“I see you Black girl *and boy.
You’ll never be invisible to me.
I’ll burn cities down in your name.”
- expert from “When You Decide To Be Honest” by
Barbara Simi Muhumuza.
That quote (with my edit) has BEEN a forever mood. To be Black has been iconic, magical and worthy of all the praise... even when they dragged us here in 1619 covered in nothing but chains and agony. Ive been seeing alot action for change - protests, videos, photos, informational social media posts, but I just want this energy to be taken to the grave and passed on to generations to come.
As a soon to be mommy of two black boys and an educator who’s been committed to being a social reformer in and out of my classroom, I’m feeling a kind of way. Why? Because this uprising isn’t our first, second or third rodeo. We’ve been in a vicious cycle because of large numbers falling for complacency and comfort and allies not really being allies. With that being said, my feelings that I can’t quite describe, come from worry of the time when people start to move on, forget about our need for justice and get back to their privileged lives.
The pandemic has allowed so many to have all of the time in world to show up for Black life (or at least look like they are). But ask yourself, what will you do when time doesn’t allow you to hop up and protest or read about Black history or click around social media and see nothing but resources and opportunities to step in for us? THAT effort is just as, if not more valuable, than what’s being displayed right now.
So I just want to make something very clear - You can’t be committed to this work for your immediate benefit or because it SEEMS like the right thing to do right now. We need to be down 24-7/365. We need to be educated on the roots of this beast. We need to be truly committed to change and not allow normalcy to kick in. BUT, know that change may not happen for you and I... this fight is for our Black children, Black grandchildren, Black great grandchildren and so on.
Our being, outrage, passion and culture isn’t a trend or something to cling on to when it looks cool. This is a lifelong dwelling and the work that goes along with it ain’t always pretty.
Educating yourself on the honest beginnings of this country and systemic racism is a major key in keeping this thing pushing. So make sure that YOU do your part so that we don’t lose this momentum. Keep your foot on the gas and don’t let up. Our Black babies can’t afford partial commitment.
This day, Jan 2nd 2020, seems like just yesterday. This was our first sonogram for baby #2 - Iverson. It seemed like I waited so long to be a mom of two. My OB visit prior to Jan 2nd, I went to find out if we were experiencing infertility issues. I left in uncontrollable tears, which means I truly cracked because I am not a crier. I was super frustrated and feeling hopeless because it seemed like we just couldn’t conceive again. I kept thinking back to the doctor who told me at 17 that “the chances of my reproductive system performing properly were low”...she worded it one way or another but that was what I understood. Because I trusted that doctor at the time and was so young, I thought I couldn’t get pregnant. Believed it so much that my boyfriend (who is now my husband/baby daddy) and I, were seriously considering adoption. Then Ivan came out the clear blue sky. Hence his name choice - meaning gracious gift from God.
I knew Ivan was a miracle baby but the process to confirming baby #2 had me feeling like miracles only happen once in a lifetime. I started to think I wasn’t fit to be a mom of multiples. (silly me, I’m built for this) I started to think something was wrong with my body. (silly me, I’m functioning just fine) It just didn’t make sense to me because I knew my husband and I were so deserving of another child. I knew our son was so deserving of the sibling he begged for. As soon as I let go, let God and just truly settled with the fact that what’s meant to be, will be, I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
When I say I was taking pregnancy tests monthly, I mean that. I kept buying pregnancy tests at the beginning of every month because my cycle was never consistent, so weirdly, that kept me hopeful...just to be let down..month after month. The whole situation had me stressed! (which I know probably impacted my cycle, etc) Finally, after trying for a whole year (felt like forever), it happened - a positive pregnancy test. Even then, I was still uncertain. I ended up picking up a hefty hospital bill because I was pressed to hear from a doctor "You're pregnant". So I went to the ER to get blood work done the day after I took the test because my OB couldn't bring me in as quickly as I wanted them to. (btw, the hospital visit was very unsuccessful and I should've just been patient lol) A few days later, I got my blood work done with my OB and it confirmed that I was about 4 weeks pregnant. That brought me so much peace but it wasn’t until I saw lil baby on the screen and heard that heartbeat that I was able to truly breathe and smile.
Hindsight is 20/20 and now everything makes sense. I understand why the pregnancy didn’t happen when I thought it should happen. First of all, I am clearly impatient and still working on that. Second of all, ain’t no way my mental could handle delivering during this Rona pandemic. Most importantly, my husband and I had to go through some tests of faith to show God that we were truly down for Him - we clearly passed. If I never understood that God’s timing is perfect, I certainly do now. Grateful ain’t even the word. If y’all only knew.
