career · life curation

Minor Disappointments and Setups for Greatness

Happy Monday, friends! I hope you all are enjoying a great day wherever you are, and I hope your weekend was fantastic!

Recently, I applied for a part-time position with an online tutoring company. I liked that the position was flexible (that is crucial, given my current schedule) and I figured that it would help me transition into more freelance work. After completing the second round of the interview process, I was informed that I did not get the position. As you can imagine, I was disappointed. I thought I was the perfect candidate, and I felt like I should have made it to the “short list”. However, the company felt otherwise, and they advised me that they would like to keep my application on file, in case they expand and have more openings.

This experience reminded me of something that my mother told me years ago. She said, “If it’s meant for you, nothing and no one will be able to get in the way of you having it”. This little disappointment was just a clear sign that this position was not meant for me. And, upon further consideration, I realized that I actually didn’t want the position.

Yes, you read that right: I didn’t even want that job, if I’m being perfectly honest. I intended that I earn money in a more passive way this year, and this job was quite the opposite of “passive”. It would require a certain number of hours every week, and I wouldn’t be able to delegate these tasks to someone else. Also, this job would involve me occupying a role that doesn’t enhance my future career prospects. In fact, it’s a bit regressive, in a way: I would have to downplay my knowledge and participate in some mind-numbing tasks in that role.

Yes, the role would have brought in more income, but it goes against the intentions that I set. Any action that goes against your intentions is bound to become uncomfortable and unsustainable at some point. Also, perhaps it’s because I’m older, or maybe because I’ve had enough disappointments that turned out to be blessings in disguise, I’m not taking this rejection personally. I’m not right for the job, but that is no reflection on my value as a person. I’ve experienced disappointment as well as incredible successes, and I have seen enough to know that everything works out in my favor in the end.

So, I’m taking this minor disappointment and counting it as a setup for future success. I believe that this position was denied to me because it is not right for me and what I’m creating for my future. It doesn’t fit in my grand scheme, and that’s okay. Additionally, by not clamoring to find some other position to validate my worth as an employee, I’m leaving space for the opportunities that are worthy of my time and attention.

Those are my Monday musings. I’ll have another Writer’s Wednesday post in a couple of days, as well as some other chat during this week. Talk to you all tomorrow!

business · career · life curation

Women and Money: Problems and Solutions

Some of you may not realize this, but April is National Financial Literacy Month. As a woman, I’m fascinated by how finances factor into the lives of women. I feel that most women “know” about money, but there’s a disconnect between knowledge and application. As a financial professional (enrolled agent), I understand many of the pitfalls that women experience as regards wealth-building and debt reduction. What I intend to do with this post is offer solutions and workarounds for the most common issues that exist when it comes to women and money.

  • In most fields, women tend to earn less that their male counterparts doing the same work.

Yes, the gender pay gap is real. It doesn’t apply 100% of the time (for example, women that work in food preparation services and fast food tend to earn more than males in the same job). For most women, changing their gender just to earn more money isn’t a reasonable solution. Most women aren’t clear about how they can minimize or eliminate the pay gap that they are experiencing.

Women would do well to try to eliminate the pay gap that they experience personally. This can be done by learning what the current wage expectations are in a particular field, then comparing this to the woman’s experience, education, and location. After that, it’s a good idea to research the ways to negotiate for a pay raise, and practice the negotiation conversation with a trusted friend, mentor or advisor. If the gap is too large to be successfully negotiated, then it’s worthwhile to research and apply to different employers. Additionally, gaining additional skills can give women an advantage, making it easier to command higher wages (this can be done easily through free online education providers like ALISON, Coursera, Saylor and CPA Academy)

  • Women save money more but invest less than men.

Saving money is great, but the interest rates for savings accounts (of all sorts) is too low to keep up with the rate of inflation. As long as the money sits in savings, it’s missing an opportunity to work harder and generate a higher return. To that point, women are also less inclined to invest than men. Many women have been conditioned to see investing as “too risky”, and thus they prefer safer ways to store money (such as savings accounts).

The solution for this is to focus on investments that feel safer, and building your confidence until you are comfortable enough to take bigger risks. A good way to start investing is to purchase just one inexpensive stock, and start regularly reading about that stock’s performance. Then, invest in more stocks, adding a little more money to invest at each time. Websites like Acorns, Earnin and even Cash App are making it easier than ever to invest small amounts and to observe how the investments are performing.

  • Women have more student loan debt overall.

Education is necessary to earn a solid living, but it’s hard to move forward in life post-college when you have significant student loan debt. Due to the pandemic, many loan companies have opted to provide forbearance to loan recipients, so these recipients don’t have to pay on the student loans while trying to adjust to possible income and lifestyle changes.

