Chakayla J. Taylor is a self-taught chef who uses the healing properties of food to create safe-spaces for creatives to connect and build in a delicious, unconventional way. She has created a brand focused on helping dynamic people create stability and purpose in their professional, entrepreneurial and personal lives. As the founder of The Power Plate, an intimate dinner series she started in her home, Chakayla enjoys providing nourishment in the form of food, drink and positive conversation. Founded in October 2018, The Power Plate has served as a creative extension of her entrepreneurship and business studies at her alma mater Wake Forest University, along with a Life Coach certification she earned in 2016. Chakayla’s culinary aesthetic is inspired by fresh produce, seasonal ingredients and international seasonings. She truly enjoys going into her kitchen and producing comfort foods anyone would enjoy: "I knew I loved to cook when I could just go into the kitchen, clean out the pantry and fridge, and make a home cooked meal that tasted like I dedicated the entire day to preparing it." Along with being the founder and owner of The Power Plate, she is the mother of two beautiful sons, Emmanuel & Elijah. She affectionately has nicknamed them her “mini-taste testers.'“
Feeding Your Mind, Body & SOUL w/ Chef Chakayla Taylor
K: When did you first discover your love/passion for cooking?
Chef Chakayla: When I was 8 years old, my mother would invite me into her kitchen and tell me to take a seat and look. I remember her teaching me the proper ways to clean, season and fry chicken. It was during those moments I remember watching her chocolate fingers, adorned with french tips, grab a knife and chop peppers, onions and garlic and sauteing it in oil for her famous chili mac recipe. It was during these intimate, special moments with my mom, where it was just me and her. She taught me everything I know. I am so thankful that she passed down a craft to me that I love to experiment with. Interestingly enough, it was during this time when I remember my dad introducing Emeril Lagasse and hearing his constantly " BAM, BAM, BAM," when he would delightfully ladle on a huge serving of marinara sauce over a piping hot plate of lasagna. I remember just hanging out in my mom and dad's room, GLUED to the television screen as each show on The Food Network aired and ended. It was in this space of time that I knew I wanted to cook! I knew I wanted to celebrate my heritage through various dishes and meals.
K: Tell us more about The Power Plate! What inspired you to launch this?
Chef Chakayla: The Power Plate is an intimate, curated dining experience that includes catering and retail pop-ups! The Power Plate was an idea that I held on to for about 2 years. And for those that truly know me, this is a rarity for me. When I have an idea, I launch and execute it right there on the spot. When my company was founded, it was November 2018, I was in a space of obtaining abundance and praying that this abundance would lead me down a creative path. During this time, I was a single mother to two young children under the age of 5 years old and working full time as a personal banker. In my first 5 months of my single motherhood, I moved back home to Charlotte, NC from Dallas, TX, I had just left a 7-year relationship and was ready to start a brand new life with my children. This transition showed me that it was time to build a community off of good food and good vibes, where creative people like me could find a haven, a space where they could be themselves. Independence and freedom were truly the fuel to the flame. There was nothing but time, space and opportunity and I began to use cooking as an extension of my life coaching certification that I earned in 2016.
K: What quote or saying inspires and motivates you to be yourself and do what you love?
Chef Chakayla: My mother used to say this to my sister and I when we were little girls, "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger!" Until this very day, I say this to myself. It reminds me that I am so blessed to get a chance to create and express myself through food.
K: What characteristics do you most admire in other creative women?
Chef Chakayla: Honestly, I admire their perseverance and RAW, creative talent. I love to see when another fellow queen is walking in her passion and strictly walking by faith. It is the most beautiful and inspiring thing about them.
K: Name your greatest success (or something you're most proud of) in your business experiences.
Chef Chakayla: When I first read this, I was going to say my children. And now, that I read it again, my answer remains the same. My children have downloaded special messages to my heart and mind that have allowed me to create the various business ventures I have embarked on since 2013. I am so proud of the love and drive my children pour into me because it continues to motivate me to create dope experiences and projects like my latest Spyce Collection. To date, my children have inspired me to launch an artisan line of spice mixes that are truly inspired by the zodiac signs. This work that I am doing in my business has become very intentional and thought-driven. I must think with my north (my heart), with every service and product that I launch and honestly, it begins and ends with my children. I am truly blessed.
K: In your opinion, what are the top three things someone should consider before launching their own business?
Chef Chakayla: With this question, I want to be straight up. Instead of offering explanations to the things I am going to suggest, I am just going to list them and CHALLENGE you all reading this to complete them:
1. Create a business rooted in your passion.
2. Research and read. Read and research.
3. Build an online and offline community of entrepreneurs and business-savvy people, who are smarter than YOU.
K: Today, meal planning is in! When it comes to meal planning for me, it is super tough to start and also stick to due to my crazy schedule! Do you believe in meal planning? If so, what tricks of the trade do you have for a successful meal prep?
Chef Chakayla: I believe in the power of LEFTOVERS. Meal prepping is awesome for those it works for. But for me, I am all about maximizing my leftovers from a large weekend dinner. For instance, I am currently taking my Instagram platform on a journey with me to perfect my roasted chicken recipe. During this journey, I am showing folks how to truly STRETCH their grocery budget and pantries. For instance, one week I decided to create multiple meals from a whole chicken that I prepared on a Sunday. I didn't allow myself to buy anything and to use only what I had in my pantry and fridge. From that personal challenge, I created 4 meals or by-products (that was turned into a meal) from that $6 whole chicken. It was during that time that I realized, that I am really committed to creating a culinary lifestyle that aligns with my personal mission of creating good food and good vibes, no matter the financial and/or personal situation.
K: What are your favorite quick and easy meals to make at home?
Chef Chakayla: Hmmm...this is a great question! My go-tos are definitely anything that includes pasta and anything that was previously made in my fridge (that is still good to make).
K: In honor of #SoulfulSunday, what are ways that you feed your soul?
Chef Chakayla: I feed my soul by taking time out for me and my family! In the very beginning of my entrepreneurship journey and honestly, my womanhood journey, I once believed that I had to LIVE IN LACK in order to GAIN ABUNDANCE. This makes not the least bit of sense. But I am currently learning to live by own thoughts and aspirations and not those of others. In order for me to grow, so does my thinking.
K: Describe your cooking process! Do you have any fun, crazy routines that you do before each meal?
Chef Chakayla: Haha, of course I do! I am blasting rap, hip-hop and 90s R&B when I cook. There is a whole lot of Ari Lennox, Nipsey Hussle, Silk and of course, 112. There is a lot of everything and some off the wall things like Little Dragon, quintessential Drake and a little Hot Girl Meg the Stallion. This is a must when I am cooking! It not only keeps me motivated, but it reminds me what needs to be done and where I should be focusing my attention.
K: Are there any chefs of today that inspire your cooking, and how does it manifest in your work?
Chef Chakayla: Oh for sure! I am currently STANNING for Marcus Samuelsson, Carla Hall and Kelis! Each and every one of them have their own different personalities, food styles and creative expression that is hidden in their food. This is the PERFECT time to be a black chef during this time of culinary accession. It is truly beautiful! On the one hand, I try not to duplicate anyone else's work. I try to stay true to who Chakayla is and manifest what Chakayla wants. My food is truly inspired by my mother's southern roots and my up NORTH upbringing.
K: Now we can't talk about passing the power plate without talking about THE power meal. Do you have any special dishes that are ONLY signature to you?
