Sunday, December 27, 2015

2015 Reflections


Every year I write a reflection blog post about the things I experienced or about the main lesson I learned throughout the year. 2014 was all about living my life to the fullest and living in the moment. And I know for a fact I tried my hardest to do both this year.

2015’s lesson: “Love Yourz”. This lesson was brought to me by none other than my fave rapper, J. Cole. With the release of his December 2014 album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, J. Cole dropped one single gem on me; a gem I’ve needed to hear my entire life.

Ever since I can remember I have always imagined how much better my life would be if I was a different person. As a child I would fantasize about how cool I would be if I had a different name and looked “Latina.” In high school I would visualize myself having a bunch of fancy clothes and somehow equated that with having a better, much cooler life. I used to always look at my life as boring and stale. The crazy thing is I felt this way despite my friends/peers constantly wishing for the brand new car I drove at age 16, the large family I have, and the attractive culture I come from. But that was never enough for me. I always wanted more.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Standing On My Own


I moved the arrow on my computer screen over the “send” option and paused. Will my fellow Afro-Latinas like this? Am I representing myself, my culture, and them in a positive way? Is this even a good idea? At the very last minute doubt crept in, and it was strong. But at that point the thing I’d been working on for two weeks straight (bouncing ideas off of friends, finalizing the header, researching women to feature, compiling article links) had to go out. There was no reason it shouldn’t. It was done, it was ready, I sent it.

“Doubt can only be removed by action.”

The idea to start Es Mi Cultura -a monthly newsletter that spreads awareness of the wonderful contributions Afro-Latinas are making to further advance our presence- randomly came out of nowhere. I had been wanting to start a newsletter all year, but had no idea what purpose it would serve. But now when I think about it, the idea specifically for Es Mi Cultura came to me at the right time; which is why it was perfectly launched during Latino Heritage Month.

The doubt I experienced on launch day was also felt in the days and weeks leading up. My feelings were very up and down. The ups were the excitement of producing something with information I am passionate about. The downs came in the form of self-doubt, at the hands of social media.


Friday, December 18, 2015

Home


It’s fall now, so when I leave my apt I have to remember to grab a jacket. I walk down the stairs to the lobby of my building and pass the young children playing ball in the hallway. As I approach the door to exit, I hold it open for an elderly lady who is coming in. She passes me and says, “Gracias, Mi Amor.” I smile at her. And I smile because I am home.

Home, literally. But more importantly, home in the figurative sense. Although I have only lived in my upper Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights for a year now; I am comfortable and this is home. California will always be my home too. That is where my family is, it’s where my heart is. It’s where I was made. 



But NYC is where I became alive, it’s where I started living. And my Washington Heights neighborhood is where I belong.

I walk up Broadway and feel comfort, I’m amongst my people. The old man who sits on his stoop and hollers out to his friends in Spanish; he reminds me of my Abuelo Victor who does the same from the porch of his house in Panamá. The woman who owns the Bodega and recognizes me, she calls me, Mami. The Coquito lady and her cart are still stationed in the same place she’s been all summer. A few months ago, for a dollar she would hand me a small cup filled with memories of the many Raspados I had as a child. Now she hands customers a steaming hot drink to combat the chilly weather.

It’s the blonde haired Dominican woman, Gloria, who waves and smiles as I pass by her hair salon. She doesn’t know English and my Spanish is sketchy but she always knows exactly what to do with my hair. Our lack of communication reminds me of my cousins in Panamá, who I also just smile and nod at. It’s the women in the nail shop, with heads full of pink rollos, who remind me of Ma and my Tías. The fellas laughing in front the nearby barber shop remind me of my brother. 


Read More: HERE


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

It Could Be Worse...




This time of year always reminds me of family…the family I have yet to create. Thanksgiving and Christmas reminds me of the home I don’t yet own. The home that is not decked out like my parents; with a tree, decorations, and lights hanging outside. This time of year is actually very lonely and depressing.



When I moved to NYC over three years ago, I never once considered the things I would be sacrificing to follow my dreams. Many of the sacrifices I have been able to deal with, but not being with some kind of family on holidays is the sacrifice that hurts. It’s like a wound that becomes fresh and painful every November. 





