my mom and I went into ZARA to have a look around but was surprised by a flash sale going on. I bought a beautiful black ribbed turtle neck dress for $15 that was originally $50. Since it’s from ZARA, I know that it’ll last me years if I take care of it. Another tip I’d like to mention is to be wary of fast fashion. Although the clothes are cheap, they are most likely to deteriorate in the wash after 1-2 uses. (Not to mention the horrible environmental and social effect it has).

Another tip would be to shop a season in advance. I always see racks of name brand coats, such as Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, etc. for at least 50% off in the summer months. Last year I saw an MK wool coat that was originally around $200 for $79.99. This would be the time to choose your winter coat, or anything else you might think would be useful in the upcoming months.

 

  • Splurge on one thing (if you can!)

 

One of the best fashion advice I received from my mother is to buy quality. Let’s say you’re going on a trip to somewhere extremely cold and need a new winter coat. If it is within your means, it’s better to buy a coat that will last you years as opposed to one winter as in the grand scheme of things it is more cost-efficient. It’s also better functionality speaking, as the more expensive one is usually made with better materials that will keep you warmer. For example, when my mother and I first came to Florida we found a store called HSN outlet. I bought a pair of leather boots for half the original price that still look amazing 6 years later.

 

  • Respect the process

 

Respecting the point in which you are in your journey is something that I have learned to do. Instead of feeling bad that I can’t buy the $800 Dior belt, I find something of similar taste like the $30 MK belt at Nordstrom Rack. Keep in mind, it’s no use to buy something you want but can’t afford to feed yourself or buy gas, or whatever the case might be. 

The last point I’d like to make, and one of the most important is to remember that your personal fashion is constantly under evolution. It changes with your moods, age, budget, seasons, etc. Remember this, and you’ll always be the best dressed in the room. 

Victoria B., Official Contributor of The Crowned Series