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  • 5 Things I Know For Sure - Morgan Ariel Pitts

    As a part of the Growing Into Grace series, I decided to give you all some pearls of wisdom from some of my favorite bloggers as well! Oprah recently released her book, "What I Know For Sure" and I think it's so fitting for this month's focus on the life lessons I've collected as I grow into the woman I want to become. So over the next few weeks, you will hear from an awesome lineup of women about five things they know for sure! 

    Photo: Courtesy of Morgan Pitts 

    First up is Morgan Ariel Pitts who dubs herself a Creator-in-Chief! She is the creator of the popular hashtag and social movement #blackgirlswhoblog. It started from a tweet and well the rest is history with so many black girl bloggers catching on and hashtagging their posts to share in community with other women. Once I happened upon it, I thought it was such an awesome idea and I adore the shirts and sweatshirts adorned with the popular phrase as well! 

    Take a look at what Morgan had to say about the things that she knows for sure! 

    Morgan Ariel Pitts, #BlackGirlsWhoBlog and CosMORGpoliton

    1. I know that some of the best things in life happen unexpectedly and wouldn't have turned out as well if you tried to plan them yourself -- #BlackGirlsWhoBlog started off as a random tweet that I initially had no intention of growing into anything more. Today, I can honestly say that it's one of the most fulfilling things that I've ever done. I even won a Black Weblog Award for it. And guess what? It wasn't in "my plan."

    2. I know that being a good person pays off -- So many relationships that I've established (as well as maintained) and opportunities that I've been granted have stemmed from me genuinely being a decent human being (so I've been told). Sure, talent and skill are important. They may get your foot in the door, but being an asset to humanity keeps it there. Be kind. Be patient. Pay your dues. Do your best ...and all that jazz. (Disclaimer: don't just be a good person because you want to reap the benefits, but rather be one because it's the right thing to do ...like Spike Lee). There's a difference between "good" and "well-behaved." Additionally, it's always better to support what you love instead of bashing what you hate. Negatively speaking about something that you do not particularly care for is still free promo; however, celebrating what you do indeed enjoy is a win-win situation.

    3. I know that mother knows best -- Nine times out of ten, your mom really is always right ...except for that one time, and, in the words of Kanye, "that's what intuition is."

    4. I know that growth is on the other side of fear and outside of your comfort zone -- I moved to New York City a few months ago all by myself. I was terrified, but my excitement to get my professional career rolling and desire to gain more independence from my suburban-sweetheart lifestyle, I knew it had to be done. The last time that I left The Big Apple before moving, I was so scared (and absolutely refused) to take the Subway alone. Now, I take it practically every single day of my life to get where I need (and want) to go. My loved ones tell me that they're so proud of me, but honestly, no one is more proud than myself.

    Side note, I also know that rejection is God's protection, and "no" might very well be His way of saying, "I have something better for you." I was so fed up with graduating from college and not having a job for a year and a half that I said I'd finally give in and apply to work retail back home (Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area) at a Kate Spade store. I really enjoyed the brand and figured it'd be some extra change in my pocket and work experience if nothing else. Heck, even my current phone case is Kate Spade, but they didn't want me. I didn't even get a callback to work a freakin' retail job, and I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing. About a month later, I landed a gig at Gucci Corporate ...not the store, but corporate. I had been praying for a while to get both my career off the ground and become more independent from my super loving, caring and supportive family ... and well, won't He do it? Eat your heart out, Kate Spade.

    5. I know that treating yourself makes the world go round -- Buy yourself those flowers. Treat yourself to that gelato. Take yourself on a date to the new museum exhibit. It will help keep those happiness levels where they ought to be. Just trust me on this one.

  • Growing Into Grace - Series for the Month of March

    There was truly something about the allure of a woman in the 50s and 60s. There’s something so classy about that time period that I enjoy. It’s pretty cool that women wore dresses all the time and had tons of cool hairdos. And though we’ve made leaps and bounds since then, you know the “little” things like being able to vote, hold jobs, and live independently from a husband, there’s something to be said about the style and grace of women in that time period.

    It got me thinking about how awesome it is to be a woman. Yes sometimes it’s really tough and we’re up against a lot, but I am enjoying each moment of growing into the woman that I always wanted to be. So I decided that for 4 weeks in March, I will feature a post that captures the essence of that growth as a woman. I’ve also invited some of my favorite bloggers to share with you their 5 Things They Know For Sure as a part of this series as well.

    These posts of mine will essentially be small things I have learned to be true as a woman. There will be new posts each week and I hope you’ll join along and comment along the way.

