Author Archives: Teyonna Ridgeway

Millennial Men Pt 2: Surviving Cuffing Season as a Single Lady

Millennial Men

Cuffing season can be difficult for women who aren’t in a relationship. With fall comes cute dates to haunted houses, corn mazes and festivals, followed by the holidays, the new year and Valentine’s Day. And when you don’t have a significant other, these months can put your singleness under a microscope.

But just as it’s cuffing season, being single is a season in your life. Some people’s season lasts longer than others, but singlehood is something that we all need to go through AND grow through especially if your goal is to be married.

Your single season doesn’t have to feel like a curse. It’s an opportunity for you to get in tune with who you are and what you want, plus live your best life without having someone to worry about. Relationships take a lot of effort, and while you’re not in one, you can invest that energy into something else until your time comes.

In part two of our Millennial Men series, we dive into the topic of singleness. The 13 fellas that we interviewed have various relationship statuses, and they helped us write this blueprint on how to survive cuffing season as a single lady:

  1. Focus on YOU

During your single season, love yourself! Work on the brilliant beauty in the mirror without worrying about when that special guy will come.

Tunde Oshikoya, 26, said it best: “The best advice I can give to a woman who is looking for a man is to focus on herself. There is no one set location to find the man of your dreams but if you focus on yourself and control what you can control, you’ll always be ready whenever you do happen to meet him. Focus on your health and fitness, academics, life goals, professional goals and I promise you will randomly meet the man you’ve been looking for in a checkout line at Publix.”

In addition to what Tunde recommended, use this time to learn more about yourself. Pick up a new hobby or take a class like dance or cooking. There’s always something new to discover about yourself, so use this uninterrupted time to do that.

  1. Ensure you’re a woman worthy to be found

Continuing on survival tip #1, take a hard look at yourself and see if you’re even really ready for your partner. Are there habits you need to develop, or traits you need to break before you find bae? This may include stepping up your cooking skills, better managing your finances, getting your spiritual life in order, practicing healthy habits, keeping your space clean, and more.

We aren’t perfect and will always fall short in some areas, but doing a self analyzation of ways to improve before you meet your significant other prepares you for when that time comes.

Millennial Men

  1. Manifest what you really want

There’s nothing wrong with thinking about what you want out of a partner, the key is to not obsess over it. Use the Law of Attraction to your advantage and manifest the ideal guy for you. What are the top five characteristics that he must have?

“Some women have a hard time dating because they don’t know what they want,” says Cedric Brown, 26.

When asked the top traits that he looks for in a lady, Kerry Abner, 31, said: “Ambition, compassion, humor, positivity and adventure.”

Before Donovan Lyons, 26, got married, he looked for the following characteristics in his wife: “Spiritually sound, career/goal orientated, engages in political or social topics, has a great sense of humor, loves to have fun, great outgoing spirit, open to try new things, has the ability and energy to help me become a better me.”

While Mr. Right may not come in the package that you expect, knowing the traits that you’d like him possess will help you identify him whenever he comes.

Another manifestation exercise is to think about your dream date. If money and resources wasn’t a factor, where would you go or what would you do with future bae?

I asked these Millennial Men about their dream date, and this is how some of them responded:

“Dinner by the beach, then go salsa dancing, and watch the skyline late at night,” says Darryl Forges, 26.

Isaiah Hill, 21, says, “Skydiving, parasailing, cliff jumping, bungee jumping. Basically anything that involves us almost peeing ourselves just so we can be closer together knowing that we survived some crazy ish.”

  1. Raise your standards

Think about your previous experiences and the guys that you’ve dated in the past – did you settle in some ways? Do you need to unlearn some of the myths that you’ve had about love?

“I think some girls may have a hard time in the romance department because they’re stuck on the wrong type of guy. I have so many girl friends that I believe are wasting their time with a guy who ain’t $h!t,” says Byron Khalil, 25. “I think sometimes girls think that they can change guys or mold them into how they’d like them to be but that’s a waste of time.”

Married Millennial, Tyler Bell, 25,  shares why he thinks some women have a hard time dating: “They may not have seen the right love and affection displayed. They may also have a guard up from previous relationships that may cause them to be distant and won’t allow themselves to fall for a guy just to end up heartbroken again.”

Even if your ex was a great guy, you may have settled with the dates he’s taken you on (i.e. too many “Netflix and Chills” and not enough nights on the town).

When asked why “Netflix and Chill” has become the norm, Aaron Perkins, 25, says: “Because women have allowed it to be. If ladies stopped coming over then it wouldn’t be a thing.”

Rene Polanco, 25, shares his insight: “Because it’s cheap and guys think it’ll lead to sex.”

During your single season, think about if you need to raise your standards of the caliber of men you date, or how you allow him to treat you. By doing this, you set the tone of how your next relationship will go, and get a firm understanding of what you will or won’t accept.

Millennial Men

  1. Have fun! Go on dates and shoot your shot.

Dating doesn’t have to be a drag. It can be fun if you allow yourself to open minded, and limit your expectation of how you think things should go.

“I’ve met women at school, work, and social gatherings. I don’t have any recommendations on places to go. Just know that you can’t find anyone by staying in the house,” says Deonte Bridges, 26.