But to keep it 100 percent honest. This sad holiday feeling didn’t start when I moved to NYC. Even when I lived in Cali and would go to holiday gatherings with family and friends, the pain was still there. It was hard to be at those events when everyone was there with their significant other and/or their children. And then there I was. Just me, with my parents. I hated those moments and would often share my feelings with my mother. One time I remember her telling me, “You’re making it worse than it actually is. No one thinks of you differently because you’re not married and don’t have kids. It’s all in your head.”

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Erica Nichole: Personal Blogger & Writer

Personal Blogger, writer, and wine enthusiast, Erica Nichole will close out 2015 with a few new accolades under her belt. From hosting successful events, and co-authoring a book, From Blank Space to Blogging Brilliance, to obtaining the Love & Relationship Editor position with xoNecole, and winning the People’s Choice award at the 2015 Afro-Latinas Who Rock awards brunch; Erica has no plans of slowing her momentum in 2016.
For the last six and a half years this Afro-Cubana has penned some of the most jaw-dropping, yet eye-opening pieces on her blog, Everything ENJ. Erica has created a space where women can find comfort in knowing their experiences are solely not their own. In doing so, Erica has also positioned herself in a place where her words are impacting and shaping the careers and minds of her peers and those following in her footsteps.
In the interview below, Erica talks about her Afro-Latina identity as a child, her future career plans, and how she balances her family and finding time for herself.
Read More: Here

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

I Need My Own Space, Again...



I need my own space again, and it’s no one’s fault but my own. After graduating from college, I said goodbye to the ups and downs of living with roommates and was more than eager to have my own place. In doing so I got accustom to doing my own thing. From blasting music at 2am and having guests and gatherings, to choosing not to have any company and enjoying the peace and quiet; whatever happened in my apt IT WAS MY CHOICE. I miss that.

Last year when the lease was up on my Brooklyn apartment, I decided I wanted to live in the city. Well unless you’re ballin’ (which I am not), affording to live in Manhattan on your own usually doesn’t happen. So I had to compromise my alone time to live in the neighborhood of my choice.
At first living with roommates wasn’t bad at all. Everyone in my apartment has their own stuff going on, so we randomly see each other in passing. And I am completely fine with that. Everyone does their part to somewhat keep the apartment clean, and there really isn’t much one could complain about.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

When Pens Collide ~ A Night of Inspiration & Revelation



So about last Saturday night. When Pens Collide was an intimate event that took place at the lovely Draper Art Studio in The Bronx. We nine featured writers, in all black everything and our colorful scarves, sat on one side of the room; while the readers/attendees for the event sat on the other. Surrounded by great pieces of art, we all mingled, laughed, and drank some of the best wine I’ve ever tasted. 

Prior to the event I had no idea what I was in for. I just knew I had to read two pieces of work written by other featured writers. And that three of my pieces (from this blog) would also be read aloud. The same would be done by and for the other eight writers too. None of us knew which pieces got picked from our blogs or whose pieces we would be reading for the event. 

When talking to When Pens Collide creator, Tassika, I understood that the point of the event was for us writers to hear our words read aloud. But I had no idea what that would actually look, feel, and sound like until we got started.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

When Pens Collide



Every once in a while I am asked to be a part of some pretty amazing and creative events. So when Tassika started tweeting about When Pens Collide, and then confirmed she wanted me to be a part of it, I was beyond thrilled and excited. 

At that time, I wasn't exactly sure what this event would entail, I was simply excited for the opportunity. The opportunity to be in the company of some great writers, reunite with my fave blogger boos, and meet new people.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

I Have Entered A New Phase




In a previous post (here) I wrote about how important it is for your road to success to continue to grow longer. 

“…every time I keep getting closer to what I think is the end of my path, the path should grow. Meaning as I evolve and grow, my path should too. Hence, why I should never get comfortable, especially when it comes to my career.”

And with that being said, I have entered into a new phase with my book. My book was completed this summer and I spent September, October, and the first week of November receiving feedback from readers and making final edits. And finally, I have entered the pitching phase. I have found five agents who I would love to have represent my book. So I’m in the process of peeking their interests to see which one will say yes. 


