I’ve been absent from the blogsphere for a while since I’ve decided to go back to school and pick up a new profession (teaching) and during that time I saw it as an opportunity to really give back to an audience I’m truly passionate about: adolescent girls of color. I wanted to create a brand and organization that would allow them to fully understand that they are in complete control of the direction of their lives. As women, we are often told what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and where to do it so much that there are times when we stop and wonder if anything we are doing is because we genuinely want to do it. So on January 28, 2017 I launched Curate Your Life, a girl’s empowerment and enrichment organization that focuses on sisterhood, leadership, social justice, wellness, and media literacy for teen girls of color, but the idea was birthed in June 2016 and there were a number of lessons learned along the way.

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Community is SO Important

I knew that this wasn’t something that I could do on my own and be effective at the same time, so I built a community of professional women and organizations who would see and understand my vision. The day of the launch, I didn’t realize I would be doing so much running around and improvising when things were absent, but the community that I built was there every single step of the way. I just asked them to show up and facilitate workshops, but they’ve become family with every “You got this Deja.” or “I’m proud of you Deja” or “Tell me where I can help Deja.” Even my mother came and catered the event with my grandmother. I say all of that to say, you are as strong as the tribe you build and God blessed me with an amazing one. (more…)

Ah yes, the wonderful world of adulthood where words like “adulting” is like auditioning for an episode of American Ninja Warrior. Each year that I get older and celebrate another birthday I always get asked by several people, “sooooo how does it feel being (insert age)?” To which my reply is usually something along the lines of “idk, the same…I guess.” Like how can you possibly describe what a particular age feels like after only a moment. If someone were to ask me that question today about being 26 my answer can best be described in correlation to one of my biggest fears: ROLLERCOASTERS.

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Adulthood is like that one rollercoaster in the theme park everyone is scared to get on, but can’t seem to pull themselves out of the line. Before you know it, you’re too deep and can’t go back so the only way out is through it. So you get on the ride and the first thing you think is, “this isn’t so bad” after a few buckles and jerks. But then you feel it slowing down as it prepares for the drop and the death loop afterwards. You’re in full on panic mode, stressed, literally on the verge of crapping your pants as you feel your soul leave your body as the ride plummets. After the loop everything is smooth sailing again and you try gathering your life again and breathe for the first time since getting on the ride. You let out a little “I made it” laughter and can’t believe you freaked out as much as you did. The smile quickly turns to one of horror when you realize there’s another death drop taller than the first…that my folks is adulthood. A never-ending series of drops and loops and metaphorical crappy pants.

But at least the freedom’s cool right?

In the freedom, you find that the older you get the more your priorities shift. The more solid things become and you start to build up your own set of belief systems and moral codes that are not up for discussion. Here are some non-negotiable every adult should have in their list of “do not touch.”

Health/Sanity

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So I had this job once that was just so stressful to my life. I lost a ton of weight, I was always amped up on coffee just to make it through the day, I went home with migraines daily and I was just miserable there. My work morale was low due to the environment being created. After two years of dealing with that, I had to make the decision to go. I was stuck in a dead end work situation and I decided, I couldn’t compromise my mental health and sanity any longer. I realized that this wasn’t the end all be all. There were other jobs out there that I would enjoy and who would appreciate the value I added to the workplace. Your mental health and overall health and well-being should not be a negotiable option.

Family

That should be self-explanatory. Sometimes when we’re so consumed in our work we neglect important things in our lives including our families. It’s never intentional. Family should never be a negotiable option so when faced with things and issues in life that forces you to chose between family and work…it better not be work that you choose unless you’re able to reach a common ground with your family.

Character/Identity

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Being anybody other than myself is not of my character. If you’re at a job that forces you to be someone you’re not. If you’re in a relationship that brings out the worst in you. If you find yourself doing hoodrat things with friends when you’re not like that, it’s time to re-examine some things. Your character speaks volumes and when people says impressions are lasting, people will always remember how you acted, what you did and how you looked doing it.

