August, New Beginnings: Haiti Missions Trip Part I

Entry: August 2, 2016
We are officially in a new month. Aside from it being the best month out of the year, my birthday month (the 4th) 😊, it’s also the eighth month of the year. Eighth symbolizes new beginnings. And this month is just that. Yesterday, August 1st, I traveled for the first outside of the United States. Not for pleasure, but a missions trip. I am currently writing from Haiti. (Still seems so unreal that I’m actually here.). It was my intentions to write a post nightly, however, I didn’t get a chance to do so last night. Therefore, I’ve decided to do a recap for every two days. So this is part one…

Upon our arrival to Haiti yesterday afternoon, you could instantly see the difference when we traveled to our set place to stay. We landed in Port Au Prince, but stayed in Croix-Des-Bouquet. We had a van take us to our destination, we were met at the airport by a few men. One was a pastor and another works hard alongside him. He speaks English and is able to translate. 

On our way to camp, we drove on dusty bumpy roads. No traffic lights. On the busier streets, there were police officers directing traffic. It’s almost as if there are no rules when in comes to driving. You do what you can to get to your destination. Even if it means driving on the other side of the road, or even on the sidewalk. There were buses that Ebony (who has traveled here in missions before) compared to the dollar vans in NY. They are called the tap tap. As the busses passed, you could see how packed they were through the windows. The people were literally piled inside, just to get to where they needed to go. There were trucks that had the back open, filled with men. There were also motorcycles stopping and picking up people and were paid to ride them to their destination. This seems to be their form of transportation if they’re not in close proximity to their desired location or if they don’t have a vehicle. Unfortunately by looking out of the window, you could see that we were in a country that has struggles when it comes to poverty. As I sat and watched, and listened to stories by Pastor Pullings, (who is the missions department president of the first ecclesiastical jurisdiction of ENY, of the Church of God in Christ), I was able to get a glimpse of what they had to face in this area. 

On our drive to the compound, I thought about what I wanted to give, and what I wanted to gain. I knew that we were there for a specific purpose, and I wanted to be sure that I fulfilled that purpose. It’s a new experience for me, so I want to ensure that I give and get all that I can. How will I approach the people, what exactly will I do, will I be able to relate, etc. ? I just wanted this experience to be all that it could be. 
When we got to the compound, we settled in a little. Picked our room and put our stuff down. Our living conditions were petty good. We shared rooms, 2 to a room, but it was still good. Two bathrooms, kitchen, running hot water, and wifi access.  
 We then went to meet the girls in the orphanage. Not knowing who some of us were, the way they greeted us was so beautiful. All of the girls one by one came up to each of us with a kiss on the cheek. Although they were in grossed in their television show, they were so polite and spoke to each of us. While we were there the very first night, we took a look at what they were being served for dinner. We weren’t aware of what it was, but it was a big pot a woman had on the ground and she looked to be cleaning a piece of meat of some sort. It didn’t look appetizing to us, but this is what they’re used to eating. After seeing the girls, we went shopping. Not at the markets in town, but at a market that’s considered safe near the embassy. This shows the different areas and parts of Haiti. There’s such a difference, a separation. 
  

Later that evening, after shopping, cooking, and eating; we set up all of the items we brought for the girls in the orphanage and the clinic as well. We all brought at least one suitcase full of essentials, and when we laid it all out we were so happy to have been able to have so much to give. 

  

  

Day 2: 8/2/16 Journal entry..
Woke up with a feeling of excitement to see the looks on the girls faces when they receive what was brought for them. However, a little more reserved than I’d like to be so far. I’ve been thinking of ways to be effective over here. How can I/we leave a lasting impact. Giving is one thing, but connecting is another. We have to be able to show them how much we care, in such a short amount of time. 
I want to give my time and service more than anything. I also want to learn as much as I can. And do it all over again. To be the most effective, you have to be a giver. Not only material things. In this case, it’s needed. But also in time. Making that connection is key. Forgetting about yourself. 
God uses us right where we are. Only when we allow ourselves to be used…
Before going to the orphanage and giving the girls the items, we took a trip to the clinic. There were supplies for them as well. Mostly over the counter medicine. According to the stories, the over the counter medicine from America heals the ailments that most of the patients have. Because it’s medication they aren’t used to using. Going to the clinic, you could see a few areas where they needed. It was a nice set up. They needed more medication in their pharmacy and a little more precautionary items. (Cleaning supplies, gloves, etc.). Just looking around and seeing the facility was a blessing. I was happy to see and hear that they’re able to serve the community with the facility and supplies that they do have. What concerned some of us most, was the medicine that they had to offer in the pharmacy area of the clinic. It didn’t look like much. But it may be because they don’t use as much traditional medication in Haiti as we here in America use. They did however, have a dentist area. And area with beds where patients get checked, etc. 

   
   

We then went over to the orphanage to set up the items and look around the orphanage. We used their dinning area to set up every item on the tab,e for display for the girls. We wanted them to be able to see and choose what it was that they wanted. After setting up, we took a look around the grounds of the orphanage, for the first time. We were able to see their rooms, etc. There are seventeen girls living in the orphanage at this time. There are four girls to each room. Two bunk beds. The rooms are s little small, but they fit the two bunk beds, along with dressers for the girls. There were about two in each room. But as we passed, we noticed that some of their beds were falling apart. They needed new mattresses. One of the needs that the caretaker expressed, was that they needed was sheets. Again, the facility was nice. And we’re so proud of the work that has been done so far, but there’s still more work that needs to be done. The the interaction began..

Nightly journal entry:

After visiting the orphanage today, I’m in awe of the way we were able to connect with the girls. Although they didn’t speak English, the connection was almost instant. They immediately gravitated towards us, the minute we initiated it. All it took was one small gesture. As we sat and waited, I had to initiate interaction with them. That was the reason we were there. So I sat and asked about the coloring sheet they were coloring, and it took off from there. We talked the best we could to each other, but the connection was so strong despite the language barrier. We laughed, we sang, and dance. Took pictures. And took more pictures. These girls absolutely loved taking pictures. I asked them to read, but it was an English book, so they wanted me to read it. As I read, they repeated every English word after me. We fooled around with snapchat. And they absolutely loved the filters. At that point, there were about three girls who clung to me. Their names were Daphnaika, Melissa, and Lisa. There were a few others that came and joined a little while after. After reading, some of the girls sang and danced. One song was, I love you I love you my love. They danced as they sang that song. Then they started to do the whip nae nae. Which was absolutely cute. We colored together. We sang When Jesus Says Yes. And we just genuinely enjoyed each other’s company. 

 After our lunch break, we came back to distribute all of the material for the girls. They’d already been peeking in while we set up, so we knew they were excited about it. As each girl came in and received the bags and they pointed to certain things they wanted, you could see the appreciation in their eyes and in their faces. Many of them smiled as they looked and received. There was one, Melissa, who had the biggest smile on her face. She danced around as she looked at all of her new clothes and just continued smiling. There was another, one who didn’t interact with me as often as others, came to me and taped me. I turned around, and she pointed to her shoes and gave me a big smile. Another girl looked through her bag, looked in my direction and gave me two thumbs up. That was their thank you. They were so excited to get new things. And you could tell they were grateful for it. It was an amazing feeling. Not only for them to receive things they needed, but also to interact with other people. To be able to socialize with others outside of those they see on a daily basis. Amazed by this new experience. The start of a new beginning. There’s more. 