There are two approaches that I recommend for studnet debt. If possible, avoid student debt by taking equivalency tests so that certain credits can be awarded without having to pay costly tuition (I wrote a book all about this, titled Degree Hacking: How to Save Money and Get College Credits in Record Time). However, if the loan debt has already been incurred, then I recommend that women research whether their employers offer student loan repayment. If not, seek an employer that does offer this benefit. Also, if the student loan rates are higher than, say, the cost of a line of credit or a home equity loan, then opt for one of these, and use that money to pay off the student loan. Yes, that does mean trading in one debt for another, but at least utilize these other funding sources can save money in the long run.

  • Women are more likely to live in poverty during their old age.

This is heartbreaking but true. Living to advanced age should automatically mean comfortable golden years, but this is not always how it works out. The best defense against lives of poverty is cultivating authentic friendships and support groups before reaching advanced age. It’s invariably more difficult to create relations when these are “needed”, so it’s best to start creating these connections before health declined occur.

Once a person is retirement age, it can be very challenging to make new friends. But websites that encourage meeting up (like Meetup), neighborhood town hall meetings, special interest groups and charities are a great way to connect with like minds and meet new friends. After creating these connections, it offers a little bit of a buffer against hard time. People are more likely to support their friends during hard time, but the key is to create mutual benefit. No one wants to feel “used”, so it’s crucial to create a relationship where both parties feel appreciated and enjoy one another’s company.

  • On the whole, women are less financially literate than men.

I recommend that all women take time to read books on finance, as well as take advantage of free webinars and workshops offered by financial institutions (such as banks, credit unions, and government and other oversight agencies, such as FINRA). Below, I provide a few links to books and articles that I find to be wonderful for learning about money.

Important Facts About Women and Money

Women & Money: 10 Facts We Should All Know

Money and Women: Myths and Facts

60+ Stats About Women and Money

Commercial Bank Regulation

MyCreditUnion Financial Literacy Resources

National Credit Union Association Financial Literacy Resources

My finance and tax-related blog (new posts starting in May 2021)

Smart Women Finish Rich by David Bach

I hope you all find these tips helpful, and if you need clarity on anything else, let me know in the comments!

health · life curation

Fibro Fridays – My Current Favorite Fibro Vloggers

Happy Fibro Friday! We made it to the end of another week, and what a week it’s been! I’m looking forward to a quiet and restful weekend with my family, because I need a little downtime.

But anyhoo, back to Fibro Friday. Today, I’m sharing some of my favorite fibro vloggers. These lovely souls have generously shared their fibromyalgia journeys on YouTube, and I’m thankful for the knowledge, encouragement, and inspiration they’ve provided. A few of them have fibromyalgia-centered channels, while others discuss fibro occasionally, while vlogging about the rest of their lives.

If you’ve watched any of these vloggers, then you know that they have great content and are joys to watch. I hope this list of vloggers gives you some great ideas on how to manage your fibromyalgia symptoms and a heaping dose of encouragement.

In no particular order:

Grace at Home – she doesn’t post frequently, but she shares some really sound information on her fibro experience. The symptoms she mentioned are almost identical to mine. She was one of the first Black women fibro vloggers that I found on YouTube. That actually speaks to another issue when it comes to chronic illness (gross underdiagnosis and misdiagnosis of WOC, especially Black women), which I’ll discuss in a future Fibro Friday post. This video describes, in detail, how fibro feels. It’s great information for anyone that doesn’t understand the pain that fibromyalgia patients experience.

Marla Robinson – Marla’s channel has all sorts of lifestyle goodies, and I love the fact that she’s a mature YouTuber. Aside from that, she gives wonderful information on her fibromyalgia and other chronic illness journey, as well as the treatments that have worked for her, as well as what has been ineffective. She does a fabulous job explaining her journey, so for anyone that wants a very thorough explanation, this is a great channel to view.

Chronically Emily – While fibromyalgia is a devastating condition at any age, it’s especially disheartening to see younger people with the condition. There is a particular sadness that I feel when I see young people that are impacted so significantly by chronic illness, because I know that they won’t get to experience a pain-free young adulthood. However, dear Emily seems to take it all in stride and is living a wonderful, full life in spite of her pain. I enjoy hearing how she’s doing (she has multiple chronic conditions) and seeing her embrace new chapters and experiences in her life.

Olga Chronics – This charming channel centers around Olga’s chronic illnesses (mainly, fibromyalgia and IBS) but she also shares her other interests, such as reading books and spending time with her adorable pup. She goes into some of the ways that she is personally impacted by fibro, and she goes to great lengths to offer possible solutions to her subscribers. I also love that she gives her viewers a peek into how Portugal and its health system treats fibromyalgia patients.