As we mentioned in part one, don’t be afraid to let the brotha know how you feel!

Aaron agrees:  “In my opinion guys are stupid. You literally have to let us know that you are feeling us. I’ve had girls tell me they were flirting or trying to drop hints at one point but I’m dumb so I never noticed it. So shoot ya shot.”

Jalen Anderson, 25, explains the best method to do that: “Face to face conversation. You can read a person’s intentions when looking them in their eyes. Women making the first move is ok to me. It just shows she knows what she wants, which a lot of men like.”

You can also use your single season to date yourself! Get dolled up and treat yourself to a nice meal or activity. Show yourself how you deserve to be treated.

Millennial Men

  1. Get a better understanding of guys

Men and women are two different creatures. In addition to checking out our Millennial Men series, you can learn more about guys just by talking to them. Facilitate honest conversations with the men around you, including friends and relatives, to learn more about how guys think and operate. While all men are different, you can discover a lot of similarities just by getting them to open up.

Tyler explains: “All men really want is good food, good love, and time to do whatever their craft or hobby is. We’re very simple.”

“We aren’t all dogs trying to get a bone. A lot of us have your best interest in mind because we were brought up to treat women with the utmost respect,” says Isaiah. “Also a lot of dudes feel this way but they don’t know how to display it in a smooth, chivalric way so it comes across as awkward or maybe even “thirsty.” Just look past the exterior and hear us out.”

Millennial Men

  1. Most importantly, be patient and enjoy the journey!

As cliche as it may sound, good things comes to those who wait. Learn to embrace the highs and lows of your single season. You are at this point of your life for a reason, plus you are too beautiful to settle for just any guy – be patient until the right one comes along.

[Women have a hard time in the romance department] because you’re supposed to. If you didn’t, you would’ve married the first guy you dated. Struggling is part of the story.” says Rene.

Just as God is preparing you to be in a relationship, He’s also preparing your guy. Believe in your heart that when the time is right, the two of you will be together.

“They might be focusing on their career or figuring out who they are,” says Kevin Crayton, 28. “Patience is a virtue — when it happen your mind, body and soul will know.”

Big shout out to the Millennial Men who shared their insights! Single ladies, how are you embracing your single season? Share in the comments below.

5 Dating Gems To Learn From Our #MillennialMen

Millennial Men

In the era of Netflix and chill, untitled situationships and pickup lines that ask if you’re “DTF,” it’s hard dating as a Millennial.

If you’re anything like us, you want to be with someone of substance — someone who is striving towards their goals and wants to climb to the top with you. We both desire to be married one day, so long gone are the days where we dated someone just to have a texting buddy. Nah, sis! Ain’t nobody got time for that!

As we enter the fall (a.k.a cuffing season), we wanted to share some insights from 13 Millennial Men of various relationship statuses that we interviewed to get a better understanding of a male’s perspective about this thing called love.

This is the first installment of our four-part series where we’ll dive deeper into their responses, but here are 5 key takeaways we learned from these Millennial Men…

1. It’s not just enough to be beautiful

Unsurprisingly, physical beauty / attractiveness reigned as one of the most important traits that guys look for, but most of our Millennial Men also listed ambition as a must-have characteristic. Other top traits include intellect, supportiveness, kindness, sense of humor and spirituality.

“I know there are a lot of levels and beliefs when it comes to God, but our beliefs must complement each other,” says Aaron Perkins, 25. When he first started dating his current girlfriend, being motherly was another trait that he looked for. “If you’re going to replace my mom, the first love of my life and take care of our kids, you gotta have some motherly instincts.”

Millennial Men

2. Yes you can meet someone anywhere – but look for guys at places that you’re interested in

You could meet bae at church or at the club, at the grocery store checkout line or at a kickback. While you may not have control on where you’ll meet him, a few of the Millennial Men agreed that you should seek guys in places that you enjoy.

“I use dating apps because the anxiety of talking to strangers is real. They suck, though. I’d say you should meet people doing activities you like,” says Rene Polanco, 25. “That way, you don’t have that dating app question of, “Are they just here for sex?” Plus, you’d know for sure that you have at least one thing in common.”

Isaiah Hill, 21, agrees: “I’ve met women through going to events that have something to do with what I love the most… Music. I suggest going somewhere where the two interests are shared so conversation is organic.”

Although Donovan Lyons, 26, is married, he says, “You can find your true love anywhere, but I prefer women go to social and business networking events, art museums or bookstores. I also recommend trying something that is new to you and you could possibly find the love of your life, such as white water rafting or music festivals.”

3. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there

We received mixed responses on if a woman should wait until she is found or actively pursue finding a man. But most agreed that a woman should tell a guy how she feels! We learned from our Millennial Men that guys aren’t mind-readers and sometimes women have to be more direct. Another option is to subtly show interest and put themselves in the position to be found if that’s what they’d prefer.

“I think a woman should wait and be pursued, but she also has to be sure that she’s making herself approachable or available if she’s actually interested in having someone pursue her,” says Jalen Anderson, 25.

“So many people miss out on their blessing by not “shooting their shot”. I believe anyone should pursue someone they are interested in and if there is a mutual interest, then maybe a relationship can grow from that,” says Tunde Oshikoya, 25.