2015 Recap: Growth, Promise, Freedom

As we approach an end of a year, and the beginning of a new year, I contemplated what my end of the year post would be. I had many thoughts, different ideas I wrote in my notes, but I couldn’t formulate an actual article. As I sat to work on another post, I sat and waited for my thoughts to hit the screen, but I began to have writer’s block. Nothing, besides a title had been written. This afternoon, as I began to complete the post I was originally supposed to publish tonight, I was led to open a new document and get started on this one. As I began to write the title, those three words spilled onto the page; growth, promise, and freedom. I hadn’t received a particular theme or place I wanted to come from with this post. Last year, I broke it down into two different posts, and it came to me early. This year was different. And as I now begin to think, I like that it happened this way. It wasn’t planned, it just happened. Many times we wait in anticipation for a sign or for something to come our way, but when we just make a choice to just do, things begin to happen. This not only depicts the way things happened this year in a sense, it’s also confirmation for this year to come. 

So because these words so happen to have come to me, I believe this is where my thoughts for the year will come from. This year has been a year of complete growth. As the previous years have been as well. I’ve experienced some things this year, I never would have imagined. I’ve felt my weakest this year. I almost felt like I experienced some of my lowest points. Many of my insecurities came rushing back. I’ve had many feelings of inadequacy. But I’ve also been able to show myself my strength. I refused to be held down. I made a decision, after one of my biggest setbacks, that I would seek out counseling from a therapist. I haven’t found one as of yet, but often times, we (especially the black community) feel as if seeking help in that manner is a form of weakness. I did at one point, but these situations I’ve experienced this year taught me that it’s a sign of strength. I strongly believe that it’s commendable when a person realizes that they need help in a particular area. We can’t always do things on our own, and it’s okay to admit that. It’s unfortunate that I’ve placed myself in situations that I probably shouldn’t have. But I’ve been able to bounce back. Even in my struggles and insecurities, my weaknesses and low moments; I knew that God had a plan for me. And that plan was bigger than me. It went beyond just my name or brand being whispered. It meant more than a blessing for myself, more than personal growth. It’s for the benefit of others. I can’t stop knowing the countless people I’m meant to reach. I can’t stop knowing there’s a young girl that needs me to share my story. To share my journey. Now that’s growth. When you realize your purpose is bigger than you. When you realize your purpose goes beyond being recognized. When you realize your purpose will serve others. When you forget about you and just do it, that’s when you continue to grow. 

This year has also been a year of promise. Again regarding 2015, as well as the year to come. As this year began, I knew there was more than just my writing that needed to displayed. I knew my voice had to be heard in some way, aside of through my writing. I was contacted to help someone out with an up and coming talk show. Now, everyone know based of my previous posts how shy I was. However, I took this as an opportunity. Not only am I being of service to someone else, it’s giving me a jumpstart on what I know I will eventually have to do. This was a promise fulfilled. There have been a few other opportunities this year that I believe will be manifested in 2016. My biggest goal reached, and promise fulfilled this year was actually having the scholarship benefit event. It was my goal to be able to help someone who has gone through the very same thing I’ve gone through. College finances were one. Therefore, the idea to give away a scholarship was one. I knew I had to do it. But since this summer, things just wouldn’t come together. Without seeing how it would, I decided to just do it. And it came together. We were able to pull it off. 

The word freedom is very significant to me. I was caged in so many ways. I was stuck behind my own fear. I was stuck behind my own insecurities. I was stuck behind the opinions of others. This year, more than any, I was able to break free from most of these things. It’s most definitely a growing and learning process, but I’m experiencing true freedom. Freedom that causes me to just do, regardless of what’s in place. 

Overall, despite the low moments, it’s been a great year. A year of growth, promise, and freedom. Regardless of the things we experience, it’s important that we shed light on the positive sides. Step outside of your comfort zone, and allow yourself to grow beyond the things that you can see. Walk in your purpose and promise. And free yourself from your own negative thoughts and opinions of others. Then you can flourish and be who you were called to be; that blessing you were meant to be to others. Wishing you all a happy and successful new year!

ESSENCE and Prudential Presents: Money + Power   A Rich Conversation

Friday, November 6th, I had the opportunity of attending this wonderful event presented by Essence and Prudential. As the flyer says, all of the guests joined together for “a rich conversation”. And that’s exactly what the night entailed. There was a panel of very successful business women who came together to discuss their experiences in their separate fields, as well as help encourage and motivate other business owners trying to reach their status of success, as well as aspiring entrepreneurs. 

On this panel of amazing women were: ESSENCE Feature Editor Lauren Williams (as the moderator), President and CEO of Britto Agency Marvet Britto, TV Personality and Lifestyle Expert Tai Beachamp, “The Budgetnista” Tiffany Aliche (who we’ve had the pleasure of interviewing), and Interior Designer Dani Arps. All these women are powerhouses in their own right.  

  

Before the intriguing conversation began, there was thirty minutes set aside for cocktails. I assume it was a time for drinks, possibly food, and networking. Because I was late for the event due to work, I missed it. However, by the time I got there, there were a few minutes before the conversation began. I checked in quickly and headed right into the designated room at the Apella, Event Space at the Alexandria Center. Which is an absolutely gorgeous venue. There were posted set up nicely in the area before the conversations space. The latest issue of ESSENCE with Taraji P. Henson on the cover so gracefully stood on a stand. As well as selfie props that had great sayings on them. I initially grabbed the prop that said, “I do what I love. I love what I do.” However, by the time the event ended, I left with three more. Which said, “I am a strategist”, “I am an innovator”, and “I am a trailblazer”. 
  
The conversation started out with introductions. Then we went full speed into the conversation that helped many women that night. Below you’ll find a few questions and answers from the evening from each woman on the panel. 

Lauren Williams asked, how are you able to manage to maintain and build your brand. Marvet Britto answered, and explained that she focuses on being the best her. Marvet, who’s a very successful Public Relations Architect and Brand Strategist, has never had to solicit any one of her clients. She stressed that when it comes to branding, all that you desire comes by the work you do. Branding is really about the work that’s put in. Many people have made it about popularity, but it’s really all about the work. We have to learn how to be masterful professionals. She said that it’s important to make sure you nurture the trunk of the tree first, before worrying about the branch (brand) extensions. It’s about the work, and mastering what you have to offer. 

The discussion the led to a point where many people have been. The point of transition. Tai Beachamp, who has been able to incorporate her background in beauty and fashion with her love and passion for philanthropy, shared some of her experience by discussing some of the steps before leaving her job. She began to feel unfulfilled and burnt out. Although doing something she was great at, her purpose and hearts work was to empower. Tai expressed that we have to be able to distinguish between our passion and our purpose. She also let us know, that on the other hand, the answer doesn’t have to be today. Meaning things won’t be where you want them to be overnight. You won’t be where you want to be overnight. Sometimes you have to stay in the position that you’re in for a little longer than you’d like. She also said, you learn one thing from a position and take it and apply it to your purpose. 

Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche, who is a financial educator who has helped thousands of women take a journey to get their finances in order through her Live Richer Challenge, shared a similar story later in the conversation. She shared her story and where she started. Learning about finances growing up, but deciding to become a teacher. She was able to take her teaching skills and become the financial educator that she is today, because she took what she could from where she was. Often times we may become frustrated after sometime on the jobs we have, but we have to come to the place where we learn that we are there for a reason. There’s something that we can learn and take with us when it’s time for us to start our own business. It’s a matter of what will you learn from the position that you’re in. You’re strategically put in places to learn these particular lessons. Embrace where you are. Then after you’ve learned from the positions you were in and have been able to step out and start your own business, go around and explore to see what else you can learn. Never get too comfortable. 

Tiffany later went on to defining what having a business really is. She explained that many people have created something that looks like a business; a nice website, pretty business cards. However, there’s no product. She says, a business is when you have a product and people are willing to pay for it. And sometimes we don’t get this right away when we’re working towards a goal. So Tiffany lets us know that some things wot directly give you money in the beginning, but it will overtime. You have to make the proper investments first.  

Marvet also added to the startup of a business. When you have a desire to become an entrepreneur you think about a void that you want to fill. You have to have something that’s different, that people are willing to pay for. 

The question was then asked, as business women, what is the one things that keeps you up at night. Each lady had the opportunity to answer. 

Dani Arps, who is an interior designer and has had great success in only a year and half, said something that many of us (business owner or aspiring entrepreneurs) may concern ourselves with; meeting the needs of her clients. Making sure that she’s doing the work according to their standards. 

Tiffany’s concern is not letting one part of her life pass her by while pursuing her career. She doesn’t want to chase her dreams career wise and love an unfulfilled personal life. Therefore, she’s in the process of balancing her life. It’s important to have a balance. 

Tai thinks about the people she has to feed. From her clients, down to the people she employs. Her company isn’t all about her, but the people that she services. 

Marvets’ main concern is shattering glass ceiling. I truly believe that this was a pivotal point during the discussion. She’s concerned about women of color being taken out of the boxes that society so often places us in. 
She the. Went on to how we need to work hard to make sure we are given a seat at the table. And in order to do so, we have to make sure we are consistent and deliberate in all that we do. Our capabilities and talents outweigh our color, and we have to be sure to put forth the effort in showing that. We must also look at the ones who have come before us, and we’re able to succeed. As well as think strategically, understand where your place is, and finding ways to stretch our culture. 

The conversation shifted into mentorship. Tai raised a few good points when it comes to mentorship and connection. We don’t always like to admit when we need help. Sometimes we can’t do everything on our own. And that perfectly ok. When finding connections, it’s good to seek out people who we can partner up with. And fulfill our goal and vision together. Also when it comes to mentorship, we shouldn’t just try to see what we can get from others, it’s reciprocal. You should also be able to give something in return. 

As you can see, this event was intriguing, and very thought provoking. And there was so much more. After the conversation, there was an after party where drinks and food were served. But the most important part, was that these women stuck around and talked individually with the guest. We were able to share our experiences, our future plans, and receive advice. These women spoke a few good words into my life. And I, and I’m sure many other females as well, am grateful for the opportunity. 

A special thanks to ESSENCE and Prudential for putting on such a great event, having an amazing panel of successful business women, giving other women the opportunity to connect and share with others, and the gifts as well. 

  
  
(Miss Jones and Tai Beachamp)
  
(Miss Jones and Marvet Britto)

From DC to NYC: Riding Her Way To The Top    Interview with Lea Anderson

One weekday afternoon riding the A train to work, I watched a young lady and a gentleman with a speaker walk pass me. But I had no idea what was about to come next. As I sat and heard the microphone come on, I kept my music in my headphones playing, as I anticipated just getting to my destination. However, after listening to the first few minutes, I was compelled to take one ear out. I soon turned my music off all together. The vocals were smooth and the song had such a nice vibe. While this trumpet player so gracefully played in the background. My words were, “this is dope.”

After receiving her information, come to find out the young lady who was able to put on such a great performance on that moving A train was Lea (pronounced Lee’) Anderson. I had the pleasure of sitting down and interviewing Lea. We were able to talk about her experiences and what led her to the place she is today.
We met and found a great spot on the rooftop of Novatel in Times Square. There was a nice breeze, great view, and good vibes. As the vocals of Lauryn Hill and Beyoncé played in the background, we were able to have great conversation. 

  
Below you’ll read highlights from the interview, intriguing conversation with great laughs. 
Miss Jones: For those who may not know you, let’s start with you telling us a little bit about yourself. 
Lea Anderson: I was born in DC, grew up in South Carolina, and now I’m in New York. I’ve been here for four years. What initially brought me here first, was musical theatre. I did musical theatre for five years across the country, and now I’m in New York pursuing a career as a recording artist. And it’s been good. 
Miss Jones: Are you currently in school?
Lea Anderson: Not anymore. I graduated from the College of Charleston. 
MJ: How long have you been singing?
LA: As long as I can remember. (Laughs)
MJ: Did you grow up in church singing, or was this just something that you’ve always done?
LA: I grew up in church, but I didn’t start singing in church. I started singing with the records that my dad would play in his man cave. 
MJ: What role did your family play in your career?
LA: Well, my dad really introduced me to music. And my mom really helped me flourish it. Once she found out I could sing, she tried to look up any other opportunities that I could have. She started taking me to auditions, she started getting me to sing in front of her friends, so I wasn’t so nervous. And then I started going to music camp when I was 9. That’s when I learned how to sing musical theatre and opera, and reading music. 
MJ: What was the music camp like, what did you learn?
LA: We would learn music; music theory, music history, voice, musical theatre, dance, everything. 
MJ: Do you still dance today or are you more focused on your singing?
LA: I do dance, and it helps create more opportunities for singing. And I still do theatre as well. 
MJ: Have you done any musical theatre shows in NY yet?
LA: Not as of yet in NY. I still do it regionally, I’ll leave and come back to NY. And most recently, I’ve done Smokey Joe’s Cafe. 
MJ: At what point did you realize you wanted to make this your career? What was the deciding factor?
LA: I think it found me. Every other job I tried to pursue, didn’t work out. I don’t want to say I’m constantly getting fired, but it’s true. And no matter how much time I try to put in one thing, it doesn’t work out. But music is always there and it always works out. It’s like my best friend. 
MJ: What are some of your biggest accomplishments so far?
LA: Finishing my EP with a Grammy nominated producer, D Moët, who’s best known for Hate Me Now (Nas featuring Puff Daddy). Becoming a member of Actors Equity Association. Which is a phenomenal unit that helps actors, singer, dancers across the country get our rights and what’s well earned of us. Lastly, being in a city where I am able to be around people that have made it, and are living the life that I want to live. Also being able to get advice from them and work with them. 
MJ: Being that you still act and are pursuing musical theatre as well, are there any shows that you are interested in doing?
LA: I want to do a Rock Musical so bad! So I’m constantly looking for auditions for the opportunity to be in that, because I missed the whole American idiot boat. And there’s definitely a lot of other producers that I want to work with. I just want to continue to grow as an artist and continue giving my sound to people. 
MJ: What are some of the most challenging moments you’ve had to face when trying to reach your goals?
LA: Everything seems like a challenge but after you wait it out, it’s kind of like ‘whoo, that was it?’ I feel like when it’s meant to be, when you’re meant to do something, it’s not a challenge. It’s more of, ‘how can I get through this or how can I accomplish this?’ So it’s more like a journey. There’s no problems, just patience. 
MJ: I like that. It’s a great way to look at life. My next question was going to be, how did you overcome them but….(laughs) 
LA: (laughs) with yoga. Yoga and church. Jesus, whoo. 

