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  • WRITE - Thriving Outside Your Comfort Zone

    Our comfort zone is probably one of the most dangerous places to reside. Yet, so many of us get set in our ways and crippled by what makes us “comfortable.” But recently I have noticed that each time I venture out of my comfort zone, I am pleasantly surprised.

    It’s not always about emerging yourself in completely different territory, but your comfort zone can incorporate a lot of different things. I mean something as simple as I was going to shade out an invite from someone to an event because I wasn’t going to know anyone there. But I pushed passed that initial feeling and had a great time.

    What happens to us? I remember the days right after college when I would go anywhere and do anything. Didn’t matter if I knew someone or not. All that mattered was that I saw the end result of where I was trying to get to and I didn’t worry myself too much with the steps it would take to get there. Now at 28, I am often second guessing myself and fighting against my own apprehensions.  

    From learning a new skill to trying new restaurants or engaging in new experiences, I am working to shatter this thing called complacency which feels like where vibrant souls go to die. Yet somehow many of us find ourselves in a comfort zone. I think it’s just a natural progression, but it’s the steps that you take after you realize it that will make all the difference.

    Fear, I have heard people say is like this unconfirmed apprehension about what could possibly happen and not often based in certainty. We pull away from what’s unknown. But it’s like coming up against a dragon that has no flame or a big scary dog with no teeth. You will be so disappointed if you let that stand in the way of where you were trying to go.

    What have I done to help get past those moments? Anytime I am apprehensive about something and I notice I don’t really have a good reason, I just have to do it. There is no other way to get around it. If in my head everything sounds like an excuse instead of an intuition or simply a smarter decision, I have to push through it. Whether it’s making a phone call, or sending an email, or going to an event. I won’t be the person who allows that type of silliness to get in the way of the things I am working to achieve.

    And the craziest part about it is, it’s never quite as bad as you think it’s going to be. I end up thriving most times out of my comfort zone and wondering what took me so long to just take the shot. I remember when I was young I wouldn’t even ask my parents things if I thought the answer might be no. I refuse to be that adult. I’m asking, I am putting myself out there, and I am expanding the boundaries of my comfort zone each and every day.

    What are some of the things you’ve been apprehensive about that you would like to overcome? Don’t be bashful, leave it in the comments! 

  • Philly 360 Playlist: Beano, Let it Go

    Photo: Ricky Codio 

    If you're like us, then you've been waiting for solo music from West Philadelphia singer/songwriterBeano. Although he's rocked many stages, on his own and alongside acts like Chill Moody, we have yet to see a solo project from the Philadelphia crooner. Well, it looks like the wait is over! Because this week the Philly 360° playlist is back with Beano's first single, “Let it Go.” 

    For this mid-tempo danceable, smooth track, Beano sings that his “phone is off” and he's heading out for a night with the boys after a bit of trouble at home. Reminiscent of the vibe of Usher’s “You Don’t Have to Call,” the song has a great feel and will have fans singing along instantly. 

    The track was done by Philly-based producer Dilemma, and samples LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” —  which actually samples a number of older records including a James Brown hit. The break beat gives “Let it Go” a throwback sound with a new school twist. 

    Read the full feature via @Philly360

    Oh and did I mention I co-wrote this record? LOL. Don't forget I am also a songwriter! Fun times. :) 

  • Dear Love - Are We Afraid of Settling?

    So much so that we sabotage good things in the midst of trying to find the perfect fit? We make list, we have expectations, we listen to what friends tell us we should have and we decide that anything less is completely unacceptable. But what happens when that person doesn’t necessarily fit into the mold we create?

    I have listened to the gripes of friends about relationships and I realize that so many have the slightest doubt that their person, is the person for them. There always seems to be the slightest inkling in their mind that maybe there is a person who will possess all their current beaus’ qualities and just have the upper hand on remembering to take out the trash or cleaning the hair out of sink and that will surely make them Mr. Right. It’s not that they don’t love who they’re with, but they have doubts, like many of us do, which is normal and okay.

    But how do you begin to overcome those feelings? Well, first and foremost I continue to say, stop thinking about what love looks like on TV and realize that it’s a choice. Two people are choosing to be in relationship with one another knowing that the other person simply is not and will never be perfect. Yes some people meet each other and fall in love at first sight and things are magical from then on out. I don’t personally know people this has happened for, but I can’t rule it out. Somewhere it might be possible. But at the end of the day, there is a certain amount of teaching that goes into a relationship. Teaching the other person how to love you and how to do things in a way that brings out the best version of you.  