Adventures with Fibro – Deena embodies living an active life while still taking care of herself and managing her fibromyalgia. She is an avid hiker and gives wonderful tips based on her 17(!) years of fibor experience. Deena does a great job of discussing some of the mental health aspects that can be affected by fibro (many people diagnosed with this condition also have to deal with anxiety and depression).

Lord and Lordettes – Nicola splits her channel between fibromyalgia-related content and family/lifestyle vlogging. She has a fibro-related post every Wednesday, and she takes her time to discuss a singular specific symptom in these videos. I also appreciate hearing how fibromyalgia is treated in the UK (as a US-based fibro patient, I’m always curious about which countries have better/more innovative care for invisible illnesses. US treatment approaches are mediocre in many ways, and absolutely nonexistent in other ways.)

A Life I Choose – This channel focuses on overall wellness, but the hostess, Emma, also discusses how she mitigated her fibromyalgia. I think that one key advantage that Emma has is a background as a psychotherapist, so she has extensive knowledge on how to condition the brain in a way that promotes healing and (possibly) minimizes pain. She has (if I recall correctly) successfully transitioned herself off of fibromyalgia medications and lives a normal life with minimal pain.

culture · fitness · goals · health · life curation

March Goal Updates – Finally!

Happy first day of April, friends!

I know that you all saw some post notifications yesterday, but those posts aren’t ready just yet. Bear with me: the past few weeks have been busy. Between my job, my side job, my family, and my school coursework, I’ve been burning the candle at both ends. I will be getting a much needed break this weekend, but that’s a couple of days away. In any case, I am ready to chat about my March goal update.

So, my goal list for 2021 is as follows:

  • Publish 5 books
  • Lose 15 lbs
  • Manifest 3 international trips
  • Earn 6 figures in my businesses
  • Read 100+ books
  • Luxury purchases – Hermes, Christian Louboutin, Sophia Webster, Ralph & Russo
  • Cure my fibromyalgia

I always discuss my book reading goal in a separate post, so I won’t talk about that until next week. However, I’m really excited to confirm that I’ve made progress on several of my goals for the year!

  • Publish 5 books

In the midst of the tragic shootings in Atlanta several days ago, I was moved to do my part in supporting the Stop Asian Hate movement. I stayed up late several nights, and I ended up writing and publishing two books to inspire children to learn more about Asian countries. I believe that hate is rooted in ignorance, and the cure for ignorance is knowledge. I plan to eventually write books on each of the countries of the world, but I decided to start with China and Vietnam, in hopes that what I publish will help educate children on the many ways that we are wonderfully different and surprisingly alike. My books are Let’s Go to China and Let’s Go to Vietnam, and they are filled with beautiful pictures and fun facts about these two Asian countries.

Now, these books were not planned at all, but I believe in working with inspiration as it strikes. Inspiration led me to write them, and I’ve done this sort of thing enough to know that I should never ignore a hunch. These two books bring my closer to my publishing goals for the year and, as a plus, I’m on target to meet this goal before summer begins!

  • Lose 15 lbs

A recent trip to the doctor confirmed that I have gained weight (more about this in tomorrow’s post). So I’m amping up my physical activity and revising my diet. I feel pretty good about the changes I’m making, and I’m confident that I’ll be able to shed the weight easily – so long as I stick to my plan. I’ll spill more of those details tomorrow.

  • Manifest 3 international trips

Part of manifesting my three international trips including allowing inspiration to point me in the direction of the right trips for me. Well, with some inspired conversations with my friends, as well as some fantastic evidence from the Universe, I’ve decided on one of the countries that I will visit this year! I’ll share more about this as I plan my trip, but I’m really excited that one of those international trips is in the works.

  • Earn 6 figures in my businesses

I’ve gotten several opportunities to earn additional money doing the things that I already do (like vlogging). I also have been selling some of my books (so exciting!) and having several people interested in a few of my little businesses. I’m not sure how much money I’ve made so far in my businesses, but I think I’ll calculate it next month and share it in my April goal update post.

  • Read 100+ books

This will be in a separate post, but I’m excited to let you all know that I read more books in March than I did in January or February. I’m so happy that I’m making progress toward my goal!

  • Luxury purchases – Hermes, Christian Louboutin, Sophia Webster, Ralph & Russo

I’m still floating off of the happiness of my Sophia Webster purchase. I haven’t recently checked the Hermes, Louboutin, or Ralph & Russo websites to decide on what items I want, but I’m sure I’ll have made some more progress toward this before I do my April update.