Thursday, November 12, 2015

"I'll Be Over Here"



Have you ever been somewhere and felt completely out of place? Whether it was because of age, comfort level, or just simply due to lack of interest in the people around you…this feeling is something I’ve experienced a lot lately. I often find myself going to places with people just to get out of the house. But while there, I’m quickly reminded of why home is actually where I prefer to be.


It also reminds me that I need to make sure I’m surrounding myself with like-minded people, who have similar interests. If not for worth wild conversations, then simply for the sake of my sanity. Everything doesn’t have to be “Lit” and every situation doesn’t warrant a “Turn up.” Or maybe I’m just different, either way I am so not with it. And thankfully, I am not the only one.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

"Everything, Everything"


Madeline Whittier is allergic to the outside world. So allergic, in fact, that she has never left the house in all of her seventeen years. She is content enough—until a boy with eyes the color of the Atlantic Ocean moves in next door. Their complicated romance begins over IM and grows through a wunderkammer of vignettes, illustrations, charts, and more.

Everything, Everything is about the thrill and heartbreak that happens when we break out of our shell to do crazy, sometimes death-defying things for love.




“The greatest risk is not taking one” 


I’m not sure who recommended this book to me or where the desire to read it came from. But Everything, Everything is an excellent read. It took me only two nights to read through the 300 or so pages of Madeline Whittier’s life.


With my ever present battle of making sure I’m living each moment to the fullest, this book is a reminder to do just that. As Madeline longs to leave her bubble and live a regular teenage life, the reader is automatically reminded of the everyday things we take for granted. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

"On Becoming Fearless"



“But if the voice is just mindlessly nit-picking and running us down, we have a responsibility to lower the volume. If we let these voices deplete our energies, they will. Since the comparison game is a game that no one can win, why play in the first place?” 

-Arianna Huffington










The above quote is my favorite from On Becoming Fearless, by Arianna Huffington. This book truly has the ability to change anyone’s perspective on fear and how it can shape your life. No matter what your fear is: kids, career, relationships, etc –Arianna covers it all. 

The major lesson I learned from reading this book is that fear is always going to be around. The way I choose to deal with my fear is the only way I will truly overcome it. I have also learned that I don't always have to look at fear as a bad thing. Being fearful of something can actually be the one piece of motivation I need to conquer it.




Tuesday, October 27, 2015

My Dream Confirmed It


The other night I had a dream that I was in a house where a woman was running around stabbing people. In each room that I ran into there was someone on the floor who had just been stabbed and was struggling to stay alive. I remember being so scared in the dream. I didn’t know why this lady was stabbing people, if she knew I was in the house or not, or if I was even a target of hers.

What was even crazier was that I could not speak. I would open my mouth but nothing would come out. I remember thinking, “I need to shout: I plead the blood of Jesus.” Because I knew that would make everything okay. But when I realized nothing was coming out of my mouth I became frantic. I eventually ran to a room where there wasn’t a stabbed body, I kneeled down on the floor and rested my head on the bed.

I was crying uncontrollably and in my mind I was speaking in tongues. I did this without even thinking. I was crying so much that I ended up laying in the bed and falling asleep. I then awoke to a sharp knife coming towards me. But when the knife got close, it would stop and pull away. This happened three times and then the woman trying to stab me ran away.

I sat up in the bed and cried some more, thinking why am I here? Why is this happening to me? Then two men came into the room with knives and I froze. They saw me, I saw them. I knew they were going to get me. One of the men swung his arm to stab me, but once again when the knife got close to me it would stop. With his thick Jamaican accent one man told the other, “Me can’t reach her. Something is in the way.”


Be Moxie Leader

"I hope my writing can bring some sort of comfort to an Afro-Latina who might be struggling with her identity. I want her to read my work and not feel alone in whatever she may be going through with trying to fit in or understanding her culture."

