Category Archives: Health & Beauty

#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

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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.

silence the shame

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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.

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Silence The Shame

#SelfCareSundays

Sundays have always been a favorite of mine and for various reasons. It’s the beginning of a new week and who doesn’t love a fresh start? There’s always a sense of renewal associated with Sunday whether you’re attending church service, spending much needed time catching up with family or having brunch with friends. Often times rain or shine, Sunday equals ME time.

When I was in college, I had a solid Sunday routine consisting of grocery shopping, washing clothes, cooking some dinner and completing my studies due for the week ahead. As I’ve gradually transitioned into adulting, I felt I could never find the time to balance the things I have to do with those I need to do…for my sanity.

Self-care is often lost in the sauce when our plate becomes full. It’s like we know it’s necessary but feels in comparison with our other responsibilities…it can wait. And that’s simply not the case. I’ve embraced the mindset of “you can’t pour into others from an empty cup” now more than ever. By taking care of you first, you’re able to offer your best self to the world. And we can’t lose sight of that, no matter how busy life gets.

I’ve also grown to realize self-care should be practiced daily if only for a few minutes out of each day. However, as my favorite time to do things I love, I’ve dubbed Sundays for me #SelfCareSundays and wanted to share a few of the self-care gems that I enjoy practicing weekly.

  1. Jot down short-term, attainable goals for the week. It makes for small victories and provides positive reinforcement of all you’re achieving as you tackle the week.  For example, workout 4 days this week!
  1. Listen to an album from start to finish. New or an oldie but goodie. I love reflecting on nostalgic moments. At any given moment, I may be listening to a B2K or Trey Songz (with the cornrows) album. 🙂
  1. Watch your favorite show/movie or start a new series. The Sundays where I don’t really have anything planned are often filled with Law & Order: SVU marathons. And my boyfriend and I love to binge watch seasons of a new series on Netflix.
  1. Pamper yourself with a face masque and glass of wine before bed. When you look good, you feel good and your skin care routine should be essential to your self-care routine as well as a glass of wine because…why not? 🙂
  1. Write yourself a love letter. See our previous post “Dear Me, I Love You…”
  1. Find something to be thankful for at the moment. This has been a major key in my self-care regimen. In a moment where I may feel anxious or irritated, I now stop mid-complaint, check myself and simply give thanks for the situation not being worse than it is. 
  1. Declutter your space, light a candle and enjoy your own company. I can be extroverted but I really enjoy being alone. So, I do whatever my spirit moves me to in that moment. Read, meditate, journal, watch beauty videos on YouTube…anything that brings me peace. This is easily one of my favorite self-care keys!

Have you adopted a self-care regimen? What will you incorporate into your #SelfCareSundays?

Baby Food Hair Masque?

The winter months are brutal on hair. It seems like the gusty winds and chilly air just strip my short tresses of any moisture they may have once had.   So, deep conditioning is essential to maintaining healthy hair especially during this time of year.  I’m sure most of us have a holy grail deep conditioner or hair masque that we’d never forsake because it’s our savior for retaining moisture, giving incredible shine and softness like no other. But what if I told you; you could get the same benefits using organic baby food?

Skeptical? Well, I was too but with a little research and inspiration by LipstickNCurls on YouTube I was excited to give it a try!

What you’ll need:

  1. Banana or Banana & Pumpkin organic baby food
  2. 1 Tablespoon of raw honey
  3. 1 Tablespoon of organic coconut oil
  4. Perm/Dyeing Brush (optional)
  5. Plastic cap

It’s important that you get organic baby food because others may have preservatives, which wouldn’t be ideal for hair. The banana and pumpkin mixture is a perfect choice because they both possess hair-loving benefits.   Bananas are rich in potassium, natural oils and vitamins that promote soft hair and protecting the hair’s natural elasticity preventing split ends and breakage. While pumpkin has many minerals that maintain healthy hair and regrowth such as potassium, copper, and iron. And even better, purchasing the already pureed fruits and veggies is super convenient plus they’ll leave your hair smelling delicious.

My hair felt so soft and hydrated with such a healthy sheen once rinsed. And it remained that way while styling and days after. My hair definitely appreciated the healthy benefits of this masque and this won’t be the last time I use it. I’m adopting the baby food masque into my healthy hair regimen and you ladies should too. Try it out!

xoxo,

Melissa

One Year of Becoming Brilliance

We’re so excited to celebrate our one year blogiversary for Becoming Brilliance! On this day last year, we launched our blog baby that has served as a therapeutic and reflective creative outlet. We’ve loved sharing our journey with you as we navigate through life as twenty-something year old women pursuing our passions and purpose.

