#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

“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!

So, I Have a Girl Crush

Hey there!

Since we are best friends now, I have to tell you a secret. I have an insane girl crush. Like it’s an, “I think I love her” type of crush.

My boyfriend doesn’t understand it. He just didn’t understand why I insist on seeing her again and again. He just took me to see her this past December in Charleston and I was geeked about seeing her again. The only response I could give him was “She’s Jill Scott. I have to see her.” End of story.

 

My best friend and I went to see her at the Township Auditorium last week and it was 3 full hours of pure, black WOMAN magic. She was introduced by a powerful spoken word artist named Georgia Me, who started the night by making us laugh, then empowering us to accept the bodies we were given and to learn to speak to the king within our black men.

 

Then Jill hit the stage. Jill graced us with her sultry voice, her amazing band, her witty sense of humor, her MAGIC. We went from fun girls night songs, to sexy love songs, and we hit everything in between. The concert ended with an amazing display of musical talent by her band and backup singer that ushered you right into a beautiful state of euphoria.

Once I came down from my high, I had an epiphany. Yes, I love Jill, but what I REALLY love is the way she affirms my womanhood. She tells me I can be a strong boss chick, soft and sexy for my man, that fun, goofy girlfriend and a doting mother.  

Here are 4 excerpts from her music that has solidified what I know to be true as a 31-year-old WOMAN:

“Maybe you don’t recognize what you got between your eyes (well), So I’m gonna set you correct so you can get what you should get (well), Intuition’s something sweet (well), Let you know what you know, let you find before you seek (well), Spirit of discernment, pray for it every day (well), Let you know who should go and who you should let stay (well)” – Rolling Hills, The Light of the Sun

  1. Trust your instincts. – Now I know you thinking, “Duh, Shanetra”, but I don’t know how many personal fires I’ve had to put out because I went against my gut feeling. Or how many uncomfortable situations I’ve been in this week because I decided to either go along with the group or with the societal norm. –So now, no matter the situation, if it doesn’t “sit well with me” then I’m not doing it nor am I letting it into my space.

“I’m taking my freedom, Pulling it off the shelf, Putting it on my chain, Wear it around my neck, I’m taking my freedom, Putting it in my car, Wherever I choose to go, It will take me far…” – Golden, Beautifully Human: Words And Sounds Vol.

2. My life. My rules. – Now, I would be lying to you if I told you that I have completely mastered this concept. I realize that this is a part of my journey and I am more conscious about questioning myself about everything. Daily I am gaining more clarification about who I am, and I am designing my life around those truths, no one else’s.

“If I can find in all this, A dozen roses, Which I would give to you, You’d still be miserable, In reality, I’m gon be who I be, And I don’t feel no faults” – Hate on Me, Beautifully Human: Words And Sounds Vol. 3

3. It’s okay to outgrow things. And other people. – To know me is to know that I LOVE people. I am that person you probably don’t want to sit next to on the plane. Because unless I am sleeping myself, I am talking to you. I love genuine connections and learning more about people’s story. So I tend to make a friend wherever I go.  However, in recent years, I haven’t been able to maintain some relationships. And though it breaks my heart, I have had to understand that it’s okay. It doesn’t mean that there is any love lost, it just means you and the other person were growing in different directions.

“This is the last take for the night, Understand it’s kinda late, And I gotta get home to my son, ‘Cause he’s so special to me, I mean I gotta see him, I need to breathe him, That’s my baby, don’t call me crazy, I love the studio but I love him more” – Blessed, The Light of the Sun

4. Being a mother is truly my life’s joy. And I now realize, I can’t allow motherhood to become another self-imposed limitation to the rest of my life. –I adore being my son’s mother. I would not trade a single moment of this journey for any amount of money in the world. But the older he gets and the further I get on my personal journey, the more I realize that I’ve allowed “being someone’s mother” stunt my growth in other areas. Now if you ask any of your mommy friends she will tell you that “mommy guilt” is a paralyzing condition, one that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. But the message that is constantly being stressed to me is to make sure that I “put my mask on first.” I can’t be a great mother to Langston if I am unfulfilled, or tired, or empty. I can’t boast that I am raising my son in a “happy, two-parent home” if I don’t take the time to be his father’s girlfriend, not co-parent. I will have to miss things, Grandma and Gigi may have to fill in for me, and that’s okay. I have to make sure that I am not trying to pour from an empty cup. He deserves it. I deserve it.

Bae.
Bae.

 

At the end of the concert, she emphasized the importance of appreciating real music. She said the instrument itself is an inanimate object without the soul of the person behind it. Music connects us, it sparks something in our souls.

I could go on and on about soulful music that speaks to me, but it’s your turn. Who is your favorite artist? Why?

Share some links below!

xoxoxo,

Shanetra D.

 

P.s. I also have a new obsession with Indie artists…who else should I be listening to?