  

MJ: Are you a Christian?
LA: Yes. 
MJ: How has your relationship with God helped you coming out here four years ago alone, and pursuing your dreams?
LA: It helps me filter out my thoughts and how to trust my thoughts. Being a Christian, I know God’s words and that’s easier for me to filter out BS, all the negativity, and all the things that would just keep running in circles. I just listen to Him, and I ask Him to order my steps. And the path has been easier because I have a relationship with God. 
MJ: What do you ultimately wish to accomplish with your music? Is there a message you wish to convey, is it the sound or the feel? What do you wish to accomplish?
LA: It’s my story. I feel like ultimately, that’s what artists are meant to do. Whether you’re a musician, whether you’re a painter, even a fashion designer. We’re chosen to be the voice of God, the voice of society, the voice of the youth. We were chosen to paint what’s going on in the world. And that’s my main goal, to just paint what’s going on around me and deliver it to people. So they can relate and become unified. And unites us all. 
MJ: Do you have a team?
LA: No, but I do have a group of people who love me and push me in the right direction. I call them my tribe. So they’re not per say working for me, but they’re working with me.  
MJ: Who are your biggest inspirations?
LA: My dad. And although I’m nothing like him, I would say Ray Charles. I feel like if you could overcome racism, being blind, poverty, drugs; and still be successful, that’s pretty commendable. 
MJ: Why is you dad one of your biggest inspirations? 
LA: He’s the strongest person I know. He’s had two major stokes, and he’s still alive and still positive. He stills tells me everyday, it’s great to be alive. And just knowing that I’m working towards this for him and he’s the first one to put that musical note in my heart, just thinking about him and wanting him to be proud of me really inspires me. 
MJ: How long have you been singing on the train? I hear people sing on the train everyday, but there was something about you. And I said to myself, this girl has a crazy voice. Honestly, it was amazing. So what inspired you to just decide to sing on the trains?
LA: I came to a wall, I didn’t know how to get my music to anybody. Every time I applied to submit music to radio stations, they would say “30 spins for $400”. I said really? So how do I get music to people that don’t know me. So I met Kafele (trumpet player), and he said we should play the trains. And I said, that’s how I’m going to get music to the people that don’t know me. And we started six weeks ago. 
MJ: Only 6 weeks? You seem so confident and comfortable, as if you’ve been doing it forever. But that’s what a real performer does. 
LA: (Laughs) Thank you!
MJ: What advice would you give a young person, or anyone, who’s trying to put themselves in a position that you’re currently in and where you hope to be?
LA: It’s hard, and be yourself. No matter what, be yourself. Being a musician is not a get rich quick plan. You really have to put everything into it, and you really have to be yourself. And that’s the only way that you’ll be the artist that you’re supposed to be. Like I said before, it’s your responsibility to deliver the message from God, from society, the pain that people are going through. Just look at Marvin Gaye. That’s your responsibility, and being someone else, a cookie cutter, a carbon copy, is not what it is. It’s not being a musician. 
MJ: What can we look forward to from Lea Anderson?
LA: My music video is coming out for Detatched, November 11th. I completed my EP. I don’t have a specific date for when it’ll drop, but I’m going to release it like a blogger. I’ll release a different song every period. I’ll probably release Real Love in the top of the spring. Around April or March. I also have t-shirts with the lyrics of Not That Type of Guy, available for purchase on my website. 
MJ: Is there any inspiration you’d like to leave with us?
LA: Just be yourself and follow your heart. And know that you deserve everything that you’re going towards. The world is huge and you have to be comfortable with doing things that are bigger than you. 
  

It was a pleasure talking to this lovely young lady, who not only has a great voice, but is intelligent as well. Lea has performed all around NYC. Places such as, Ella, Sylvana’s, The Highline Ballroom, SOBs, The Bitter End. 
Not only is she a performing artist, but she’s also a painter. Lea sells her artwork and presents her portfolio upon request. Be sure to stay up to date with Lea by visiting her website, iamleaanderson.com, and following her on social media. Twitter: @iamleaanderson, Instagram: @iamleaanderson, facebook.com/iamleaanderson, youtube.com/musicbylyriclea, soundcloud.com/iamleaanderson. You can also download and purchase her two singles out now, Not That Type of Guy and Detached, on iTunes and Spotify. You won’t be disappointed. 

Purple Wondaluv: Eternal Peace EP Listening Party 

New artist, Purple Wondaluv, new music, what can we expect? All questions that many people may have had after the introduction of P Wondaluv. 

P Wondaluv, also known as Musiq Soulchild, presented his debut EP Eternal Peace last night in Brooklyn. Press, Media, and special guests from all over gathered together at Milk River Restaurant to get the deets and hear the sounds of this new artist. 
The event was presented by Mocca Brand Media, known publicist Mocca Styles; and hosted by “Media’s New Queen” Madison Jaye. 

I’d previously heard the EP, so I knew to expect music that sends off good vibes and an encouraging and inspirational message. But to hear the inspiration behind it is what I believe we all anticipated. 
After listening to great music with DJ Unique on the ones and twos, Madison Jaye presented P Wondaluv, and those in attendance were in for a real treat. 

 
(Purple Wondaluve & Madison Jaye) 

From start to finish, the discussion, and the Q&A session was pure, and authentic. P Wondaluv came out and explained that he wants to be an activist for love, therefore he believes in making music that’ll help lead and direct people in doing what they ultimately love to do. After sharing how this project was a mix between Bob Marely and Sade, we went into the EP; each song and a brief overview of them. Each song is led in order, and gives a story. 

The first song on the EP is, The Time Is Now. “There gets a point where you have to ride out for yourself. And do what you’re passionate about.” Often times we stay in a lane that people want us to be in, but with this song, he’s encouraging us to fulfill our passion, regardless of who people think we should be. P also shared how he waited 15 years for the perfect conditions, and realized it would never come. It was something he had to create himself. 

Following this track is, Live Your Love. “Living your life becomes pointless if you’re not doing what you love.”

Below are the remaining tracks and quotes from P Wondaluv himself. 
3. Faith Your Fears. “If you faith your fears, you can make it all go away” 
4. Save Your Monster. “Saving yourself from the part of you that keeps people away from you. We all have our own stuff…”
5. You Can Change. “Doesn’t matter what you’ve been through, what you told yourself; as long as you still have breath, you can do what you want to do. Be encouraged.” 
6. Words Are Free. “You don’t have to buy things. Just say something nice.” You have no idea what your positive words can do for a person. 
7. Bye And Gone. Let bygones be bygones. Someone did something to you along time ago, and you’re still holding on to it. And it contributes and affects your life. It affects the ability to be in a relationship or good friendship. Let it go. And live your life.

