In case you missed it – Black girls are winning right now! I mean let’s just start with the most recent news of Army Reserve officer Deshauna Barber winning the Miss USA 2016 title! Though I didn’t watch the show (I generally don’t), I was still very excited when I saw the news that a poised and intelligent black woman had won the competition. Hailing from the District of Columbia (D.C.) the 26-year-old IT analyst briefly took off her military uniform for a different one, beautiful gowns and now a sparkling crown to match.  I tuned into some footage from the show and I immediately knew why she won. I didn’t play the race card or think, “Oh they picked her because it was the competition’s time to pick a black girl,” the way it generally happens every few years. But I felt in the few minutes of listening to Deshauna Barber answer questions and tell her story of coming from a military family but blazing her own trail for honor and respect, that she deserved to win.


Her response to a question on political correctness and women in the military, Deshauna responded:

“As a woman in the United States Army, I think it was an amazing job by our government to allow women to integrate into every branch of the military. We are just as tough as men. As a commander of my unit, I’m powerful, I am dedicated and it is important that we recognize that gender does not limit us in the United States.”

In my opinion it was refreshing to not only see a woman of color earn the crown but I honestly was surprised at what her career is, I thought it was cool. I didn’t expect such a young woman to be making positive waves in the military the way she is. I am not saying the other contestants didn’t have “cool” careers or that if Deshauna did something different it wouldn’t be as interesting, but I hardly ever hear of any WOMAN for that matter in the military that exuded such a positive aura.

The #BlackGirlMagic trendy hashtag is not just a fun social media ploy for likes, but it really is becoming a virtual movement of sharing positive images and videos of the good stuff. As a black girl, I love it. Celebrating the good increases more to follow. This world we live in is crazy, it can be sad even painful. However, we as consumers and viewers of what happens around us have the capabilities to share power, not problems.

I believe in the magic of black girls. Because I can!


Compete or Empower?


Do you feel the need to compete with others or do you aim to empower? The question pops into my mind as I embark on new journey’s of my own and observe others reactions. I am the type where I will see something a person has accomplished, or has done something simple like went on a vacation and an inkling of me will envy it. Yeah, being envious isn’t the best trait but I am being honest. Most times it isn’t that I want what they have specifically but I may want something I’ve always aspired to receive.

But I’m done with that!

I know deep down that I have achieved lots and some things are on the way, because I believe in the possibilities. No need to be competitive or “one-up” the next person. I mean, for what? Personally, I wouldn’t gain anything from it.

So I say, EMPOWER! The competition should be with yourself, crossing things off of your to-do list, finishing that task you’ve put off for months or a year. There is no race for success. One should think of their desires and wants as a continued bond, where the finish line is more of a stepping stone to the next task.

From social media “likes” and “follows” there’s too much competition out in this virtual world we live in. I mean at least be different, try something no one else is doing, or put your own original spin on whatever you’re passionate about. Honestly, some people have the nerve to compete with others for selfish reasons, not because they want to uplift others. Of course there’s the saying, “Every man for himself.” But on the real, share the wisdom, spread around sense not shade.

Think of yourself, do you compete or empower?



Detox and Diamonds


It’s the beginning of May, a new month, and I am not more organized than I was last month! Honestly, where has the time gone? I find it hard to embrace and take in each day because it feels like when I blink – it’s over. Though I can say many blessings have come my way even when it seemed doubtful. This year of 2016 so far is a mix of rough patches and new experiences, but also allowing me to find my niche and what works for me.


Everyday a new challenge arises even if it appears to be something small, but I am doing a better job with not letting every little thing get to me. Instead I work towards incorporating things that matter and benefit me.

This week ahead I am thinking a lot about the need to detox and wanting myself and other women around me to be treated like diamonds. Let me explain the diamonds part a little further. Sometimes I feel like someone very close to me has not been treated in a the way I believe they deserve to be treated. In my eyes they should be treated like diamonds. This woman that is very dear to me, I think of her like a diamond. To me she shines, and her journey to where she is now is much like the process of how diamonds are made. But too often she is left unpolished, and undervalued.

These thoughts just had me thinking, why can’t women feel like diamonds? Check out the “Love” section tomorrow as I poll other women on their thoughts.