    In my own personal experience, I’ve learned that there will always be give and take in the qualities of a significant other. Period. You just have to prioritize what’s most important to you and go from there. What are the things in your head that your partner must have? Things that you can’t compromise on? Things like if they want a family, do they believe in God, do they believe in marriage, do they treat you kindly? These are important things that you can’t sweep to the side. These are like your staple qualities. And they are going to be different for every person. My staple qualities don’t have to be yours.

    The next step is realizing that a lot of the other stuff becomes a little bit more negotiable. No I am not saying stay with someone who wants kids but beats you or any of the crazy stuff people come up with in comment sections. I am saying that at the basis a significant other who is kind, loving, hardworking, but may have a few things that bug or annoy you is worth it. They’re worth figuring it out, they’re worth the compromise and they’re worth you bending a rigid and unrealistic outlook on love.

    It doesn’t mean that you have to stick with any relationship you try. It doesn’t mean that people haven’t been together for a while and don’t decide to move on from each other and end up happier. It just means that you should seriously analyze those most important qualities when the relationship begins to get more serious and try not to let fear or other people’s staple qualities influence how you feel about an amazing partner.

    They don’t have it all and neither do you. But at the end of the day, one of the most important qualities I have found, is having a partner who is willing to listen to you, grow, and do their best to meet the expectations that will make you the best you in the partnership. And vice versa, I am growing into a woman who wants to do the same.

    Real love is for adults only.

    What do you think are some of your staple qualities that are deal breakers for a relationship? Have you ever been afraid of feeling like you’ve settled? 

  • Philly 360 Playlist: Aaron Camper, My Heart

    Aaron Camper is a man of many talents. The Philly music transplant is a singer, songwriter and a globetrotting band member for major acts like Jill Scott and Justin Timberlake. And, if you're lucky enough to hang out with him backstage at a show or in the studio, you'll quickly learn that Camper is also a comedian. #gotjokes

    Recently, Camper hit us with a brand new single “My Heart,” which is making its way on the Philly 360° Playlist this week!

    The upbeat record was written by singer/songwriter and Maroon 5 member, PJ Mortonand was produced by Warryn Campbell and the head of BASSic Black Entertainment (BBE), Adam Blackstone. Reminiscent of a Michael Jackson throwback, “My Heart” is an infectious track with an undeniable groove that will no doubt have fans moving to the beat and singing along.

    Check the full feature and listen to "My Heart" via @Philly360

  • WRITE - 21 Days of No Complaining

    I think it clicked for me today that my words don’t always line up with my intentions or adequately get the point across that I am trying to express. I mean I have written about how I am a way better written communicator than verbal before, but this manifested itself in a slightly different way to me this time.

    I’ve noticed that when I feel like I am just talking or discussing things that it can come off to others that I am complaining. After a couple different incidents, I quickly decided that is not how I want to come off at all. I love my life. I am so blessed to have all that I do. And I am not talking material things, even just my support system is enough to have a praise break. In an effort to make certain that my words are in line with the fact that I know that I am blessed, I am setting out to do a 21 Day No Complaining Challenge. Funny enough, I read all about one today!

    So the great thing about what I want to attempt over the next 21 days, is that I get to define complaining for myself. Everyone’s definition of complaining can be different, but I have definitely identified key words that I put before statements that make them a complaint. So how do I plan to start?

    1. I cannot put, “I hate when,” or “It annoys me when” in front of anything. This sets the statement up so badly. The other person has no choice but to think that it’s a complaint.
    2. I tend to announce certain things just because I feel it at the moment, but slowly I’m learning to just keep it to myself. I don’t have to announce that I am hungry or that I’m tired. Hello! Easily seen as complaints.
    3. I will try to turn the negative feeling into a positive if possible.
    4. I also want to utilize writing as a tool. So I plan to log each day of my experience. How I felt and what may have happened differently because of my lack of complaining.
    5. I also like that in the aforementioned article, he added solutions to his complaints. What can I do differently to avoid the scenarios that cause the complaint? Yes we all face the unexpected, but certain constants, we can make changes in our behavior to smooth things over.

    Each time you complain in this challenge, you have to start all over again! In their exercise they used a rubber bracelet. Each time they complained they changed the arm on which they wore the bracelet to symbolize them starting from the beginning. But I think that I will just document starting over in my notebook.

