My 2016 Book List

books, Uncategorized

I’m an avid reader. If you’ve been been following this blog or follow me on any of my social media accounts you knew this already. You also know that I constantly battle between quantity and quality when it comes to read. In 2013 I challenged myself to read a book a week and in 2015 I only completed 10 new reads. While my reading interests lead me to non-fiction texts, particularly those focused on business or self-improvement, I have been known to read a novel or two…or three.

In 2016 I took a different approach. I only read books that were directly recommended to me. I pillared through the list of over 200 texts that friends, colleagues and acquantices have offered as “life-changing” or “inspirational”. I compared that to books recommended from my favorite podcasts, blogs and thought-leaders.

Woooo!!! Exhausting.

Milestone: I’ve read over 40 books this year (even got a subscription to Audible.com and Amazon Prime to make reading on demand easier.)

These 8 books I consider to be essential to your growth and personal development as a human being on this planet. Read them all and read them again! Share them with friends. Blog about them. Thank the authors!

  1. The Year of Yes by Shondra Rhimes:Image result for the year of yes

     #Fact I’ve never seen any of the shows she’s produced. However, the advice in this book is clear: DO SOMETHING EVERYDAY TO SURPRISE YOURSELF. Push your limits beyond what you can imagine.

  2. Between the World & Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates:

    Image result for between the world and me

    A crystal clear almost haunting depiction of what is means to be Black, woke and parenting in America.

  3. God Help the Child by Toni Morrison:Image result for god help the child toni morrison

    An amazing journey of self-love and discovering and the power to reinvent one’s self. Belle’s beauty, boldness and confidence shines through despite the emotional scars she tries to hide.

  4. Miss Jessies’s Creating a Successful Business From Scratch by Titi Branch and Miko Branch :Image result for miss jessie's book barnes and noble

    It’s more than a hair product, Miss Jessie’s  sparked a movement among women that has transformed the way we think about hair and business. This in-depth book not only tells the story of two entrepreneurial sisters, but gives real-world advice for the budding business owner.

  5. Writing My Wrongs by Shaka Senghor:Image result for writing my wrongs by shaka senghor

    I, for some reason, read alot of texts by incarcerated and formerly incarcerated men. While this one contains all the grim and ghastly details of prison life, it also tells the story of a man seeking to make amends with himself, his family and those he hurt. 

  6. The Power of Broke by Damon John:Image result for the power of broke

    A Shark Tank favorite, Damon John is well known for starting the urban clothing line FUBU. Since then, John has started and helped other start countless profitable businesses. Here, in this book, he calls on other business to share their experience in harnessing the power of broke to push past excuses right into their dreams.

  7. The Science of Self by Supreme Understanding and C’BS Alife Allah:Image result for the science of self by supreme understanding

    Know thyself. Learn the science. If you snoozed through all of your science classes or like me, attended them all wide awake and left confused then this book is for you! Free from all the academic clutter in textbooks, this books breaks down the science of who we are, why we are here and how we relate to one another.

  8. 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do by Amy MorinImage result for 13 things mentally strong people don't do

    There’s power in saying no to things and recognizing what you don’t want. Morin helps the reader understand how breaking free of a few mentally draining bad habits can help us make sense of our life and get closer to what we actually want.

 

 

 

 

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Untitled, written March 8,2005

Uncategorized

 

Promise we’ll never stop kissing

Promise me we”ll never stop making love

I want your words to caress my mind

As your hands would my thighs

Breathe deep

into me

I into you

Let me listen to your heart

Because your lips will tell me lies

Look into my heart

as I look into your eyes

Meet my soul halfway on this journey to heaven

Make me believe in love

Make me believe in us.

 

The Art of Conversation

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If you ask me, I’ll tell you to text me and never call. Even before the digital age, something about holding the phone up to my ear and letting my cracked soprano voice pierce the receiver made me uneasy. I hate talking because I don’t like the sound of my own voice. Couple that with the fact that I am a natural introvert who plays shy when most convienent, I’ve always thought phone conversations to be a bit weird.

However, when transitioning from middle school to high school I got my first cell phone. It was a cute little blue and silver flip phone that I was told only to use during emergencies. I giggle now thinking about how, in those days, I’d wait up until 9pm to text my friend and coordinate what we’d wear to school the next day. (You know, because when cell phones first because popular the free minutes were after 9pm. Yes, I’m that old.) It was through texting that I was able to learn how to really hold a conversation.