Check out the “Living” section here for a brief video on a new “challenge” I am trying out!

Happy May to you all, here’s to more progress!



Am I too nice?

Am I too nice?

As I “March” into this new month I have to say first, I am thankful. I am not just thankful for the positive but also the ways that I have handled situations that could’ve brought me down. I am thankful that I have a relatively “can-do” attitude about where I am in my life right now. Nothing is ever perfect, and I have done my very best to not complain or be bitter, even when some days can get harder than others.

I am actively working towards improving who I am, and it can be a struggle. I like to think of myself as a person who can get along with anyone and be consistent no matter who it is. But as I often think about my growth over maybe the last 15 some odd years, I think about if I am a little too giving. Since elementary to high school I was dubbed either the quiet, shy, or nice girl. There isn’t anything wrong with those adjectives but it makes me think about who I am today. Have I changed? Do those descriptions still fit who I am? I don’t mind being called quiet or nice but I wonder if it really means anything to those I encounter.

Sometimes I’ll catch myself doing a gesture for someone else, and then I don’t always feel like I get the same in return. Most times I think it’s just me being kind, while other times I’m not sure if I am being overly nice. I am not desperate for anyone to like me. However, there’s apart of me that does contemplate if I am seeking some sort of gratification or gold star for my own self. My niceness happens often with family, friends, and more and more at work. I don’t aim to be the ‘yes man’ or er, woman but it does happen.

There are occasions where I really want to say “No” but I may not want to disappoint or upset someone. There are also moments where I feel like a family member or friend just assumes I’ll say yes anyway. When did I become so predictable? It would certainly be a change of pace to be known as someone who’s a rebel, party girl, or the cool friend that’s down for whatever without morality kicking in, which is typically how I operate.

But I know I’ll never really be known as something like a rebel. Though going out of my way to be so friendly has become scripted, making me want to say,”Hell no” or not extending olive branches to those who don’t reach for it. Far from a pushover, but neck and neck as an easy mark. Which begs the question, “Am I too nice?


The nice girl

Keep ya head up


Hello there, did anyone tell you today how awesome you are? Nope, me either. But hey, I ain’t mad! I’ll tell you why, because more everyday I am recognizing my gifts and the light that I have. Sometimes many of us can get caught up in wanting approval from others too much. From “likes” on social media to competing on the number of followers you have on Instagram. Let’s face it, will those 200 to maybe 2,000 followers really help you grow? I mean REALLY? Will they be there for you at your lowest of lows? Or will they tell you “Don’t worry, I got your back,” or tell you how great you are?

True, realistically you won’t have contact with that many of your followers or Facebook friends. But honestly, where’s the love beyond the heart shaped button on IG? Social media has reinforced the way many of us communicate, and I get that. It has also become a pillar to help millions launch businesses, reconnect with old friends, help distanced family members come together, and many other wonderful things. But for those who use social media to belittle others, or not use the opportunity to uplift someone else, grow up!

Like really, where is the love? I just wonder, “Ooh child,” will things get easier?

While I ponder on that thought it brings me back to what I wrote in the first paragraph. You (and me too) have to recognize the gifts that you possess and release them. Share them for YOU, or perhaps for a person or people in the world who don’t have the same platform or confidence that you have.

Let me tell you, I post on my blog, my writing IG, post videos on YouTube, and share articles that I’ve written constantly, and not always do I get the response or acknowledgement that I would hope for. But I keep doing it! I admit, I get frustrated when I work so hard on an article or spend time to edit a video and the views are limited, but I have to keep going. In my opinion my talents are more unique than what’s “popular” or “trending,” but there’s a whole world of content out there. Mine is just a sprinkle of all of the ‘stuff’ online and on social media.

But I can’t concern myself with who’s liking, viewing, or even reading. Merely keeping my own self current and consistent is the best “double-tap” of love that I can give myself.

I’m cool with that. Like the 1993 classic 2Pac song title says, “Keep Ya Head Up.”


Stay tuned this week for my 3 B’s of progress: Beginnings, Balance, and Blessings. A new month of March starts tomorrow!