1. Be Moxie means to be a woman of determination, be bold, be savvy and to have the ability to face difficulty with spirit and courage. How are you a Moxie woman?
I am a Moxie woman because I am always looking for ways to grow. Whether personally or professionally, having specific goals are vital and achieving them is important to me. I look at each goal as a rest stop on my path, not a destination. Once a goal is accomplished, of course I am happy and take time to celebrate it. But being comfortable is not good. So I push on to the next thing, grow my path, and set new goals to achieve.
2. What initially attracted you to your specific career path? Was there a specific incident? Childhood? Did being a woman play a role?
Writing has always been something that was in me. As a child I would write essays and win school contests, and was always a part of the yearly Young Writer’s Conference and would win several awards. In college I had several people tell me I was a great writer and even had professors encouraging me to write for the campus paper. But I never did, I never paid attention to my gift. Looking back, I think I missed the fact that writing was my passion because I didn’t know making a living as a writer was possible. No one around me was doing it, so it never crossed my mind.
After I graduated from college I worked at an advertising agency and was very unsatisfied. It wasn’t until I decided to start blogging and taking some writing classes that I realized I needed to pursue a career in writing. After six years of working in advertising, I quit my job and moved to NYC for a fresh start and to start my writing career.
Read More: Here

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Kiersten Kindred: Communications Professional


Meet Kiersten Kindred! This twenty something year old not only owns her 
own communications firm, but she also specializes in branding.

Kiersten started her firm, Kindred Communications in the summer of 2013. This full service firm specializes in communications, marketing, branding, entertainment, community engagement, consulting, career services, and media relations for individuals and medium-sized businesses.

In March of this year Kiersten added the title of author to her name with the release of, Five Steps to Marketing Success: A Small Business Guide. In the interview below find out what it’s like for this millennial to run her own firm, where her interest in communications and branding came from, and more information on her book. 


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Share Your Goals & Dreams With Your Tribe


“If they don’t know your dreams, then they can’t shoot them down.” – J. Cole


Rapper J. Cole dropped this bit of advice on his 2010 mixtape, Friday Night Lights. And I have held tight to those words ever since, as they made so much sense to me. Over the years I’ve heard variations of the lyrics that include, “Don’t let the next man know your moves,” “I don’t tell people my plans, I show them,” and so on. All of which are great and make perfect sense.

However, in recent years my opinion on this has changed, well a little. The thing is, sharing my dreams and aspirations has given me the push I actually need to accomplish them. It’s like, “Okay, well you told people about it, so you better follow through and do it.” 

Maybe it’s a fear of being looked at as someone who doesn’t do what they say or just some kind of weird rush that I experience. But whenever I tell close friends or family about something big I plan to do, I have always been able to complete it.


Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Whimsical World of Beads ByAree


I can scroll down my Instagram feed at any time of day and I am certain to see someone wearing a Beads Byaree piece. From eyewear and body chains, to rings, hair accessories and more; each piece makes its own bold and eye-catching statement. All of the Beads Byaree jewelry is hand crafted by Areeayl Goodwin. And since each piece is inspired by what she sees in her dreams, Areeayl literally makes her dreams into a reality. “Dream… and it will spread like a wildfire,” she says.
areeyal_working_girl_1-620x462This Philly born, now Brooklyn NY resident’s pieces are a favorite among celebrities and have captivated audiences as far as London and Israel. This imaginative line is so much more than your usual online jewelry boutique items. While of course fashionable, the pieces also stimulate dialogue. As Areeayl says, “Fashion is a symbol from who you are and what you think. If certain pieces spark a conversation, you’re influencing/opening the minds of those around you.”
In the interview below, Areeayl talks about the beginning stages of Beads Byaree, how she defines her jewelry line, and lessons she’s learned from running her own business.

Read More: Here


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

No Dairy!


I've always been that person who asks, "Why?" When I was a child, this question was always responded to by my parents with, "Because I said so!" But what people don't understand is that I have a genuine curiosity. I'm not just asking why to question you. I really want to know why things work the way they do.

Anyways, for years I've heard people say, "Eat more veggies. Eat more fruits, blah blah blah.” And of course I’ve always known that I should eat them because there good for me. But I never understood why they are good for me. And because the why was never explained to me, eating fresh veggies and fruit was not important to me.

In addition to not eating right, I have struggled off and on with acne for years. And when I tell u I’ve tried everything, I HAVE TRIED EVERYTHING, seriously. But recently I heard a dermatologist say, "Your skin will always tell you what's going on inside of your body." With that, I figured my body must be a toxic mess, because not a day goes by without a new pimple coming up on my face. 


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Es Mi Cultura Newsletter


Afro-Latina ~ A woman with roots from any Latin American country 

that is of, relates, or celebrates African ancestry 


As a writer, I've always taken special interest in writing articles that explore Afro-Latina themes. Which I have done in various fashions, on various sites. The desire to take this a little further has been on my mind for a while now, and is finally manifesting into something I am very excited about.