Being shy I always wrote things down. My journal has and always will be my best friend. No one taught me in Kindergarten or elsewhere how engage when speaking. For the most part, my experience was that people talked and you listened and if, by chance, you had something interesting to say you would. If not, you’d nod in agreement, laugh or giggle and keep it pushing; which is why being on the phone sucked, I couldn’t read body language. I like to watch people talk, see their lips move, follow their hands and see the rise in the chest as the breath leaves their mouth. It’s like poetry to me. And texting, well it became my muse. I’ve always known that words have meaning but none so pregnant with purpose as those typed into a text message. It seemed to me, that texters are more direct with their words which makes them more impactful. All the fluff is gone and what you are left with is meaning. Perhaps, conversations were intimidating to me because I had very little to say. Or rather, a lot to say in a few words.

I found that through texting, I could say exactly what I wanted quickly and succintly without those awkward silences and constant shifting of the phone receiver from my left ear to my right.

I’m older now and I find myself, more often than not, picking up my iPhone and dialing up one person or another. My days consist of writing (of course), face-to-face meetings and Jamba Juice with friends. I suppose one can say I am becoming more social. I’ll put it this way: I’ve learned to talk. I’ve learned that conversation awakens my senses and fulfills me in a way that was foreign to me. Expressing my thoughts and feelings has always been reserved for writing. Through writing I developed my thoughts and overtime I realized, all that great, incredible thinking could not be appreciated by anyone but me if I kept it in my journal. Therefore, I had to learn how to talk to people. It was a must!

Whereas my pre-teen years offered little substance and content to effectively engage with others, my life experiences now has compelled me to interact and exchange with people. I am becoming savvy with technology and too with how I communicate with others. We now have so many options from texting, to video chatting, e-mail, social media and various other messaging platforms. I now have to decide the best way to communicate with certain people and while doing so figure out how to get the most value out of that interaction. I realize I like to talk and be heard and listen and be enlightened. I am still shy just a little more open to new experiences. I am learning to appreciate the unique quality of my voice and answer the phone when someone calls. Likewise, I’m learning when to shut up because I’ve said too much.

 

 

 

Untitled Poem

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I’m sorry if I haven’t been myself lately

Truth is

I’ve been doing for self lately

I’m unlearning years of self-hate

And I’ve even taken you off the pedastal on which you were placed

I’m getting to know me

and I like her

in fact, she’s becoming so much nicer

I guess someone told her it was okay to be authentic

so now she’s living in her truth

without anyone’s permission.

 

What I Read in 2015

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While I did not read as much this year as I have in the past, the things I’ve read had a profound impact on me. I chose quality over quantity this year and settled into books that could aid in my personal development, my professional etiquette and spiritual growth. Almost all of these books I’ve read twice or more and have recommended them to various people. Here’s my list and the reasons why I recommend them.

1.The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod

This book offers a very simple system for changing your life. If you’ve ever felt there wasn’t enough time in the day or if you’re looking for a way to reach your goals, this book is it.

2. Mindset by Carol Dweck

The difference between having a growth mindset and a fixed mindset is simple: a choice. In this book Carol Dweck outlines how you can change your life by making the choice to change your thinking.

3. How to Eat to Live by The Honorable Elijah Muhammad

This book has been recommended to me several times and this year I finally bought and read it. If you want to live a healthy or rather, holistic life, this book is full of jewels about what to eat and the reasons why.

4. Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness by Jeffrey Gitomer

This book is great for entreprenuers and salespeople. It is the kick in the butt and the advice you need to increase sales in your business.

5. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

Just a great book about enlightening your sensibility and becoming a better person.

Groundhog Day!

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I’m not a big movie buff. But I saw this movie many years ago and have been reminiscing about it in dreams that span over the course of two weeks. I couldn’t remember all the details until I began reading Mindset by Carol Dweck.

On August 1st I was in a car accident that severely damaged my vehicle and my ego. My car gave me a sense of pride. It was the first thing, one of the only material things, I purchased with my own money. My car represented freedom and independence. Since that day I have had to compromise who I am and learn to rely on others. Not being able to come and go as I please, planning ahead and limiting my whereabouts has been a difficult adjustment.

Almost a month ago I began a new habit of waking up early and working on my goals. About 2 weeks ago, the dreams began. I kept dreaming about a white guy in a long coat and I couldn’t identify who he was or where I recognized him from. For a moment, I thought, I must be dreaming of death. But as the days went by the dreams became clearer and clearer. The man, Bill Murray, was experiencing deja vu. The days were the same and repeated over and over.