I wanted to share this to inspire someone who feels like they are in a difficult place...with a locked door...and not a key in sight. I know how you feel and trust me, the light is coming and a key will find its way to you. BUT, you have to trust that God's plan far outweighs what you have planned for yourself. The best part about God's tests, is that even when He's testing us, checking on our faithfulness to Him, He'll still help us through because ultimately, He wants us to pass. He wants us closer to Him. So keep your faith strong ladies and gents, lean into Him, stay prayed up and focused on your own journey. God gotchu, I promise you that!
I know I'm not the only one who gets completely overwhelmed with life from time to time. Which in turn, can distract us from what keeps us lifted. So I wanted to share three tips that help me keep my spirits up and productive juices flowing.
"We either make ourselves miserable or strong. The amount of work is the same."
I feel like I've shared bits and pieces of my story in one way or another, so it's only right to share the entire thing. It's gonna be a long one so get comfortable. Lol
I started my college career at CalU of PA in Fall 2010, immediately after high school as an early education major on an athletic scholarship for track. That was my first time being that far away from home and having to be in a place where I didn't know a single soul. My only reason for going was because of the scholarship and the coaching staff at Cal was said to be really good. That was major considering track and field means a lot to me. So I spent three years there and ended up meeting my now husband and some of my most genuine friends. Despite that, I was going through a really rough patch in my life simply because I was still figuring myself out. I learned so much about myself during my time spent at Cal, from how to deal with my natural hair and awkward personality to my interests outside of track and field. After about a year and half on the track team as a jumper (triple/long jump) the jumps coach took another position as a head coach at a different school. This hit me HARD because he meant a lot to me and made a big difference during my experience at Cal.
The jump squad spent a small amount of time with no coach which also blew me but I still managed to become a conference qualifier and finalist every year that I was at Cal and ended up breaking the triple jump school record. So I was on an up for a while! Shortly after that, there was news that the university president had been taking funds from the athletic program and those on scholarship, on select teams, the track team being one of them, would no longer be able to receive aid. Being that out of state tuition is ridiculous, I decided to transfer. Even though later on I found out that in one way or another, people were able keep their scholarships. I was still firm in my decision to transfer because I felt that God was giving me a sign to take on new beginnings.
I applied to UMBC, which is an honors university, so I felt like it was a stretch to apply but I did anyway and got accepted!! So I started at UMBC in 2013 but switched my major to psych with a concentration in child and developmental studies. Changing my major, coming from a smaller school and having a few untransferable classes caused me to backtrack and pretty much start over as a sophomore when I would have been a senior had I stayed at Cal. Also because I transferred in, I had to establish a year of residency before competing under UMBC's track team. However I was still able to practice with the team and compete unattached, so that's what I did. After about a year, I started to really lose my motivation in my classes and my grades were a joke. My grades honestly were a joke during a good amount of my college career causing me to have to repeat 3 classes but after my second semester at UMBC, they were the absolute worst - so bad that the school placed me on academic probation. There really was no solid reason for that outside of the fact that I just was tired of being in school at that point. Right after that semester, around winter break - February 2015, I found out I was pregnant and my boyfriend proposed to me at his senior night basketball game in front of the whole school during his "recognition" speech! The guy over the monitor said "Now Josh Johnson has something to say to his favorite teammate" Talk about STUCK! Lol. I was literally speechless. We ended up making his school's athletic homepage. Lol.
Of course I said yes because we already knew we were getting married. So we didn't take long to officially tie the knot because we wanted everything to be perfect and in order once our baby made his grand entrance. We got married in June 2015.
I still went back to school after getting married and during my first trimester, which surprisingly ended up being my strongest semester academically. I was due to have my son early Fall so I ended up taking off the entire Fall 2015 semester. This was bittersweet bc I had my baby boy that I always wanted, my college sweetheart as my husband BUT in the back of my mind I knew how close I was to graduating and though I worked out during my entire pregnancy, I hated not being able to be on the track team. When I had my son I ended up having an emergency C section and the doctors told me it would take months for me to get back to my regular health and regular life because of the surgery. But me being me, I started walking (baby steps) a few hours after the surgery because I determined to be the best mom I could be to my baby and finish my degree.