Specifically being launched during this year's Latino Heritage Month, Es Mi Cultura spreads awareness of the wonderful contributions Afro-Latinas are making to further advance our presence. Each month this newsletter spotlights an Afro-Latina and all her sabor, provides links to various articles and personal stories penned by, about, or for Afro-Latinos, along with book features, and additional information.

While this newsletter is aimed towards Afro-Latinas we need to see people who look like us. Es Mi Cultura is for readers of both genders, all races, cultures, and backgrounds. 

The first newsletter will be launched on Monday, October 5, 2015. Sign up here so you don't miss out.






Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Keep Moving


The push to move on to the next big thing in your life can come out of nowhere. As was the case for me last week. For a while I have been struggling with deciding where to take my writing career. Some days I feel like I just want to write books and do nothing else. Other days, I want to be this poppin’ freelance writer, with amazing page views on my blog. But most recently I’ve had the desire to go into teaching.

While I know it’s very possible to do all three, I’ve been leaning towards writing books and teaching. I’ve actually been leaning toward this teaching thing for over a year now; yet other than researching course programs, I haven’t done much of anything to get started. Fact is, I was comfortable. Comfortable in the schedule I had carved out for myself—writing and working on personal projects in the morning and working part-time in the afternoon. And whenever I would think about moving into teaching, I would push it to the side thinking I would get into it later.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Petty Moment


I was thumbing down my Instagram feed and there it was. An acquaintance of mine had posted a picture of her new self-published book. “When did she become a writer?” I asked out loud.

I know how the old saying goes, “There is a story in all of us.” But there are certain things I feel people do nowadays only because it’s popular and trendy; and being a writer is one of them. I am a firm believer of having a passion and a purpose in life. And once you’ve figure yours out, you not only should walk in it, but find ways to master it too.

Take me for example: I have always been a writer and have the elementary school awards to show it, LOL. There has always been something in me that has led me down the path of writing. But because I didn’t pay attention to it, I didn’t realize writing was my passion until my late twenties. And once I figured that out, I hit the ground running. I started my blog, enrolled in some personal essay writing classes, and started reading books on how to perfect my writing. And even now, I’m constantly looking for ways to better myself as a writer because it’s all about growth. My point in all of this is that I have put work into making myself grow as a writer. So when I saw said acquaintance achieve a goal that I’ve been working towards for over three years now, I had a petty moment. 


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

You Can Call Her Edgy


An abundance of curls, curls, and more curls is what you see when you glance at Curly Edgy. But she is truly more than just her hair. Having been a Nauralista for over four years now, this Queens, NYC native is doing her part to educate women in the ever growing popular choice of going natural.

In January of this year Curly Edgy started her self-entitled YouTube channel to fill a void in the natural hair world. Prior to this, when she would ask other curly haired girls about their own hair care, Curly Edgy noticed that many women gave her little to no feedback. With that she decided to embark on her own path of curl type discovery, which now includes her helping other women. “I wanted to help others who are discouraged to reach out and ask for help, this way more people can embrace and love their hair.”

Read More: Here

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Dear Friends & Family: I No Longer Expect Your Applause


Up until a month ago, I was that person who secretly was always seeking applause from my peers and family. I would see friends share their latest accomplishments and watch the great feedback they would receive… and I wanted it too. However, I wasn’t sharing any of my accomplishments because nothing I’ve been working on has been accomplished, yet. But what I was actually seeking was recognition for the work I was putting in.

And not receiving recognition for the hours spent on certain projects, that may in fact take years to finish, was really starting to take a toll on me. I started to feel like I was creating stuff for no reason (as if anything I do should ever be based on the opinions of others…), all because people weren’t clapping for the progress I was making. 