We started this blog to help other women, especially our fellow Millennials, unleash their brilliance. A woman that is becoming brilliance knows that she has a purpose in life, and is trying to discover or currently walking in what she was called to do. She understands that she has a role to play in the advancement of humanity, and by stepping into her light, she gives other people permission to do the same.

We hope that our posts over the past year has helped you on your brilliant journey. Here are 10 of our favorites from our first year of blogging, and why we love them so much:

1. We Need A Resolution: Improving The Nature of Your Friendships

Before we were blog partners, we were friends. Becoming Brilliance wouldn’t be as special for us if we didn’t have that foundation first. We know first hand that having a tribe of people who are supportive, trustworthy and on a path to greatness is essential to your brilliant journey.

2. Dear Me, I Love You…

Self-love is an integral part of Becoming Brilliance.  And reflecting on how far you’ve come is pivotal in how you’ll view yourself and your growth over time. Writing a letter to yourself is a great tool for measuring progression.  It’s guaranteed that after a substantial amount time has gone by and you re-read your letter, you won’t be in the same position as when you wrote it. And that will be an amazing feeling because you’ll see that your life is coming into fruition.

3. 2016 Holiday Gift Guide

There’s no better feeling than supporting brands that we believe in, especially small businesses! We loved highlighting some of our favorites in last year’s gift guide. Although the holidays are over, our round up has gift ideas that would be great for birthdays, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, so be sure to keep these in mind throughout the year!

4. 25 Travel Adventures That’ll Give You Serious Wanderlust

Author Hans Christian Andersen said it best, “to travel is to live.” And we couldn’t agree more! This was one of our favorite posts to write because we loved living vicariously through the jet setters that we featured. The round up helped us expand our travel bucket list and connect with other people who shared reasons why they love to travel locally and abroad.

5. #BeautyBeyondTheBeat

Besides us having so much fun doing the photoshoot for this post, it was truly a passion project that was so well received. We love to beat face every now and again but our best characteristics can’t be seen with the naked eye but rather felt. And that’s what we never want to forget, the beauty beyond being beat.

6. #ExploringEgypt 5 Take-A-Ways From My Egyptian Excursion

It was simply amazing to have this platform and be able to share this experience with our Becoming Brilliance family. We’re all about jetsetting and living beyond what’s just outside your front door. This post was dedicated to all the aspiring wanderers and travel enthusiasts. Where will we go in 2017? There are no limits!

7. 7 #BlackGirlMagic Lessons To Learn From Simone Biles

2016 Olympian Simone Biles is small but mighty and her hustle is definitely inspiring! While watching her take home the gold at the Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Simone taught us the importance of teamwork, believing in yourself, being consistent, and leaping towards your dreams.

8. Demanding Queen Treatment

Millennial women, especially Black Millennial women, are truly channeling the queens that reigned before us and carrying ourselves in high regard in many aspects of life.  However, we relax certain standards we would normally demand from others when it comes to relationships (or situationships). This post is the pep talk we all need from time to time as a reminder of just how valuable we are and to demand what we require in every interaction.

9.  How To Build Your Network Like A Boss

Networking is all about who you know, who knows you, AND the connotation that they have about you. Fortunately, awkward networking events aren’t the only way to build your professional circle — in this post we highlight five other ways we’ve expanded our contacts, including joining professional organizations, volunteering, utilizing our alma mater and tapping into the power of social media to build our network like a boss.

10. Walking In Your Purpose

Now, this is what Becoming Brilliance was created for and this is why we share our journey with you all. Defining our purpose isn’t easy, implementing it sometimes seems impossible.  But the beautiful thing is we’re in this search together and we’re dedicated to sharing the steps we take in defining our destiny, in hopes that it’ll help you do the same.

Was there a certain blog post that you really identified with? We’d love to read what posts impacted you in the comments!

5 Lippies to Love this Fall

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Whether you’re into vampy lips, classic hues, or looking to try something completely new, fall is the perfect inspiration for adding to your lipstick collection or reaching for some forgotten favorites.   Now, women of color often hesitate to try different shades because we’re not sure how it will wear against our various skin tones.  But truthfully, we can pull off an array of colors…and beautifully might I add.  It’s all about tailoring the shades to you, being confident, and owning it!

So, here are 5 fall lipsticks for you to slay this season…

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Nothing says fall like a vampy, purple lip!  This shade is a bold statement lippie that is perfect for a night out on the town. Pictured: MAC ‘Nightmoth’ Lip Pencil and Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Lipstick in ‘Potion’.  