Now I read or overheard somewhere that you’ll repeat the lesson until it is learned and immediately, I thought of myself. I asked a few people I trust to give me some constructive feedback. 90% of them said I need to be more patient. Immediately i said fuck that because I don’t want to be more patient; I want people to hurry up! Ha!

In the movie, Groundhog Day, Bill Murray repeats his day over and over again until one day, he decides to skip the mundane and try something new. Having nothing to lose, he begins learning all kinds of things and then, he wakes up to see anew day. In a weird way, I think I lost my car so I could learn how to be patient. And I haven’t because I’ve chosen not to take the risk, not to do something new but to stick to the same ol routine day in and day out. So because I was not willing to change, neither did my situation until something drastic happened to stop everything and put my life in perspective. I’ve been given the opportunity to slow down and focus and that in and of itself is a blessing.

I think, I’m ready to learn the lesson now…

Feelings and Tables

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Nothing and no one lasts forever.

Feelings change.

Tables turn.

I try to remember this on my good days and it is so hard to imagine this being true on my worst days.

I can remember being so in love that I moved across the country to live out that dream. Only to end the relationship weeks later and now, have no contact with the “love of my life”. I’ve learned that feelings change.

Like I don’t even listen to Beyonce’ anymore and she used to be the only one on my ipod. I’d speak of her as if she were me and one day that suddenly seemed crazy. I dropped Ms. Sasha Fierce like a bad habit. Yes, music was my bad habit.

I’ve had other bad habits too. Some have probably included you too.

Like craving cheesecake and milkshakes until I had gained so much weight my clothes began to stretch, like my skin. Bear claws, like the donuts I ate.

And then there’s that time I lost my keys and my mind shortly after. Brained scrambled, like eggs and my legs shaking… I’ve never felt so unstable, out of my element, out of control.

I had become one of those materialistic people and it was affecting my soul.

I had to relearn who I was and whose I was. More importantly, whose I wasn’t.

I became one of those “pray for me” people. They wanted me numb. I got tired of playing dumb.

And when I talked to God he understood and explained that no one else would but not to fret

Their opinion is not a threat so you don’t have to fear what they don’t know

But life is unpredictable and sometimes, that rug is pulled so swiftly from underneath you the dust settles before you do

and there’s no where to go

So while you’re sitting on your ass just know,

Everything they’ve done to destroy you is gonna help you grow

 

 

 

 

 

If anything is worth doing…

business, entrepreneurship, Uncategorized

…it’s worth doing well.

I can remember those words as clear as day from my 7th grade English teacher, Mrs. Parks. She was about 4 feet tall with a TWA (teeny weeny afro) that was graying and splochy. She spoke almost in a whisper – until she got mad and that always scared us as students. We respected her in a way that most kids don’t respect their elders nowadays. We trusted her; she believed in us.

She assigned us a biography project. “Find someone you look up to and discover everything you can about their life, ” she said. I was excited to do the project. I knew I would research Tupac just because I wanted to see Mrs. Parks reaction. We were given several weeks for the project, but me being the natural procrastinator that I am, I waited until the night before. Instead of being 4 pages, my report was 2. Instead of having colorful images, I turned in a portrait of Pac I had hand drawn. As Mrs. Parks glided through the room collecting reports, when she got to mine she stopped. “Keep it!” She said in her mean voice and continued to glide through the room. Keep it!? After all the work I did. You’re not even gonna grade it. These things I shouted at her to the room’s surprise. I knocked the paper off my desk and started to pout. The bell rang.

As I got up to leave the room Mrs. Parks grabbed my arm. And hard too. I wanted to scream that she couldn’t touch me ( I mean, teachers can’t be grabbing on kids), but I stood there in shock. “If anything is worth doing, its worth doing well.” she said “If you respect this person you have written about, give them the respect of doing a proper job. Otherwise, don’t waste your time.”

Of course I did the report again as it should have been done. Of course, Mrs. Parks deducted points for lateness.

The older I get the more I realize how important time is. When I want to rush through something or give 50% instead of 100, I ask myself, “is this worth doing?” If it is, I have to give it my all. If it isn’t I have to let it go and stop wasting my time. Sometimes I need this reminder.

