#blackgirlmagic – Celebrating Women’s History Month

Last month in my Instagram stories I had the novel idea to highlight a powerful black woman each day. It would be a woman that I admired or inspired me in some way. And like most of my last minute ideas, it didn’t work out as planned. I didn’t think through how I wanted to post the content, so I quickly realized that I had to switch how I wanted to present these beautiful women to the world. March is Women’s History Month,  and I decided to table the idea of just sharing a photo and a quote from each woman, but to share WHY I think of these women as a collective and a powerful force in my life.

She is Bold.

Just why my head’s not bowed.

I don’t shout or jump about

Or have to talk real loud.  

When you see me passing,

It ought to make you proud.

-Maya Angelou

I am drawn to women that can command your attention without opening their mouth. A woman that can draw you in with the sway of her hips, her smile, her style. A woman that when she speaks, the room stops to listen. Women that are unapologetically and consistently themselves. Women that share their words, their voices, and their talents with the world and encourage others to do the same.

Something that I am personally working through is finding and using my voice. I’ve spent years playing the background, or showing up in a way that was expected or safe. I’m want to emulate the women that move through this world as themselves, unapologetically.

She is Giving.

I grew up in a strong matriarchal family of givers. My Grandmother, Aunts, and Mother showed me through their actions that “to whom much is given, much is required.” They sold dinners, watched the children, and held prayer meetings. Anything that their family or community needed. They wore their gift of giving like a badge of honor.

Through their example, though, they inadvertently showed me the importance and the need to make sure in all of my giving, to add myself to the top of the list. They’ve shown me that is imperative that I don’t give to anything or anyone that isn’t giving back to me. To make sure to refill mine and my sister’s cup.

She is Beautiful.

“I need to see my own beauty and to continue to be reminded that I am enough, that I am worthy of love without effort, that I am beautiful, that the texture of my hair and that the shape of my curves, the size of my lips, the color of my skin, and the feelings that I have are all worthy and okay.”
– Tracee Ellis Ross

Black women are beautiful. Not only aesthetically, but our spirits, our energy provides the world with unmatched beauty. We are trendsetters. We are icons. We are resilient.

My mom used to joke that “Shanetra didn’t realize she was black until she went to college.” And sadly, she was right about that in some regards. Growing up, of course, I knew I was black, but I didn’t fully appreciate the beauty associated with it. I wanted my hair to be straight, my nose to be more narrow, my thighs to be smaller. I wanted to be more like the women whose beauty was celebrated by society than the women I was surrounded by in my day-to-day life.

Today, not only do I appreciate the beauty of black women, it is by far one of my favorite things to celebrate.

“Okay, polka dots!”

She got her Own.

Tell me how you feel about this

Who would I want if I would wanna live

I worked hard and sacrificed to get what I get

Ladies, it ain’t easy bein’ independent

– Destiny’s Child

I think we all can agree that we have a love-hate relationship with social media. It can be a time suck or a place where we battle our self-esteem or fight the desire to compare ourselves to others. But one of my favorite parts of social media is connecting with other black women that are building their business online. Natural living, clothing lines, makeup artistry, YouTube channels, black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S. (Turn up!)

I am inspired by the women that are using their gifts and talents to make their mark on the world. She may have a husband or partner, but she isn’t waiting for them to save her. She is working to build the life she imagined. She is building a legacy for her children and family.

Kinda woman that can do for herself
I look at her and it makes me proud
There’s something about her
-Ne-Yo

The older I get, the deeper my adoration of my culture grows, especially my love for black women. This is not a slight to any of my friends of other races, but I’ve found myself within my community and my heart is full because of it.

So tell me, who inspires you? Mrs. Carter? Mrs. Obama? Cardi B? Can I also take a moment and express my love for the diversity that is black women? We are MULTI-dimensional.

Love you, ladies.

Shanetra D.


Photo header caption (clockwise)

Henrietta Jeffcoat – My Mommy, Pitbull in a skirt, Fashionista

Francheska Medina (Hey Fran Hey) – Influencer, Podcaster, Wellness Advocate

Sarah Jakes Roberts – Pastor, Founder of Woman Evolve

Tracee Ellis Ross – Actress, Director, Fashion Icon

Maya Washington (Shameless Maya) – YouTuber, Influencer, Actress,

Jackie Aina – YouTuber, Beauty Guru

Gabrielle Union – Actress, Mommy, Fun Wife

She Did That – A Film by Renae Bluitt

she did that film

Last week, I was able to attend the showing of the film She Did That” hosted by  Women Engaged SC for Black Philanthropy Month 2018. The documentary highlighted the trials and incredible triumphs of black women in entrepreneurship and within it weaved themes of sisterhood, mental health, and community empowerment.