Read More: Here

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Double The Worth: Meet Bilingual On Air Personality Jes Perez


Courageous, funny, and lively are just a few ways I describe Jes Perez. Along with her big vibrant smile, Jes is one of the premiere Latina’s breaking ground in the entertainment industry.
After spending much of her childhood in the Dominican Republic, this Brooklyn-born hard worker obtained a degree in Video Arts and Technology and has been working none stop ever since. Jes honed her hosting and productions skills by completing many industry internships. From being featured in various national television and magazine campaigns, and music videos; Jes has carved out a noteworthy lane for herself in the up and down industry of entertainment.
Having achieved so much already, Jes continues to push herself to pursue new opportunities and further her career. She is currently the first Multicultural Bilingual host for Radio Disney New York. She also created her own video series, Industry High, where she aims to inspire viewers to pursue their dreams in the entertainment industry.
Read More: Here

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Yes, Black People Do Dance To ‘Spanish Music’

It would be weird to go to one of your family gatherings and see Black people dancing to Spanish music,” someone said to me. “Why?” I asked. “Because…it would just be weird,” he responded.  


This comment was made to me over seven years ago and it’s still at the forefront of my mind. Mostly because the ignorant comment holds true to what many of us already know, which is that people still don’t know or understand that Black people can actually be Latino. But at this point, I feel I have exhausted the topic of Afro-Latinos not being recognized so I’ll leave that alone, for now.

The ‘Spanish music’ that my associate was referring to when he made that comment could actually be anything from Salsa and Merengue to Bachata and Reggaeton, amongst several others. All of which, and more, I grew up listening to in my Panamanian household. 

The under lying common factor in Latin American music is that they are all mixed with sounds from Africa. Because of the Slave Trade with Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean are filled with many African influences, and music is not exempt. One major African influence that is still present in today’s Latin American music is the use of the drums. These are the sounds that came from religious ceremonies and the fun that came along with free dancing. 

Read More: Here


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Going Back to Cali?



*It's important to note that the below was written while listening to DJ Quik and two days after seeing the movie, Straight Outta Compton*


On October 2nd it will be three years that I have lived in NYC. Whenever I meet new people I get asked one or both of the following: "Why did you leave California?" and "Do you ever plan on going back?" Of course I have a great story for the first question, but I never, ever have an answer for the second one. That is until about two hours ago. I was in the middle of working on a writing assignment while listening to music and out of nowhere it hit me.

I think I'm ready to go back... 



Friday, September 4, 2015

When Hip Hop Stopped Being The Hood CNN


A throwback from 2012...

Music of any genre means different things to its fans, it’s all about how we receive and interpret what we hear. Music gives artists the freedom to express themselves however they see fit. It’s their platform to talk about whatever they want. So if they decide to educate, entertain, or do both, it’s their choice. In all honesty, the majority of today’s Hip Hop music seems to only entertain, rather than inform us. And this could be the reason why many people do not look to Hip Hop as a new source anymore, as it once was in the past.

Another reason could be because we have several different mediums reporting information to us constantly. With just a touch of an icon on our cell phones we are able to spread news to each other faster than ever. But years ago, before all of this advanced technology we got our information from our nightly news broadcasts and newspapers. And because they selected what they wanted to report, not everything was reported. As was the case with certain problems that plagued the city of Los Angeles.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Life Through the Eyes of A 5-Year-Old


Toward the end of 2014 I started volunteering at an after school program, helping Kindergarten and first graders with their homework. Within the few months of volunteering I had grown very fond of the entire class. From constantly having to tell many to stay in their seats and not shout out answers, to the soft spoken few, who I have to ask to repeat their answers so everyone can hear them; I truly loved every single little inquisitive personality. It was then that I understood why teachers often refer to their students as their kids.

Five and six-year-olds are innocent in so many ways. They only think and worry about what is in front of them. They don’t deal with anything else until it comes up. Their minds don’t even process the concept of bills and making sure there is food on the table. They’re not concerned with the things of tomorrow, they live in the moment. Their most worrisome thoughts are who gets to help pass out snacks and who will be selected as line leader for the walk to the drinking fountain.

While volunteering I wasn’t sure of the impact I had on the kids or if I even made one at all. But they changed my outlook on how I go about my day. Being around those carefree attitudes twice a week, four months straight, caused me to reevaluate my stressful lifestyle.