Sweet 16

When I turned 16 I remember it was uneventful, but pretty special because I was growing up. My family and I had dined out at our signature birthday dinner place Chili’s, and that was it. That summer I had my first “boyfriend” for two weeks and six days (I kept count haha). But not too soon after being wooed I saw him kissing plus walking hand and hand with another girl in the neighborhood. I randomly was passing by a street while on the trolley going home from school and there he was. I was able to get a good view since a passenger had rung the bell for the 52nd street stop. It sounds so dramatic now but in that moment I felt heartbroken for some reason.

During our phone call later on that day when I asked him about it he said and I quote, “Oh, her? Naw, she’s gay.” My 16 year old self knew it was a lie and it bothered me that he had a nerve to date two girls at once. My guess is I wasn’t moving fast enough for him. Plus he told me that I never wanted to come over his house and “chill.” Looking back I find it funny that I expected a hormonal 16 year old boy to be “faithful.” I mean like, we were kids, it wasn’t that serious. But often I love hard and I put a lot of emotions into things that may seem unimportant. So in turning 16 I learned what my boundaries were and staying true to what I thought was right.

Fast forward to present day I want to embrace 16 in a new way, making this year of 2016 amazing, heartfelt, and filled with love!

So, in order for me to keep the positivity going I have to take charge of my wellness and RESET: Rest, Empower, Savor, Engage, Think. I said a prayer this past Sunday morning asking God for guidance as I RESET. A new month has arrived and it feels like a new chance to get past my fears and things that were hurtful to me. No sense in delaying progress.

I’m not 16 anymore. But today and everyday I feel more confidence that 2016 for me will be filled with a sweetness of growth and standing my ground. I’d like to think my younger self helped to prepare me for the greatness I am capable of. And while I didn’t have  a big party when I turned 16, I now realize no matter what, a celebration of life (even if it’s at Chili’s) is pretty sweet.


Tap the “Love” section for some food for thought on my self-love journey!


The heart of the matter


Where should I start?

Let’s go back to when the ball dropped and 2015 had arrived. Just like any other new year I was excited and so certain my life was going to make this huge turnaround. It did, somewhat. It was for the good mostly but I kept feeling uncomfortable and hidden as if I was being overlooked by family, friends, jobs, or lack thereof. The new year of 2015 was the beginning of me forming the words to say where I worked and that it was ok. It was the beginning of having 3 jobs and struggling to keep a balance. The year began with a promise to myself that as long as I love me, a true love would follow. While I can’t proclaim that I became a rejuvenated person in 2015, I can definitely say I have grown. With all of my heart I am growing.

Let me go back to June 12, 2012 when I was laid off. This will bring the present more full circle, please bear with me. If you’re still reading, thank you. June 12, 2012 was the most confusing, hurtful, weird day of my young life. Following a merger with another organization the place I had been so smitten with was gone, taken, and turned into a company I couldn’t recognize even with my reading glasses. It was different. When the “chosen ones” were given notice of our immediate departure I felt numb. Though it was a summer day in June it was rainy and damp, much reflective of my hurt feelings. I had some hopes that the outcome would be different. But lines were crossed and professionalism went out the window, along with my emotions that felt like they were trampled on. 
From that day on I struggled with what my next steps would be in regards to a career. I loved the work I was doing, working with high school students, planning events, writing for the organizations newsletter, plus bonding with my co-workers. It had been about 2 1/2 years since I graduated at that point. But suddenly my first big job out of college was terminated, as if it never existed. The “work family” I had adored so much had dwindled into a last man/woman standoff of who would jump ship next. I had only wished I had left willingly. 

Even today I sometimes think about if I had a job lined up I wouldn’t have cared as much about getting “the boot.” But I had nothing lined up, false promises of potentials that went nowhere. 

The unemployment hotline became my newest co-worker of getting funds available so that I could care for myself and the 2 year old car that I so greatly loved. Being unemployed was a foreign word to me. My first job was at 15 years old and I continued on to keep a job. So when I had to take a dreaded trip to the welfare office I was forever humbled. In that moment I wasn’t Elishia who had a degree and working towards a second. I wasn’t the “smart girl” who had it going on. I was broke and in need of assistance. 