Hard Work is Not Success

business, entrepreneurship, Uncategorized

“What got you here, won’t get you there..” – Rory Vaden

I’ve always thought of myself as a hard worker. I’ve had a job since I could remember; and most times, more than one job. I’ve started businesses and have helped others start theirs. I’m a single-mom. I’ve obtained a bachelor’s degree and am working on a Master’s. All of these things have occupied my time over the last 10 years and physically, I am exhausted. I always thought I was a hard worker, and yet, I have not reaped any of the benefits I thought I would by working hard.

Perhaps the trick is to work smarter. Plan less and take more risks. It sounds crazy saying it out loud (well, typing it on the computer), but that’s what successful people do.

My whole life I thought I was taking a chance, but I was just following a very predictable path. Maybe you are too. I was listening to a podcast the other day and the guest, Rory Vaden said, “what got you here, won’t get you there.”  He was talking about how to go beyond your plateau. He said that successful people are always finding new ways to be successful. So I am challenging myself not to get stuck in a rut of mediocrity but to find new ways to be successful.

Feel free to join me.

Love in Context

love & beauty, Uncategorized

Excuse me as I sort some shit out in my mind…

If love is a gift, I am not done unwrapping it. Everyday I am learning something new about love: how to give it, accept it, share it, cherish it, create it. But what I know about love is not always what I choose to show about love. And it’s confusing as hell when everyone has a different definition of love. So here’s mine:

I sort of give people the impression that I’m an asshole. But I have a BIG heart. I care for people in a way that;s uncomfortable at times; for them and me. I’m over protective. I’m kind. I’m helpful. I’m optimistic. I’m honest. And that’s love to me. Everyone deserves that kind of love, tier 1. Then there’s tier 2 that commits to something a bit deeper. These bonds are based on trust that is proven through experience. The relationship you have with your siblings and other relatives, the platonic friendships you’ve developed. This loves says I trust you, I got you. Some people may call it unconditional love although there are some conditions; we want that love, need that love reciprocated.  Any measure of disrespect or disloyalty can break it and this happens often. A lot of people only get to experience a tier 2 type of love. But love is so much deeper than that. The next level I’ll call true love. Its greater than cordial interactions and while built on trust is a much more vulnerable position to be in. True love is not unconditional, it is conditioning; it nourishes the part of us that is seldom seen. True love comes from the soul and is the best representation of who we are. In fact, it authenticates who we are making us more real to ourselves and others. True love doesn’t have to be experiences in a romantic relationship. Some people are blessed to have friends  that share this with. I think even above that though is self-love. And this was confusing to me because people will tell you “you have to love yourself before you can love anyone else”. But to me, its so much easier to love others, its hard to confront the reality of your being, the good, the bad and the ugly and be pleased with the sum of it. Self-love is like nirvana. It’s the high five after a winning game when you’re shot beat the buzzer. Self-love is the closest we can get to God here on earth because after all, we were made in his image right?!

All love requires vulnerability. We have to put ourselves out there and hope we gain a return on our investment. No matter how big or small the investment. I didn’t really think about any of this until I was asked the question, “Did you love me or were you in love with me?” And I thought damn, that’s a loaded question. What does it even mean?  And how do I answer without sounding crazy?  I gave an answer that I thought was accurate, but albeit incomplete. I think deeply about everything, often times overthinking, so when a person asks you a question you don’t want to be long winded. But there’s always more to the story.

When I was 18 I was engaged to someone who I really thought I loved and whom I thought loved me. But as I explained in Tier 2, the trust that I thought we built was broken. Even years after our breakup, he continued to say he loved him and I always brushed it off. But in hindsight I can say he did, he loved me based on his experience of what love was. In relationships we rarely understand from the other person’s perspective. Someone can be giving you the best that they’ve got and you tell me its not good enough. That’s damaging to a person’s character. It decreased our willingness to be vulnerable.It changes the way we feel towards people especially when we only see love as a feeling. We’ll say, “well if you love me you would…” not recognizing that person may be loving you as best as they could. See we spend a lot of time talking about love and neglect compatibility. Compatibility is how well you connect with someone, what you share in common, how you relate to someone. Compatibility isn’t love.

With that said I think I’m always in love because I am always pursuing love. I’m more inclined nowadays to view love from multiple perspectives and accept the love that people have to offer, even if its not the same love that I expect. I’m working on perfecting love in its early stages so I can experience self-love in its purest form. I want to love more freely so I can ultimately love more fully.

I could be wrong about all of this, but its how I’m feeling and thinking at the moment.