He continues, “There are certain things that we pride ourselves on such as being a provider for our significant other so I will admit there are times a man would rather lead in the actual relationship itself, but in the beginning stages of getting to know someone, either person should never hesitate to lead. Leading shows interest and effort.”

Quite a few of the guys encouraged women to be blunt and say how she feels, but if that’s not your style, Deonte Bridges, 25, gave us a few pointers to do it more discreetly: “She can let him know she’s interested by doing subtle things, like maybe texting him first sometimes or inquiring about things he’s interested in.”Millennial Men

 

4. …. But don’t be thirsty

Let’s clear this up – showing interest is NOT thirsty.

But continuing to chase a man who has made it clear that he’s not interested is. 

Kevin Crayton, 28 defines it as “Somebody who wants to sleep with just anybody it doesn’tmatter who it is.”

“It’s being too aggressive or wanting all of your attention,” says Cedric Brown, 26.

Byron Khalil, 25, breaks it down further: “So, “thirsty” to me is when a person is doing way too much to get the attention of another. The person receiving the attention has to make it clear though that the attention is unwanted. Once they’ve made it clear and the person is still trying to woo them, that’s when I would call them “thirsty.” Now, I think this term can be confused when someone is trying to “talk” to somebody, that’s different. If a person is trying to “talk” to someone they’re not being thirsty, it becomes thirsty when the other person has made it clear that there’s no chance.”

Don’t be desperate, sis. If he doesn’t show that he’s interested despite your advances then it’s time to move on.

 

Millennial Men

5. Guys are simple – we just make them complicated

We admit that as women, we can be a bit complex. Many of us overthink things and play situations in our heads. But most guys are straight to the point and will go after who they want.

“Know that with men it’s never that deep,” says Aaron. “A lot of times women will put all these reasons together as to why we did something but it’s literally whatever it looks like on the surface.”

“I wish women knew that everything a man does is by choice and he’s going to take the lead in all things important to him,” says Kerry Abner, 31.

 

In conclusion

After interviewing these gentleman, we learned that there is no blueprint to finding love! While some of them had similar responses, there were various viewpoints on all of the topics.

Stay tuned for the next three Millennial Men posts where we dive into their responses in more detail.

Thank you fellas for sharing! We learned a lot and couldn’t have done this without you!

Ladies — we want to hear your thoughts on our Millennial Men feature! Share in the comments below.

 

I Like Who I’m Becoming: 7 Steps To Becoming Brilliance

brilliance

When we created Becoming Brilliance, we wanted to develop a platform where we could share our journey as twenty-something-year-olds who are trying to figure out adulting. Our slogan, “I like who I’m becoming” is so fitting because we’re constantly evolving into the best version of ourselves.

A brilliant beauty who likes who she’s becoming understands that she is a masterpiece and a work in progress at the same time. She celebrates her strengths, embraces her flaws, and strives to be better each day. She knows that brilliance is her birthright, and that her light is needed in the world.

Here are a few ways to ensure that you like who you’re becoming:

Liking who you’re becoming doesn’t mean that you have it all figured out! It’s about enjoying the journey and loving the woman you currently are, and are striving to be.

Read more about unleashing your brilliance HERE. 

What’s your becoming brilliance journey like? Share more in the comments!

For The Culture: The Must Have App for a Lit Game Night

 

Dope app that reminds you to do it For The Culture! 

If you don’t have game night with your friends and family, you need to make that happen! It’s a great, inexpensive way to spend time with your loved ones. Comedy mixed with competition can strengthen a friendship, or at the very least create some of the best memories. We’ve spent many nights laughing until our stomach hurts while playing games like Taboo and Family Feud.

We recently discovered a new must have for game night — a free app called For The Culture, which is available on iTunes and Google Play. Founded by Teddy Phillips of Ark Creative Company this game is “a modern spin on the classic guessing game charades that incorporates African American Culture, History, Music and Film into a game that you can play anywhere with your friends and family.”For The Culture

With entertaining categories such as TV Shows, Music, and Black History, For The Culture will be a favorite during game night. You can continue the fun by purchasing other categories such as 90s, Dances, and Destinations starting at $.99

We had a blast playing the game together! Check out our YouTube video to see it in action.

We caught up with Teddy to learn more about how he and his team came up with For The Culture, and what they hope to achieve with the app:

1. Please provide a brief description of your company.

“Ark Creative Company develops products to bring cultures together. Our aim is to Inform, Inspire and Include different cultures in every product we create. Our first product is For The Culture.”

2. What inspired you to create For The Culture?

“I was inspired to create For The Culture because I felt the gaming culture lacked representation from the most commonly adopted culture. Right then, I saw the need to put Black culture, history and arts all into one interactive game.”

3. What was your experience creating the app?

“It was a great learning experience that showed me how deeply rooted and impacting Black culture really is. I had already developed products for Fortune 100 companies, but what made this more exciting was that I was able to connect more emotionally with this product and put my community’s experiences and interests into a platform that could scale worldwide. I never would have thought that China would be our second largest region for app downloads behind the United States. This simple metric validated the entire vision and the power of this culture.”