    Grace is defined as simple elegance or refinement of movement. I like to think that with each moment, each experience and each year I am growing into a more refined version of myself. Embodying that grace and style that I so much admire from women of those times.

    What has growing into grace meant for me? Taking the time to figure out what I really want in life, love, and my career and more importantly, what I DON’T want. It has meant trusting myself with things, desires, and dreams that I never was quite confident enough to think I could achieve. It has meant realizing that my life is not just my own and what I do with it and who I impact positively are just as important as any accolades or material things I could possess. Growing in grace has meant learning everything I am and letting others be everything they are.

    A graceful woman is a woman whose strength is perfected in hard times, who knows her worth, who knows how to play the lead and how to follow, who is comfortable in her own skin, dares to be herself, knows the value of respect for others and herself and learns how to become her own validation.  

  • Journey of a NB - The Prayer Project #7

    I'm so excited about the new Prayer Project this month hosted by Saunya Shelise. First off, it helps me with my prayer life, so I am always ecstatic about opportunities to draw closer to God. Second, it's an amazing opportunity to focus on someone else other than yourself for 30 days. Last but not least, I was invited to share with all of the particpants my experience with intercessory prayer. Look out for all the emails to encourage you along the way of the challenge and you may see a familiar face or two! 

    How to Participate:
    Choose one individual and commit to writing one prayer a day for them for 30 days (without telling them). At the end of the 30 days it is your choice to present the person with the prayer journal as a gift - a selfless genuine act of love with no hidden agenda or intent to receive anything in return. 
    1) Sign up at www.aloveperfect.com 
    2) Commit to praying for a specific person for 30 days starting March 1, 2014
    3) Like and comment on this post letting me know you're joining the challenge
    4) Repost this post and tag #ThePrayerProject
    5) Tag your friends that you want to join and invite them to participate! 
    Full details are posted on www.aloveperfect.com. Challenge 7 will begin March 1, 2014.

    Special features will include: 

    @felicitystarr 

    @inspiredbytiffanynicole

    @ashleyjoyspeaks 

    @nikkiandthecity

    @the_femmefocus 

    @writelaughdream

    If you are participating, please let me know in the comments! Would love to hear how it goes for you! :) 
  • DREAM - Chitting and a Chatting at Temple University

    Photo: George Miller 

    I was thinking about how in 8th grade I decided that I wanted to speak at graduation. I wasn't the class President who automatically got to speak, but I guess I just felt like I had something to say. Oddly enough, a contest surfaced for 8th graders to submit speeches and possibly be picked to speak at graduation. At this point in my life, I am pretty sure I may have willed it to happen. lol. Either way, I remember typing my speech on my typewriter, remember those? I submitted it and I won. I won and had the opportunity to speak at graduation. But the funny thing is, I actually get nervous to speak in front of large groups! 

    I've been working on that over the last year or so. Between my full time work and everything I am doing with my blog and book, I have found myself constantly speaking with a microphone in my hand. What's hilarious to me is thinking about that little girl who decided she wanted to speak, even though she was afraid. Clearly there has always been something inside of me that wanted to speak to people, and to see it manifesting in my life makes that 8th grade speech such interesting foreshadowing. 

    It probably was a small thing to George Miller who invited me to speak at his Journalism & Society class, but I don't take any opportunity I'm given lightly. Especially not when talking to people about life and experiences. What you say in those settings really has power to someone in the audience who may not be sure of what they want to do. You have the ability to sway them positively or negatively and so I think you should be really thoughtful when speaking, especially to young people. 

    It was a really exciting opportunity for me. As a Temple alum, it's awesome to come back to where you professional career began and share what you have learned thus far. And yes most of us are still trekking through life and learning along the way, but hey there is a lot of valuable experience I have picked up since 2008. 

    We chatted about my book, blog and work at The Recording Academy. All pretty casual, but it was at the end when students came to talk to me about what they were working on and their interest in the types of things I was doing that really put the icing on the cake. That's a feeling you want to have over and over. The opportunity make some type of difference or say something that affects someone. 

    I guess that's the purpose of this blog, the book, and the desire of the that little girl in the 8th grade class who just had something to say. I want to help change people's minds and think of things in a way they may not have before. To see a different side and to help them be the best versions of themselves they can be. There are people who have helped me do that for myself and so I guess my service is paying it forward. 

    Have you had moments in your life where you look back and realized you were being prepared for something greater?