The time is now to live your love. Faith your fears and save your monster. So on and so on. The flow is impeccable.  
Madison kept the conversation flowing, and expressed how P Wondaluv is like an onion. And he’s now peeling back his layers. So much truth to this statement. 

Throughout the listening event, there were questions taken from the audience. From the Q&A, one was able to get more of a feel of who he was as an artist. P. Wondaluv expressed when asked, that he doesn’t give any thought to building a new fanbase. “If you’re busy spending time pleasing people you’re not doing what you love to do. I’m doing what I love to do, and I pray people are pleased.” 

He was then asked how he’s able to send a positive message without condemning people or making them feel bad about their past. He shared that he never wanted to make people feel the way he’d once felt while listening to certain inspirational music. He doesn’t feel that anyone has the right to talk at someone or belittle them, and that’s something he didn’t want to do. These records dealt with him first. He’s telling things that he actually had to go through, so that he could help others. 

The production of this album was by P Wondaluv himself, along with J Troy. When asked about the creative process of Eternal Peace, he shared how he felt that this needed to be more him. Not in an ego sense, but in a way that shows the authenticity of who he was and the direction he was going in. “How do you change something you complain about, if you’re not contributing…”

The last question that I feel definitely needs to be recognized, touched on what many others want to know. P Wondaluv was asked how he reached this place. He said he always wants to be the exception. Creative people have been gifted with an ability that comes with a whole. This is the life of an artist. It’s not easy being a creative person in this industry. He enjoyed it. It was working and people loved it. But he knew there was more that he needed to do. Many people feel like they need the extra people that come along with being a signed artist because they’re afraid of lack of support. He expressed, If he’s going to fail, he’d rather do it doing what he knows is his best.

But we truly believe there’ll be no failing when it comes to being real and staying true to yourself. That’s the most effective way of reaching people. 
The name may have changed, but the production of great music hasn’t. It’s just coming from more of an authentic and genuine place. And that’s something we can all respect. I’m telling you now, you’re going to want to download the Eternal Peace EP and support P Wondaluv. This project has been on repeat for the past few days, and the message behind it is motivational and inspirational. Download it now, if you haven’t. 

  
(Mocca Styles & Purple Wondaluv)
  
(P Wondaluv & Miss Jones)

To hear the first official performance as P Wondaluv, head over to SOBs Wednesday night for Sol Village. Doors open at 7:30, show starts at 9pm. Check out the flyer below.  

  

Get Your Finances In Order: Interview With The Budgetnista

“Women get together and we discuss men, children, and our lives over a glass of wine. But how often do we talk openly about finances? We say, ‘The Lord will make a way,’ and that’s true. But I’d like to empower myself.” Whether you’re in your twenties, thirties, forties or fifties and beyond, it’s not too late to get started. This quote is from an article in the February’s issue of ESSENCE Magazine. 
So often we get together with our friends and loved ones to talk about life and all of our issues. But how often do we discuss financial struggle, along with the importance of saving or budgeting? It wasn’t until my last year of college, when I was about to graduate, I realized the importance of saving and how I should’ve done that during my journey. 
After finding out about the Live Richer Challenge (a free, online financial challenge created by The Budgetnista to help women achieve 7-specific financial goals in 36 days. Currently over 15,000+ women in all 50 States and 52 countries, have signed-up and participated in the LRC.) and hearing her on the panel at a financial education event; I had the pleasure of interviewing financial educator, Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche. The Budgetnista has been featured in The New York Times, US News and World Report, the TODAY show, PBS, Fox Business, MSNBC, CBS MoneyWatch, TIME, ESSENCE Magazine, and FORBES. She regularly blogs about personal finance for The Huffington Post. She has also been has been a featured speaker at American Express, Princeton University, Wyndham Worldwide, Columbia University, Circle of Sisters, MegaFest, The United Way, Prudential Financial Inc. and many more.
Below you will find a few highlights from the interview where you’ll get to know a little more about Tiffany, as well as get some useful tips on how to get your finances in order. 
Miss Jones: How did you decide to start this journey? (Entrepreneurship)

The Budgetnista: Life decided for me. I was a school teacher for ten years. The school I was working for lost funding and everyone lost their jobs. I was relieved because I knew it was time to move on, but I was scared as well. You can do all of the right things and still be without a job.  

Miss Jones: For those who may not know, tell us a little about your business.

The Budgetnista: I have a financial education firm, which helps people with basic finances. My audience is predominantly women. I work with sets/groups of people and companies. Because I was an educator, I am able to teach in these settings. I’ve worked with companies like Prudential, United Way, and more. 

Miss Jones: What life experiences growing up contributed to the career path you have now?

The Budgetnista: I grew up in a household with my father, who was a financial banker. My father always talked to my sister and I about finances. When I got my first job, I had to talk with him about my paycheck. So I was able to master that at home. The rest was natural progression. I taught preschool, which played a part. The younger the age, the better to teach. College age students have knowledge, while preschoolers have no knowledge at all. You have to teach them everything, and that’s the best place to start. If you can teach preschool effectively, you can teach anyone. 

Miss Jones: did you ever think you’d write a book?

The Budgetnista: Yes, I always though I would but I never knew what it would be about. When I was teaching, the parents would come in around nap time and I would help them with their finances. As I was helping them, I would write it down. And eventually u wrote a book about it.

Miss Jones: Did you ever think the LiveRicher Challenge would be as big as it is now? 

The Budgetnista: Yes and no. I thought it was a great idea, and would be great to do. The I thought to myself, ‘it’s too much, no one’s going to do this.’ It was the same with my book. It humbled me. What the challenge is doing now, is something I dreamed of. 

Miss Jones: What are some of the goals you’ve had?

The Budgetnista: I ultimately wanted to have a business and fully support myself. I wanted to make a certain amount of money a month. I wanted by book to be a number one seller. I also wanted to be featured in certain publications. And I was able to accomplish all of these. There are still some goals I have yet to reach. I would like to speak at ESSENCE Festival, as well as be a branch certified one day. 

Miss Jones: How were you able to accomplish these goals?

The Budgetnista: Putting one foot in front of the other, without overthinking. I’ve learned to do what you know, and the rest will come after. When you do what you know, the more you learn. Two, always keep positive people around you. I call those people in my life, the dream catchers. Keep people around you who have their own business. You’ll be able to learn from them. Also, keep honest people around you, that’ll let you know when you’re doing too much. Remember why you started, and don’t be afraid to look for assistance when you need it. Learn when to ask for help. It can cost you time, money, and happiness when you try to do everything yourself. 

Miss Jones: Many people growing up, as myself, were never really taught to save, and are now struggling with the transition and mind shift. What are some tips to get back on track?