4. What’s your favorite category in the app and why?

“From an educational aspect, Black History is my favorite category. Not only did I feel it was important to have historic figures and innovators, but I also wanted to highlight individuals who had their lives cut short by senseless acts of injustice and police brutality. I wanted to find a way to extend their memory beyond a hashtag that trended for a week or two. I feel like these individuals are apart of a larger discussion that leads to more conversations about equality. I felt it was important to honor these men and women and never forget the impact they had on the community.”

5. What do you want people to feel when they play For The Culture?

“When people play FTC, I want them to feel educated by the content, empowered by the design and entertained with culture that reflects their daily lives.”

For The Culture

Teddy and his team at the Ark Creative Company are definitely off to a great start with For The Culture! Download the free app on iTunes and Google Play for your next game night.

We hope you have as much fun playing as we did!

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3 Life Lessons Learned From SkyDiving

I’ve always been a risk taker. I decided to attend Howard University without touring the school. I run to the scariest roller coaster when I’m at an amusement park. I don’t hesitate to go zip lining.  But skydiving out of a plane that was 14,000 feet high was the biggest risk I’ll likely ever take.

skydiving

Taking a leap of faith. YIKESS!!

Skydiving allowed me to feel every emotion. Initially I decided to take the leap of faith for my 25th birthday – but when my birthday weekend rolled around, it was too windy to jump so I had to reschedule. A month later my initial excitement went away and I felt anxious about skydiving. Whenever I thought about the waiver that I signed stating (in bold and underlined font I might add) that I was putting my life in danger and giving up my family’s legal rights to sue in the event of injury or death, I got nervous and questioned if this was something I should even be doing. But I stuck it out and kept the appointment – bringing my mom to watch for moral support.

When I got to the Skydive Georgia, I saw people landing safely and I became excited again and more confident about jumping. But anxiety crept in while waiting for my turn. When my name was called I hopped up quickly – ready to get the party that I planned months ago started. I listened intensely to the directions and practiced lifting my legs so I had a smooth landing. This was tandem skydiving so I had a professional jump out with me, but I still contemplated on what could go wrong.

On the ride up I shed a tear but quickly wiped it away so the other 15+ people on the small airplane didn’t get concerned. Despite watching us elevate thousands of feet in the sky, I felt a sense of peace. I prayed like crazy up until that point, and on the plane and I knew that I would make it back down in one piece.

When I saw people falling out of the plane, I knew that it was time. I slid out of the helicopter and screamed for God to take the wheel. A paid extra to have a professional skydiving photographer jump out in front of me and capture the experience (and my ugly faces). The fall down was terrifying, but when my tandem instructor pulled the parachute it was the most peaceful experience.

skydiving

skydiving

skydiving

skydiving

skydiving

skydiving

The emotional rollercoaster that I went through during my skydiving adventure taught me three life lessons that I’ll always carry with me:

  1.   God got you. Being that close to God strengthened my faith. Skydiving was the epitome of putting my life in his hands.
  2.   On the outside of your comfort zone lies the greatest reward. The pruning process isn’t supposed to be comfortable, but it’s crucial to your growth.
  3.   Fear is mental slavery. What do we truly have to fear? There’s a lot of things in life that give me anxiety (like parallel parking and babies that won’t stop crying). But I’ve come to realize that when we know God, we have nothing to fear.

Check out the video below to see my skydiving experience on YouTube!

Is skydiving on your bucket list? Share what is in the comments below!

Blossom Network Redefines Reality For Women Of Color in Television

Blossom Network

Blossom Team

Apple, Uber, Netflix — the world’s most disruptive companies have made such a substantial impact because they filled a need through innovation and strategy.

Diamonde Williamson, the founder of Blossom, is taking the same approach to change the narrative of multicultural women in the media.

Blossom is a breath of fresh air in a world where a new ratchet reality show pops up nearly every month. Through the digital television platform, Diamonde and her team creates impactful content to empower women of color. This content includes short films, web series, think pieces, feature films, docu-series, indie shorts, features and more that tackles every topic under the sun including current events, politics, sports, and the authentic lifestyle of multicultural women.

Diamonde is no newbie to the television industry. She’s worked as a producer on popular shows including Iylana Fix My Life, Chrissy Knows Best and Selling It In The ATL prior to venturing on her own. After she found herself growing tired of working in reality TV, she knew she wanted to create programming that embodied love instead of drama.

Blossom Network

Photo: Blossom Network

She created Blossom in 2016 after mainstream media denied her opportunities to make content that reflected multidimensional women of color. Diamonde built the subscription-based platform from the ground up and carefully selected a team of other multicultural women who would help execute her vision. She keeps a tight-knit Operations Team of less than 10 people, but the Original Productions Team consists of 30+ content creators and she’s always open to more.

Diamonde acknowledges two major problems that Blossom is solving. “First, women of color who are actually living the stories the media and entertainment consistently portray, never get to tell their own stories. Blossom provides them with a platform. And second, women of color also deserve to watch more realistic experiences of themselves played on television.”

As the Founder and President of Special Projects + Programming, Diamonde wears many hats. She’s responsible for content development and programming, marketing and brand strategy, social media, partnerships, legal, and the overall structure of the platform. Diamonde oversees every single piece of the business while giving her team creative control to produce programming that reflects the unique journey of multicultural womanhood.

Blossom Network

Diamonde Williamson, founder of Blossom

Even as a child, Diamonde knew she was destined for greatness.

