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

 

“Got a Man That I Think I’m Gone Love Forever”

Girl. This is not a drill. It’s not a secret Pinterest board. I’m getting married.

On December 23rd, I thought we were having a small Christmas party, just a few friends, and family. To my surprise, Brian had been plotting (with the help of my mom, sister, and a few friends) to give me the biggest surprise of the year.

While we were planning the party, I had some suspicions, but my friends reassured me since they “didn’t know” about it, then I couldn’t possibly be right. Or that he wanted all of this extra stuff because “you know he’s a little fancy.” So I let the suspicions fade and continued on prepping and planning.

During the party, everyone did a good job keeping me distracted with food and champagne, so when the party guests began encircling me, I still didn’t know what was going on.

Oh! But when Brian started talking I knew something was up. You see, Brian is not a talker. He’s definitely not a “make a random speech” type of guy.

His speech was beautiful. Now, I would be lying if I said that I remember it word for word, (hello, champagne!), but I remember how everyone responded. My mom was crying, my sister was cheesing like a Chester cat, and my Aunt Betty hit us with a few of her signature “my, my, my!” exclamations.  He told the story of how we first met when he was a freshman and I was a sophomore in the Russell House Grand Market Place at the University of South Carolina. He spoke of how he and his friends gleefully reported to each other every time one of them saw me on campus.  How he and I finally connected at a mutual friend’s birthday party. Then finally, he recalled the moment he realized I would be his wife.

man and woman going to dinner
This was us circa 2007. We were headed to the Melting Pot for his 21st birthday.

I was on cloud 9! He had finally asked! After all the ups and downs, all the laughter and tears, all the explanations of “No, my son’s last name is Hayes, mine is Davis”, we were getting married!  I was literally walking on the air.


What Goes Up Must Come Down

My engagement high lasted for about 4 days. I had a goofy smile, I stared at my ring, and I practiced the word fiance in the mirror. I was floating. But just as it normally does, life quickly brought me back down to earth.

Langston, our son, didn’t understand what happened. You see, he was not interested in his mommy loving anyone else, he didn’t care that someone else was his father. And to top it off, his daddy had the nerve to give me a ring?!?That was something Langston has been saying he wanted to give me for a while. Langston was experiencing what some call “Oedipus complex” and unfortunately for all of us, his dad didn’t understand it and wasn’t having it. Thank goodness that it only last a few days and now he’s excited that his mom and dad are “getting marriage” and that his GiGi has promised to get him a ring as well. *insert eye roll*

But aside from playing referee with my guys, my mother got sick and was hospitalized for 3 weeks. So there was no time to worry about wedding venues and guest counts, my mother needed me. I am a firm believer that everything happens in perfect divine order, so, for all of these things, I am grateful.

Mama is getting better and stronger every day and things are starting to level back out. That means we are now back to focusing on the engagement and wedding planning.

Y’all! Why didn’t any of you warn me? There are SO many decisions to make! So many well-intentioned people asking SO many questions. Do you want a big wedding or a small wedding? Plated meals or heavy hors d’oeuvres? Stateside or destination? Do you even WANT a wedding? Dis tew merch.

Girl. The first few times Brian and I would start talking about it, we would immediately regret that decision and change the subject quickly.

Brian is the logical, thoughtful, traditional type and I am the dreamer, fly by the cuff, non-traditional type. So we were debating *side eye* about hypotheticals but getting real-life mad.

We really had to take a minute. We (read: I) had to realize that this was a journey. It is OUR journey, so there are no wrongs or rights, just what is best for us. Now, I can’t say that we have it completely ironed out, but we are more clear about what WE want and are fine with taking it one step at a time.

With all of that being said, let the planning begin! Because one thing I’ve already started to realize is that we aren’t just planning a wedding, but we are laying the framework for our little family and I can’t wait to share this journey with you.

xoxoxo,

Shanetra D. <-Soon to be H?
P.s. My sister and I went to my first bridal show (possibly only), bridal show. My sister was fun, but she was more concerned with candied bacon samples than table linens!

p.p.s. Since you and I are friends, feel FREE to share your tips, tricks, and advice for the wedding day and beyond!