The film was produced by Renae Bluitt of “In Her Shoes Blog” and it followed the stories of herself and other black women entrepreneurs like Lisa Price of Carol’s Daughter, Luvvie Ajayi of Awesomely Luvvie, and Melissa Butler of The Lip Bar. In the film, the ladies talked about everything from how they got started with their businesses,  to different trials and tribulations they’ve experienced in their lives, to ways they were able to scale their businesses in a manner that was healthy for them.

Photo by Trenise Elmore

The film itself was well thought out and though it dealt with some of the heavy issues that black women face not only in the business space, but in America in general, it left you with a feeling of empowerment. Not just that high you get from a great pep talk, but empowerment that was attached to real life testimonies.

Here are a few of the takeaways I received:

“Free yourself, so you can free your sister.” – Lisa Price, Carol’s Daughter

  • Confidence–  There will be people or situations that may inadvertently make you question yourself. Most of the ladies spoke about a point in their lives that they either questioned themselves or was questioned by someone else if they were sure that they were one the right track. You have to be confident in yourself. And not only in you the person, but who God created you to be, and also in the skills you possess. Everyone may not understand, but you know work for those who need the gift you provide to the world. You are a boss, sis!

 

  • Purpose – Now, confidence ties in closely with purpose, but let’s break them up. Knowing your purpose keeps you focused. Entrepreneurship (or even side hustlin’) is hard and if you couple that with the trials of life, you WILL have moments when you may want to give up. It can be tempting to want to go back to your predictable life, but your purpose will not allow it. When you are focused on your purpose, nothing, not even you, will be able to stop you.

“Where my girls at?”

  • Community One of the major keys of being a successful entrepreneur (or a functional human being) is knowing that you can not build your vision alone.  It’s important to build a community of people that you can lean on for support. Often times when things get hard, we as women tend to try and take it all on. We are the proverbial “work horses”,  however,  it’s important to share the load with our community of sisters. And I would be remiss if I didn’t stress that it’s equally important for the men in our lives to also be our cheerleader. I don’t just mean our romantic relationships either.  Fathers support your daughters, brothers support your sisters, best friends support each other.  —We all we got!

 

  • There is not one path to success – Your personal definition of success is extremely important at every stage of your journey. It’s only good to look to others for inspiration, not for comparison. Everyone measures success differently, so get crystal clear of your personal definition and focus ALL your attention and efforts there.
Photo by Trenise Elmore

After the film, Women Engaged SC hosted a panel with Ms. Bluitt, Jessica Boyd of the Gild Agency, Anita Garrett of Women Engaged SC, Rosalyn & Gabrielle Goodwin of Gabby Bows, and Shennice Cleckley of My Dessert Bar. The women took questions from the audience and covered things from legacy building, to breaking generational curses, to pricing.

One of my favorite quotes of the night came from Mrs. Cleckley, “You’re never going to be paid your what you’re worth. You’re a uniquely made child of God. Place your worth there. But as it relates to your business, make sure your prices are lower than the jokers across the street.”

Overall, the event was a beautiful night of sisterhood and empowerment. If you want more information regarding the film click here. For more information about Women Engage SC visit www.wegivesc.org.

I can’t wait for more events like this one in Columbia!

Xoxoxo,

Shanetra

 

Getting Back To Me

black woman, lake house,
Photo courtesy of my son

I’ve been struggling to write this blog post for months. Five months to be exact. At first, I thought, “well, maybe I should give up blogging. I mean, it’s not like anyone reads it anyway.” So every time I had an idea or a thought about the blog I would file it away into the “I don’t do that anymore” column and move on.

But the thing is, I could never really ever move on. Inspiration would hit me in the most random places, like in the middle of a meeting at work, or while watching tv with my son. Ideas would flow freely into my head…until one day it stopped.

