What I Learned Hosting My First Girl’s Empowerment Summit

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. Continue reading “What I Learned Hosting My First Girl’s Empowerment Summit”

7 Essential Apps for The Busy Blogger

It’s been a while since I’ve slept in on a Saturday. Even when I have no plans for the day my body is still accustomed to waking up early and doing productive things like writing of course. Monday through Friday, I can always count on email alerts, morning texts from my mothers and phone calls from my boyfriend, work alerts, and social media notifications to ensure that I’m up at the crack of dawn. With that being said, my plate is full. I am grateful for it because there was a time when my plate was empty and so was I, but it can all get a little overwhelming at times which drives me to go into an anti-digital cave where I shut everything down and try to remember what life was like before all this technology. Nowadays with so much technological advancements it’s assumed that everyone should be easily accessible and reachable via communication whether it’s through text, email, IM, social media, etc. So to keep myself balanced and organized, assuming that my phone never leaves my hand here are some of my essential apps that help me remember things and get things done. Bonus: they’re all free.

Warning: I am a Google Addict

Google Keep 

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I can’t function without to-do list. I have such a scatterbrain at times to the point where if it’s not written down, it’s often forgotten. Google Keep is an app that allows you to create to-list with added reminders so that even if you don’t open the app, you’ll get an alert if the task hasn’t been crossed off yet. There’s also a section to jot down quick notes and it’s usually where I write down article titles and quick memos like grocery lists, talking points, etc.

Android | Apple

Google Calendar

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Chance are if you have a GMAIL account, you also have access to Google calendar. It’s also where I create my editorial calendar. I use this to keep track of appointments, important dates and events because sometimes writing them in a notebook or a calendar often gets overlooked. The great things about this is you can share appointments with others. If you’re in the type of business that requires you to have office hours, you can share the calendar with others so they can sign up for a meeting date and time with you. Google calendar can be accessed via smartphones, tablet, laptop and desktop so it goes everywhere with you.

Android | Apple

Google Docs

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There are times where I just don’t feel like lugging my laptop around with me when I’m commuting somewhere so Google Docs always comes in handy on my phone when I need to start a quick article, blog post or essay. I can type it all up on Google Docs and share it with my editor, email it to my editor without the hassle of copy and paste in Microsoft Word and sending it via email. If I want to start an article on the train ride home I can and then continue it later once I get home on my computer because it saves to the cloud drive after every single change.

Android | Apple

Slack

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I wear many hats at the moment that come with many tasks. I’m a women’s lifestyle writer and personal essayist for Madame Noire; Web Writer for Upscale Magazine; Black Voices Blogger for The Huffington Post; Arts and Culture writer for Saint Heron and I manage this here, blog. Most of the companies I write for have a slack account which is a project management app, but can also be used for social networking. We conduct our pitches, get writing assignments and just chat about trending topics in pop culture on this app.

Android | Apple

Some other apps that I use just for graphics and ads are Canvas, Style, PicArt and Phonto. If you’re always on the go and your mind is always running even when you’re not these are some apps that’ll take a bit of sweat off your brow.

The Non-Negotiables of Adulthood

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.