I ended up going back to school in Spring 2016 and had to take a Summer class to ensure graduating Fall 2016. Now here I am, a Fall 2016 graduate AND training for triple jump with Tiombe Hurd - whom has the American world record in the Triple Jump. GOD is the only reason I am here today. Of all of the things I've been through and experienced, my collegiate journey has been the MOST trying. But giving up was never an option. College was something I felt like I needed to do because it was instilled in me to get a college education but I have never enjoyed school, ever. Lol. However completing something that I start and putting myself in the best possible position to be successful is something that I will always yearn to do. If it weren't for college I wouldn't have had the pleasure of meeting my husband at the tender age of 17 and in turn would not have had my SONshine. God works in mysterious ways and I know that completing my undergrad career has been the ultimate test of faith for me - I'm so very proud that I have passed.
I hope that this story inspires someone to finish anything that they feel is too late to complete or get back to and helps people to understand that there is no "set" way of life. Live your life the best way you can, stay focused on your goals and I promise you will recieve the benefits.
I often find myself checking myself. Like are you doing/giving enough? I'm a wife, a mother, a student, juggling two businesses, and working with children with disabilities daily - there are more than enough times when I have to step back and make sure that I am evenly distributing myself in every category. My son and I have a symbiotic relationship where I am both the teacher and the student. He is constantly teaching me how to be more selfless, loving, considerate and most importantly, caring for myself in order to better provide him with the parenting he needs. In turn being a win-win for me.
Sometimes I feel like I am an awesome mom & wife but my businesses are next to shit. Sometimes I feel like I'm an awesome business owner but I'm not holding my end of the stick in the household. But truth be told, I'll probably always feel like I'm failing in one way or another simply because I'm not perfect. Sometimes I think we put too much pressure on ourselves, especially as a parent. Parents can sometimes fear that they are not giving enough in one way or another. But if we really assess the situation, we're doing great (as long as you know you are giving it all you have) and that really goes for anyone who is juggling many things at once. You have so much weighing on you and to add the "extraness" life throws at us, it can feel like an overload at times. But despite all that is on your plate, we have to keep our sanity in check and stay on top of self care.
We have to be sure to find time to address our needs as we constantly pour ourselves into so many other things. You can never honestly give yourself to another human or thing if you aren't honestly taking care of yourself. So I'm going to give you 5 ways to help increase your daily self care.
1. Wake up with enough time to start your day with peace.
We all know how hectic mornings can be. Between getting ourselves and for some the babies ready as well, thinking about the traffic we have to endure or thinking about the many things we have to tackle for the day - it can be a lot to take in BUT if you give yourself time to address your personal needs before the day begins, it will make a huge difference. Getting up earlier may be easier said than done but once you get yourself in a new and more healthy routine, your internal clock will eventually get used to it and you'll be thanking yourself. It gives you quiet time to catch up on anything that makes me you feel whole. Whether that be reading, cleaning, blogging, working out etc. You may need a little coffee or green tea later on but I promise it will be worth it and eventually you won't need the caffeine. That early morning peace will be all the rush you need (debatable) lol
2. Be sure to follow people on your social media sites that motivate or inspire you.
We all know how addicting Instagram, Facebook and all of the other social media sites can be. So why not try to take control over what you are feeding yourself with when you are scrolling? I personally love scrolling down my feed because I follow nothing but positive people which in turn motivates me to be better due to my choice of following. If that means you have to unfollow some "friends" or colleagues who drain you, then so be it. If you need help finding the right people to follow, hit the contact link and I'll help you out.
3. Set phone alarms throughout the day with positive affirmations.
Doing this not only can give you the positive tip you need but you can also personalize that positive tip being that you created the alarm. Only you know exactly what you need to work on and move towards. So setting those alarms can be as stern or as calm as you need them to be.
4. *This one is strictly for the parents* Try to keep your kiddos on a schedule where you leave yourself enough time to unwind at night.
Doing this may take some time but you have to start somewhere. Better late than never. Giving yourself that quality time at night allows you to rest peacefully. Maybe have a glass of wine before bed, whatever your thing is, do it.
5. WRITE down goals.
Whether it be short term, like what needs to be done for the day or long term, like what your goals are for the next year - month by month. There's something magical about writing goals down with pen and paper. A lot of us get so accustomed to the convenience of storing thoughts, ideas and goals in our phones but writing it down is so different. The moment I began to write my goals on paper, I saw results! I kid you not. Writing it down almost gives your mind confirmation that what is written is truly something you are trying to attain.
We too often downplay the significance of taking care of ourselves when there's so many others things that have become priorities in our lives. But honestly, we should be the first priority. So let's act like it.