Chakayla: WOW! This is a very, very dope question! Thank you for this one. I can say right now, I may have two or three favorite meals that my tribe is loving: my home style chili, roasted chicken and a seafood paella I made for my very first Power Plate dinner, and honestly ... I haven't made it since, but my past guests are still talking about it to this day!
K: Being apart of the cooking world, what do you feel distinguishes a good chef from a GREAT chef, and where do you feel you fall in this category?
Chef Chakayla: Hmm ... well, let me make it clear, I am NOT a classically trained chef. I am simply, a SOUL CHEF. I cook with the true intent to NOURISH and not FEED my guests. My food is truly for the whole soul, the complete being. This is what I believe separates a good chef from a great chef. When you cook with positive intent and with the true focus to bring something to their lives, this is when your food becomes truly irresistible.
K: Are you working on any new projects that we can look forward to in the future with your brand? Spill the tea!
Chef Chakayla: OF COURSE! There are many moving parts at the moment, but I am happy to report that I am in the works of launching my 4th spyce, Aries, near the end of the summer! I am super excited for this one. I am also planning an immaculate dinner for 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina and that is the only thing that I can share about that. But, I am blessed! This is what I want to share lol, God is always GOOD.
K: In today's society, this is a huge time for entrepreneurs! Tell us more about your current job/jobs, and how did you get to where you are today in your career?
Chef Chakayla: One thing that I continue to pour into my tribe, success takes T I M E. Truly, nothing and no one is built overnight. It is so important that we use this time to PRODUCE what we envision, instead of wasting time telling ourselves what we cannot achieve. In order to properly take care of my family and to invest in my business, The Power Plate, I have a career as a personal banker. I sit in an office and converse with people from different walks of life and I enjoy helping them along their paths of financial wellness. Do I always love sitting in an office, when I'd rather explore? Of course not, but it is helping me create the life i desire. This is truly a divine time and I am so glad that I am finally ordering my steps and following through with my dreams and aspirations.
K: We absolutely LOVED having you! We wanted to end with, how can readers discover more about you and your work? :)
Chef Chakayla: First and foremost, thank you for providing such a dope platform for us QUEENS to shine! Readers can of course build with me on Instagram, @chakaylataylor and @thepowerplate. If you are interested in learning more about my spyces, please visit www.passthepowerplate.com
Thank you so much for joining us for #SoulfulSunday! As a writer and fellow entrepreneur, I love finding powerful women in the community pursuing their dreams, inspiring other women to kick ass in the world, and just staying true to themselves throughout their creative process! I love doing these #SoulfulSunday interviews to show other women that we are a force to be reckoned with, and can do anything that we put our minds to. There is enough room for all of us to succeed, and in order to help each other, we must support one another! I am truly honored to have each and every one of you as one of those powerhouses, and I can't wait to spread more love and light to all of you on my next segment! FEED YOUR SOUL. YOU DESERVE IT. Happy #SoulfulSunday!
Hello there! My name is Alyse Ruriani. I care a lot about mental health...so much so that I have brought it into basically every aspect of my life! I make things related to mental health, like illustrations, design, lettering, self-help tools, and whatever else I'm feeling. I also do advocacy work by sharing my story with mental illness and recovery. Lastly, I am training to be an Art Therapist and Counselor, so I will be working to help others with their mental health through therapy! All of these aspects of my life inform one another, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I love approaching mental health from both the personal and professional views, the clinical and the self-help route, and the large-scale and the intimate. I'm so glad you're here to witness it with me.
Mental Health Matters & More w/ Alyse Ruriani!
K: When did you first discover your love/passion for designing?
A: I have made art since I was a little girl. I remember I made the geometric, colorful designs and called them "Krazy Kreations" when I was younger. My nanny even bought me supplies so that I could sell them as bookmarks. In high school, I took a lot of art classes and started playing around myself with design programs. I was always the one to make flyers for school dances or t-shirt designs for events.
K: If you don't mind sharing, talk about where your passion for mental health advocacy stemmed from?
A: It stemmed from my own experiences with mental illness. I was really struggling in high school and felt a lot of shame around it. When I went to college, I decided I wasn't going to hide it anymore because it had been such a big part of my life, and I didn't feel like people should have to be quiet about their mental health.
K: What quote or saying inspires and motivates you to be yourself and do what you love?
A: I really love quotes, it is so hard to pick! One that will always be important to me is from a poem by Neil Hilborn that I have tattooed on me. It says: "I saw the future, and in it, I was alive." I think it just really reminds me to do what I need to do in order to live a fulfilling life that keeps me alive.
K: What characteristics do you most admire in other creative women?
A: I would say I love when women can be assertive and set boundaries. Women are often scrutinized for doing those things and labelled bossy or bitchy for just being assertive, so I really admire when women fight against that. We need to be able to set boundaries and say what we need when speaking with clients, followers, and relationships.
K: As a mental health advocate, what are some common misconceptions that you hear when it comes to the topic of mental health?
A: A lot of people think that mental health is strictly biological, but it is not. It is a mix of biological, psychological, social, and environmental factors. It's not as simple as a chemical in your head, because everything affects our brain chemistry and our emotional/mental wellbeing.
K: Why do you feel that mental health is not openly discussed in today's society?
A: I think people are afraid of being judged and deemed as "less than." There are still a lot of people who don't even believe in mental illness, so it's difficult to feel like you can share your story safely.
K: Do you believe in therapy as a healthy form of mental wellness?
A: Yes! I think therapy is great. There are so many different theoretical approaches, so I really feel like there is a type of therapy for almost everyone! It just takes some time to really find a good fit. Also, therapy can be very inaccessible, as can most mental health care. It's a privilege to be able to go.
K: In moments of self-doubt and adversity, what are ways that you build yourself back up to tackle the world again?
A: Retreating to my support network of friends, family, and my partner. I will look at nice messages I have saved from people sharing how I/my work has helped them. Recharging myself in whatever way I need.
K: In honor of #SoulfulSunday, what are ways that you feed your soul?
A: Having good conversations with friends and family, creating artwork, taking baths, pulling tarot cards, watching Grey's Anatomy.
K: What encouraging words would you give someone who may be battling with mental illness?
A: You will find ways to get through the tough times. Look for the ways in which you can utilize what you've gone through. You're not alone in this.
K: How was mental health discussed in your home growing up?
A: We did not really discuss it until I went through it. My parents were afraid for me to share my story because they didn't want people judging them or me, which makes sense due to the stigma around us. They have learned SO much over the years, as have I, which has been really beautiful to watch. My mom now has more knowledge to be able to talk to other parents who may have a child going through it.
K: The world is raving over your Self-Care Bingo including the amazing Viola Davis! What was your inspiration behind creating this?
A: I had seen bingo cards before, and I wanted to make one myself. I think a lot about self care and how sometimes it is hard to remember to do it, so I thought bingo would be a fun way to make it tangible.
K: As someone who is a huge mental health advocate, how do you believe that mental health issues are affecting today's youth?
A: A lot of kids struggle with mental health issues. It is hard to say if it's gotten worse or if it is just more talked about today. Either way, I think that adolescence is a really difficult time. It feels like everything is the end of the world. My mom said that when I was 16, I sat on our driveway and said, "Mom, I ruined my life." I felt like my life was over because I was struggling with my mental health and was missing things at school because of it. Adolescents don't have as much emotional regulation and distress tolerance skills as adults, so when things happen it all feels like a crisis. I think kids need to be learning about mental health from a young age and need to be taught coping skills.