  • Cure my fibromyalgia

I’ve been feeling great recently! My medication seems to be at an optimal dosage, which makes me really happy. I’ve been dealing with fatigue, but other than that, everything has been good. I’ll discuss this more in tomorrow’s post, too.

So that’s it for my updates. I’ll be back tomorrow with my Fibro Friday post. Take care, and I’ll talk to you all soon!

*This post contains affiliate links.

life curation · Uncategorized

Now is a Good Time . . .

Happy Thursday, friends! I have found it difficult to come up with a topic that is interesting enough to follow up the incredible interview I had with Tia Aya. I hesitated to write anything this week, because her story is so profound and I don’t want to follow that post with inane conversation.

However, I’ve taken a long enough break from posting on the blog, so I’m returning with (what I hope will be) useful information. Recently, Goldman Sachs announced a $10 billion initiative to close the wealth gap with Black women. I was thrilled to see this, as I am confident that this initiative will help many women, and perhaps it will even help some women that I know personally.

This initiative brings to mind the fact that many opportunities surround us, some big (like $10 billion) or small (a handy ebook that gives you a blueprint for financial freedom). Sometimes, we only recognize big opportunities, and neglect the small ones that may be seem insignificant but are actually sufficient for whatever phase of life you are in. Opportunities surround us constantly, if we just take the time to open our minds to what’s possible.

f you haven’t been steadily working toward your goals and carving out the time to do your work, then you may find that, when opportunities come along, you aren’t ready for them. Now is a good time to assess what’s working for you, whether you’ve been resting on your laurels, or in what areas you need to improve. If you find that you have to overhaul your entire life, so be it. The reward for doing your work is LIVING WELL. The work is well worth it.

Self reflection is key right now, because we are bombarded with messages that are harmful, and social media “controversies” that distract us from what really matters. There are a lot of things that can cause us to “take our eyes off of the ball”. The lack of attention to what really matters may cause us to waste time and money. We can’t afford to waste precious resources on trivial matters.

If I sound like I’m sounding an alarm, it’s because I am. I’m noticing that there are major shifts happening all around us, and most of us are too busy putting out small personal fires to notice the trends. Our best chance to thrive comes from recognizing opportunities and embracing them fully. But we can’t embrace opportunities that we cannot see, so it’s imperative that we pay attention and eliminate extraneous activities.

I’ll share more about this in future posts, but that’s all for now. I hope you all have a great day! Talk to you all tomorrow.

life curation · Uncategorized

Bronze Butterfly Exclusive: An Interview with Tia Aya

Happy Friday, friends! As I promised yesterday, today is a very special post. This is the very first Bronze Butterfly interview! It has always been my goal to share, not just my own story, but stories of other individuals that embody this blog’s values, such as curating a high quality life, learning to transform our pain into triumph, and creating space for the sacred within and around ourselves. I am pleased to share with you all this incredible woman’s journey, which reflects all of the values previously mentioned. I’m positive that her story will inspire you.

I’m actually not sure when I first crossed paths with Tia Aya, but when we connected on social media, I had the feeling that our paths crossed for a divine reason. For starters, we share the same first name, and live in the same region of the US. We also shared many of the same views regarding women’s empowerment, the importance of self care, and the value of stepping into greater versions of ourselves.

Tia Aya (personal photo collection)

Tia’s story is similar to many of ours: a wife and mother, she found herself starting over again after escaping an unfulfilling and abusive marriage. She had to make difficult choices along her path, but she is a thriver, and now lives an authentically happy life, completely at peace with the path that she’s walked. In addition, she generously blesses all of us connected to her with kindness, wisdom and immensely restorative energy.

It is my absolute honor to offer my blog as a space to tell her story, in her own words. This is her unabridged account, and I’ll only pop in on occasion (you’ll see brackets each time I jump in). I hope that you all take the time and read through her story, as I believe that you will find it fascinating, relatable, and full of hope. Additionally, today is her birthday. I wish her the happiest of solar returns, and pray that she continues to prosper on her journey. Without further ado, here is Tia in her own words.

*******

(Tia A) It was indeed an honor and privilege to chat with you. I’m almost certain it won’t be our last conversation and hopefully the start to a loving, mutually respectful friendship [Absolutely! I can’t wait to chat with her again]. No matter, thank you for the opportunity to share some of my story. I hope that it inspires, motivates and sets someone’s soul on fire; to not only live their lives on their terms but to also share their own stories so that others might see that they, too, can #BETheirOwnHeroes. 