I don’t think I can ever forget the neglect and discrimination I felt in going to that welfare office. I felt labeled, I felt pitied, Black, poor, from the hood, words I wouldn’t typically use to identify myself. But that’s how the welfare office was the two times I had to suffer through the long wait, crying babies, and eyes wondering about the next persons “situation.” You could always tell the pros and repeat folks who knew how to work the system. I was unaware and somewhat snooty of why I was even there. Once called to the back area to speak with a caseworker, I was given the breakdown of what I was eligible for and what I wasn’t. Having no children or a disability left me with very few options. 

The caseworker seemed to see right through me, noticing on my application my highest level of education. The older gentleman peered at me over his glasses. “It can happen to anybody,” he said. He chatted with me candidly, “I spoke with a man not too long ago, college educated, Master’s degree like you, but had a Ph.D. and boom, laid off. He sat right where you are and there wasn’t much I could offer him. Single, no children, or a disability to speak of. He looked at me like how you are right now.” I remember adjusting my exhausted facial expression and apologized, informing him of my frustration and feeling like it was unfair. 

The caseworker filled me in on his almost 30 years working for the welfare office and that he’d seen it all. “You will figure it out, you got the tools.” Naturally in the moment I felt like he didn’t understand but thanked him just the same for the insight. But he wasn’t too far off. I did have the tools but I felt like I needed a manual on how to build from there.
The next year when my unemployment ended in September of 2013 I was again unprepared. The prized pot of gold benefits had ended, there wasn’t anymore money to dish out. My almost daily job searching hadn’t led to any prospects and I was in dire need of money. The long lost rich uncle I imagined was nowhere to be found. So I hit the streets. Well let me clarify, I “hit the pavement” as the saying goes and began my job searching on the streets by foot. I walked in and around my city of Philadelphia to see what businesses were hiring. Most people looked at me crazy upon me asking the words, “Are you hiring?” or that I wanted to fill out an application in person. Some businesses right away told me to apply online and I very quickly would turn back around and walk out the door. 

The one particular day I went out to find a job was tiresome but productive. At that point in the aftermath of my unemployment ending it was mid October of 2013, over a month without income. Luckily, with what I had left in my bank account and some assistance from family I was able to pay for my major expenses. But in many situations that can’t go on but for so long. 

Something in me had decided that going directly to certain businesses might reflect positively on my part. Tired and ready to go home, I somehow ended up at The Franklin Institute. I was greeted at the information desk by an older Black woman with cropped salt and pepper hair. I informed her of the nature of my visit and I was given a paper application to fill out. I left the building exhausted and sure that it was a dead end. 
About two weeks later my cell phone rang while at a Starbucks doing writers stuff (sipping on coffee that I rarely ever drink, gazing out the window, notebook in tow, and occasionally looking at the other out of work folks and possible nannies), writers stuff. The phone call was an interview invitation and I graciously accepted. 

The day of my interview as a greeter in the museum quickly turned into being hired on the spot. I could’ve cried in that moment but instead I said yes and was asked when I could start. In the beginning of my new job journey on November 1, 2013 I was bitter. I was half grateful to finally get a job but the other half of me thought, “Is this it?” I felt like I had worked so hard post being laid off, submitting app after app, job interviews here and there, or dealing with rejection emails. I felt like I deserved more. I had just received my Masters degree. I felt like I deserved more than a part time job that required me to stand all day and give out repetitive directions of where “The Heart” or bathroom was where the sign clearly said BATHROOM. I wanted more! I wanted to end 2013 with the kind joy that I so gratefully wanted. But it was anything but joyful. I felt appreciative but angry.

I yearned for the kind of balance the therapist I had been seeing discussed with me. Balance of acceptance and being ok if all of my tasks were not completed in a day. Therapy was brief but beneficial. Upon expressing to my physician about the continued sadness I was experiencing from losing my job and other emotions, he recommended that I speak with a specialist to get my thoughts out. It was a must, I hadn’t felt so down and unqualified as I did after June 12, 2012. 

When a year had gone by after being laid off I didn’t feel fixed or better. The therapist helped me to address the root of my problems and seesaw-like emotions. 

My mind felt so warped that I began to think I was experiencing a sickness that had my mind in chains, unable to break free. I was so tangled up in my mind that some nights I tearfully asked my mom to sleep in the bed with me. I was in fear of being alone and afraid something bad would happen to me. Thoughts of death and thoughts that my heart was not functioning was proof of the deepened depression slash anxiety I was facing. It seems so small now. But while everything was happening all at once I could not handle the loss, the rejection and the hurtful words said to me leading up to my job termination. 