As I approach my son's first birthday, I can't help but smile. To know that I am the mother of this amazing little human is honestly breathtaking.
My baby is officially walking, trying to talk and he only continues to bring joy and light to my life. As I have expressed before, motherhood has always been on the top of my list of beautiful journeys that I wanted to embark on - but never in a million years would I have thought I would so blessed with such a great kid (I could be biased but I doubt it. lol)
Now that I am about a year into motherhood, the way I go about life and my relationships with people has drastically changed and I believe it all stems from being a mother. God is so funny with his timing, the way he molds our lives and the people he places in our lives. Lately I have been put into situations that have really tested my faith and have only continued to show me that I am in such a great place in my life. I don't feel this way because everything has been peaches and cream but because when everything is not peaches and cream, I am able to recognize it quick, block the negative energy and handle what needs to be handled.
Paying attention to energy has always been major to me but now that I am raising my son, I pay attention x10. Energy can come in many different forms - sometimes you can literally feel it in the room and/or it can come from the people in our lives. People can be so manipulative and appear to be supportive and loving but deep down, don't honestly want what is best for you. You have to be conscious of the energy you are feeding into and dishing out, ESPECIALLY as a mother. Children pick up on energy better than we think and the last thing you want is for your child to end up picking up on negative energy due to the atmospheres that you have created.
In summation, we as people have to watch the atmospheres we create and insert ourselves into, especially as mothers. Protecting you and your child's energy should always be a priority.
Let me just start off by saying thank you to each and every one of you! I appreciate everything from encouraging words to purchasing tickets to my exhibit to trusting me to style and care for your tresses. You all continue to keep me motivated and focused. Balancing the roles of mommy, wifey, student, autistic therapist and entrepreneur is not easy. But when I check my email, messages or social media and see genuine support, it gives me the extra push I need, especially on days when I truly need it.
As a special thank you, all photo-shoots booked during the first two weeks of August will be a flat rate of $100, all protective styles will be $80 and all prints will be $15. These rates will go on from August 1st - August 15th, so please take do not hesitate to take advantage because slots will fill quick! In order to receive the discount, when filling out the contact form, be sure to include "bigthx" in the comment section along with your message. Click the link below to be directed to the contact form.
Once again, THANK YOU for all for your love and support - it is so greatly appreciated! XOXO
I think we all can agree that the summer is not the most cooperative season for naturalistas! Between the humidity, frequent pool/beach visits, traveling, rain, etc. natural hair will always try to do it's best to fail us. So I'm going to list 4 tips that can help keep natural hair tamed and poppin during the summer months.
1. Twist outs/Braid Outs Instead of Wash and Go's
If you are someone who loves to wear your hair out year round, doing a braid out or twist out in the summer is going to show a BIG difference in the amount of moisture your hair is retaining daily.
A wash and go is awesome because I myself prefer a wash and go over any other style (I mean it is my hair at its most natural state, I'm proud of these tresses! Lol) BUT when you apply your product to your hair while it is soaking wet and then proceed to twist or braid your hair (don't have to be small, they can be chunky) your hair will absorb the water and product ten times better than it would with just washing, detangling, applying product and air drying (wash and go). Twisting or braiding gives the moisture more time to work its magic.
2. Conditioning Under the Sun
If you know you have a long beach or pool day ahead and all you know you'll be doing is tanning - take advantage of that sun and deep condition. When you're getting ready for your tanning session, dampen your hair, get your favorite conditioner (make sure it's organic) and apply it to your entire head from root to end and put your hair in a high bun. Sitting under the sun with conditioner is as natural as the deep conditioning process can come. When you go home to rinse your hair out, it should feel soft and rejuvenated.
3. Protecting Your Hair From Beach/Pool Water
If you are someone who loves to swim and be in the water all summer long, this one is for you! Before leaving for the beach or pool, give your hair three layers of protection. The first is a no brainier - water! Make sure you have soaked your hair from root to end before starting anything. This prevents your hair from having to go from dry to submerged in chlorine or salt water - ultimately causing a frizz ball. After you've soaked your strands, apply a generous amount of 100% avocado oil and finish off with just a dime size, if that, of conditioner. These three layers will keep your hair protected and when it is time to rinse it out, your hair will be so soft and luxurious.