K: Do you believe that religion or culture influences how our society views mental health? If so, how?
A: Of course! So many things affect how we see it, and different cultures/religions have different attitudes towards it, which can sometimes be a barrier.
K: Are you working on any new projects in the future? We want to know!
A: Yes! I'm looking into publishing another book, possibly, and of course more products with my designs.
K: In today's society, this is a huge time for entrepreneurs! Tell us more about your current job/jobs, and how did you get to where you are today in your career?
A: Right now I am a full time graduate student and I do my freelanced design and online shop on the side. It's hard balancing it all, but it's awesome to be doing it. I got here by consistently sharing my work, utilizing social media, and meeting other people.
K: What are your thoughts on mental illness being portrayed in the media? Do you feel that it is portrayed accurately?
A: There are always going to be bad portrayals, but there will also be good ones. I think it's important to show them accurately and in ways that relate to the person watching. It is also important to be responsible in our portrayals, and try to show some hope in the darkness.
K: How can readers discover more about you and your work? :)
A: They can follow me on Instagram, @alyserurianidesign and check out my website, www.alyseruriani.com.
Thank you so much for offering to be apart of #SoulfulSunday! I love finding powerful and inspiring women kicking ass in the world, and it is really inspiring to have each and every one of you ladies on my segment discussing real issues in our society and also highlighting your goals, dreams, and how you achieved the success that you achieved today. I am truly honored to have you as one of those powerhouses, and I can't wait to have you on my next segment in the future! It was truly a pleasure interviewing with you, and I love all the amazing things you are doing in the community with your art and advocacy! Thank you all for reading, and thank you for allowing me to share my soul with yours! Happy #SoulfulSunday!
Jennifer Phylon Harris has been writing since the age of eight, deciding to pursue writing as a career full-time in 2014. Not limiting herself to one genre, she writes horror, romance and is the fire behind the blog The Ideal Firestarter via WordPress. Jennifer enjoyed film noir, cooking, reading, and gardening. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri with her husband, Phillip, and two daughters.
A little backstory: Jennifer was my first author to be featured on my blog! She was the first author to believe in my vision and be apart of such an amazing space that you all know today. It is such a pleasure to have her on my blog again, and I can't wait to dive into her latest novel, Ruby and more! I appreciate you! Grab her book today on Amazon!
Ruby & More Book Tings w/ Jennifer Harris:
K: What was your muse behind writing Ruby?
J.Harris: (laughter) I am a big classic film noir fan. My parents were fans of Humphrey Bogart. So I grew up watching Old Hollywood movies in black and white, with one of my favorites being ‘The Maltese Falcon.’ But the true muse behind writing Ruby was a mix of classic film noir, the movie Carmen Jones (with Dorothy Dandridge) and my time spent working in long-term health care. In that time in long-term health care, I spent a lot of time with dementia patients. There are some things you believe that you know about people, until they tell you different. When that truth is challenged, especially by illness or death, it is amazing how fast life unravels.
K: Describe your writing process while writing this book? Did you have any fun routines?
J.Harris: Writing Ruby was like being pregnant with triplets! As a mother, I know what being pregnant is like: long, laborious and at the end painful. But what you get from carrying something unique and exquisite? It is worth it. I told my husband this before I ever wrote a page: “What if there was a guy with dementia, and his wife found out she was never really the one that he wanted?” He heard this and said this: “Babe! That is horrible! What book is that?” My gleeful reply was, “I don’t know but I gotta write it!” From that conversation, came a 4-page short story, which I read to him. His reaction immediately was to ask where the rest of the story was! I let some other writer friends look over the pages, and got good feedback, but I didn’t really begin to write it immediately. It stayed on my desktop for over a year! This was 2015. I didn’t start to write Ruby until late 2016, because I was working overnights at a hospital. I needed something to work on and chose to do Ruby. I wanted to see what would happen. I would write it in spurts. I would stop. I would start. I wouldn’t trust my imagination; I didn’t think I would do it! But I fought to get through the first draft. The revision was easier. I had a plan, and I knew moreso what I wanted to say and could direct the plot. The original draft stayed on my desktop another year. This puts me at 2017! When I returned to it, I poured into my book. It was lots of late nights, early mornings. Note-taking. Reassessing. Reorganizing. And there was a midwife for this book, Amanda Wells (of the writing group FLOW-STL) who looked at this draft and told me that I could do it. And to finish it! Without her push, I don’t think the work would be as powerful as it is.
K: What character from this book did you identify with the most? Why?
J.Harris: Babs. Babs is more like me than people think. She is in the world and behind the scenes making sure all things are working, and working together. I have been told I am a strong person, and extremely resourceful. That is how I crafted her, keeping in mind Reuben needed an advocate as well as a someone that could reach into him. I think the Babses of the world are often overlooked because we can be so dependable—but we can break too. And what happens when that pillar is gone? (YASSSS, deep!)
K: What do you want your audience to take away from this book? Do you feel that your message was conveyed?
J.Harris: I want my readers to know that life is not always what it seems. I want them to know their parents had lives they never imagined! I want my readers to think before they accuse older people of not knowing more than what they are comfortable asking. I want my readers to know that trauma is no respecter of generation, or race. The dirty secret that is kind of laid bare in this book, is the effect of trauma on Black families. The effect of the Great Migration. Of racism. Of the denial of being with the person you love. The mitigating forces that surround trying to be with someone you love. The other thing that I touch on is that Black women are desirable. We are beautiful, and worthy of respect. And there are White men that prefer Black girls! This is not a recent anomaly! I think that the message isn’t totally conveyed, but that is because the story is rich and folds in on itself (which is what I wanted). I wanted readers to dig. I wanted them to get involved. To figure out. So, there was a reason it was written like it was! I think the message is conveyed. All my beta readers, and some of my in-person reviews told me they couldn’t put the book down! And I even had my other brother and his wife have a whole other ‘conspiracy theory’ about Katherine and Reuben even got together! They got it, and ran with it! It is glorious!
K: What is a surprising moment that you learned from creating each of your books?
J. Harris: The surprising moment that I have learned from each of the books that I have written is that I get to a point where I must either keep going or trust my own talent. RUBY made me trust myself. It made me realize that the depth I wanted as a writer, that I thought I couldn’t have, I do! In that discovery, I get to stretch my talent. I get to deepen the story—and still find my way back to create more.
K: What characteristics do you admire in other creative authors? Do you find these characteristics manifesting in your work?
J. Harris: What a question! The thing that I chase and admire most in other creative authors is imagery and dialogue. I love the way Toni Morrison captures conversation. I love the settings that Anne Rice creates. I also love the way Octavia Butler crafts complex characters! This is why writers need to be readers! You need to see what you can work on, what you can take, or even mimic! I think these characteristics manifest in my work as tools to shape the work I am involved in. With RUBY, I hope readers see that this story was not just written, but crafted. I think without those elements I picked up, the work wouldn’t be as powerful and absorbing as it is.
K: What was the hardest part about writing this book?
J. Harris: Without a doubt, the hardest part about writing this book was delving into my personal history for elements of separation between Reuben (Keys) and Ethylene (Ruby). I had to remember what it was like to love someone, and yet not be with them. And those feelings never going away—yet you have to act as if nothing is wrong. Like your heart isn’t broken. Like you don’t think of this person everyday. That you don’t ache for them. I had to relive that knowing that the most powerful, integral part of the work was the hardest for me. And that pain, when I tried to hedge it, ignore it, or ‘write around it’, didn’t give me what I wanted. I had to break the dam! I had to go back to that relationship. That passionate love. That element of wanting, needing and not coming together and being ripped apart. That was hard.