Here’s part of my story: 

[My question: What significant events were part of your metamorphosis into the woman you are today? ]


The journey of me #BEingMyOwnHero all started in 2014 when I was diagnosed with myelofibrosis; a rare, chronic blood cancer that I’d been unknowingly living and began developing around sixteen years old. It would take the detection of an enlarged spleen before doctors would do a bone marrow biopsy to determine that all the years of elevated platelet counts were indeed a marker of blood cancer that was slowly and chronically developing in my bone marrow. As one might assume, it was devastating news and I, like anyone else, went through all the stages of grief when I received the horrible diagnosis of cancer, and in many cases and for many people, what seems to be a terminal diagnosis. Yet something began to happen: I kept waking up each morning, taking care of my family and in the midst of this life-changing event… Life kept going on. Just like clockwork. My kids still needed me. The house still needed to be attended to, the dog still needed to be walked and my own needs and desires began coming forth and the diagnosis of cancer began becoming not so prominent in the front of my mind. 

Tia and her sons (personal photo collection)

Still, something most important to note, cancer also became a prime motivator in me doing these mundane everyday things while beginning to think and create the life I’d always wanted and NEEDED to begin living. Because I figured it as this much:If I’m going to live with cancer, I might as well live as fearlessly and unapologetically as possible. [Hear hear! I completely agree.] It’s almost as though cancer was the worst and one of the best things to happen to me because it took away every excuse I had to diminish my life and dim my light. So there began me setting out to BE and DO everything I could do to live my best life and this started with making a bucket list at the end of 2016; with goals and dreams that seemed to leap from the pages of my journal–almost as soon as I’d write them down. 


Within the next few years, I’d leave my toxic marriage, unfortunately, my children whom I desperately tried to bring along with me and sever every toxic relationship I had outside of myself; and some of these relationships were more than twenty years old. 


I’d just turned 40 and for the first time in my life, I left my home state moved seven hours away alone with only $300 and used half of it in gas to get to my destination; bringing only one clothes basket, a bookbag and all the clothes I could discreetly conceal in the third row of my SUV because I didn’t know if I’d be sleeping in my truck and would need to use the middle row.

(photo courtesy Canva)

I’d spend the next eight months between two homeless shelters while becoming fully employed within the first three weeks of relocating. During my stay at the shelters, I’d save as much money as I could and spend all of my “free time” working extra shifts and spending most of my time journaling, organizing and creating my life; despite the insurmountable challenges that I faced, the rules set by the shelters and the timetables that I’d been given by them to find a place to live and the means in which to keep a roof over my head. This all left me feeling like I was living in a parallel universe at many moments; compounded with existing without my children, left me feeling numb yet I promised myself that I wouldn’t detach and become disassociated from my new reality. 


In some of my hardest moments, I began to remember the story of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey and how he described the parts of every single character (including us) becoming our own heroes and the roles in which other characters (i.e. the wise one, villain, Damsel in Distress, comrades etc.) all play their vital roles in our journeys and must present to teach us and help push us towards becoming to our heroes. At the same time, I began learning of an American, Buddhist monk named Pima Chodron and her teachings of bodhicitta (the softening of the heart) and how we can learn to sit with fear, uneasiness and every other uncomfortable feeling that exists to humans instead of becoming harden and apathetic. 

It would be October of 2017 that I’d move into my own place and thus begin cultivating my new life while attending to some unfinished business that I’d left in my hometown. I have lived peacefully in the same place while continuing to align with my dreams, goals and deepest desires. Within a short period of time, I’ve made such tremendous strides and have gone from surviving to thriving expeditiously. 
Living with cancer continues to be one of my most prominent reasons to live my life and continue to venture into uncharted waters. Cancer isn’t my life yet it’s helped me embrace the best in me and accept the worst in me and use it all to live boldly and not give much thought to what anyone thinks about me and my choices. 

Tia, after embracing this new chapter of her life

[My question: What self care or spiritual practices do you engage to restore yourself?]


I start my day in complete silence–no tv, no radio. This helps me center myself and set the tone for my day. I practice wakeful meditation while drinking dark roast coffee and reading positive affirmations and will meditate at work while working. I allow myself mental breaks with no permission at any given time; as a reminder that what I am seeing and experiencing in that moment, is not all there is to my life–it’s just a moment, not the entirety. 


I make time to rest and relax daily and be in the moment. It’s a non-compromise and not up for debate within myself or externally with anyone else. I don’t care how much I have to do, I make the time to decompress and just sit and BE; something that I define as being whoever or whatever you are in that given moment. I sleep late on the weekends and take naps late in the evenings; as I’m a bit of a night-owl and find that I become extremely creative during overnight hours. To me, learning to rest and allowing myself to do nothing has been most pivotal in keeping myself healthy, happy and allowing my body to self-manage its dis-ease state. I listen to music for hours while watching tv and reading/studying/working on projects and pay attention at great detail. I love my time and I’m very assertive and intentional about how I spend it. I’ve had to learn to love spending time with myself and doing so is one of the best ways I spend replenishing and recentering myself. 