4. Protective Styles!
A protective style gives your hair time to relax because of the low manipulation and if your protective style is done right, you will have a more lasting "twist out" or "braid out" like I mentioned in the first tip. Protective styles serve a simple purpose - to protect your hair (hence the name) You won't have to worry about dealing with tip 2 or 3 if you have a protective style in. Protective styles always allow you to stay true to your personal style or preference with hair styles because there are so many options. Faux locs, box braids, Marley twists, goddess braids, Senegalese and more. They take a good amount of time to install but it is so worth it in the end. All protective styles require of you is a scarf at night and daily/weekly moisturizing of the scalp.
If interested in booking an appointment for a protective style, please click the button below to be navigated to the contact page. For simply reading this blog post, you will recieve a discount on your protective style as a thank you for your support! :)
Extremely happy to announce that I will be a photographer featured at the Brown Girl with a Camera Photography Exhibit on August 6th at The Loft in Washington DC. This is an event created specifically to celebrate, uplift and empower brown women who are photographers! Though women are slowly on their way up in the world of photography, it is still a male dominated field so to be a part of this movement is extremely humbling. Such an honor to have been chosen among 11 other talented photographers and I would really appreciate if you all came out to support us! My work will be sold at the event as well so if you're interested in purchasing prints, come on through! Click the link below to purchase tickets for the event. There will lots of dope energy and you don't want to miss it!
Motherhood - the state of being a mother.
Spousehood - the state of being a spouse.
Both motherhood and spousehood are very rewarding but one must put the work in order to receive great results.
I pretty much started my journey as a mama and a wife around the same time. Why? Because I knew what I wanted.
My husband and I talked about starting a family and getting married since.. what seems like day one. To be honest, the first qualities I saw in Josh were - a great husband and a great father. Don't get me wrong, he's far from perfect and I saw a lot of other things lol - however, there was always something in him that lit up when it was time to talk about family, goals and his future. He's always been a man about business and has a humongous heart. I have a gift of being able to read people almost instantly (I get it from my mama) - so the fact that I was able to read so much positivity in him within a very short time span of "talking" to him, when at the time, I didn't know him from a can of paint, spoke volumes.
We actually didn't start the title of "boyfriend and girlfriend" until a year after we'd met each other.
There were a lot of obstacles he and I had to get over before we were ready for a serious commitment. Because I personally, never dated for fun - I'm a business woman myself lol.
So, once we made it official, it honestly was a wrap from there. I've always known I was going to marry him.
One of our biggest battles before becoming husband and wife, was the distance, and one of the best ways to overcome a distant relationship, is COMMUNICATION. We told/tell each other every little thing and never held back, no matter how bad it may be. So the communication, along with many other important attributes that allowed our relationship to progress, only spilled over into our marriage.
When we found out we were pregnant, we soon after decided on a date (because getting married was never a question for us). Originally before we found out we were pregnant, we wanted to get married September 23, 2015 (his late grandmother's birthday) BUT little ole me was due with Ivan the Great on September 13, 2015 - so clearly that was not going to work. He ended up doing a big proposal at his senior basketball game, during the middle of his recognition as an honorable team Captian and teammate, in front of the whole school. That just goes to show how dope he is - he made an event that was supposed to be about him, about us. I was flabbergasted and speechless...literally Lol. From there, we bumped the date up to June 6, 2015.
There were a whirlwind of emotions that went along with the major life changing events that were upon me. Now I am definitely the optimistic type of person, I always manage to see the good in any and everything - so I made sure I found every way to not allow the wedding, carrying our child, balancing two jobs and school stress me out.
People often assume that optimistic people are so overly bubbly and unrealistic but that's really a negative way of looking at it - because despite my optimism, I'm not that super bubbly girl nor am I unrealistic. Being a true optimist is a constant choice to choose the positive thought over the negative thought. This doesn't mean that the negative thought does not come to mind because I can vouch that as a self proclaimed optimist, negative thoughts definitely circulate. However I constantly try to commit to the most beneficial thought that helps me move towards genuine happiness.
So on my bad days, especially during my pregnancy and wedding prep, I have to really tell myself how blessed I am because my mind can run wild at times. Being able to wake up and get another day, another chance at life, is enough blessing in itself. So I had/have plenty of reason to tell myself to cool it. Lol
Being able to get through those times - from distance with my best friend/love, pregnancy and wedding season; then fast forward to now - a little over a half year of motherhood and pretty much a year of marriage, I am so happy to say that I have kept my sanity and happiness. All of the glory goes to God.
God is the reason for successful marriage, successful motherhood and sanity. When you consciously keep God first and recognize that he is in control AND can be comfortable and confident in the fact that he has carefully stitched your entire life since day one... It will bring you so much peace and choosing to speak that positive thought into existence over that negative thought, will be that much easier.