K: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good and bad ones?
J. Harris: Yes, I read every review. Good and bad. I take the good ones as rocket fuel and the bad ones with a grain of salt. I know that there is a kernel of truth in every ‘bad review’. But I also know that everything I write everyone won’t love, like or read. But the fact that they don’t like it, can’t paralyze me! I am a writer. Not everyone will like what I write or read it. But those that do, I appreciate. Which is why every book I try to write a dedication or a letter to my potential reader. I don’t take it lightly when people read my work, and I want to thank them—even if I never see them.
K: This month, my book club is reading Black Privilege x Charlamagne tha God, and in this book he talks a lot about failures. Reflect back to a time where you experienced your biggest failure. What did this moment teach you?
J. Harris: Man, my biggest failure? Honestly, the ending of my first marriage. That experience taught me that I cannot fall in love with a man’s potential. That isn’t enough. That doesn’t sustain. It taught me that if someone loves you, they should love all of you. Like, I knew my relationship wouldn’t last when he tapped the back of the book I was reading, asking me what I was doing. I had children with a man that wasn’t equipped to love me, didn’t know how to love himself, and for the rest of my life I must deal with this. My failure was not recognizing that he wasn’t ready. That I wasn’t ready. That we weren’t ready. I married a man I loved, but he couldn’t be the man I needed him to be, because he couldn’t be. Moreover, it taught me to value myself. To embrace every part of myself, and take ownership of my part in problems. I realized that even when you fight to keep something, God still may not let you have it. In the end, it made me grow up…
K: In this read, you created an interracial family. Why was this an important aspect of your novel?
J. Harris: I needed layers to this story. I needed people to not be cocky when they started RUBY. Creating the interracial family gave me an element of surprise, as it were. This ‘Citizen Kane’ thing. I needed to be able to deconstruct and reconstruct and unveil all at the same time. I needed the reader to see Reuben as a complete person. I needed the reader to see Ethylene as she was and is! That she wasn’t defined by her trauma or her beginning. There was a post by a Facebook friend of mine, more like a sister now, who had to check a Becky a while back. This Becky told her, and I quote, “White men don’t like Black women.” When she shared this on her wall, I remembered cackling. I laughed so hard! There are White women that desire a Black girl esthetic, who can, get bamboo earrings, but cannot conceive that the upper echelon of malehood in this country, White men, could possibly EVER want or prefer Black women to them! RUBY is proof that not only does or did this happen, but it may have even happened in your family. (laughing) These dames could be Katherine Lewis and never know it!
K: Recently, I did a live stream with my girlfriend and we discussed various important aspects of really great books. Being the amazing author that you are, what do you feel distinguishes a GOOD book from a GREAT book?
J. Harris: What will always distinguish a good book from a great book will always be these three elements: The put-down factor. How fast can I put it down? Who do I need to tell to read this? How apt am I to recommend it? Resonance. Can I see myself in the work? Does it keep me up at night? Do I know people like the people in this book? Crafting. This shows the writer’s passion in pulling your into their worlds: they suck you in. They sit you at the table. In the weddings. The crime scenes. The bedrooms when the magic happens. The crafting of the story will always determine a good book from great book. A good book can have amazing structure, plot and characters. But it if doesn’t grab you, evoke emotion, make you mad at least once? It’s not a great book. Great books do that.
K: You truly have a gift of storytelling. Where do you feel this stems from?
J. Harris: This stems from my childhood, and being fascinated with languages. With accents. With the stories that the adults around me told. I learned to read at four, and there were always more books at my house than televisions. I was a quiet kid, and I would people watch. I would watch people’s facial expressions. Their tones. The settings I was apart of. And I loved the way my father and his brothers told stories; he would wrap you up in it with just a turn of a phrase. An emphasis of a syllable. A leaning on a word. It was magic. I wanted that.
K: This book takes you on an emotional rollercoaster! I am curious to know, do you believe that time is an important factor in love?
J. Harris: Yes, I do. I think you can meet the person you want to be with and not in any way shape or form be ready for them. Time, in the mercy it gives, can either bring you back to them or push your further—or into the arms of another. Not everyone is as lucky as Reuben and Ethylene. And I have to emphasize that. I think that when you love someone deeply—what I like to call ‘ocean deep’—only God can stop that. That person is a part of you, they have made a home inside of you. This, I think, is how you know it’s real. That it wasn’t a fling. That it wasn’t a dream. Love that you are fortunate enough to get back, that circles back to you, is a treasure. Time allows to see what you want, what you need, and be whole within yourself before you look for someone to ‘complete you’. Real love, lasting love compliments you. It supplements and holds up. Ethylene made a whole life without Reuben. She had to! And she found a great, lasting love with James. Yet, she never forgot him. Does that diminish James’s memory? In my opinion, no. It just means she loved someone else before. Love, like people, is complicated.
K: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
J. Harris: Be brave. Keep writing. The first person to believe that you can write should be you. You need to become serious about writing if you really want to be a writer. The best advice I could give, I got from Nikki Giovanni. “You know you’re a writer because you can’t stop writing.” The last piece of advice is don’t be scared to be told, “No.” Or don’t be scared to make your own space. There are sites and blogs and other media to get your work seen and read. But, you first have to believe that you can write. If you can’t believe that, all hope is lost.
K: What can we expect to see next from you?
J. Harris: Oh, my! I’m a blogger, mentor, Mama! (laughter) I still look back on how I do all I do. But the things I am working on now are a several books. I think I’m turning into Eve Ewing! I am working on another series of poems and essays titled, For A Black Girl. I am working on a devotional for writers. I am also working on my first horror novel, The Deacon’s Girl. It was my first published story on the podcast, Nightlight. The executive producer and I decided that the protag had more to say. So that short story is going into development.
K: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
J.Harris: I have two blogs: The Ideal Firestarter (http://theidealfirestarter.com). It is a nicheless blog that I founded in 2016, and currently has 3 contributors for. The other blog is I Breathe Fire (http://jenniferharrisbreathesfire.com) where poems, work under my pen name is, essays and reflections are! Feel free to follow and share and start conversations! That is the reason The Ideal Firestarter exists! I Breathe Fire is all my exclusive work as well. And I can always be found on social media! Check me out:
I would like to thank Jennifer for taking time out of her busy schedule to interview with me! I love finding powerful and inspiring women kicking ass in the world, and it is really inspiring to have each and every one of you amazing authors on my blog! Your wise words of wisdom and free-flowing conversation are super inspiring to follow. I can't wait to see more amazing work from you! Thank you for sharing your light with us! If you loved this interview, check out her book Ruby available for purchase via Amazon! Thank you for reading, and thank you for allowing me to share my soul with yours! Happy Wednesday!
Ruby x Jennifer Harris
Katherine Brigby Lewis has been married to her husband Reuben for over thirty years, raising three children in Ladue, Missouri, outside of the city of St. Louis. Before their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, their family is faced with a devastating diagnosis which brings family secrets to the forefront. It exposes motives, and agendas in the Lewis family, as Rueben reverts to his time as a young man in St. Louis's Gaslight Square during the 1950's. In the midst of this diagnosis, he begins to remember the time he spent there with a woman he only refers to as Ruby.From the water and land of New Iberia, Louisiana to Memphis, Tennessee over the span of forty years, we find out what it means to be chosen, to be settled and what it means to be loved and remembered.