    Yes we all have gripes, but when I look at other people that complain all the time, I never want to be that type of person. So the fact that though they weren’t condemning me, people close to me mentioned me complaining, I had a complete ah ha moment. I am looking forward to a positive shift in my atmosphere by trying to focus more on the positive and even when experiencing the negative, not having to voice it all the time. Just like in everything, I hope to have more balance in the end, not to have a bunch of pent up emotions that I can’t express.

    Any bad habits you never realized you had until pointed out to you? Share below in the comments.

    And if you are interested in following along or participating, I’ll do some type of daily post on my social media, just follow the hashtag, #21daysnocomplainingWLD. 

  • WRITE - Love & Hip Hop Hollywood

    Sometimes I literally dislike myself for indulging in such a horrible depiction of my people via Mona Scott and her Love and Hip Hop series. But in reality, there are just a bunch of situations that honestly really make you grateful that you aren’t the crazy people on the television screen. Silver lining maybe? No? Ok well, yea I am definitely reaching. None the less, I thought my awful need for terrible, scripted reality TV drama was going to be over with the latest Hollywood edition. But somehow I am right where I started on Monday nights, shaking my head at ridiculous shenanigans.

    I first wanted to check out the new season because a friend of mine is working on the behind the scenes of the show. Which is such an awesome thing as she just picked up and moved to Cali. Great to see the progress she has made. That out the way, I watched the first episode and thought “I am cured” because the show was awful and I thought I would have to tend to doing something I don’t know productive like reading books on Monday nights instead.

    Here were these characters that I cared absolutely nothing about. A ridiculous hot head, Tierra Marie. Ray J, the king of the sleaze balls. Omarion and his lady, Fizz and his crazy BM, an absolutely delusional Hazel E and a tiny weird man who had one hit single, Yung Berg and some other secondary characters introduced later in the show who I am still trying to find out why they are relevant.

    Yet and still my TV is tuned in to VH1 on Monday nights and I am starting to feel like it’s either an addiction or like seeing road kill, when you don’t really want to look but you are kind of curious what an animal looks like when it explodes. Too much? But anyway, I’m back in the vortex and simply wondering where do they find these people? Then it starts to make me think that there are really people who exist like this outside of the little bubble I have been living in.

    How many times can Yung Berg tell Hazel E that he is just screwing her and doesn’t want a relationship before she will understand? I’m so lost at how a woman can continue to accept the scraps a man is throwing her. I am yelling at my TV, please move on!

    Apryl is Omarion’s lady and dealing with what has become a reality TV staple, the meddling mother. Come on Omarion, stand up to her and move on! Stop making the woman in your life feel like she has to compete. Grow Up.

    There are deadbeat moms, women getting catty over a man that’s clearly lying to them both, drinks flying and a bunch of bad acting in between. One person told me at least they’re younger than the cast of LHHATL, which made sense to me, but dangit, Stevie J was actually entertaining, sad as it may be.

    All that to say? I HATE Love and Hip Hop Hollywood, but clearly Mona is some type of genius because she knows how to make educated people like myself still want to watch though they spend the whole hour with the screw face wondering … what barrel did they scrape these people out of?

    What’s your take on the new season? Are you all in or smart enough to conserve your brain cells by not watching? 

  • WRITE - D is for Dream

    What happens to a dream deferred?

    Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?

    Or fester like a sore –

    And then run?

    Does it stink like rotten meat?

    Or crust and sugar over –

    Like a syrupy sweet?

    Maybe it just sags

    like a heavy load.

    Or does it explode?

    -Langston Hughes

     

    I've decided to accept that I am a visionary. I see things and know that I’ll be there. It’s happened since I was a young girl, I just never understood its power. I wanted to speak at my eighth grade graduation, I won a speech writing contest and did. I wanted to be a part of the Pep Squad in high school, I saw myself cheering at the games. I wanted to sit on the stage at high school graduation instead of in the audience with the others, I won two awards that put me on the stage. I wanted to graduate with honors in college, I finished magna cum laude.

    And here I am. Now a woman with more dreams than I can count. More ideas and visions of what I would like my life to become. But now the obstacles have grown greater, the trials, the setbacks and in moments I think to myself “who do you think you are?” Well I’m still seemingly figuring that out but I think I have come to terms with the fact that in the end I will be someone great, someone courageous, someone impactful.

    I rarely dream at night anymore, I spend so much time dreaming while I am awake. See most of us have so much trouble attaining our dreams because we’ve never actually seen ourselves there. We want success, careers, families, love, and more but we don’t have enough quiet moments in the day to close our eyes and literally see ourselves there. If you can’t see it, how can you expect it to materialize?