The Budgetnista: 1. Discipline. Decide how much from your check to save. It’ll get you to practice. Ask your job to take out $10 out of $100, and send it to another account through direct deposit. 2. Start with saving goals that are fun. For example, specifically saving for a vacation, a car, or an apartment. You can either go to a concert, or live home with your parents forever. Find what motivates you, even when you want to spend. 3. Open up an online savings account, which allows you to magnify your money online. Banks such as Capitol one 360 and Ally banks offer great online accounts. And it is only a savings account. Separate accounts for specific goals. Whether it be a travel or a car account. These online accounts take 2-5 business days (unlike a regular bank) to transfer money. So it forces you to save. 

Miss Jones: What are some of the most important steps to becoming financially stable?

The Budgetnista: First, imagine you’re in a ditch. Just stop digging. Stop using your cards. Stop eating out. Find the issue, and take a step back. Bring things back in order one at a time. Be sure to create a budget, it’ll help you see where your money is going. Try the Live richer challenge. Miss Jones: How can one save and still enjoy your life? Looking well, vacationing, but still have funds saved?

The Budgetnista: Budget. Including travel, clothes, etc. Look at what you want. Take out bills first, and put 10% into your retirement account. With the first check of the month. From 90% figure out how much the things you need are, how much will you save, and how much will you do for fun stuff. Retirement should always be first, then emergency savings, bills, then fun. When there’s no money left, you’ve made poor choices. If you want fun, lower your bills. 

Miss Jones: How do you build your credit score?

The Budgetnista: Your credit score is broken up into five different components 1. Inquiry. Which is when someone else looks at your social security number, if you were applying for a credit card etc. You should save it for a car or student loans instead of applying for multiple credit cards you don’t need. Even if you don’t qualify for the card, points are still taken off of your credit score. And that’s 10% of your credit score.  

2. 10% of your credit score is debt. 

3. Length of credit history. And that’s 15%. Keep your oldest credit card open. If you’re in college or fresh out of college, let your parents put you on as an authorized user. Where they are the primary user and also pay on time. 

4. Utilization. Which is how much are you using. This is the thing that brings most of it down. Using too much of what you’re given. Keep your spending under 30%.

5. Payment history. Which 35%. Keep your payments down. Always pay what they ask when they ask. Charge a card with something small regularly and pay it off in full every month. 

Miss Jones: What are some of the best budget plans that you’d give others? Is the Mint App a good budgeting tool?

The Budgetnista: From what I’ve heard about Mint, its pretty good. However, my book The One Week Budget, I give a great way to budget. Set it up and automate it. Separate checking account for bills. Second account not attached, so that all of your bills are taken from one specific account. One should typically have at least three separate bank accounts. A savings account, an emergency account, an online savings account, and/or a regular checking account. 

Miss Jones: Is there any advice you’d like to leave with us?

The Budgetnista: It’s not as hard as you think, it’s just about practice. With time it gets easier and easier. But only if you get started. 

Tiffany, The Budgetnista, was a pleasure to talk to. She is going around the world sharing financial tools that can ultimately change someone’s life. She offers financial education to companies, small groups, churches, and universities. You can visit her website to invite her and find out her pricing, thebudgetnista.com. Also purchase her books The One Week Challenge and Live Richer Challenge. Lastly, follow her on Instagram and Twitter @thebudgetnista and continue to find out ways to get your finances in order!

Tha L. Spot Ent. & PR LLC

Tha L Spot Ent. and PR, LLC is a company that provides public relations services to clients in music, special events, event planning, and photography. They focus on networking and recognizing talents, brands, and the community. Tha L Spot also focuses on creating and giving opportunities for those who wish to gain experience in any of the fields listed above. Along with this, they also have their own blog. Founder and CEO, Jessica Lanice started this company because she wanted to bring people into her world. Being surrounded by talented people, she wanted to give them exposure. Before graduating with a degree in public relations, she decided to write about the wonderful talent she experienced on her blog. Upon graduating, we decided to start her company. 

On Thursday, March 12th CEO Jessica Lanice and Tha L. Spot PR company, celebrated their third year anniversary with a concert held at the Roulette Theatre in Brooklyn, NY. The show was hosted by the very funny, Charlie Wilson, whom we’ve had the pleasure of interviewing on the site. But before he rose to the stage, Micheal Mills and Ms KG hit the stage ginger the crowd rocking, along with DJ NO. 

  

Charlie came to the stage and started off with some jokes. Then he got a little serious and brought out Jessica. She talked about her company and what she sets out to do, and brought a portion of her team up with her. (Journalist, accountant, etc.)

  

(Charlie Wilson & Jessica Lanice)

 

Then Charlie shared how real R&B and Hip Hop has slipped away from us. So he was excited to have all these artist together for this concert. The show then started. 

The first artist to perform was Dave Al. He came out singing a cover of Sam Smith’s, ‘I’m Not the Only One’. He then sang a few original songs as well. Songs that were slow and intimate. Which allowed him to be close and connect with the audience. He wanted the audience to be able to hear and feel his lyrics. To hear some of his music, visit  https://soundcloud.com/dave-al. You can also connect with him on his social media networks. Twitter: twitter.com/Dave_ALMusicIG: instagram.com/dave_almusicFB: www.facebook.com/pages/Dave-Al/24798…

  

Next up was, Cameron Jay. He is a rapper and had the crowd rocking. To stay up to date and hear some of his music, visit his website http://www.cameronjaymusik.com. Also check out his Instagram: @cameronjaymusik. 

  

Then the group, D Limitz came out with their drums and set the crowd on fire. This is a group from East New York. They had African Drums, along with dancers. They also rapped. To hear their music, visit https://soundcloud.com/d-limitz. Also check out their Instagram: @dlimtzofficial. 

  

Before the performances continued, of course there was a little fun. There was a lot of crowd of participation. There were crowd members who got on stage and sang. Then there was a little runway as well. They audiences loved every bit of it. 

  

  

  

  

Next to perform was, Islima, who goes by Songbird. We’ve had the pleasure of interviewing her on the site. She started out with a cover of Jhene Aiko as her guitarist Elliot played in the background. She then went to singing her original music; her singles, Perfect Harmony and The Break Up. You can download her single on iTunes, Amazon, spotify, and more. Check out her Instagram as well, @islimasongbird. 

  

The very last artist to perform was Kwoat. He’s a rapper and came out and somewhat put a story to his songs. You to learn more about him and hear his music, you can visit http://allunsigned.com/kwoat-kwoatalent-songs-for-breakup/. Also visit his Instagram page, @kwoatalent. 

  

While the show was going, there was a bartender providing drinks as well as vendors. Below are the vendors:

  

(Instagram: @thecollegegirl)

  

(Instagram: @chicbychoice)

  

(Very talented artist. His work is dope. Check him out on Instagram @r.p.gallery)

  

 

(Instagram: @lilyz__closet)

  

(Instagram: @stgserious @hiphop_inthaflesh)

Lastly there was a special performance by Nathaniel’s (singer, songwriter) dancers. They came out and killed! He also brought out an artist to end the show. You can check him out on Instagram, @nathanielrnb. 

  

This was an overall great show in celebration on Tha L. Spot’s 3rd year anniversary. We definitely respect the work that’s being done on behalf of talented artists. Special thanks to Jessica Lanice and her team for the invitation. Be sure to check out and support Tha L. Spot by visiting their social media networks. Website: thalspot entpr.com. Blog: thalspot.com. Instagram: @thalspotentpr. Twitter: @thalspotentpr. 