*Excerpt from Amazon review*
No Shade, Just a Read:
Happy Wednesday readers! It's so good to be back with you guys after a LONGGGGG hiatus, but your favorite book queen is back and better than ever with a new read that was sent to me for review called Ruby x Jennifer Harris! Jennifer Harris is one of my favorite storytellers, and I always enjoy her reads! As a reader, I am usually really nervous about stepping out of my comfort zone with reading new reads by new authors that I work with, but I love challenging my mind and stepping out on faith! Nothing excites me more than being that reader that can help an author grow and learn within their artistry. Ruby was a very different read for me. It allowed me to open my mind, and see things from various perspectives. It discussed the very real topic of interracial love and the power of the mind and imagination. It was everything that a story is made of, and what I loved most about it was that it took me on an emotional journey! I love a good story mixed with a little drama and some suspense to keep me on my toes of what will happen next! Each of the characters brought something different, and I found myself connecting the most with Babs. I loved Babs because she always kept it real, was the one that kept things together, and was Reuben's protection and advocate throughout this read. Let me tell you something. EVERYONE needs a Babs okay? A person in your life that no matter how crazy life gets, what crazy idea or thought you come up with, they are riding for you and protecting you. They are always behind the scenes of the world making sure everything is running smoothly, and they are DEPENDABLE! I loved Babs so much throughout this read, and I really enjoyed her character. I am Babs. Babs is me.
I loved the evolution of the storyline. It continued to grow and grow, which surprised me again and again. Every time I could feel where the story was going, my expectations were turned upside down. I loved noticing themes emerge, and the many plot twists of this novel. Each character, you either loved, hated, or sympathized with. Some I loved, some I wanted to curse out, and others I wanted to cry for. It was also very interesting how the powerful mind disease, Alzheimer's was tied into the novel. Having a family member who died from Alzheimers, this really tugged at my heart strings. It was just amazing how this novel illustrated what can happen when your life has been taken over by what you thought was just a figment of someone's imagination, but it then it all turns out to be real...WOW my edges.
I think my biggest critique for this novel is that it took me awhile to get into. I had a hard time staying focused and unfolding the family dynamic. There were moments when I became confused on who was who, and the roles that they played in the story. Recently, during my book club live feed, I discussed the importance of character building; making your characters come alive! The second that confusion is released when it comes to the characters, it can shake the entire dynamic of the story, and make the reader uninterested. As I discussed in my previous book review, as readers, we want to go through a series of emotions when reading your book whether that means to curse, cry, laugh, smile, whatever! We want to FEEL. The FEELING is what turns a good book into a GREAT book! If I can read your book and rave over it, finish it in a span of a day or more, pull life lessons from it, AND my good wig is snatched all at the same time? That's a GREAT book! Also, I noticed that there were a ton of grammatical errors/unfinished sentences within the novel. One or two, it's like okay fine. It's like a small trip of your own feet in heels. I didn't see that, we're good! More than that, it's like a full on fall! I did see that, I'm laughing while also making sure you're okay, and it can't be taken back. No, I'm not a grammar buff, but I do know that errors in novels are BRUTAL. It can really distract the reader, and I was distracted honey! Sometimes, all it takes is having a great editor to read and re-read your novel over and over again to the point where they know what is going to happen next in the story with their eyes closed to get those grammar errors in check! (Or just getting Aunt June June who was an English teacher back in the day) to look over your work and make those finishing touches that your novel needs! Easy peasy!
Overall, I believe that this book told an excellent story. Jennifer has an amazing gift for storytelling, and it shows in this novel. It took me on an emotional rollercoaster, and I love that piece of it! Truths emerged, hidden secrets were revealed, and love was released. The storyline was not over the top, but was believable! In all families, we have drama, but underneath all of the drama, there's love, memories, and truth. When I review books, I pride myself in honesty. Honesty is what you need as an author, whether a new author, or seasoned because you have to develop the meat and potatoes first. You have to see what people like or don't like to make that next book even better than the one before. You have to build your writing tone and take time to develop those characters and tell that story. The art of storytelling is what will take Jennifer as an author to the next level. THAT is her secret weapon, and I can't wait to see what she creates next! I would like to thank Jennifer Harris for allowing me to review this book and share my feedback! I definitely continue to see amazing potential, and I love your energy! Thank you for allowing me to spill my tea and share my light with you! Finally, everyone as always, thank you for reading! Keep reading for our amazing interview together as we dive into Ruby and more book tings!
Erin Lowry is the author of Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together and Broke Millennial Takes On Investing: A Beginner's Guide to Leveling Up Your Money now available for preorder! Her first book was named by MarketWatch as one of the best money books of 2017 and her style is often described as refreshing and conversational. Erin's appeared on CBS Sunday Morning, CNBC and Fox & Friends. She has written for Fast Company, Cosmopolitan Magazine and Refinery29 and regularly speaks at universities and conferences around the country. Erin spent most of her childhood living in Asia, but now settled in New York City with her husband.
Getting Financially Naked w/ Erin Lowry!
K: What inspired you to write Broke Millennial?
E: Writing the book Broke Millennial was an extension of all the work I'd done prior, starting with just a simple blog of the same name. The inspiration really came one night while talking with a friend. She was electing to forgo pursuing her dreams in the name of a steady job she hated because, in her words, money stressed her out and she simply hoped she had enough of it at the end of each month. It's naive to say, but that was an eye opening moment for me because I grew up in a household where we talked about money a lot, but in positive ways. My parents were dedicated to ensuring my sister and I understood how money worked and how to budget, save, set goals and they even tried to teach me about investing, but I wasn't quite ready to listen yet. I quickly realized how many people avoided talking or dealing with their own finances and I wanted to create a space where people could come and learn but it wouldn't feel intimidating or judgmental. It would be fun and lean largely on storytelling. Thus Broke Millennial was born.
K: In your book you discuss the importance of having an emergency fund! Should your emergency fund and your savings account be two different accounts? Why?
E: I'm a big fan of multiple savings accounts. It enables you to have accounts for specific goals and you can see the amount inch closer and closer to your goal, which is really encouraging. I'm also a visual person and like the separation of my money into different accounts (checking, saving and even investments) for different purposes. Your emergency savings fund really does need to be its own entity because it's not money you should be using for a purchase or a life event. It's money that works as your safety net when things go wrong. That can feel overwhelming to hear at first, which is why it's important to set small, achievable goals as well. It takes time to build up an emergency fund reserve + have savings accounts for other financial goals.
K: When it comes to budgeting for me, it is super tough to start and also stick to! What tricks of the trade do you have for creating a budget and actually sticking to it?
E: You have to keep pivoting and modifying until you find what works for you. A lot of times people try a really strict budgeting style and it doesn't work for them because it was just too rigid. Give another style a go instead! I also really encourage people to recognize that your budgeting style will, and should, evolve as your life changes. I'm not using the same budgeting methods at 29 as I did at 22 because my life has changed significantly, including getting married and merging my finances with another person.
The absolute first step to any budget, though, is knowing your cash flow. (How much is coming in) - (How much is going out) = cash flow. You need to know those numbers in order to formulate a plan.
K: In your opinion, what are the best ways to improve your credit rating?