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The weather is getting chilly, bring out the hot cocoa! Try reddish brown or chocolate brown lips to give your look a vintage feel. Pictured: MAC ‘Bittersweet’ Pro Longwear Lip Pencil and MAC Retro Matte Lipstick in ‘Antique Velvet’.

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A girl can never go wrong with a good nude lip! This season rock a rosy nude on the days you opt for a subtle slay. Pictured: MAC ‘Plum’ Lip Pencil and NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in ‘Rome’.

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If you’re ready to step completely outside the box this season, rock a gorgeous grey! Pictured: MAC ‘Chestnut’ Lip Liner and MAC ‘Hasley’ Lipstick.

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Red lips are classic and timeless in every shade. However, a dark, oxblood red will be perfect for when you’re feeling regal this fall. Pictured: NYX Currant Lip Pencil and MAC Retro Matte Lipstick in Studded Kisses.

What are a few of your favorite fall lippies? And what new colors are you looking to try this season? Leave a comment below or hit us up on social media! 

Dear Me, I Love You…

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“I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.” –Audre Lourde 

I tried to be consistent with journaling throughout the majority of my teens and early adulthood. I love to write so it’s not a hassle to set aside a little time to jot down a daily “entry” but once I have a night out on the town (or a few…lol) or leave for vacation my allotted time to journal is often neglected. A couple days…then a few weeks… and sadly, many months go by before I have the serious urge to get my swirling thoughts out on paper and start journaling consistently again. *deep sigh* I know I can’t be the only one.

However, I’m a sucker for nostalgia and journaling is like a photo album in the sense that you can revisit a time you’ll never have the chance to go back to, get a feel for where you were mentally, and reflect on how things have changed since; kind of like how Facebook memories shows you the old, corny statuses your younger self wrote years ago and the shock that you were ever that lame sets in…lol But after moving back home from my college apartment in June, I cleaned out the bedroom that was obviously inhabited by me once upon a time but just a completely different version and I discovered something that would answer all my nostalgic dreams and required less pressure to be consistent.

As I was cleaning out my old dresser draws, I found an old journal and when I opened it instead of finding daily entries…I found a letter that had written to myself weeks after being accepted into graduate school but also around the same time I had learned of my ex-boyfriend’s unfaithfulness. I’ll just say, the Melissa who wrote this letter was so hurt, stressed, and anxious. This Melissa expressed a plethora of emotions all in the same two-page letter but reading it nearly two years later… all I could do is smile. And as I continued reading, I busted out laughing until tears rolled down my face because it was like an out-of-body experience.  Did I really write this? I couldn’t believe I had written those words and as I sat there reading them I was now unfamiliar with those feelings.

Frankly, I don’t know who that Melissa is anymore but reading that letter made me grateful that I no longer do. At the time it was written, it seemed as if things would never get better and I can actual quote myself as I wrote, “I’ll be glad when it’s this same time next year, hopefully it’ll hurt a little less.” And two years later, that letter reminded me that things always get better in due time…and often better than you could’ve ever expected. 🙂

I challenge all reading this post, to write a letter to you. Reflect on where you are currently in your journey. It’s best to go in depth with the letter including current/anticipated experiences in all aspects of your life such as career, love, health finances, and spirituality. And most importantly, include your strongest emotions regarding the current phase of your journey…be honest with yourself.   If you’re frustrated with your current dating scene, say that. And perhaps, explore what it is you’re looking for in a beau. How amazing would it be to read your letter in 1-2 years, maybe now you’re in a great relationship, and realize you found the right one because you chose him before you even knew who he was? Or maybe read it further down the road and realize you didn’t even know what you really wanted…lol

So, join me! I wrote a new letter to myself since I’m truly in a season of transition right now and I’m thinking of writing a couple letters throughout the year. I haven’t decided when I’ll read them but it won’t be any less than a year from the day I wrote it. In my opinion, there isn’t a better way to acknowledge and embrace your progression than reflecting on where you once were and how far you’ve truly come.

 

In what ways do you keep track of your progression in life? Daily journaling? Goal checklists? Vision boards? Leave a comment or reach out to us on social media! 

#BeautyBeyondtheBeat

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Earlier this year, R&B songstress Alicia Keys initiated a #NoMakeup movement but the backlash flew once onlookers realized she wasn’t just applying this to her private day-to-day life at home. Live TV shows, the year’s biggest awards shows, you name it…Alicia Keys was baring it all and beautifully might we add.