I’m an agnostic atheist and despite popular consensus, I believe in a lot of things and concepts. One thing I love about being agnostic atheist is that it keeps me open to accepting that I don’t know everything, can’t explain everything (including if a deity or deities exists) and I’m perfectly okay with all of that. It’s also not knowing or being able to explain a lot of things (despite my love of science and philosophy) that keeps me both humble, accepting of others and childlike; filled with wonder, playful and learning not to take myself or others so seriously all the time. 

My religion is: be a good human–cause no harm and take no shit. 


[My question: What are some of the things that you find inspirational?]

I find other people’s stories deeply encouraging and it’s not just the ones with happy endings. I am a documentary geek and often watch hard-to-swallow ones. It’s not because I am a glutton for punishment or sadness but moreso me trying to understand and grasp the human capacity to survive, thrive and find happiness despite unimaginable pain and suffering. 


Many things can be disputed but not one’s own story. 

No matter if we agree or not, one’s own story is what it is and I find the more stories that I listen to and watch–the more I realize how we’re more similar than different; even with those who do inhumane things that we could never fathom doing. 

Animals and nature are other sources in which I find immense inspiration and motivation. I love watching documentaries about them because it reminds me there’s more to life than the human experience and realizing this helps keep me open to a bigger life and existence beyond just my own. I’ve always been fascinated by both and the more I stay engaged with them both, the more appreciation I have for my life and other forms of life. 


[My question: How would you describe your journey: the past, present and future?]

My childhood was filled with a big imagination, a deep love of music, art and dance while also experiencing horrific forms of child abuse and trauma. To be honest, I don’t know how I’ve been able to even survive it much less thrive despite it; still keeping a big imagination and a love of life and humanity. I’d dream almost nightly as a child and began having nightmares for almost twenty years leading into my adulthood–up until I saw a wonderful psychologist every week for almost a year and a half. I was a loving child full of emotions, ideas and complexities and the adults around me didn’t know how to help me channel nor process any of it, therefore suppression and oppression were prescripts of the day.

Photo courtesy Canva

No matter, I never simply accepted the reality that others tried to make me accept and always recognized the dysfunction even before I had the words to describe what I was seeing and living through. I was a unicorn who danced to the beat of my own drum that others tried to force into boxes that they, themselves, didn’t even want to live; so needless to say, I was always a nonconformist and little feminist before these things were widely accepted and spoken out loud.

As a child, it deeply affected me to see others suffer and I would cry at a complete stranger’s pain and dismay. It bothered me how others suffered near and abroad; never understanding why anyone had to suffer and being angered that they did. It’s as though I could look right through (or into) someone and see that their outer appearances were not really who they were and in some rare instances–were exactly who they were. I grew up in a deeply, southern religious family and went to a church run by an unapologetic misogynist who created a cult-like congregation filled with domestic abusers, pedophiles and addicts. It would be from these fire-breathing sermons (that religiously condemned women and children) that I’d develop a disdain for misogyny and patriarchy and those who enabled it; which included the women in my very own family. 

My young adult years were spent discovering, rediscovering and un-discovering who I was, who I thought I was suppose to be and who I thought I’d like to become with a lot of process by elimination experiences. I began to self-medicate and commit self-injuries and was scapegoated and blamed for all of it. There was no empathy to be found in those who should’ve protected me but instead I was mocked and reminded (constantly) that I deserved and had rightfully earned the mishaps that happened to me; even when I was a child and couldn’t consent to such horrors. 

I began seeking therapy on and off and with a lot of seeking therapy–therapists can often misdiagnose and overdiagnose the human condition. I hated myself to a level of suicidal ideation for decades until I began learning and unpacking that this all had been ways in which my brain and body had learned to survive then hold accountable (blaming myself first) those who’d never take responsibility for the harm they caused, stood by and allowed and were continuing to cause. 


In most recent years, I’ve severed ties with every toxic relationship I’ve had and it didn’t matter what the connection was. I no longer excuse or make excuses for abuse, disrespect or malice cloaked in well-meaning intentions. I had to first stop being abusive towards myself then begin eliminating all external sources of abuse before I could truly begin healing myself from it all. I’ve stopped self-medicating and numbing these days and prefer facing every difficult emotion and situation head-on… Even when I’m terrified and don’t want to because I’ve learned, it’s better to feel  and feel fully than not to feel and become apathetic towards those who do. 

Tia’s story reminds us to embrace our personal magic (photo courtesy Canva)


I’ve become my no. 1 reason to live, love and laugh loudly. 