E: On-time payments = 35% of your credit score! Utilization (amount of available credit you use) = 30% of your credit score. So 65% of your credit score is from just two factors, so that's where you need to focus. Step 1 is never, ever missing a payment. If you worry that you won't be able to pay a bill, then get proactive and call your creditor to see if you can work something out. Step 2 is to spend no more than 30% of your available credit limit on a credit card. That means if you have $1000 line of credit, you don't spend more than $300. Then each month, you pay off that credit card bill on time and in full. Never carry a balance over month-to-month and start paying interest. There is no need and just creates debt. Just making one or two small purchases on a credit card (e.g. tank of gas or paying for Netflix) and then always pay the bill on time and in full.
K: Student loans 101! What do you feel are the best strategies to tackle student loans?
E: That's a big question that's one of the largest chapters in my book, Broke Millennial, so I'll say the first step is to really face your numbers. You need to know exactly how much student loan debt you have, which companies own your debts, whether they're private or federal and if they're federal, are they subsidized or unsubsidized, the interest rates, the principal balance owed and the minimum monthly payment. You cannot make an attack plan until you have this information.
K: Knowing what you know now, should millennials be concerned with investing? If so, how should we choose which investments best fit our finances?
E: Absolutely millennials 100% have to be concerned with investing! That's why the next book in my series is Broke Millennial Takes On Investing: A Beginner's Guide to Leveling Up Your Money. The first place most people start is with a 401(k) through their employer or with an IRA they open themselves in order to start saving for retirement, except I don't like that we use the word "save" I want you to think of it as investing for retirement. The first focus when choosing investments is to determine your goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon (fancy way of saying, when do you need the money?). Once you've answered those questions, it will guide your choices in building an investment portfolio to ensure it's well diversified.
K: In your book you dive into a Traditional IRA and a Roth IRA. Can you explain the difference?
E: It's all about taxes. A traditional IRA means you're getting a tax break today while a Roth IRA means you aren't getting a tax advantage today, but won't have to pay taxes on the money you take out of your IRA In retirement. There isn't a right or wrong answer and saving in an IRA regardless is a win. Generally, the advice is for younger people to use a Roth IRA because the logic is you're in a lower tax bracket now than you will be in the future, so it's a better deal for you today. Is that true for everyone? No, but people often like the cut-and-dry approach that a Roth IRA means not having to pay taxes in the future when you're unsure of what your tax bracket will be.
K: As millennials, this is a huge time for entrepreneurs! Tell us more about your current job/jobs, and how did you get to where you are in your career?
E: This question alone could be it's own interview, but I have worked as a barista, babysitter, page for The Late Show with David Letterman, account coordinator at a boutique public relationships agency, the first employee at a FinTech start up and finally, I started working for myself earning a living both writing and speaking. The big lessons I learned were to take risks and negotiate. Negotiating is critical! Here is an article that overviews some of my journey.
K: What financial advice would you give readers? Also, what is next for Erin Lowry? We want to know!
E: The advice I always give is my personal mantra: you control money or money controls you!
My whole goal is to help people feel in control of their money. The first step is to face your numbers, even if it's scary. Currently working on promoting my second book Broke Millennial Takes On Investing, which comes out April 9th, 2019 and I'm also writing my third book, which will be focused on the intersection of relationships and money.
I would like to send a special thank you to Erin for taking time out of her schedule to interview with me! It was super fun doing this interview, and I had a blast discussing finances, inspiration, and goal-setting with such an amazing individual! Her wise words of wisdom and immense knowledge in the area of finance is truly amazing, and super inspiring to follow. I can't wait to see more amazing tips and tricks for tackling personal finance from her new book, Broke Millennial Takes on Investing available now for preorder! Thank you for sharing your light with us! If you loved this interview, check out her book Broke Millennial available for purchase right here! Just click the link below, and grab your copy today! Thank you for reading, and thank you for allowing me to share my soul with yours! Happy #SoulfulSunday!
Happy Wednesday! Welcome back to another week! I hope that you made it through your week stress-free, less broke than you were last week, and wine IN TOW for the weekend! Because we got such a great response from our #BookTingsTALK session last week, we decided to keep the conversation flowing and the vibes going with this week's topic: MONEY! Now, we all know that money is usually a really stressful topic, but we are going to make it fun. I know you're probably thinking, "Oh yeah she would want to talk money when rent is due this week, and baby Lil Gunz daycare fees are due, and I have to buy new 24's for my hoopdie, and oh yeah, I need to file taxes or get cousin Earl to take them to the corner store for the low. Thanks Kiera you horrible biotchhhh!" Hey, money doesn't have to be that way! I LOVE a good discussion, and I am currently listening to You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth x Jen Sincero via audiobook, and I must say I LOVE IT! I am usually not a big fan or audiobooks because it becomes really easy for me to wonder off, or think of other bazillion things that I can be getting done, but this audiobook is so good! It has really deconstructed my crazy beliefs about money to the point of WHOA BABY, and did I mention that it literally feels like I am having a hilarious conversation with my bff listening to this book? YES! If you are not familiar with this author, I feature her debut novel, You Are a Badass as my Reading Between the Wines November book club pick!
In You Are a Badass at Making Money, Jen will launch you past the fears and stumbling blocks that have kept financial success beyond your reach. Drawing on her own transformation—over just a few years—from a woman living in a converted garage with tumbleweeds blowing through her bank account to a woman who travels the world in style, making seven figures per year, this book is an excellent read for anyone looking for some financial advice and has a set on ready sense of humor. Jen uses her own economic transformation to teach you what’s truly holding you back from making real money. Jen will help you stop letting your doubts, fears and excuses get in the way and show you how you too, can be as wealthy as you want to be. To get a lot out of this book you need to have an open mind and be willing to change your mindset and forget a lot of what you’ve been told! She explains the importance of knowing your deepest desires and how to start taking action. This isn’t your average how to make money book, this book really focuses on your mindset, thoughts and beliefs. This book also teaches you how to get real results. The results we all are looking for! One of the reasons I love this book so far is that it really teaches you various factors that can hold you back from making all the money that you can earn. For example, this book discusses: giving your doubts, fears, and excuses the BOOT, how to relate to money in a new, open-minded, and positive way, how to shake up the cocktail of creation, ways to tap into your natural ability to get rich, shape our reality—stop playing victim to circumstance (JUST DO IT!), and lastly, to get as wealthy as you wanna be! Sounds simple right? Let's stop fearing money, and let's kick some financial ass! (Corny? WHATEVS haha you know what I mean!) So BOOM! Let's talk about it!
Broke Phi Broke:
1. Do you believe in creating monthly budgets?
2. What are some obstacles you face when managing money?
3. What are your financial goals this year?
4. Do you have an emergency fund? If so, how much do you believe should be saved for emergencies?
5. Thinking back to your childhood, how were finances discussed in your home?
6. Now, as an adult, what is a healthy view of money?
7. How did religion or church influence your attitude towards money?
8. Should married couples have a joint account? If so, do you believe in asking your partner permission to withdraw money from this account? (We can't forget the classic Martin episode-Lockin Boots haha!)
9. Do you believe in splitting household bills in relationships?
10. If money had no limit, what would you be doing?
11. Do you believe that all couples should have pre-nups?
12. What are your thoughts about debt consolidation with your partner?
13. Is poor money management a deal breaker for you in a relationship?
14. What is one thing you know now about finances that you wish you knew in the past?
15. What is more important? Money or time?
16. Do you discuss lending money to others with your partner? Is there a limit to how much you can give?
17. I will be a badass at making money by ______________.
Feel free to share, like, comment, repost! Also, make sure to follow us on @thebookspotbykg on Twitter and Instagram as we dive into this week's questions/thoughts! When answering this week's questions, don't forget to hashtag #BookTingsTALK! I can't wait to connect with all of you! Are there other money questions that you can think of that I didn't mention? No problem! Comment below and I will be sure to feature them during our live chat! Tune into our Twitter page tonight at 7pm for our fun live discussion! Thank you so much for reading :)
Enjoyed Today's Post? Check This Out!