However, the fact that she received backlash for such a personal decision was shocking. She’s decided she no longer wants to cover up any aspect of herself, whether mentally or physically…and that is just as beautiful as her outer appearance..makeup or not.  So, we were inspired to explore the beauty beyond being beat for the gods. Like A. Keys expressed, her flaunting a bare face doesn’t mean she’s anti-makeup or anti anyone who will continue to wear it.  But beyond that, what makes you beautiful most of all can’t be seen on the exterior and can’t be masked by makeup. Now granted, we had to learn this lesson along our journey and now we want to share with you how we found our #BeautyBeyondtheBeat.

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I learned the true meaning of beauty in middle school and it was a rocky road to get to that understanding. At the time I was so insecure about my appearance – being overweight with round glasses and slightly crooked teeth was a recipe for disaster. And to top that, my hair broke off really bad so I wore wigs and weaves to cover up the truth.

I didn’t think I was beautiful so I used to imagine what I would look like if I had other people’s features…

My smile + Ashley’s long hair + Mia’s tiny waist + Tiffany’s hazel eyes = Perfection

I wanted so badly to be someone else. I sought validation from boys who didn’t even know what beauty was. We both thought that beauty was the size of a woman’s jeans but in retrospect, my size 12 was miniature compared to the proportion of my heart.

While middle school was a rough period for me, that pain helped me find my light. Around this time I fell in love with writing. Poetry got me through the darkness and helped me see that beauty was more than my appearance.

I realized that the way I expressed myself through writing was beautiful… the desire that I had to make a difference in my community was beautiful… the way I smiled so hard that my eyes looked closed was beautiful.

I began to see that I was beautiful for so many reasons aside from what I looked like. And as that inner beauty began to glow, it spread to my outer appearance. Gradually my self-esteem found it’s way off of the floor and I saw that I was beautiful just the way I was even if my thighs rubbed together or my glasses were a little thick. All of those characteristics were apart of who I was, and I couldn’t expect to be happy or fall in love if I couldn’t love the woman in the mirror first.

The most beautiful women are those who love themselves — their whole selves. Not in a narcissistic way, but in a way that they learn to play the cards that they were dealt without asking for a better hand. A beautiful woman is authentic and shines her light to encourage other people to do the same. Whether she’s going for natural look or her face is beat for the gods, she knows that her outer appearance is only one facet of her beauty and she’s much more than what meets the eye.

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Melissa 

Throughout all four years of high school, I vividly remember begging my mom to puhhhhleasssseeee let me wear makeup. I was always a girly girl so it was natural that I wanted to get dolled up on the daily and even now as a 24-year old woman, the love I have for all things beauty is borderline obsessive. However, back in my high school days there was an underlying reason I was so adamant about applying these products, in hopes of achieving what I then considered perfection.

Cue my adolescent enemy: ACNE. It became a struggle to embrace my natural beauty when I couldn’t get pass the constant breakouts and hyperpigmentation they left behind. The pure yearning I once had to learn and experiment with different beauty products and techniques just out of teenage curiosity, became more of a personal necessity in an effort to be seen as “beautiful” again. But I’m thankful that my mom didn’t allow me to wear makeup for as long as she did. I wasn’t able to hide but instead identify the beauty within me, beyond what was skin-deep.

And that’s when I learned… the real definition of beauty, which included more than having clear skin or being a pretty face. It’s the intelligence and maturity that I pride myself on. The compassion I have for friends and strangers alike. It’s my desire to never stop learning, growing, and becoming the best version of myself daily. And my favorite…it’s the smile that lights up a room, buckteeth n’ all with the sense of humor to match.

In my early adulthood, I’ve found the most beauty in situations that display growth. Like how I still love doing makeup and buying cosmetics but I only beat face on a good week, two days out of the week. The rest of the time I’m bare face and free. And it’s not just because I’m way past adolescence now and my skin is pretty clear. It’s because I still have acne scarring but I love the girl in the mirror fiercely and know only a fraction of what makes me beautiful is shown on the surface.

Being brave is beautiful. Having the tenacity to go after your dreams is beautiful. I could literally go on about what makes you beautiful beyond being beat but in the words of one of our favorite rappers, your true beauty is…

…something that the eyes can’t see, that the hands can’t touch and that others girls can’t be…and that’s YOU.” –J. Cole

Join Becoming Brilliance’s #BeautyBeyondtheBeat movement!  Whether you’re a girl who loves to beat face daily or a bare face beauty, we want to hear your journey of identifying and embracing your inner beauty until it ultimately shined outward.