Integrity/Beliefs

We live in a country that’s considered to be a melting pot of different races, beliefs, nationalities and religions. Be proud of who you and stand firm in it. Don’t let people or things try to change you. I think the older we get, naturally, the more self-aware we become but it’s easy for snakes to sift through the cracks and create doubt in us and have us questioning everything we believe. Don’t let it.

The thing about¬†adulthood and “adulting” is that it is a rollercoaster that you’re never getting off of. So buckle up and enjoy the ride and if rollercoasters aren’t your things, take deep breathes and stay prayed up.

When I had a scheduled job that I went to everyday Monday through Friday I would often say, “I can’t wait until I can just wake up and write, nothing else.” I couldn’t wait for those work from home days where I could just sit in my PJ’s and write or get dressed up just to go sit in a cafe and type like one of those hipster kids. I thought it was going to be sunny days, outfit of the day posts, free as a bird in the spring and summer. I thought the winter was going to be cozy and easy and relaxed, working from home, but I didn’t anticipate becoming a couch potato, nor was I prepared for the constant cabin fever outbreaks. I wasn’t prepared for the endless…or what felt like endless days since my schedule was completely flexible, and I wasn’t prepared to lose days of the week since Mondays felt like Tuesdays and Tuesdays felt like Fridays and Fridays felt like Wednesdays…you get the point. Don’t get me wrong, working from home has it’s pluses until you find yourself calling upon the Justice League to help you fight the laziness that’s holding you captive in bed. It’s easy to lose motivation, to not feel like doing anything at any given moment and it’s easy to find yourself on the brink of insanity in the walls of your home. So I had to think outside the box to come up with some things to keep me sane when working from home.

Create a creative space that’s conducive to creativity.¬†

Modern creative workspace on yellow wall.

How’s that for some dope alliteration? But I found that working from home was most unproductive for me when done in my bedroom. A bedroom is a place associated with rest and relaxation and I always found myself sprawled out on my bed lounging and aimlessly surfing the web more than I was being productive. So I went out and got a little table and a nice accent chair and decorated a nice space with colors and art to keep me motivated and away from my bed. It also gives me something to look forward to because I’m excited to sit in my colorful chair in my colorful corner. *sings* “in my own little corner, in my own little chair, I can be whatever I want to be…” Of course Brandy sung it better.

Get A Change of Scenery

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I spent the past week in Baltimore visiting and touring the city with my significant other, but work had to continue because deadlines were still approaching. Even though I was working on the same content, I felt a fresh sense of renewal doing it from another city in another state. I sat by the harbor jotting notes in my Moleskine while taking in the scenery of the harbor, I toured the inside of an art museum, I walked a college campus and I was also a couch potato in someone else’s house, but the point is changing locations even if it’s as small and simple as walking to the local cafe, coffee shop or library or sitting in a park can make all the difference in boosting creativity, motivation and certainly combating cabin fever.

Step Away from the CPU…and nobody gets hurt!

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No, but seriously in the words of OutKast, you got to get up, get out and get moving. Sometimes cabin fever comes when we refuse to unglue ourselves from our screens. You find yourself having a brain fart and writer’s block and you’re just stuck. The best way to remedy that is to close the laptop, put the computer on hibernate and go do something else for a bit. Finish a workout DVD, fold some laundry, catch up on a missed show episode, make you some lunch or better go and buy you some lunch, take a walk, call a friend, etc. Sometimes you just need a mental break.

Create a routine

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If you didn’t have a 9-5 schedule at an office job and you were told to work around the clock would you? No? So why do it at home? Even though you’re working from home and can do so whenever you please as long as deadlines are being met, that doesn’t mean you work all day. Create a routine and set a specific amount of time aside for work just like you would at a regular office job including lunch and bathroom breaks. When the work day is over, the work day is over.