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”

Conflict Resolution for the Petty Bettys that Can Dish, but Can’t Take

For those of you who really know me on a personal level, you’d know that there are times when I’m not above joining the petty bus. There are times when I just have to let people know about themselves and for me, this stems from years of not telling people about themselves (see post on passive-aggressiveness).

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However, these days, I’ve become very intentional about where I place my energy. I’ve become strategic about the battles that I pick and for the most part, I don’t have battles to pick. But the days where I feel like being the most petty are the days I just learn how to swallow it and keep it stepping. Can anyone else relate?

But more recently, I’ve found myself in the middle of a “I don’t like what you said to me, so I’m not going to talk to you for a few days” situation (not the first time) and I’ve been trying to figure out how to gauge it. Should I board the petty bus and feed into it by removing myself from the text group? But then I thought, perhaps that would probably make an already childish situation worst and then I’d share some responsibility in that. So I decided to ignore it…it as in the situation and carry on with my usual routine. Texting everyone in the text group even if I only got one response back. But then I thought…why are people like that? Why is that the first go to when responding to conflict? To just shut people out and be rude about it. For me, that speaks volumes when it comes to the types of relationships or friendships people have with each other. If I consider you a sister or a dear friends, I’m not going to shut you out like you don’t exist because of a brief disagreement because I’m 26, not 13.

I realized that for people who are so used to dishing out “tough love” and telling people about themselves, it’s hard to receive it in return…so when someone does speak up about how they’re feeling and for example, tell someone to stop ragging on them, it’s not well received because they’re a disher, not a taker.

I found it ironic that I’m also in the middle of creating a life skills workbook for teen girls where the first chapter is effective communication and conflict resolution because in my opinion, that is a life skill that everyone should have. I mean think about it…we spend a total of 11…some of us 16…others more years in school learning how to communicate. We learn how to communicate and how to receive communication. Speak up when something is bothering you. Speak up when you like something. Speak up when you’re uncomfortable. Speak up if that’s not the way things should be. Speak up. But all some of us do is “speak up” which leaves less room for listening. So I’ve decided that conflict resolution IS a great life skill to have that has nothing to do with a person’s age, but their maturity levels and since I blog about my own experiences, I’ve decided to make this a bloggable moment for the dishers who can’t take.  Continue reading “Conflict Resolution for the Petty Bettys that Can Dish, but Can’t Take”

Spiritual Connections with My Friends

The older we get, the more the cement dries on the foundation of our lives. For the most part we have a stable career that pays the bills and gives us a little extra to live comfortably; we have our families and our churches and our community organizations that we’re involved in and even though we have our solid group of friends, they too often become interchangeable at different stages in our lives, but the ones that remain, the ones that are of extreme importance are the ones we have genuine spiritual connections with.

We need spiritual friends who are close to us, who understand us, who will encourage us and counsel us, who will carry our burdens but also get in our face when we’re being disobedient or harmful. We need friends who care about the way we are becoming (or not becoming!) more like Christ. As Iron Sharpens Iron, so shall you is an important scripture that sticks with me as I get older and build stronger relationships with my girls. I can always count on them to come through for me when I’m in a financial rut, if I’m dealing with relationship woes and need some advice, but I feel more importantly when I’m at a spiritual standstill, when my faith is wavering and affecting my mental health and my emotional health, I need my friends and those spiritual connections that I have with them to reach down and pull me out of my funk.

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Now I’m not talking about those judgmental, soapbox “friends” that misuse the term “rebuke in love,” nor am I speaking about those shady friends that pretend to care because they want some scoop on your life to make theirs seems better. I’m talking about those genuine souls that recognize your struggle, that understand your struggle and who have been through it and are using the wisdom God has given them to be an accountability partner to you.

I need those friends who I can share my moments of depression with and be vulnerable with because I know it won’t be held against me. I need those friends who are going to let me have my moment, but who are going to encourage me by sending me devotions, scriptures, inspirational quotes and more importantly pray for and with me whether I ask for it or not. I need those friends that drag me at 8am on a Saturday to community service.

For the most part we all have friends, but do those friends really knows your heart? I’m not talking about just any good friend here; I’m talking about a friend or friends whose hunger for spiritual connection, whose journey toward God mirrors that of yours. Do they know your hopes, your dreams and your fears? Do they know you weaknesses and help turn them into strengths? It is important to have spiritual friends because they will keep you focused and grounded on the things that really matter in your life. When you find yourself lost in the fluff, fog and allure of surfaced things they will help you get back to the nitty gritty of your life.

At some point I had to start evaluating who I called friend. Spending weekends drinking, partying, being single and wondering why guys I was interested in weren’t taking me seriously became exhausting. I looked around me and I realized my lifestyle mirrored that of theirs. That was the connection I had form with them. All I really wanted was to excel my career, meet a pleasant and spiritually grounded man, get married have children and live a comfortable and adventurous life with my family. Naturally in wanting those things, my friendship circle began to shift. I found myself drawing closer to those who were seeking the same things. I recognized the community in them, the passion to be involved in their churches and communities, their dating patterns and the seriousness of it and I formed spiritual and life bonds with them. Having spiritual connections with friends became important to me when I began to take my life more seriously.