    Once you see it, it becomes all about the ordered steps that it takes to get there. Here is the daunting task. Staying the course, remaining consistent, trusting the process and most importantly, having faith. If God will do it for Oprah, for Beyonce, for Serena Williams, for Tiger Woods, why wouldn’t he do it for you? Who are we not to see the actualization of our dreams? Who are we not to show the world exactly what we were put on this Earth for?

    I have seen dreams materialize. I have seen the things that people have longed for, worked for, and cried for come to pass. And I know in my heart of hearts that it can happen for you and it can happen for me too. I would rather die knowing every day I took a step closer to the things that bring me so much joy than to live a lifetime in someone else’s dream.

    What do I dream about? Everything. Traveling the world and having stories of bonfires on the beach and exploring new territories. I dream about a husband that adores me and who is an excellent father and partner. I dream of children who know exactly what it feels like to be loved unconditionally. I dream of writing books in the quiet of the morning and them landing on best seller’s list. I dream of a place, a physical location where women come together to talk about books, life, triumphs, failures, goals, and more. I dream of a line of paper, journals, cards and accessories that I will start with my mother. I dream of becoming the woman I always envisioned.

    I dare you to dream too. I dare you to stop letting imaginary chains hold you back from the things that will make you fulfilled in your life. I dare you to speak the life you want, to put it on vision boards and reinforce it with positive affirmations. I dare you to stop confusing nightmares with the dreams that God put in your heart. I dare you to let go of every past hurt, every negative word and every excuse that stands in the way of your vision. God’s people will perish without vision. Tell, me what do you see? Literally, tell me about the things that you envision for your life in the comments below.

     

    This post is part of The Layers of Self-Discovery Tour created by GG Renee of All the Many Layers.  Follow the tour through the blogs of 26 women exploring the complexities of womanhood and self-discovery from A to Z.  Click here to keep up with each post and enter to win a giveaway package full of goodies for your mind, body and soul.  #LayersAtoZTour

  • Dear Love - Likes, Tweets, and Love

    It seems silly in theory to even be discussing relationships and social media, but the reality is … we live in a society where this really affects them. Social media is the pretend world right? How is it that something so glossy, so far from reality at times can find its way into the disagreements and arguments of real life couples? Well here are a few of the scenarios where social media can definitely come into play in relationships.  

    1. Relationship Status – In a relationship, it’s complicated or single? One would think that you absolutely have to put your relationship status on Facebook, but the reality is, you don’t. I distinctly remember breaking up with an ex and frantically trying to figure out how to remove the status without it blasting to a timeline of onlookers who would leave empty sentiments. Well that was an experience that makes me very reluctant to put my status up again. For the moment I am perfectly fine with those that know me in real life knowing my relationship status and it not being the business of just anyone I’m friends with on FB.  (FYI if you need me to tell how you to do it, I can.) LOL.
    2. Boo Loving Photos – To post or not to post pictures of you and your boo. Well do you want the workload of taking them down if things don’t work out? I’m kidding, but really. I think that most people should do what comes naturally for them. For me personally I try not to post too many photos of my significant other, but at the end of the day he is a huge part of my life so it would be difficult or extremely strategic to cut him out of my social media. I don’t mind sharing a few photos, but I do think that sometimes you can OD on relationships. Especially new ones.
    3. His or Her Likes and Comments – If you follow your significant other on social media, you have probably happened upon a thing or two that they have liked. This can easily be a cause for strife if every photo your boo comments on is a half-dressed chick or dude. But in reality, this is just an extension of who your boyfriend or girlfriend is anyway. A wandering eye on social media is just a wandering eye in real life, in my opinion.
    4. Other People’s Likes and Comments- This unfortunately is something you can’t control at all. At the end of the day, a random guy or girl can always just put some heart eyed emojis on your bf or gf’s posts. Until you start seeing some consistency, I think that is the only time to really worry.
    5. Cyber Stalking – Come on, do you go to his or her page and not only check out the posts but the comments? Have you ever clicked on a person’s page that commented on something your bf or gf posted? Well clearly there are levels to cyber stalking, but this can be bad. To me this is in a similar vein to going through a phone or something like that. Often looking for something will definitely yield something. Intuition can be a powerful thing. But unlike a phone that’s private, as easy as you can find inappropriate behavior on social media, so can everyone else.  
    6. Sharing too Much – Sometimes your significant other may post a pic that you think in your head should just be for you. There used to be some things that we kept to ourselves, but in today’s world it’s hard to decipher how to draw boundaries when it comes to social media. You get engaged and the first thing you think to do is post? Your babies are on social media before they can even speak? To each his own, but I definitely try to use discretion when it comes to some of the most personal moments of my life. Though I have been busted for sharing a selfie or twenty that he may not have liked!
    7. Put the Phone AWAY! – We all know how much of a time suck that social media can be. We’re on our phones 24/7. But there are certain moments when surfing the Gram just isn’t appropriate. As much as I can I try to impose the “No phones at dinner” rule. There has to be some time when you really just enjoy life instead of documenting it or scrolling through it.