Starting a new job at the museum wasn’t what I had expected or felt like was mine. I hadn’t let go of the previous hurt and here I was moving on to something way out of my element. I was downright bitter about it.

The first few months at the museum I began distributing the same behaviors that I displayed at the previous job when it was close to being over: showing up late, looking and feeling uninterested. When my manager called me out on my missed morning meetings and lateness, I felt bad. I was convinced that this new job I had wouldn’t last and there was no need to act like I cared. I had the urgency to tell my manager a quick rundown of what my lateness and bitter behavior stemmed from. She seemed to understand but ever so politely let me know what would happen if my lateness continued. 

It took some heart to heart conversations with family and a few friends for me to finally get to the source of my bitterness and roller coaster of emotions. 
When I turned 25 I was no longer eligible to be an added person on my dad’s health insurance so I had to end my therapy sessions. Some months after I felt like I still needed to vent to an unbiased person. Then there were other times where I felt I could handle what I was going through in a different way.

When my one year anniversary of being employed at The Franklin Institute came about it felt strange but I was grateful. I was grateful that I survived a year full of doubt, tears, run-ins with guests, lateness, too short lunch breaks, and sore feet. I was also grateful to have met co-workers who varied in ages and experiences. From the college aged kids who were just getting their start, to the retirees that I never grew tired of listening to. I had established friendships and a fondness for people that I more than likely wouldn’t have met had I not been through my passing storm. 

Throughout 2015 I was faced with hardships, a juggle of added jobs and trying to keep my mind at ease. This past summer was a huge test of my tolerance and ability to handle multiple responsibilities. It is my eagerness to make it through my career hurdles that is a true testimony. I survived, and I continue to move forward. 
Two years this past November marked my second anniversary at the museum, and seven months at an elementary school working with 1st grade students with special needs. 

Yup, I’ve been one busy bee. In between the career chaos fun was had, but there was some loss of good people, strain on friendships, then there were beautiful weddings, one trip to the beach where I placed my feet in the sand, dating adventures that failed, feeling hopeful, a new book idea that I am confident will soar, and other positive news on the way. 

This year of 2015 kicked me around – a lot. Not to mention the car accident I was in just 2 days after Christmas, a head on collision that wasn’t at my own fault. But I can’t help but feel like if I didn’t take Chestnut Street to work when I normally take University Ave to hop on 76, the crash wouldn’t have happened. I took a different route and literally BOOM! My precious car went slamming into another car that ran a red light. A bruised knee and stiff neck later I am here, I am alive and surely will be well. 

My first purchase as an adult was so roughly damaged and I feel sad. Reminiscing on all of the trips, snowstorms, the cherry red color that I kept in good condition, mostly good memories of my first car. But gratefulness is what I feel. No matter the outcome my mind and body was kept in place despite the crash. All parties were unharmed though the sight of my car scrambled in a busy intersection is still heartbreaking because it’s very fresh. But again, I am safe and that’s what is important. 

Material things like cars can be replaced, and I was so lucky to have had one for 5 years with very few mechanical problems, and one payment away from paying off the car loan completely. Even with my up and down financial issues during the last 3 years I managed to still pay for my expenses and have enough money to do simple things like treat my mom to a movie or dinner. 

I am savoring the good because it is meaningful. If you were to ask me what’s next for me or if I think 2016 will be “my year,” my response is, “I am savoring for the here and now. But the hunger for more is still there. The heart of the matter is that I am never too full. That’s a start.”  


FALL in love with yourself

When you’re getting ready for the day every morning try something new: Confess how much you love yourself. Seems weird, right? It works, trust me. You shouldn’t have to depend on others to compliment you or give you praises – not all the time anyway. Here me out, receiving encouragement from others is awesome and healthy. But what are you giving yourself? Not everyone is able to give self love, and that’s ok. Sometimes it takes a while.

