Ka’Lyn Banks is a woman balancing it all. A recent newlywed, graduate student, content creator and digital community manager, she has a ton on her plate but does it with humor and flare. Studying at Bowie State University to obtain her Master of Arts in Organizational Communications as a teaching assistant, you can add professor to her impressive list of skillsets. Featured on XO Necole as one of three women who boldly quit their jobs and changed careers, it seems at least from the outside looking in, that Banks has found her stride. An advocate for women of color and against the stigmas of mental illness, Ka’Lyn knows exactly what she is working towards.
Nneka Okona is a phenomenal writer and world traveler that shares her personal thoughts, travel adventures, and much more through her own internet space Afros Y Paellas as well as thoughtful freelance essays in major publications. Her writing has been featured in Ebony, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and much more. Her work is reflective, thoughtful, engaging, and truly written with and from the heart. She also coaches writers with her Heartist Writing Sessions which encourage writers to “write from the hidden parts of themselves.” Always reminding us to write from the deepest places, Onoka is a breath of fresh air in a time when so much feels related to follower counts and likes.
Gabrielle Hickmon is splitting her time between total world domination as a UPenn Grad student and writing for a generation that thrives off authenticity and forward thinking. She is the co-founder of The Reign XY which creates community and encouragement for millennial women of color. Created by Gabrielle and college friend, Toi, the site explores their journey from the college experience into the professional realm. Full of style, grace, and a love for politics, it’s easy to see Gabrielle as an emerging leader in the millennial generation that will affect change in more ways than one on both a local and global scale.
When I think of grace not perfection I see a second chance. I see an opportunity to embrace all of who I am fully, without regret. I sit and reflect on the times that I had no idea who I truly was. There was a point it was uncomfortable for me to be my true self. There were days that my desire for perfection made pretending to be someone that I was not feel ideal. At some point, I realized that all that time I was masking my pain and scars. I was ignoring what I needed to do to properly heal. Wearing a false mask enabled my self-hatred for many years. Grace is a constant reminder that my refusal to meet my true self halfway all those years was the path that I needed to take to become whole. It was the pain and the triumph that taught me the true beauty of growth, self-acceptance and self-love. I stand tall, perfectly imperfect, but gracefully me.
Welcome to the second week of Growing Into Grace! I hope that you are enjoying this series and that you can appreciate all the insight being shared. It is also my hope that these features encourage you to reflect and think on some of the things you know for sure. No need to limit it to just 5, nor do you have to be asked to submit them to a blog. But do it because it is your right to decide for yourself the things you know to be true. Our next feature emphasizes this idea of doing and being simply because you can. Be sure to comment or share anything that resonates with you!
Next up in the Growing Into Grace series is Ivy Cooper. I began following her movement through a collaboration that we were both a part of. I love that her message is all about loving ourselves even as we work to become our best selves in health and wellness.
Ivy is a certified Holistic Health Coach and Body Image Expert. Her commitment to teach men and women how to have a loving relationship with their bodies is inspiring! She helps her clients develop personalized lifestyle plans that will help them develop wellness habits without body shaming. Also a co-host of Chat, Chew, & You, Ivy spreads her message in a variety of ways!
I hope that you are enjoying these gems as a part of the Growing Into Grace series as much as I am! I love seeing life from so many different perspectives. There are so many things that we can learn from each other when we take the time to listen. Up next is the gorgeous Julie Thomas!
Julie is a natural hair and lifestyle blogger based in Philadelphia. Not only has her writing been featured on sites like Hair N Style in her Kinks & Convos column, she also publishes her own blog, juboolee.com. Her blog has a great balance of her personal natural hair journey as well as the lifestyle and culture that surrounds it. Encouraging women to embrace their natural beauty, I love her message!
I probably can’t sing the praises of GG Renee enough. She is just such an inspiring figure that I have also met through the world of social media. Her blog All the Many Layers just celebrates women and creativity in such a way that is necessary in this landscape. As the title indicates, it peels back the layers that many of us are hiding under and challenges us to be transparent enough to actually see growth in our lives. It’s amazing to see how there are tons of bloggers, but each of us have such a specific call and purpose and clearly GG is flourishing in this lane. I absolutely LOVED her #30Layers30Days challenge which actually made me think and write every day. So as you can imagine, I am really excited to share with you, her 5 Things She Knows for Sure!