    What’s the point? Social media has become a very real part of most of our lives and in turn very real in regard to our relationships as well. At the end of the day, there has to be a certain amount of trust in real life and in the cyber world. We all have to be conscious of how things we say come off in the cyber world, because believe it or not it is for EVERYONE to see. I don’t care if you think your page is private or not.

    There are just certain rules of etiquette when it comes to these things. Watch what you say in people’s comments. You have no idea whether that person is in a relationship or not. And if you don’t care, well you should and that’s part of what’s wrong with today’s society. There is simply a lot you can’t get away with when it’s in clear view or a couple clicks to see. Don’t let something as silly as social media come between you and the love of your life.

    What are some of the other issues you find when it comes to social media and relationships? 

  • Dear Love - Learning to Let it Go

    Let’s face it, trying to get two people together to live in perfect bliss is literally one of the hardest things you have to do in life. When you get into a relationship, you have two people with completely different upbringings, thoughts, and ideas, trying to co-exist on one accord. And ladies and gentlemen it AIN’T EASY.

    One of the things that Dear Love focuses on is trying to forget the incorrect things that you have learned about love and really dig into what it entails. Well at least for me, I had an idea that love was really easy going and you didn’t have to do much in order for it to work if you really found the right person. Well I couldn’t have been more wrong.

    But the silver lining is, that as I learn more about how to love correctly, it actually becomes more and more rewarding. One of the things that my significant other and I talked about the other day was how much we have learned to let go! In the beginning, I mean one weird look would turn into a debate or sometimes even a fight. We were so sensitive to everything that the other person was doing. We would stay mad way longer than we should have and we would let small things blow up into bigger things. Sound familiar?

    Many of us have been there. All of that is like the sand paper that begins to smooth you out around the edges when it comes to relationships. We have to learn to LET THINGS GO. Every time he or she does something wrong doesn’t warrant a dissertation. Every look a person gives does not need to be analyzed and linked back to it having something to do with you. And most importantly when you get into it, be quick to apologize and quick to move on.

    We all have misunderstandings, things that annoy us, times where we take our bad moods out on each other, but a great summation to the solution to those problems is that love believes the best. When we begin to just believe the best in our partner, a lot of those defensive reactions we have to them begin to fizzle away. If you were thoughtful in the decision of who you are sharing your time and your heart with, then let’s just assume that they love you too. And that even when they do things that are hurtful to you that it wasn’t their intention. We are roping in a lot of pillars of healthy relationships like trust, forgiveness, and humility.

    Being able to let things go means swallowing your pride sometimes, forgiving quickly and trusting that even when things blow up or go awry, that person is still in your corner. That’s an extremely vulnerable place to be. But I have personally found that it’s a lot more peaceful to live in that space. Or maybe eventually you just get worn down enough not to sweat the small stuff. Lol. In anything, choosing your battles is a piece of great wisdom.

    Not only does letting stuff go apply to romantic relationships but every other relationship we have. I mean some people still won’t go to church because of a bad experience 20 years ago. Or people are still mad with a co-worker for not asking them to lunch. Or someone is mad at a family member for not inviting them to a wedding. LET IT GO. You don’t have time to be bound up with anger. If something is really detrimental, remove it from your life. If not forgive and move on.

    Do you find yourself angry over little things? Holding on to it for a long period of time? Being defensive or easily offended? Tell me about it in the comments.  

  • Laugh - Things Beyonce Does That If We Tried Would be Awkward

    Listen, I am a Beyonce fan with the best of them. BUT ... I can not stand that people act like she can do no wrong. lol. I mean let's be real she is still a person. I thought that this clip from Buzzfeed was hilarious. Let's all remember, as much as we love her, we are not her. haha.