“I never played small. At one point I wanted to be an interior designer and have my own show on HGTV. I also wanted to be a painter and would tell my mom that I wanted to be the next Picasso,” she says. “Whatever I wanted to do, I wanted to be great at it.”

Diamonde attributes her hustle and networking skills to her upbringing. The Oklahoma native was the only child and her dad was in the Navy so they moved around often. These circumstances made her be able to build relationships and connect with people of diverse backgrounds — a skill that has served her career well. In addition, Diamonde’s grandmother was an entrepreneur and motivated her to create her own opportunities.

Photo: Blossom Network

One of the biggest lessons that everyone can learn from Diamonde is the importance of originality and being ok with what may seem as a “failure.” Prior to launching Blossom, she tried to pitch feel-good TV programming to major networks but was rejected many times.

“No means nothing,” she says. “I don’t believe in failing because even if I fall, I’m determined to figure it out. I’ve never been one to let “no” stop me so God gave me the vision to just do it myself.”

She continues, “You need the idea and the passion. But eventually you have to graduate from a dreamer to a doer.”

The Blossom team has this same drive and confidence, along with originality and a track record of execution. Diamonde looks for content creators who have big ideas and can create without limitations.

“I tell my team, if you have an idea just do it. Just write it down and then we’ll figure it out.”

Photo: Blossom Network

Diamonde has big dreams for Blossom. By the end of 2017, she hopes to house 500 pieces of content. She envisions her business being a digital television destination that shares the experience of women of color in every sector of their life — from home to travel to sexual identity to health to political awareness to economics. She hopes it creates a shift and transforms the way people think and live.

“What’s most important to me is to connect with those people who don’t have access to these types of experiences,” she says. “Content opens up a world, but if the world you’re open to is limited to VHI, you may be considering that you need Red Bottoms to win. But if you see a young girl with a business who is challenging herself, you may be more inspired.”

This representation matters. As the world saw in the groundbreaking film Hidden Figures, when Black women see themselves in other people, it gives them the initiative to think beyond what they know.

Diamonde is #blackgirlmagic personified. Through Blossom she’s encouraging people, especially women of color, to live their truth and tell their stories.

“We have to create our own rules and break the standards that other people created for us.”

Blossom is breaking barriers and redefining reality – showing that the future is female in various shades of brown.

Blossom Network

#SummerSlaySeries: Bomb DIY Pedicure

Trust us – your feet will thank you for this bomb pedicure.

Sandal season is here, so we have to make sure our toes are up to par. While going to the nail salon is a nice treat every once in awhile, the cost can rack up over time. Instead, try a do-it-yourself pedicure that’ll have your toes shining without breaking the bank. There’s an upfront cost for the tools you’ll need, but once you have them, you can do your nails for the low low all season long.

Before getting started, gather your supplies. You can try Target, Walmart and Sally Beauty to pick up everything.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Acetone nail polish remover
  • Cuticle softener / remover
  • Cuticle pusher
  • Foot file
  • Buffing block
  • Emery board
  • Nail clipper
  • Base coat
  • Top coat
  • Nail color of your choice
  • Pumi bar or pumice stone
  • Nail Tees or cotton swabs, and cotton balls

Optional

  • Oils (such as peppermint, coconut, tea tree or extra virgin olive oil)
  • Sugar Scrub – white, brown or organic sugar + oils of your choice
  • Shea body butter  – natural shea butter + oils of your choice
  • Cuticle nipper
  • Body wash and epsom salts

The nail polish came from our Just Polish Box. If you’re a nail polish lover who wants a package of goodies delivered to your doorstep every month, be sure to subscribe! With 5 – 6 different bottles of polish from professional brands such as Essie and OPI in some boxes, it’s easy to fall in love with the quality and convenience of Just Polish.

After getting your supplies, follow these eight easy steps to do a fabulous pedicure on a budget.

DIY Pedicure

1. Remove pre-existing nail polish

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important not to miss this step! Ensure that all of your old nail polish is off before giving yourself a new pedicure. Use an acetone nail polish remover and cotton balls to get the polish off.

According to Sally Beauty, acetone is most effective for removing oils and preparing the nails for polish, but it can be drying to the cuticles — so pay extra attention to step #7.

2. Soak your feet

Start by filling your tub with warm water, body wash and a few drops of oil (such as coconut, tea tree or extra virgin olive oil). For an extra touch, add a cup of epsom salts to the water, and then soak your feet for 5 – 10 minutes. This process softens tough calluses and your nails and cuticles, along with removing built up dirt.

3. Gently file your feet

Dry your feet off and use the foot file to remove the dead skin on the heels and balls of your feet. Place a paper towel or wax paper underneath to capture the dead skin. When filing, focus on the rougher areas, but be sure not to scrub too hard so you don’t irritate the skin.

DIY Pedicure

4. Exfoliate with a sugar scrub

In a small bowl, combine a cup of sugar with 2 – 3 tablespoons of oils and mix well. Scoop the sugar scrub on your feet and gently rub using the pumi bar until your feet are smooth. Rinse your feet and the pumi bar (or stone) afterwards.