(All pictures were taken by CeeDeeKay Photographer. Check her out on Instagram @ceedeekayphotography). 

Voyages Prep High School Women’s Day

Thursday, March 12th, I had the pleasure of attending Voyages Prep HS’s women’s day luncheon. I was invited by Leah Williams, who I met at a women’s empowerment brunch the Saturday before. 

Voyages Prep HS is a transfer HS in Elmhurst, Queens. The population is over-aged and under-credited students who failed at the traditional high school setting.  In an effort to lift the spirit of their girls, some of who are single mothers and live in low-income communities, they are had their first ever Women’s Day to inspire the girls and show them that through hard work and determination they can succeed at being strong and beautiful contributors to today’s global society. 

Upon arriving to the school and into the space set for the event, I was greeted by wonderful ladies and students as they continued to complete the set up for the day. This was a day not only to empower the ladies, but to make them feel good. There were beautiful tables set up for the girls. 

  

  

To start the day off, Leah, who is on the advisory board of the young women’s group did her greetings and introductions. There were of course the girls who currently attend the school, along with returning students (one who graduated as the valedictorian and recently received her associates degree, and on her way to her bachelors.), teachers, other advisors, school safety, and the guest speaker Tiana Von Johnson. Once the ladies came in, signed in, received a lovely bag, and sat attentively, it was time to eat and mingle before moving further.

After the food was served and the ladies had a chance to talk to one another, Leah returned to introduce the speaker of the day. 

Tiana Von Johnson started by sharing her story with the girls. She shared her successes with them. She grew up in a broken home in the Bronx. However, she had a different mindset. She never wanted to follow the crowd, rather go down her own path. She learned how to be her own boss from a very young age. She went to work with her father every Saturday while most of the other kids were outside playing. She learned how to save the $10 she made every week, and it taught her valuable lessons. And the same followed her for the rest of her life. And because of this, she was determined to go to school. 

She received her Bachelors degree by the age of 20, Masters by the age of 21; and by the age of 25, she was making $70,000 a year. She was grateful for her accomplishments, but she wasn’t fulfilled. She wasn’t passionate about the work she did. 

Tiana then went on to ask the girls what they were passionate about. Allowing them to speak on their goals and what they eventually wanted. She then went on with her story, letting the girls know that she became a millionaire by the age of 30. She wanted to go back to school to receive her PHD, but was told she was too young. So she continued to work and reapplied at the age of 37, and she was accepted. She wanted to show the girls how she continued to work and make things happen for herself.   

  

When she reached $100,000 a year in her career, she decided to quit her job. She wasn’t fulfilled. She enjoyed the money, but wanted to do what she was passionate about. She did all of this while being a single mother of 2. She then became a producer she was her own boss. And because she was her own boss, she had to separate herself. To focus, sometimes you will have to separate yourself. And this is something she wanted to get across to the girls. It’s important to know when to separate yourself in order to reach your goals. She’s been through some things, as many of the girls have, but she was determined to reach a certain level of success. 

After she spoke for a while, she showed a video which displayed her many accomplishments and success. She was the first young African American female broker on Wall Street. But she was focused and determined. She’s doing it big now because she was determined enough to quit her job and do what she loved. 

Tiana then made it a little more interactive for the girls. She asked them to share what they aspire to do. Which allowed them to declare some of their goals and aspirations, and put it into the atmosphere. They were also asked if they had a game plan. Which led to one of the worksheets set out for them. It was called Envisioning the Life You Want. Which helped the girls to see exactly where they wanted to be in life. Not just thinking about it, but actually visualizing it. 

  

The next activity was where Tiana asked everyone to close their eyes and think about the person they loved. After some time, she allowed the girls to share. Many of them mentioned their mother or their children. But none of them mentioned themselves. Which says a lot. She wanted them to get to a place where they loved themselves enough to pursue their dreams. 

Then they used the following sheet to draw or write out the things they wanted into the box created for them. Many of the girls drew money, houses, and he businesses they hoped to open one day. 

  

Tiana then opened the floor for questions, where she was able to further encourage the girls. Below are a few of her answers:

  • I was able to reach my goals being a single mother because of my work ethic. I was driven. 
  • Time management was big for me. I encourage you all to invest in a journal. Write your goals for the week, month, and year. This is how you stay organized. 
  • People will try to take advantage of you when you’re in a situation like this. When you grow and become a brand, you have to protect your assists. 
  • After you realize your passion, you may have to reach out to others to push you along the way. I reached out to my pastor and educators. 
  • I was able to keep pushing when I saw my vision but faced opposition because I was reminded of my past. Every time I found myself in a position where I wanted to quit, I remembered the place I didn’t want to return to. 

Below are a few nuggets she was able to leave with the girls:

  • Push when no one believes in you. 
  • From this point on think about whether it contaminate me or contribute to my growth. 
  • Shift your mindset for what’s good for you. 
  • Don’t demand respect, command respect. You want your presence felt. Marking your territory. Focusing on what you have to do for you. 
  • Invest in yourself. 
  • You have to have the will to win. 
  • Prioritize relationships.

It was amazing to be able to see these young girls have an opportunity to experience a day of encouragement and empowerment at a young age. These are the types of events I attend as an adult, so it’s great to start early. They were given tools that will stick with them for the rest of their lives. Tools that will help them pursue their dreams. And to see the excitement was great. I over heard a conversation where a young girl was recording and when asked, she said “yes, I’m recording. I want to be a millionaire!” This event will be life changing for them. Special thanks to Leah Ross-Williams for he invite. 

 

 (Leah Ross-Williams and Miss Jones)

 

 (Miss Jones & Tiana Von Johnson) 

Activate Your Vision Board Party with Lucinda Cross

Friday, February 13th, I had the opportunity to attend the Activate Your Vision Board Party presented by “The Chief Activator” Lucinda Cross. Cross has been featured in this years January edition of Essence Magazine. She’s been making vision boards for 10 years, and has received great results. The latest vision board she purposed to be featured, and that is exactly what came to past. She has also been featured on the Today Show, and is also a contributing writer for Black Enterprise and Huffington Post.

Lucinda is a woman who has overcome incredible struggle and is now helping others through a method that has helped her reach this level of success. She has dedicated herself to going around the world and sharing how “the power of vision can set your goals on fire.” She did and now you can too. During these parties, Cross let’s others know the real purpose of creating a vision board and how to clarify your goals and dreams.

Friday’s event was held in Harlem, NY at Raw Space, which is a nice intimate space with beautiful paintings donning the walls. Upon entering the venue, there was music playing, mingling, and the atmosphere was set. The tables were decorated lovely, with magazines, mood rocks, and wine glasses with beautiful quotes. There was then a table with materials to create the visions boards, as well as Lucinda’s vision board that was featured in Essence.

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Cupcakes were being served by the volunteers who did a great job the entire evening. Food was then served, as more people gathered in for the night. Music, eating, and talking commenced for a little while. The sponsor for the evening was donutologist, Todd Jones. He made delicious homemade, mini donuts. He’s the owner of Sweet Dreams, where they bring the donut experience to you. As well as, Cuzzin’s Duzin, where you come to the donut experience. These donuts were mouth watering.