Where We Talk Book Tings & More!
Happy hump day readers! I hope this week has been zenful and STRESS free because guess what? Friday is two days away, so hang on! Thank you so much for reading with me, and today I wanted to introduce our NEW #BookTingsTALK! Now I don't know about you, but I LOVE a good discussion on great reads, music, wines, mindfulness, controversial topics, and MUCH MUCH more! I wanted to create a fun place where we can talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly right here. If I haven't learned anything else this year so far, it is to step out of my comfort zone, and that is what we will be doing here, and guess what? That's okay! This is a safe space, and we are going to have fun, share opinions, and connect with one another. Because Shook One x Charlamagne tha God is my book of the month, and Girl, Wash Your Face x Rachel Hollis is my Reading Between the Wines book club pick of the month, let's dive into these two reads! They both tackle different topics: mental health and self-love/discovery, which goes hand in hand! It all starts with the mental. If your head isn't in the game, your body will not follow suit, which is why mental health and self love matters. If you haven't read Shook One x Charlamagne, first of all, YOU ARE MISSING OUT, and secondly, it is a GREAT read that "elevates the conversation surrounding mental health, especially in the hip-hop and black communities." Girl, Wash Your Face x Rachel Hollis is another AMAZING read, that tackles the twenty lies and misconceptions that too often hold us back from living our best lives! This read teaches you how to live with passion and hustle, and how to still love yourself when all bets are off. So BOOM! Let's talk about it!
1. What does loving yourself look like?
2. How does loving yourself affect the way that you love others?
3. In Girl, Wash Your Face, Rachel discusses that as women, we emotionally abuse ourselves. Do you believe this to be true? Why or why not?
4. Do you believe that if you are constantly making and breaking promises to yourself, that you are not making promises at all. You’re simply just talking? What promises will you keep for yourself this year?
5. On a scale of 1-5 with 1 being poor, and 5 being excellent, how would you rate your mental health right now?
6. What fills you up with meaning and passion?
7. In what ways do you need to shift in order to step into your higher self?
8. In Shook One, Charlamagne talks a lot about the tremendous impact that therapy has on improving his mental health. Do you see therapy as a positive form of mental wellness?
9. What negative energy are you consistently allowing in at this moment?
10. Dear self, you are _______________.
11. What do you value about yourself?
12. Today I affirm __________.
13. Is there someone you turn to when you feel your mental health shifting?
14. Whom do you need to forgive?
15. Where does your hurt stem from?
16. What positive changes have you made so far this year?
17. What are your favorite forms of mental wellness/self-care? Share!
Feel free to share, like, comment, repost! Also, make sure to follow us on @thebookspotbykg on Twitter and Instagram as we dive into this week's questions/thoughts! Make sure when answering this week's questions, you hashtag #BookTingsTALK! I can't wait to connect with all of you! If some of the questions are too deep for you to share openly, please feel free to email me personally, as I am always a listening ear! Remember, no battle should be fought alone, and to always keep self-care at the forefront! Thank you so much for reading :)
If You Loved This Post...
N A M A S T E.
New Year, New Commitments!
Happy Wednesday bookworms! I hope everyone is having a great start to their new year! I wanted to jumpstart my new year by reading this awesome book, Girl, Wash Your Face x Rachel Hollis! I heard about this book via social media as one of my readers suggested it for this month's book club read, and I couldn't put it down! I love to travel, and during my recent trip to New Orleans, this was THE book to read! I do find it surprising that I have dived into more self-help books, because at one point, I would always say, "Why do I need to read a book on how to live my best life, when I can do that on my own?", but you come to realize that it's more than that. It allows you to find your way and remind you that you don't have to have it altogether at 25 or even 35. As long as you're HAPPY, that's all that matters. THAT is living your best life! This book dives directly into that. If you haven't read this book, it talks about the twenty lies and misconceptions that too often hold us back from living joyfully and productively, lies we’ve told ourselves so often we don’t even hear them anymore. Sounds familiar? Through her painful honesty and fearless humor, Rachel unpacks and looks into the falsehoods that once left her feeling overwhelmed and unworthy, and reveals the specific practical strategies that helped her move past them. This is where her amazing tips come in at the end of each chapter that I love! Through my review, I want to also share my favorite chapters and takeaways that I found from reading this book that I hope you all enjoy, so let's get to it!
First of all, I believe that EVERY woman should read this book. We have all been in a place of uncertainty or the "What am I doing? I should be farther along by now" phase. We have all questioned ourselves and our purpose at least once, and we have all made mistakes! What I love about this book is that it is real. It's raw, and it peels back emotional layers! Every chapter had its own meaning. Each chapter gave new insights into the lessons Rachel learned on her journey to become an employee, wife, mother, business owner, author, and social media lifestyle artist. She shares the many disappointments and pains along the path to success. She shares her flaws, mistakes, and “wish I could do-overs”. She shares intimate details about her siblings, marriage, children, and parents. She discusses the business she created and her transformation into a social media lifestyle blogger. She shares her passion for life and the joy of living. She reminds us the importance of happiness, and to not merely just exist, but to LIVE. LIVE with purpose! Here are some of my favorite chapters of the lies that I used to tell myself and how I overcame them:
Lie #1: Something Else Will Make Me Happy...
This chapter begins by stating the first lie that Rachel had to confront, that is, ‘something else will make me happy’ (Hollis, 2018). Rachel lived a life full of challenges that denied her the opportunity to be happy but found comfort in a misconception that when she grew up, she would find something, or some other life that will make her happy. She narrates several struggles in life that made her unhappy both as a child, and as a grown up. For example, she wet her pants while playing with friends, and had to douse herself with a bottle of water so that her friends could not know what happened (Hollis, 2018).
This simple act made her hate herself because she had not accepted the person she was. She also grew up in a family with challenges characterized by cries, and fights (Hollis, 2018), an environment that could traumatise a child. Hollis (2018) states that “father handled stress with anger while mother handled stress by going to bed for weeks at a time”. This then means that there was no environment of peace, and sobriety but a traumatic environment that was not conducive for the development of a child. The demise of her brother (who committed suicide) further provided challenge, and compounded her problems. Based on the photographs she posts on social media with her husband, however, people see her as a person leading a relatively better life (Hollis, 2018).
K's Girl, Get Yo Life Tips & Tricks:
Lie #2: I'll Start Tomorrow...
Chapter two talks about how one can honor promises he/she makes to himself/herself, thus being able to stop a habit, and start a new one. The chapter begins by stating the second lie that Rachel believed, that is, ‘I will start tomorrow’. We have ALL been there! She proceeds to give examples, and scenarios (of both herself, and her friends) of struggles with keeping one’s own promise, as a result of believing the lie. For example, she narrates how she started, and failed to continue with several programs including plans to attend gym, marathon, and walking to work (Hollis, 2018). Like Rachel, many women also start such plans with good intentions, but find it difficult to continue because they find it normal to dishonor the promises they make to themselves. While one may want to honor the promises they make to themselves, they find the urge to break the promises irresistible. The distractions in life are among the factors that create the urge of reverting to old habits thus abandoning a promise such as never to drink diet coke again. Rachel (2018) gives an example of a woman who promises herself not to take a certain meal but goes ahead to take it on her child’s birthday. The child’s birthday, therefore, becomes the distraction.