DIY Pedicure

 

5. Clip and shape nails

Use the nail clippers to trim toenails straight across and down to your preferred size. Using an emery board, shape your nails to be slightly squared and buff down any sharp edges. If possible, file nails in the same direction to avoid damage.

6. Prepare your cuticles

Your nails are almost ready for polish! Apply a drop of the cuticle softener / remover at the base of each nail. Then gently push the cuticles around each nail back using the cuticule pusher. You can take it a further step and cut the excess skin with a cuticle nipper, but it isn’t mandatory. After preparing your cuticles, rinse and dry your hands and feet.

DIY Pedicure

7. Moisturize and prepare for polish

Shea butter is a great all natural moisturizer, so I like to rub a body butter on my feet to seal in the softness. In a small container or cup, melt the shea butter down a little bit and add oils of your choice until it has a creamy consistency (peppermint oil works and smells great!). Apply the body butter and give your feet a much needed massage. If you don’t want to use the shea butter mix, you can also use a foot lotion of your choice.

8. Apply polish

Get in a position where you can comfortably reach your feet, and then lace toe separators on both feet. Start by applying a base coat which helps the polish stick to your nail easier and protects your nails from damage. After it dries, apply two coats of the color of your choice and then finish off with a clear top coat. Each layer should be thin and given ample time to dry before applying the next coat.

Here’s to looking fly while saving coins this summer!

New movement to Silence The Shame about mental health

silence the shame

Silence the Shame

Openly talking about mental health is a hard, yet healthy conversation to have in the age of social media, police brutality, racial tension and Trump presidency.

The graphic content that we consume, such as watching a police officer shoot an unarmed citizen or seeing an elderly man die on Facebook Live, has an impact on our mental health. And when the Black community in particular couples that with the mental shackles that remain since our ancestors were in slavery, it’s an issue that we can no longer sweep under the rug.

Music veteran executive Shanti Das is making it her mission to openly discuss mental illnesses and dismantle the stigmas and misconceptions that are associated with the taboo subject through her initiative Silence The Shame.

Known as the Hip Hop Professional, Shanti has been instrumental in marketing some of music’s biggest stars for more than 20 years including, Prince, Outkast, TLC, Erykah Badu and Toni Braxton.

Now she’s leveraging her credible platform and influential relationships to get the word out about mental health awareness. Nick Cannon, Usher, Ed Lover, Andra Day, Will Packer, Estelle and more public figures have stood behind Shanti to silence the shame.

“Education is the key to unlocking mental health,” says Shanti. “You don’t know what you don’t know, so we want to educate our community and share information that can help transform and save lives.”

Shanti’s passion to move our culture forward is rooted in her own mental health journey. The effects of her father’s suicide when she was 7 months old made the adult Shanti fear that she would follow in his footsteps, leading to her depression and anxiety.

“It took a long time to be able to talk about my dad’s death. I used to just say he passed away. I wouldn’t say he shot himself because I was afraid of what people would say. I was also angry at him for leaving like that and I suppressed those feelings.”

Shanti admits that she didn’t even want to learn about her dad’s Indian culture, but she finally saw the light when she visited a therapist in 2003. Through a series of counseling sessions, she learned forgiveness and how to understand what her dad might have been going through. She also found a new church in New York where she learned about herself and relationship with God.

“Although I sought therapy and forgave my dad in 2003, in 2015 the depression returned with a vengeance. One of my best friends committed suicide the day before and also I talked myself into a downward spiral from several issues and considered taking pills. That was really the moment I knew I had to get real help.”

These experiences taught Shanti how to silence her shame. By getting help she’s now able to openly talk about her struggle with depression and anxiety in hopes of encouraging others to share their story and seek professional help.

Like Shanti, many people with mental health issues lead a seemingly “normal” life. According to NAMI, 1 in 5 adults in America experience a mental illness. These issues can come from stress, loss of a loved one, divorce, troubled work environment, and traumatic experiences such as sexual assault — things we all deal with to some degree.

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Here are six actions that we can take to help silence the shame around mental health:

1. Get educated

Shanti recommends learning more about mental disorders, symptoms and treatments by checking out the Mayo Clinic and the National Alliance of Mental Health. Mental Health America also offers online assessments to see if you may have a mental illness, but visit a licensed professional to determine if you are affected.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours / day if you or someone you know is considering suicide.

She also encourages people to attend events to learn more about the topic. Silence The Shame is hosting a Community Mental Health Fair and Symposium in Atlanta on Saturday, May 6th, 2017. Mental health professionals, community leaders and members of the faith community will discuss identifying symptoms, treatment and ways to support others.

2. Raise your voice

Shanti is encouraging everyone to use their platform to speak up about mental health and share resources, especially on Silence the Shame Awareness Day on Friday, May 5th, 2017. With Mental Health Awareness Month in May, Shanti and her team is using this key moment in time to spark a global conversation about the issues via social media using the hashtag #silencetheshame.

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3. Understand the signs

Shanti knew something was wrong when she didn’t want to get out of bed, despite usually being a morning person. She lost interest in the things that mattered most, including music, and found herself at home alone a lot. She also ate out of depression.

The signs that one may be suffering varies based on the type of mental health disorder. According to the Mayo Clinic, other symptoms of depression include feelings of sadness or hopelessness; angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters; and sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much.