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Then to start the evening off, Dr. Stacy NC Grant came up to speak to this room filled with anxious ladies, ready to write the vision and make it plain. She discussed the purpose of us being there, all the while dropping some encouragement as well. On this cold frigid night, she commended those in attendance who “came out on a cold night to warm their dreams”. She encouraged everyone to jump and grow their wings on the way down. As well as posed the question, “what seeds are you going to plant tonight?”

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She then introduced the financial motivator, author, and speaker Ash Cash. Having heard him speak previously, I knew he’d have some great encouragement for us all. He started by sharing a little of his story. He grew up in Harlem where many people around him either ended up in jail or down a path of negativity. But he went against the grain, and came out on top. He’s been in banking for 15 years and is the author of a best seller. He’s been featured in many publications, such as Black Enterprise, Essence Magazine, and more. As well as popular radio stations, Hot 97 and WBLS 107.5.
Ash went on to share a story he heard about a brick wall. The father told his son he broke down a brick wall and wanted him to rebuild it. The father then had to tell the son, because in his mind it was too much, don’t focus so much on the wall, focus on one brick. It’ll be so powerful, you can’t break it down. Often times we try to handle everything at once, when it’s important to put our focus on one thing at a time. He left us with these powerful sayings..
•The work that you put in today is all that matters.
•The power is in your vision.
•Don’t wait until later to do something. Do it now!

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Next up was the energetic, Katie Kozlowski. Started by saying, if you believe it, then you’ll see it. She shared how she knew there was greater ahead, but wasn’t sure how it would manifest. She uses play as a way to reach success. She believes the journey should be joyful and fun. It shouldn’t have to be a sad process. She briefly shared how she took her own worth away and wondered how she would create something golden. And she was able to do just that. So she encouraged the audience that the past is the past and you have an opportunity to change who you are.

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Then the lady of the hour, Lucinda Cross, came up to speak. She shared how she was able to accomplish 80% of the things included on her vision board. It’s more than just a vision board, but a faith board. If you believe it, you’ll receive it. For example, she put Keke Palmers’ picture on her vision board, and she was later one of the speakers for the Activate Conference. That was one amongst many manifestations of the vision board she created. Below are a few powerful points she left us with:

•No one is obligated to support our dream. You have to go after what you want.

•Its important to have abundant thinking when it comes to your dreams.

•Link up with people who have manifested some things. You need a success entourage.

•Say no to certain things, so you can say yes to greater.

•Show up strategically. Lucinda shared stories where she showed up for an event. She wasn’t the main speaker, but someone asked her to come. She said she would, and although it wasn’t a large gathering and she stood in the back, after the event and her sharing a few sentences; someone approached her and asked what she did. The person was someone from Essence Magazine and it led to her feature.

•You have to be a demonstration of a blessing.

•Mantra: “My vision is coming to past, just like that.”

•You have to be ready. Will you be ready when they call? Lucinda shared the moment she received the call for Essence magazine and they told her they were bringing full camera crew for an interview. She was ready, she just purchased a dress and didn’t need the wardrobe that Essence brought for her.

•You’re asking for more when you haven’t finished what’s on your plate. Focus on what you have, so that you’re able to get more.

•Use what’s in your hands.

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After her great speech, we were led into beginning our boards. Those in attendance took all of the encouragement and motivation they received to pour into their boards. They were already excited from the beginning to put their dreams and goals down on their boards, but was given that extra boost. There were some who were moved to tears by what had taken place. This event touched and changed the lives of many.

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It was also important to have others around you who have the same goals of success in mind. Towards the end Lucinda did an exercise to show how we have the support of our sisters. Two women sat back to back with one another after briefly sharing what their goals were for the year. Everyone in the room then walked up individually to whisper words of support, wisdom, and encouragement that they needed.

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This event was so empowering. To have someone who’s gone through a certain process, a rough process, but was able to have enough faith to make it and reach her goals is amazing. But it’s even more amazing for them to dedicate themselves to changing the lives of others through that. Special thanks, to Lucinda Cross and her team for the opportunity to cover this incredible event. Stay in touch with Lucinda Cross by visiting her website and social media networks, http://www.lucindacross.com. Instagram: @lucindacross, twitter: @lucindaspeaks

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(Miss Jones and Lucinda Cross)

Reminders That Prompt Movement

Often times during our journey towards greater success, we are sent reminders. A reminder is something that we may have already known, but something that we need to hear at a certain moment in our lives. And they should always cause us to move.

This past Thursday I had the opportunity of attending A Conversation with Karen Civil. An event presented by Her Agenda and Alley NYC. This event produced a few of the greatest reminders. Relevant things I needed to hear at this particular phase in my life.

Since the moment I’ve heard of Karen Civil, I became a follower of hers. After reading an article in Vibe Magazine that shared a bit of her story, I saw how I could relate and respected her grind and her process. She started out as a blogger, as myself, and now has built an empire.

During the conversation led by Rhonesha Byng, founder of Her Agenda, Karen shared her journey from start to finish. Rhonesha, who is a phenomenal journalist and entrepreneur, asked questions that provoked great conversation and inspiration for those who were packed into that Alley NYC venue.

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Some of the most inspiring things she shared are as follows. Take a look as I add my own spin on it.

•She used social media to her advantage. Often times social media can be seen in a not so positive light. Many people feel that with the world of social media, it has taken away from real life situations. On the contrary, social media is a great way to build and reach a level of success.

•Come up with creative ways to get who you want to notice you. She used an example of how she lied in order to get in contact with someone. Her creativity worked for her. Lying isn’t for everyone, but you have to be creative enough to draw attention from the ones you need to notice you.

•She realized she had to have boldness in the industry that she’s in. It’s now or never. Regardless of how nervous something may initially be, she always gets this burst of courage. You can’t miss the opportunity or the moment for greatness.

•Work with as many people as possible. Networking is key in any field of business.

•Don’t let the opinions of others get in your way. Karen expressed how she talks with conviction and how many people took it as her being unpleasant. She just saw what she wanted and was confident enough to go out and get it.

•Find what works for you. What someone else did may not be ideal for you. Don’t get caught up on what others are doing, find the best route for you and work with it.

•Focus on you and try not to obsess over other people and what they have. Be content with who you are and where you are. One mans success doesn’t mean another mans failure.

•Creating value in your work. Care about everything that you do. You must be passionate and make sure you nurture it. Don’t just deliver, over deliver. Give more, beyond what others are expecting.

Along with some of these points, she talked about things that keep her motivated. She brought up her blessing jar as well as how she writes down three things she’s grateful for every night. I realized that it is so important to continue to remind yourself of your blessings and accomplishments during your journey towards success. It get weary at times, but when you begin to reflect on all that you’ve been given along the way, it helps you to be more patient.

After this event, I went back to my routines that I had left behind. I became refocused and had a new mindset. I chose to remain positive by reminding myself of how far I’ve come. Through that I will be able to remain patient knowing that greater things are ahead. So I encourage you to continue on your journey. Write down all that you’re grateful for and all of your accomplishments, and see just how encouraged you will be to keep moving. So finally as Karen Civil says, live on purpose!

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