It took the birth of my children and eventual diagnosis of cancer to eliminate my suicidal ideation altogether. It’s taken my rediscovery of living and loving life that’s set me free and put me on a mission of setting an example before my children and others. I don’t know what my future holds and that’s ok. What matters more to me is I’m now free and independent to live in each moment and wildly embrace both the beauty and ugliness of it all. To me this is the true definition and embodiment of: 


#BEingMyOwnHero


Thank you Tia. For existing.For daring to live in a world that would dare to silence you. For giving voice to others who might not speak otherwise. 

[Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. I am honored that you felt safe enough with me and my platform to share your story. My readers and I are eternally grateful.]

life curation · Uncategorized

What You Focus On, Expands

Hey friends! I have a VERY special post coming tomorrow. It’s so special that I actually decided to SKIP Fibro Friday in order to post this one. Yes, it’s that special. I know you’re going to love it, and there is a specific reason why I’m posting it tomorrow instead of today. So, be sure to come back tomorrow to see what I’ve got up my sleeve . . .

Until then, I’m going to reflect on a post that I had on my now-defunct blog. Back in 2015, way before I knew anything about Law of Attraction, I knew that focusing on problems could only create more problems, while focusing on solutions would create opportunities to improve my situation. I’m going to share a snippet of that post, and then I’ll come back with my 2021 thoughts.

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I am writing today because I’ve seen how some of us spend an inordinate amount of time on things that do not enhance our life or increase our happiness. One blogger, that used to write beautiful, inspiring posts, has descended into one of the most annoying people on my Blogger feed (I’m still trying to figure out how to remove her from my feed, but there’s something weird going on with my Blogger setup). Her descent into bitterness does nothing to empower her or her readers. This is the sad result when people chose to focus on what angers or hurts them.

I know that most of you that have been participating in empowerment forums/groups are well aware of the power of focusing on what we want. FOCUS allows us to keenly tune in, and can even give us extraordinary energy to tackle an obstacle or accomplish a goal. It’s been said that what we focus on expands, which is why I’ve been absent. I’ve been FOCUSING on creating the kind of life that will nourish and inspire me, as well as benefit my loved ones.

Here’s what I’ve been focusing on recently:

-Increasing my net worth
-Positioning myself among uplifting individuals
-Filling my life with rich experiences
-Removing toxic individuals from my circles
-Creating stronger, clearer boundaries for myself

There are some fantastic bloggers that are still sounding the alarms for women, lighting the way to true empowerment. I commend them and they deserve ALL of the accolades, because they are quite literally saving lives. For those that have moved past the “life-saving” phase, what are you doing for “life enhancement” or “life expansion”? Are you still overly focused on life-saving rhetoric? I’ve seen it for myself: women in empowerment circles spending outrageous amounts of time discussing negative, life-minimizing things. There should be progression, but for some women, I see that they are “stuck” and, as a result, regressive in many ways.

IF you are still overly focused and wringing hands over what groups or individuals have wronged you and mistreated you, HOW can you possibly focus on living a quality existence? IF you still get worked up over every negative meme or article posted about you (and women that look like you), HOW do you have time and energy to create a life that defies the negative stereotypes? In a couple of words, YOU CANNOT.

The best thing you can do for 2015 [and TODAY!] is think about the things you want more of (peace, love, wealth, joy, happiness, prosperity, whatever) and focus on how you can get MORE of those things. Some things may be tangible, others intangible. In any case, spend your time focusing on what you WANT, instead of thinking about what you DO NOT want. Your life will be better for it.

*******

Looking back upon this post, I realize I’ve done what I’ve said I would do: increased my net worth, positioned myself among groups of diverse, uplifting individuals, had some pretty incredible life-enriching experiences (even in the midst of COVID), removed toxic people from my life, and gotten clearer, stronger boundaries. All of these are works in progress, but I can see that, within the past 6 years, I’ve moved steadily in this direction. I’ve had some major wins, and I thrilled to know that I will get even more wins in the future.

So today, ask yourself, what have I been focusing on? The answers may surprise and inspire you. I hope you’ve been well, and focusing on what you want in your life! I’ll talk to you all tomorrow.

health · life curation

Fibro Friday – How I Made Peace With My Diagnosis

Welcome to this week’s Fibro Friday! For those that are curious, I enjoy discussing an aspect of my fibromyalgia experience every week. This condition is more than a diagnosis: it’s a shift in my way of life. But as I continue to learn my “new normal”, I find myself seeing the silver lining every single day. And, if my experience can offer a silver lining for someone else, then I’m delighted that I can make this path easier for another person.