  • Reaffirming Your Fly: Day 27 - Ready 4 Love

    Day 27: Ready 4 Love: Today I am ready to love and be loved because …

    I’m ready to love because I’ve learned that love is all we really have. Outside of the material things that we can accumulate or the accolades, cars, whatever it is – Everyone at their core honestly just wants to be loved. So I’m ready because I have found the true value in love. I’ve learned that it will keep me going when everything else around me is crumbling. I’m ready to be loved because I know that it helps to sustain me in a really cold world. I’m grateful for my love, for those that really and truly love me. I admire their ability to love me in spite of me and surround me in love when I need it the most. I am ready to love because I have received a revelation of how much God loves me and it’s only right, that in service to him, I love others the best I can. In that, I will show others how to love and he will receive the glory!

    The best way to be ready, is to start within. That’s what this whole challenge has been about. When you feel it from the inside, I mean really feel it, that is what will begin to change your life. It changes what you attract, what you will accept and what you won’t. It will help motivate you in your career and ambitions. It will change your outlook on life. And you won’t be ready a moment sooner than getting the revelation that you have to come first. For me it’s after my love of God, but whatever works for you, just remember to treat yourself well because you can’t expect anyone else to if you don’t. 

  • First | Episode 1, S2 - The First Love

    Okay sooooo. It’s been some time, but you know how much I love this show! First is back for its second season and I am here for it! I am reveling in the more diverse depictions of women of color in media lately. Not that I watch them all, but from Empire, to Being Mary Jane, films like Beyond the Lights and First, killing the web, it feels like a tide is changing.

    I LOVE that the season starts with a short montage recap with Charlie’s (William Catlet) poem narrating over the top.  “Everything is a moment in time and time has its moments, are you listening to me?” That line really stuck out to me.

    But it’s cool that we are right back to the moment when Robin is on the other side of the door after she seemingly left Charlie after he spouted the big L-Word. After pow-wowing with her bestie on the phone she actually re-enters accusing Charlie of being emotional to which he tells her “I meant what I said.” I love when men are assertive. SWOON!

    LOL. Nonetheless you see here that clearly they are both afraid of what it really means to be in love with one another. We get a touching flashback moment where it shows Charlie and Robin as children, looking up at the stars and reciting a comforting affirmation that Robin used when her grandma was sick. “And no matter what comes, you must be brave.” THEE MOST touching. Ha-ha. I am such a sucker for good lines. And that’s really how I feel about love. It’s for the brave, not the faint at heart.

    Either way, it’s good to see Robin and Charlie. Just their faces make me happy. Lol. Though the chemistry is a little off, like it is when you have a fight with your significant other. You love them and all but they definitely did something to piss you off a bit. So it will be interesting to see how they are able to come around from all the strife.

    Robin visits her separated parents, which is clearly part of her apprehension of being all in with Charlie. There is a reoccurring theme of her running, so I am looking forward to getting to the bottom of that behavior.

    But the kicker here, is the suspense. We see someone call Charlie asking will he be home, while he is helping his mother home from the hospital. Assuming it was Robin, I think all of our mouths dropped open when we saw another woman appear at the door while Robin’s call went unanswered. Someone tell me, was that the ex?

    LOL. I would love to know what you thought! Let’s chat in the comments. Next episode is March 11th. 

     

  • Journey of a NB - Moodswingers Series

    So I was FourFiveSeconds from Wildin' all last week. And I LOVE that Elevation Church shares all their sermons because I surely needed this Moodswingers series for SURE. And I thought I had a lot more control over my emotions than I demonstrated this week. Everything was annoying me and normally that's just a sign of PMS (TMI) but I was a little farther out than normal. Nonetheless, this sermon and the one before it by Steve Furtick's wife Holly, hit the nail on the head! My word. Talk about on time. So I wanted to share with all of you. I know it will bless your life. 

     

  • Reaffirming Your Fly: Day 21 - Promise

    Day 21: I Promise: What will you dedicate yourself to change this year in regard to love for yourself?

    Dear Miss Apologetic,

    I don’t know where you get off thinking you have to apologize for being you? It started early too when at times you felt like your opinions were too strong because they seemingly overpowered others’. But it’s never been that you don’t want others to have an opinion, you just believe what you believe and that’s okay. No more light dimming. No more putting yourself out to make others comfortable. You have to live with who you've become and you can’t be who everyone else wants you to be and ever be satisfied. I promise that I will no longer treat you like a charity case. Something that constantly needs to be fixed. Yes you are growing and learning, but that process is beautiful and should never be shamed. I promise that I will stop apologizing for what needs no apology. Fearfully, wonderfully made. And yes I will keep repeating it, until you get it, until you’re sick of it and finally get a revelation of it. You are who you are and the beauty in that is that God sees your heart. He sees that you are diligently seeking to be more like Christ. But you my friend are not perfect and there is perfection in the acceptance of that. It’s how we see God work.