Protect your Peace…

Protect your Peace

“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” -Unknown

So far, summer ’16 has truly been a period of transition and immense growth for me. Moving back home 6 years and 2 degrees later, embarking on the process of establishing my career in a challenging job market and also learning of new methods to grow my entrepreneurial brand has pushed my physical, mental and spiritual boundaries to new heights. Not to mention, once you add the senseless killings and just sudden deaths of people in our society to the equation, it’s a daily challenge to keep your spirits high. However, it’s a necessity of self to keep your head up and continue to vibrate higher in the face of personal, professional or societal adversity.

Now, I know that may sound easier said than done. But I’ve dedicated nearly the past 3 months to actively and diligently refusing to fall victim to feelings of depression, worthlessness, and defeat. I knew during this chapter of my life where I’m not currently employed which doesn’t allow me to be as financial free as I desire would prove to be a challenge for silencing anxiety and pursuing peace of mind. I knew it would be a tug of war between me spending a lot of time actively chasing my dreams while also feeling stuck in life…but this was the perfect time to finally refrain from beating myself up and simply learning to trust the journey.

I think we as human beings, underestimate how much we allow the happenings of the outside world to effect us inside. I made a few daily changes that I credit towards revamping my mental and spiritual outlook on my life. And while putting these changes into practice, I’ve learned it’s okay to be in touch with what is taking place around you. However, when you’ve worked at achieving and protecting a certain level of peace, you also acquire the skills to embrace the good and bad you encounter but NOT internalize it. So, I recommend:

  • Not opening emails or browsing social media immediately after you wake up in the morning.

In an article I read about 8 things you should do before 8am to be more productive, the author said something that resonated with me “Checking your smartphone puts you in a reactive—as opposed to a proactive –state.” I found myself experiencing several different emotions before I even got out of bed when exploring social media first thing in the morning.   Depending on what has taken place in the world, it can truly exhaust you shortly after just waking up. So now, I’ve resulted to reading an affirmation or the verse of the day from my Bible app when I have the urge to pick up my phone before I’ve gotten my day started.

  • Dedicating 10-15 minutes to meditation and/or prayer.

It’s up to you when you do it, how you do it and how many times you do it but please make an effort to do it.  We encounter so much throughout one day, a period of silence can make a world of difference in your state of mind.  I personally, began meditating for 10 minutes following my morning workout, which makes for an amazing start to my day. I feel like I have a clean slate and ready for whatever may come my way.

  • Acknowledging the positives even in seemingly “negative” situations.

This may have been the most challenging adjustment I made but it’s truly the one I’m most proud of. Didn’t get a job I interviewed for? No problem, their work environment wasn’t the ideal next step God envisions for me. Stuck in the infamous Atlanta traffic? Maybe I needed to be slowed down for my safety during the duration of my commute. There is enough darkness in the world; I decided I rather dedicate my time and shift my thoughts to finding the light.

So, I challenge you to diligently seek inner peace and protect it from all that may mean you no good. Being negative or finding something to be negative about is easy but the true test of character and growth is when you can be source of positivity by simply finding the beauty in the struggle.

 

#BrilliantBites: Mason Jar Breakfast Parfait

#BRILLIANTBITES- MASON JAR BREAKFAST PARFAIT (6)

A brilliant beauty can’t slay her day on an empty stomach, so it’s important to eat breakfast to start each day on the right foot. While it’s easy to skip breakfast, you should eat something in the morning to give you the energy needed to make it through the day.

If you’re always on the run like me, the easiest way to eat breakfast is to have something that I can grab quickly. Recently I made a yogurt parfait in a mason jar and it was delicious – my new breakfast go-to! It’s affordable and easy – you can even make a few at once over the weekend so eating breakfast is a no brainer once the work-week starts. Read on to see how you can make this jar of yummy-ness.

What You’ll Need:

  • A small mason jar (I used a large mason jar and made enough yogurt parfait to last a few days)
  • Greek yogurt
  • Fruit of choice (I used fresh strawberries and berries, but you can also use frozen fruit)
  • Whole grain granola
  • Optional
    • Shredded almond
    • Chia seeds
    • Raisins 

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Instructions

  1. Add a few spoonfuls of Greek yogurt to cover the bottom of the mason jar
  2. Layer fruit on the yogurt
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the granola and other dry ingredients of choice (almonds, chia seeds, raisins, etc.)
  4. Sprinkle the granola mixture on the fruit in the mason jar
  5. Repeat from step 1 until the mason jar is full
  6. Let parfait chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours
  7. Grab & go!

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What are your favorite breakfast meals when you’re on the run? Share in the comments below!