Read More: Here

Monday, August 31, 2015

Releasing Your fears

releasefears

What is fear? While the dictionary defines it as: a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc. I define it as the one thing that continually tries to keep me in a box. In other words, I look at fear as me being comfortable. Whenever I have made the choice to step out of my comfort zone (my box) and try something new, fear has tried and sometimes succeeded at crippling me.
When I was fourteen I was told I had a spirit of fear on me. At the time I had no idea what that meant. “Fear… I’m not scared of nothing,” I told myself. Because I thought the fear that was being referred to was the kind described in the dictionary, I felt invincible. Back then I had no real concept of what living with a purpose meant or what following my dreams entailed; life was easy and carefree.
Once I graduated from college my eyes started to open regarding different types of fear. When I had to join the real world I ended up working at a job that was unfulfilling; and that’s when fear started to manifest itself in me.
Read More: Here

Friday, August 28, 2015

Why My Brother Will Always Be My Best Friend


I was in Rite-Aid shopping for a few things and chatting with my older brother Guillermo on my phone. The music playing in the store was a song I’d heard before but didn’t know all the words to. While confidently making up my own words to the melody, I loudly sang them to him. I wanted to see if Guillermo could guess the name of the song. He said my singing was horrible, LOL. But after I got to the most recognizable part of the chorus, he figured it out; and we both started singing Billy Idol’s, “Mony:”

                        “Don’t stop cookin’ cause I feel all right now, hey!
                        “I said yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,”
                        “(Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah).”


That is until I realized I was in the middle of the toothpaste aisle singing and doing way too much. This experience of random singing pretty much sums up the hilarity of my relationship with Guillermo. We didn’t always get along though (as kids tend not to), and even certain times in our adult relationship have been testy. But once we hit a certain age Guillermo truly became my best friend. 

When I moved across the country from my family, I was really concerned with how my relationship with them would be affected. But my move has only made my bond with them stronger, especially with Guillermo. Our conversations go from funny and casual, to sometimes necessary and serious. I can talk to him about anything and I’ve grown to value his opinions. And because my relationship with him is so important to me, it’s hard for me to understand how other siblings don’t get along or never speak to each other.

Read More: Here

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

10 Career Lessons From Award Winning Journalist Danyel Smith


Last Thursday evening Her Agenda and AlleyNYC hosted Content, Creativity, and Career with Danyel Smith. As a testament to Danyel’s work and longevity in journalism, the room was filled with eager attendees, including myself, who were ready to hear Danyel give some insight into her successful career and share some advice.

The conversation started with Danyel touching on her Oakland, CA upbringing and how the freedom she had as a child gave her the boldness she carried into her adulthood and career. In addition, she shared the one thing she would tell her younger self: “Don’t be so sensitive.” A lesson she first learned when an attempt at interviewing Stanley “MC Hammer” Burrell didn’t go as planned.

Danyel has come a long way from trying to nab freelance gigs on the west coast. From being an Editor at BillboardTime Inc, and VIBE. Danyel has written for several publications including ElleEssenceRolling Stone, and presently ESPN The Magazine. She has two books under her belt and is working on a third. Danyel recently completed a Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University and is currently teaching at Syracuse University.

After all these accomplishments, Danyel still finds ways to shape the journalism industry and push herself in different ways. One way being collaborating with her husband Elliott Wilson on the rapidly approaching release of HRDCVR, “A hardcover culture magazine created by diverse teams for a diverse world.”

Read More: Here

Monday, August 24, 2015

A Journey of Womanhood, Writing, & Relativity


I’ve known and have been following Tyece Wilkins of Twenties Unscripted for about a year now. Throughout that time she has been a constant source of inspiration. With her openness and natural ability to write about her life experiences, it’s no wonder she has been able to cultivate a space that so many readers can relate to.

Tyece’s book, released on July 16th, Twenties Unscripted: A Journey of Womanhood, Writing, and Relativity is a gathering of essays from her blog. In addition to some new and previously unpublished pieces. As the title suggests, the book centers on three major aspects of Tyece’s life that many of us women can relate to.

After reading and thoroughly enjoying the book, I decided to take a different approach to this interview. Instead of asking questions about the book, I picked some (just some) of my favorite quotes from Tyece and asked her to either elaborate on them or offer advice on how to handle certain situations.


Friday, August 21, 2015

Words Have Power


“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Never has there been a phrase that was so far from the truth. There have been many instances in my life when I in fact wished bones were actually broken, instead of having to hear certain words being spoken to me.