While anxiety is a normal part of life, people with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. The Mayo Clinic states that these feelings of anxiety and panic interfere with daily activities, are difficult to control, are out of proportion to the actual danger and can last a long time.

More complex illnesses, like Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder have different symptoms. It’s important to understand the signs so you can address if you or someone you know has a mental health disorder.

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4. Get the help you need

Although she is a woman of God, Shanti admits that mental health disorders isn’t something that you can just pray away. That’s the first step, but it’s important to get professional help.

She recommends speaking with someone who is neutral and doesn’t know you or your background to have an unbiased conversation. She also explained that there are levels to professional help. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor that evaluates patients and can prescribe medications. A psychologist can offer treatments, but can’t prescribe medications — they can only refer patients. There are also licensed counselors and therapists that can help with coping and managing the illness.

“Seeing a doctor if you think something may be wrong is an act of self love. You have to love yourself to get the help,” says Shanti. “If you don’t love and value yourself, it means that you’ll do anything to the body that God lent you. Make sure that spiritual connection is there by getting help, loving God, and loving yourself.”

5. Be supportive and stop judging

Words have power and using negative terms like “crazy,” “weird” or “insane” further perpetuates the stigma around mental health and discourages suffers from speaking up or getting help.

“We don’t know what people are going through, so sometimes we have to pull it out of them if they aren’t open to talking about it,” says Shanti. “Stop hiding behind social media — pick up the phone and check on people more. Also, don’t take warning signs lightly. It’s better to intervene than to be too late when you could have saved someone’s life.”

Shanti stresses that compassion is essential, and we can’t write people off because of what they suffer from or what they’re experiencing. We have to be there to help one another and start normalizing the conversation around mental health.

6. Practice mental wellness

“The best way to improve your mental wellness is to do whatever brings you peace and balance — do what makes you smile,” Shanti says.

Shanti was on prescribed anti-depressants and weaned herself off of them. Now when depression or anxiety creeps back, she recognizes her triggers, prays, talks to friends, makes herself be around others, works out to build endorphins, and helps other people.

She encourages people to approach mental health like their physical health — intentionally exercise mental wellness every day. While this looks differently for everyone, it may include prayer, thinking happy thoughts, saying affirmations, practicing meditation or yoga, listening to music, going to church, and discovering ways to serve others.

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According to ActiveMinds, compared to older adults, the 18-24 year old age group shows the lowest rate of seeking help.

Silence The Shame will continue to reach the public with their Loving U College Tour kicking off later this year. Shanti will join other mental health care professionals and advocates to discuss the importance of taking good care of your mind and coping mechanisms for stress, anxiety and other disorders.

Shanti and her team also has a Silence The Shame podcast where they seek to normalize conversations around managing mental health and healing from illnesses.

It’s ok not to be ok. But we can’t shun people for getting the help they need. It’s time that we educate people, empower them to share their testimony, and dismantle the stigmas around mental health.

Shanti is another example of a woman turning lemons into lemonade and shining a light on the darkness. By openly sharing her struggles and mental health journey, she is freeing other people to do the same and silence their shame.

“You don’t have to tell all of your business, but we all have a duty to share our voice and speak out on what is good and what we believe in,” says Shanti. “We’ve been conditioned to not share, but being vulnerable makes you strong.”

Join in on the conversation by using the hashtag #silencetheshame.

silence the shame

Silence The Shame

3 Steps To Improve Your Online Personal Brand

Personal Brand

Your personal brand  online is just as relevant as your resume —  if not more.

Nowadays, companies want to know who you are. People hire other people that they’d like. A brilliant digital footprint is a great platform to let your personality shine bright before you step foot in the interview. Your resume may be stellar, but it won’t capture their interest like your online persona can.

Here are 3 ways you can improve your online personal brand: 

  1. Enhance your social media strategy

According to the Pew Research Center, 86 percent of people aged 18 – 29 use at least one social media site. No matter what site(s) you’re on, it’s important to tell a digital story that you’re proud of.

Start by reflecting on what you want people to think, feel and know about you when they look at your social media profile. Try this exercise — set a timer for three minutes and write down words that describe your personality, interests, aspirations, experience, societal roles, etc. Then write down the type of content you could post based on those keywords. This all makes up your personal brand.

Next, do some spring cleaning to your social media profiles and delete anything that doesn’t fit into the descriptors that you outlined. Photos and posts about your drunken college nights,  F boy exs, or dreadful coworkers don’t belong in your new and improved online presence.

Also think about how you want your social media feed to look. You can really get creative with your Instagram by strategizing what type of posts you publish when. For instance, you could have an entire row that has quotes, or create a border around certain photos for consistency. You could also use a certain color theme or create art with your photo layout.

Think about what you want your personal brand to be, and then line up your social media profiles to look like your vision. It’s your story, so tell an authentic narrative.

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2. Spruce up your LinkedIn profile

LinkedIn makes networking, especially reaching out to strangers, much easier. It’s a must to have a profile, but there are ways to take yours to the next level.

Start by reading your profile from top to bottom as if you are viewing it for the first time. Then think about what copy you can make more concise or engaging, and what sections need to be improved or updated.