    -Ashley

    I’ve always had a special admiration for people who just are who they are. Good or bad really. I mean at least they’re committed to something right? But really, it’s okay for us to have flaws. In the pursuit of perfection, I’ve always felt lacking. And the reality is, I always will if I continue in that behavior because I’ll never be.

    I am slowly realizing it and coming to accept it. And picking less fights in my relationship because of it. LOL. Doesn’t he know I’m perfect and he should never have a gripe? Sounds ridiculous right? But that’s really what my actions show even if I never said the words.

    I am a flawed human being and I’m learning to love myself anyway which is a pretty cool process. Just the other day, I looked in the mirror, ready to think of something I needed to work on and I had nothing. I was proud of the imperfections and I knew I had made progress. 

  • Dear Love – The Art of Shut Up

    I’m pretty sure I first heard my friend Kat Serrano of The Katosphere paraphrase it that way. But duly noted nonetheless. The art of shut up, I think is essential in a peaceful and successful relationship. Hey if you need another reference, how about Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler.” Know when to hold them and when to fold them.

    In any event, I have learned that you actually don’t have to say every single thing that comes to mind all the time when it comes to your partner. And that my friend has been a true test for me. I don’t think I ever learned that everything isn’t important all the time. But I think it’s essential on both sides, but I can only speak from my perspective.

    I’ve heard from many guy friends that it can often seem like all we do is criticize. No real surprise there right? I didn’t think it was that deep, but after I took an account, I could definitely say that if I am not conscious of it, I can seem to point out a lot that my significant other does wrong. This is not to say that you will never have another gripe because let’s face it, you certainly will. But we can find some key times to practice the art of shut up here. Most often after your significant other has had a long trying day, it really may not be the right time to tell him that he forgot to return something of yours or he needs to take you out more. Finding the right timing is so important! I haven’t truly mastered this yet, but I am working on it. Ha!

    Pretty much we just have to learn, both men and women about timing. Some people may be great at this already, but I know I wasn’t. I also love to have the last word and can’t really stand when people think they’re right and they’re clearly wrong. But I have had to learn that sometimes that last word or being right, really is not as important as it seems in the moment. You can argue something to the death and be right and have no one around in the end to care about it.

    Just like everything, it’s a balance. No one is telling you to be seen or not heard or anything like that. But I assure you that you will see an immediate happier result when you simply learn how to choose your battles. The longer you are with a person, the more you realize certain things just aren’t that deep. Or you realize they are for you and that person just may not be the one for you. That’s cool too.

    But sometimes you will just need to be that listening ear and whatever you were mad about will have to wait. Or sometimes you have to allow a person to make their own mistakes instead of constantly trying to tell them what you know is right, which is extremely hard but can be necessary.  

    Ultimately like most things in relationships, the art of shut up takes, humility, vulnerability, and caring about someone else sometimes more than your own immediate needs at the moment. Not easy, but possible.

    Are you the type that has to say what’s on your mind all the time at any time? 

  • Reaffirming Your Fly: Day 19 - Be F.L.Y.

    Day 19: Be F. L. Y. (Fiercely Love Yourself, Free Write) 

    Fiercely love yourself because who the heck else is going to do it if you don’t? There are all types of things stacked up against us. Constantly. But when we have to give an account of the things that we achieved with the talents God gave us, what others did to us is not going to count. We owe it to ourselves to love us. It’s not anyone else’s job. It’s on you. It’s on me. I constantly remind myself to be my own validation. In the moment when it’s all said and done and your life is over, will you have liked you? Will you be proud of the man or woman you were in life? If the answer is no, then you have some work to do! And quickly. Tomorrow is not promised and I would hate to see you never know what it is to love yourself. Flaws and all, you are fearfully and wonderfully made and no one can take that from you. Not the person who took your innocence at way too young of an age, not an abuser, not a defunct parent– No one. It’s yours, your love is yours and you have to do everything you can to protect it and hold onto it. I plan to work until I can not only look and the mirror and not pick myself apart, but say, wow, what a masterpiece. And I also plan to help other women be able to do the same along the way. It’s not easy, but nothing worth having ever is. But the value of self-love is worth far more than rubies and so are you!

    Be Fly My Loves!