At first was a welcomed reprieve. I could focus on the wedding, focus on my family, focus on healing from all the major life changes I’ve experienced in the past year. I was able to shelve the inspiration for the blog and use that energy and mental space elsewhere. I was able to help friends with their endeavors, plan our wedding, be supermom, and be a productive 9-5 employee. It was nice.

Then I noticed a little nagging feeling in my stomach, first just an annoyance, but then it quickly grew into something I could not ignore. I married the love of my life, had a 7-day honeymoon in Mexico, and have begun to “build the life I desire”. – Except I wasn’t. Something was missing.

I missed creating. I wanted to create. But I was frustrated.

I had these desires, but no direction, no ideas. Then while chatting with a friend, it hit me. My life is in transition and I am having to figure out who I am all over again. And instead of fighting it, I’ve decided to write through the process. My life is changing, my interest and beliefs are evolving, and I’m (finally) excited about it!

I am ready to share more of my ever-evolving interests, my thoughts, and all my new adventures as Mrs. Hayes.

A New Normal

woman and child

*Disclaimer, this post has some strong language. If you are easily offended, please stop reading now. These are my rawest thoughts and I make no apologies for them.*

My mom passed away. 4:00 AM on Friday, April 28th.

My entire world has shattered. This is nothing like I had ever felt before. I thought that I had experienced the deepest loss possible when my grandmother passed. But this, this has shaken me to my core. Everything comfortable, everything I thought was true, right, the very foundation from which my entire life has been built…gone.

So, I have spent the past 162 days asking myself “what in the entire f*ck? How am I supposed to continue? F*ck you mean, it will get easier?”

Mama and I shared a bond that was both intense and indifferent. We both are Cancers and we love hard, we are nurturing and caring, but please stay on our good side. God help you if you don’t.

I am my mother’s eldest child. The one that snapped her into adulthood. Her first miracle, you see, my mother was told she wouldn’t be able to have children, yet here I was the “little red rat” (thanks, Granddaddy). In some ways, mama and I grew up together. She was young and in the military, so my Grandmother had a huge hand in helping raise me.

As I grew older and eventually had my son, our relationship began to evolve from mother/daughter to friends. We would hang out,  we acted up, she fussed as I rolled my eyes, I tried to be the boss and she brushed me off. Life was good.

Then she started feeling bad, the random symptoms started. Then the diagnosis. F*cking cancer. Again.

Mama took it like a “G”. She was like “Oh, I beat it once, I’m good. They caught it early.” And to be honest, I was nervous but she was so positive,  and from all accounts, she was good, so I was like “cool, we got this. It’s going to be a journey, but it’s nothing we can’t handle.”

That was December 27, 2017. 3 days after my fiance proposed. 3 days after she saw some of her prayers come to fruition. She longed for Langston to have the stability of both of his parents, for him to have the proper family that he deserved. She and Brian had planned the engagement for months, lots of texts and phone calls, right down to her buying me a new dress and shoes for the party.

She fought up until her last breath. She went through her treatments, the appointments, the hospital stays, all with a smile on her face. She made sure the nursing staff was comfortable, she wrote kudos notes, gave out Christian books, told jokes, all while going through her own battle. She took care of my sister and I from the hospital bed, giving words of encouragement, threatening to ‘come up to that job’ because ‘they don’t mess with her baby’ (my sister). She let everyone know that would listen that we were her girls and she was proud of us.

So when it was time for her to go, my sister and I were okay. She’d shown us faith and strength beyond anything we had ever seen and we wanted her to rest. She had given us all that she could and now it was time for us take all the love and knowledge she instilled in us and live our best lives.

As much as we are comforted knowing that she’s with Grandma and her twin sister we are wrecked with the aftermath of her love leaving us. That is the thing about losing someone so close to you to illness, you are so happy that they aren’t sick and suffering anymore, but you selfishly wish they were still here.

So, 168 days later, I am still processing, still putting myself back together. There are days that I feel renewed and look at things with fresh eyes, thinking about all the ways I can honor my mother’s life while I am still here. Then there are days when the grief is so overwhelming that it is a struggle to go about a “normal” day.

Thankfully, the good days are starting to outweigh the bad, and I can finally, honestly, say that I believe the best is yet to come. And I will spend the rest of my time here on earth, honoring my mother through LIVING.

Authentically, Richly, Fully, Lovingly, Unapologetically.

 

SND