Customizing your professional headline is a great way to spruce up your profile. This is the line that appears directly below your name. Although it’s common to list your work role, that isn’t a must as long is it captures who you are and what your brand is. Use keywords and traits that are specific to your industry in your professional headline to make your profile stand out.

Personal Brand

3. Create or update your website / portfolio

Make sure the basics are on the website — a well written bio, professional photos, work experience, contact information and social media presence. You can also add more personal photos of your hobbies and interests to your site, such as traveling or volunteering.

If you already have a website, review these elements to make sure they are still on-brand for you based on the exercise previously mentioned. Jazz up your bio with those keywords that describe you.

No worries if you don’t currently have a website! There are many easy-to use platforms to create one including WordPress.org, WordPress.com, Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, AboutMe and so many more.

Your digital footprint is an extension of who you are, so make sure it’s something you’d be proud of no matter who found it online.

10 Gems Every GirlBoss Can Learn From R.Kristi

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Photo courtesy of Kesha Lambert Photography

It’s not often that someone disrupts a $50MM industry — but that’s exactly what entrepreneur and girlboss Racquel Kristi has done with PopBliss, a pop-up destination wedding for unconventional couples. Her team thoughtfully selects up to 10 adventure-seeking couples to tie the knot during a luxury group wedding celebration. They take care of all of the details — including the location, vendors, decor and food. The couples don’t know anything until their wedding weekend — they just book their flight, show up in their attire of choice and prepare for the royal treatment.

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The New York native has learned a lot about being a #girlboss since launching her event planning company RKristi Modern Hospitality in 2009 and executing the first PopBliss event in 2016. She also coaches entrepreneurs on how to make their dreams a reality.

Here are 10 gems she dropped for Becoming Brilliance:

1. Being a girlboss starts with the right mindset — so take yourself seriously
“It’s either you will or you won’t — there is no try. Make the decision to follow your dreams and then be hungry and focused on making it happen… We all already have everything we need, we just have to tap into it.”

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Photo courtesy of Racquel Kristi

2. Don’t jump in before you’re ready.
Kristi stressed the importance of researching your industry if you work for someone, but it’s even more essential if you’re an entrepreneur. She also recommends staying abreast of what’s changing, and having a clear business plan — something she wishes she would have done first to avoid a lot of stress. Kristi also recommends creating a road map for your career journey. It can be tweaked along the way, but it’ll help guide your business ventures and keep you on track.

“The intent to start a business is to stay in business, therefore you need to do your homework and be in it for the long haul,” she says. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a doctor or an event planner — we’re in the people business and you have to know everything about your industry so your client wants it from you and only you.”

3. If you aren’t willing to make sacrifices for your dreams, then you don’t want it bad enough
“You may prepare mentally, emotionally and physically, but there are certain aspects you’re not prepared for until you’re in it,” says Kristi. “It takes strong willpower, determination, and sacrifices. Every day you wake up and go harder.”

4.A girlboss should always keep a notebook handy
Like some of her other ideas, PopBliss came to Kristi in a dream. She woke up and scribbled down her thoughts before the slumber knocked her out again.

Even if you don’t sleep with a pen and paper like Kristi does, make sure you have a small notebook or use a digital notetaker like Evernote around to capture your thoughts.

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5. Your ideas are golden
Whether your ideas are small or lofty, it’s essential to have confidence in your brilliance. You bring a unique perspective to the table, so Kristi recommends basking in that.

“There’s no need to copy or duplicate someone else’s idea. That’s basically stating that you’re not creative enough to come up with something yourself. So if you don’t believe in yourself and your potential, why would someone else? Trust in your ability.”

6. Be intentional about everything
We can’t get our time and energy back, so Kristi suggests being intentional about everything that we do.

“If you aren’t working towards your goal, then you’re working against yourself. Every decision, interaction, and movement you make needs to be connected to your reaching your goal. You have to be intentional about the reasons why you do everything that you do.”

7. Do not count the bad … count the good
“Don’t get caught up in the number of family members or friends that support you, your social media following or amount of clients. Remember that your journey is unique and therefore it will look like nothing you have seen before. Count all the great things happening for you to help stay focused on the road ahead.”

8. Pay attention to your childhood interests
Before Kristi was a girlboss, she grew up in New York around a lot of West Indians and Hispanics. She’s of West Indian descent and noticed that her culture didn’t typically have big birthday celebrations like their Hispanic counterparts did for a young lady’s Quinceañera. This inspired Kristi and her friends to plan their own birthday celebrations and she’s loved event planning ever since then.

Our childhood interests and hobbies can shed light into our passions, so think about who you were as a child and how that can impact or personalize your business ventures.

9. Be able to say NO
“Never make a decision out of desperation, fear or lack because it will turn out to be the opposite of what you wanted in the first place. Say no and be confident that what is coming next is exactly what is for you.”

10. Strive to make an impact
Celebrating is a common thread in all people no matter what culture or background they have. Kristi is pioneering a new way of thinking regarding what marriage and celebrating is all about. She hopes her events allow people to have fun, stress less and lower divorce rate if possible.
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The next PopBliss ceremony will take place October 17 – 19, 2017 in Las Vegas! If you know a couple that’ll be interested in having Kristi coordinate their wedding, direct them to register here and use offer code “luv17” to receive a special gift that’ll jumpstart their journey to matrimony.