Words have power. They have the power to change our feelings and behavior. It’s like when people say, “Don’t call a child bad because they will grow up to actually be bad.” Well the same holds true for everything that comes out of our mouths. Our words literally have the power to create or destroy; whether in our own lives, or that of another person’s.

When you speak negatively about yourself or your situation, you feel negative on the inside. And that negative feeling can be the determining factor between you getting up and doing something or completely giving up. For years I worked in the advertising industry and because it wasn’t my passion, I really disliked my job. I never had anything positive to say about it and that made everything worse than it actually was. I complained and complained, and never did anything to change my situation. All I focused on was the bad, because everything that came out of my mouth was bad. Had I spoke positively about the few good things that position offered, I know my time there would have went a lot smoother and my attitude would have been better. I know it’s easy to say now because I’m not in that situation any more, but hindsight is always 20/20. And the lesson I learned then is something I continue to apply to my life now.

Read More: Here


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Afro-Brazilian Ballerina Ingrid Silva



Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, Ingrid Silva has been dancing since the age of eight. With her family’s encouragement, Ingrid attended ballet classes every day after school while growing up. She went on to accomplish so much as a dancer that she created a path for herself that led to the United States. At age 19, Ingrid obtained a full scholarship to attend the Dance Theatre of Harlem for the summer. She later joined the Dance Theatre of Harlem Company in 2013.

Ingrid has gone on to dance in many principle roles and serve as a guest artist in various projects. With over 17 years of dance experience and much success, Ingrid still manages to remain humble and remember where she came from: “I come from a favela in Brazil, am black, have a poor family and yet, despite all those odds, I became a ballerina.”
Get to know more about Ingrid in the interview below.

Read More: Here


Monday, August 17, 2015

There Is Power In Understanding There Is A Plan For Our Life


A few years ago my mom sent me this Bible verse via text message and it has stayed with me ever since. It has become my go-to verse; the one I recite when I consider giving up. I have this verse written on various post-it notes in different places, including my wallet. It also hangs on my bedroom wall. This verse is in random places because I love reading it, especially when I need some encouragement.
There have been several times in my life when I’ve felt like I was doing something in vain, or I was working toward something that seemed far-fetched. In those difficult and discouraging moments, Jeremiah 29:11 has sparked motivation and pushed my creative juices to flow again.
My faith in God is very important to me and is something I hold closely. In all major life changing decisions I have consulted the Lord first and got the answers I needed. There have also been times when I didn’t pray about a situation, but it worked out anyway. When this happens I always think, “Did I pray about this?” And then I remember God is constantly looking out and opening the right doors for me. I know when things happen “naturally” in my eyes, it’s actually God who is making things happen on my behalf.
Read More: Here

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

On Hiatus


I'm taking some time off from blogging to work on some other projects and of course live my life and enjoy the summer. As of right now I plan to be back after the 4th of July, but I may extend this hiatus until after Labor day.

Either way, I will not leave you without my opinion and things that catch my attention. This will be done via The Essence of Me's Facebook page. This is where I will repost and comment on things that I normally would blog about.


Chat with you soon!


Saturday, June 6, 2015

Black Latina Movement


A few months after moving to NYC, I attended Black Latina (the Play). The characters' story lines were so real and relatable that I became an instant fan of the play and the women behind it.

Crystal Roman, Founder of the Black Latina Movement (BLM), is doing something really special and unique. From the play and a series, to tours and other productions, this collective is creating entertaining content, all while educating the masses about Black Latinas.

"We dedicate the Movement to exhibiting the beauty and harmony 
of both African and Latino cultures..."

Because I love everything BLM is doing, I am very excited to share this interview. In which I chatted with Crystal Roman about BLM's productions, purpose, and future plans.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

"Fist to Five"



At my job we do this thing called, "Fist to Five." Similar to thumbs up or down, "Fist to Five" is a way to share how you're feeling with a fist being terrible and five being great. For as long as I've been at my current job whenever we do this, I honestly always have a five, every single time. This was an important realization last week when we did it, because years prior I would have faked my answer and was faking my happiness.

I faked it for various reasons: my job was not fulfilling, I had no direction in life, I had the wrong people around me, and I had no drive or determination to complete things. Yes, I had plenty of things I dreamed about doing, but never thought about actually putting in any effort into doing them.