One of the most difficult things about learning that I have fibromyalgia is making peace with my diagnosis. It’s so easy to rebel against the diagnosis and throw myself into a cycle of over-extension, then drastically long recovery periods. I resisted this diagnosis for over a year. I would have one good day, try to do as much as I can, then I’d spend the next week in bed because my body ached terribly and my mental faculties weren’t up to par.

Untitled design

I resisted the diagnosis because I hated feeling “less than”. I hated the fact that I had limitations. I really despised being face-to-face with my own frailty and, by extension, my mortality. I hated the fact that I wasn’t who I used to be, and there was nothing that I could do about it.

When you hit your lowest lows, that’s the point where you learn to release your death grip on your beliefs and to accept that your own resistance is what’s keeping you in your pain loop. Those lows teach you so much, but, mainly, they teach you to let this moment, and every moment you experience, be enough. When the moment is enough, you no longer obsess over why. You lean into the experience, and, just like magic, the solutions to your problems start to appear.

For me, the moment I started resisting my pain and just allowed it to be so, I felt a measure of relief. After that, the relief increased steadily. I’m not pain-free yet, but being present in the moment and observing my body – its pain, fatigue, mental fog, and inability to perform tasks like it used to – without judgment, freed me up to find solutions to my pain. My medication started feeling more effective, my mind started to clear a bit, and I started taking note of what physical activities felt like “just enough”, and which activities were overdoing it.

Instead of resisting my diagnosis and judging myself, I started approaching my diagnosis like a clinician. I analyzed my symptoms from a neutral standpoint, and, eventually, I started treating myself better than any doctor could. Much of my peace from my diagnosis is centered around the fact that I view it as neutrally as possible, which allows me to accept the symptoms without villainizing them, and to forgive myself for not treating my body as well as I could have over the years. When you know better, you do better. And I’m finally doing better by my body, which only came on the heels of accepting my diagnosis and moving forward.

That’s it for today. I hope this post encourages you and inspires you to make peace with the things that you can’t change, and to allow that peace to open the door for relief and solutions to whatever bothers you. Take care, and I’ll talk to you next week!

business · life curation · writing

Create Your Vision – A Sneak Peek Into My Latest Guided Journal

I decided to take a break from Writers Wednesdays, since I’m still editing and doing last minute changes. Instead, I want to take a little time to do a deep-dive into my latest journal, Create Your Vision. This was a special request, and I was delighted to do it for one of my wonderful customers.

Two of the Create Your Visions covers available (25 designs in all)

In this journal, I provide my step-by-step formula for lifestyle redesign, using the power of writing. In the video below, I even give an example of how to change a key area of your life (I use the example of changing careers) by journaling. I’ve successfully used these techniques to change my life and get the results that I’ve desired. Every time I feel the need to change something in my life, I refer back to this formula, since it worked so well.

That’s it for today. I hope you can use the information in this video. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below!

This post contains affiliate links.

culture · international · life curation

Embracing The Year of the Ox

We recently saw the beginning of a brand new Lunar Year on February 12th. Somehow, I was a bit late this year, and I didn’t realize that the Lunar New Year occurred until two days after.

What can I say? It’s been a challenging year for all of us, and if I miss a couple of holidays, it’s only because this year has done a number on most of us.

Anyway, back to the Lunar New Year. I thought of the significance of this year’s animal, the ox. I reflected back on the last lunar year, the year of the rat. I think of mice and rats, and how these animals, while indicative of abundance (they are always in places with adequate food supply), can overconsume and leave desolation where abundance used to reside. I think the year of the rat, marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, was a collective wake-up call. We are abundant, but, as a society, we have taken too much from nature, and balance must be restored.

Enter the year of the ox. This hardworking beast of burden only consumes what it needs to sustain itself, and it’s purpose for existing is to produce through manual efforts. Unlike rats, whose body waste is toxic and often spreads disease, oxen are useful all the way down to their fecal matter, which can fertilize and restore balance to the soil. The ox is sturdy, reliable, and work-oriented. It is the animal that’s most representative of the attitude we need in these times.

I think this year will be a year of restoration and balance. Life will get back to normal, more or less, but what is considered baseline normal has changed. We’ve had roughly one year to stay close to home, spend more time doing domestic activities, and to closely examine what matters to us. Now, we have our work to do.

It’s time for us to produce. We’ve been incubating our skills and talents during lockdowns and quarantines: now is the time to put out into the world what we’ve been creating during our downtime. And yes, I understand that many of us were too stressed and otherwise limited to “create” in the traditional sense. But, our creations need not be tangible: they can be our musings, creative nudges or even inklings of necessary change in our personal lives or in society. We have all created “something” in the past year: now it’s time to unleash it.

May the year of the ox give you great favor and lead you closer to a wonderful existence.

That’s all for today. I’ll talk to you all tomorrow. Take care!