I am my biggest critic, I am hard on myself when I don’t have to be. But I have learned the importance of loving me, because I didn’t always, not fully. Growing up I agonized over my dark skin, afraid to stand in the sun too long during the summer because I didn’t want to get MORE dark. It sounds silly now but it was how I felt. Once I let go of that fear and kept it real with myself, I shed so much of the disgust and sadness I felt until about age 20. So now just 8 years into my newfound love of myself beyond complexion but also other things I can be self-conscious about, I really do love ME.

So take some time during this fall season to fall in love with yourself. If you’re already pretty confident in who you are, cool. Though there’s always room to improve and grow.

This week on Labels, Love, and Living I’m covering a Thanksgiving “I’m trying to cut back” survival kit, warming up in sweater weather, and while my single status needs to change.

From my heart to yours,


Tap here for more on the below quick vid! 

November rule: Go for it

My November is off to an ok start. I don’t feel the need to complain nor confide in anyone. But let me preface that remark by saying that I am inbetween some emotions. So while I may want to complain or maybe confide in people, I’m not really doing much of either. It’s really just that simple. However, my emotions are also filled with hope and an eagerness to grow and relocate to a new city! That is my focus and November rule to just go for it!

Planning and being organized is essential though I don’t want to be too rigid. There’s fun to be had even if I have no clue what it will be, I just want to be flexible and open for a positive change.

This week on Labels, Love, and Living I’m sharing how I channeled my inner superpower, what I have been up to when I feel down, and having the heart to say yes. 

Click/tap the highlighted links to read more!

From my heart to yours,


October favorites…so far


Hello, lovelies! October will be wrapping up soon, can you believe it? I can’t. For one thing, wasn’t it JUST September! And yet, here we are. No worries, because I have some plans to make any and everything count and turn my occasional frown upside down. This morning I cried about 10 seconds into hearing “I Smile” by gospel great Kirk Franklin. If you’re familiar the beginning lyrics start off saying, “Today’s a new day, but where are my blue skies? Nothing but clouds and it’s dark and it feels like a cold night.” By thd end of the first few lines I was bent over on my bed crying. I cried for a few things. I cried for feeling stuck AGAIN with my career path.

I cried because the application I submitted this past Friday was strangely “reviewed” and a decision email made its way to me two days later on Sunday evening. I’m privy to the fact that employers nowadays have a computer system that sorts through resumes submitted online. To me that isn’t always fair. It felt so impersonal and too quick. The dreaded job rejection email is not new to me but I really wanted the job I applied for – bad! So this morning I woke up thanking God, but I was sad and I cried. The release happened as it needed to. I mean, I couldn’t keep it all in. The human instinct of a jumbled mind caught up to me and I cried. But I move forward.

That brings me to my October favorites, so far. Though an emotional cry isn’t quite a favorite action to like per se, I am feeling gratitude within myself for trusting my feelings. Beyond the cry this morning I have some actual items that are favorites of mine as well. Below is a brief description of the items shown in the image above!

BCBGeneration hooded jacket- I purchased this jacket this month of October and I love it. I snagged this stylish jacket for $79.99 at Burlington Coat Factory. Perfect for fall, its leightweight but the warm lining and hood is helpful on a chilly day.

Motivational plaque- While visiting my grandmother this past August in Ohio we visited a thrift store. The olive green sign that reads in bronzed letters, “Bloom where you are planted” was all but $2.99! Inspirational and inexpensive.

Scalp massager- With the advice from a fave YouTuber I like to watch (BlakIzBeautyful), I decided to purchase a scalp massager by Vitagoods. Powered by a battery the handheld tool vibrates and gently massages the scalp, lifts up dryness and helps with moisture and hair growth. You can find it at vanityplanet.com and use Jenell (BlakIzBeautyful)’s coupon code: jb4scalp for 50% off!

Marilyn Monroe– I found the business card case for $2.99 at Rainbow some time in September. I love the black & white images of Marilyn, an array of expressions and poses. It can even be used to hold miscellaneous cards from a wallet.

The Star Side of Bird Hill tells the story of two young sisters Dionne and Phaedra who go from living in Brooklyn to Barbados after their mother can no longer care for them. The setting is 1989 and the girls encounter their families culture with their grandmother and their new life in Bird Hill, Barbados. This is my next novel to read and I’m excited to see how the story will play out. This novel is written by author Naomi Jackson.

Please be sure to check out the Labels, Love, and Living pages for some more content for this month!