K's Girl, Get Yo Life Tips & Tricks:
Lie #3: NO Is The Final Answer (HA!)
In chapter six, Rachel adequately provides eye-opening information on how to react once one faces an element of rejection. In her understanding, Rachel believes that one is gifted the ability to determine what to accept, and reject, and this is the reason sometimes she refuses to be a public speaker, or when faced with rejection she refuses to accept, and looks for other alternatives to address the issue (Hollis). In essence, the writer aims to share the perspective that even though ‘yes’ is normally considered as the easiest answer, by learning how to say ‘no’ one is in a better position to achieve the greater things in life.
This chapter aims to reiterate that when one faces a rejection, it is upon the individual to dictate whether he will lose hope, or whether he will find other mechanisms of challenging the issue. From her assertions, audacity is one of the major components which enhance the productivity of a given individual. This implies that when one has the courage to face rejection from different areas, then one is able to grow through the pressure, and achieve the greater things in life. For instance, she shares a lot about when her book was rejected by various publishers but she did not give up but instead continued to work harder.
K's Get Yo Life Tips & Tricks:
Becoming x Michelle Obama
This book was an AMAZING read, and I absolutely LOVE Michelle Obama! Her amazing gift of storytelling was really highlighted in this book, and she does an excellent job providing insight on being a mom, wife, and First Lady all in one! I have always admired her class and her ability to "go high when others go low" even amongst criticism. This book delivered so many lessons for me which I have highlighted in my December book of the month section, and really provided a wonderful view of her life outside of the White House. I loved this book so much that with the help of many of you, made it my book club's December pick of the month! Throughout this book, I carried many emotions, but the biggest one was reminiscing on the amazing experience of witnessing the First Black First Lady in my lifetime. Such a great read! Want more? Be on the lookout for this book to be available in our shop section February 2019!
You Are a Badass x Jen Sincero
This was one of my FAVORITE self-help books this year! While I was reading this, I was constantly jotting down different phrases, tips, and advice that really stuck out to me from this read, and now I use them as part of my everyday life! This book is all about digging deep and owning your self-worth. It is not only hilarious, but it isn't your typical self-help book. It really teaches you how to be a true BADASS. It talks about overcoming fears, and pushing yourself to the next level. When I picked up this book, I was in a weird stage in my life. I was stuck between loving being a nurse, and wanting to push myself more with my blog. I was kind of stuck. I had just transitioned jobs within my nursing career, but knew I needed to take my blog to the next level, but I was fearful and didn't feel that I could do that. I felt defeated when I wasn't meeting the "views" and numbers portion of blogging that everyone talks about, and wanted to quit blogging altogether. IMAGINE THAT! This book really helped me get out of my own head and do WHAT I LOVE! It taught me that I can have the best of both worlds and still be okay. It allowed me to see that in life, we have to take risks and LEAP. We can't let fear be the reason that we don't TRY. TRYING is all that we can do! Whenever my friends and colleagues ask for book recommendations, this is always the book that I choose because it is truly AMAZING. This book is perfect for someone that just needs a small reminder that they are a badass in all forms! Be on the lookout for this book to be available in our shop section February 2019!
Invisible No More x Andrea Ritchie
This book was the epitome of POWERFUL! Of course we have all seen the news of unarmed black men and women being killed by police, but this books illustrates unique stories of individual women such as Sandra Bland, Rekia Boyd, Dejerria Becton, Monica Jones, Mya Hall and many more in their stories of police violence and mass incarceration in a broader context. This book was really hard to read, but necessary! These beautiful men and women being killed in our society are more than just a hashtag for a few months, and that's it. We must continue to #SAYHERNAME all the time and remind not only other people, but ourselves that their lives mattered. I loved the powerful message of this read, and every so often, I love to read books of this nature because it reminds me that the fight must continue, and the message must continue to spread not just today, but tomorrow and the next day. Great read for book clubs and groups! This book will warrant awesome intellectual discussion! Stay tuned next month as we will have an awesome interview with Andrea Ritchie as she discusses her amazing book, inspirations, and more! You don't want to miss it!
Broke Millennial x Erin Lowry
This read is such a great read to end your 2018 especially being that Christmas is wrapping up and the new year is coming in! Growing up, my parents really didn't teach me the importance of financial literacy and saving money. Of course they said the occasional, "Don't spend all your money in one place...blah blah blah" but that really didn't help because I just ended up spending all my money in different places! I think that many households fail to teach their children about the importance of saving money, student loans, interest, CREDIT SCORES (emphasis on this) and more because some parents didn't have this for themselves. If I knew back then what I know now, I would have been in a wayyyy better position financially to succeed and excel in the money department. Especially in college! Throughout college, I had so many lines of credit that I could not afford placing me in major debt! I had student loans, store credit card payments (Don't let that extra 15% off your purchase fool you!), and an apartment to pay for each month! OUCH. Now, at 26, I have FINALLY understood what my parents have been saying all along, which is where this awesome book comes in. I found this book while scrolling through social media, and my friend Dedrick posted about it during my fun #BEYOU book contest. What I love about this book is that it is relatable! It was written by a millennial for millennials which JUST MAKES SENSE. It is definitely a great read to not only end your 2018, but jumpstart your 2019 as well!
The Hate U Give x Angie Thomas
I absolutely LOVED this book! Not only was the book amazing, but the movie was BOMB! Usually, I don't like watching movies after books because I am always comparing what happened in the book with the movie, but this book definitely hit a major soft spot that I feel everyone should read! This book is based on a young girl named Starr witnessing the murder of her friend to police violence, and her journey to justice. From the moment that I started reading this book, I knew that it was going to be amazing! After reading it, I experienced the craziest book hangover ever! I couldn't stop thinking about the book because a story of this nature happens everyday in society. This book was so good that I read it in two days, and the only reason that I didn't finish it in one day was because I had to work the next day! This book had me thinking of what I would do if stuck in that situation. Would I be friends with someone who would never understand my daily struggles as a black woman? At what age would I teach my children about how to approach being stopped by a police officer? Would I go on national television fighting for justice for my friend that was shot by a police officer? So many great questions and great discussion! This book was ridiculously good, and I would definitely recommend this book to wrap up your 2018!
Hi! My name is Nadiyah Barrow, and Worthy Women NC started as a support group for survivors of sexual assault on the campus of North Carolina Central University in 2013. In October of 2016, Create Consent Culture was created. This is a black women owned apparel line that promotes sexual assault awareness. Our goal is to remind victors (not victims) of sexual assault that they are worthy of self-love, love from others, and happiness no matter what traumatic experience they've been through. We also use our apparel as a platform for conversations around consent and healing steps survivors can take after assault. Along with our apparel, we also advocate for victims and visit schools (and wherever else we are welcomed) to talk about levels of consent, healthy intimacy, and ending victim blaming.
Creating Consent Culture w/ Nadiyah!
K: What was your inspiration behind creating Worthy Women NC?
N: Worthy Women NC was inspired by my personal experiences of sexual trauma. When I went off to college, I struggled with depression and anxiety. I met many people that confided in me about their personal experiences of abuse, and I knew I wanted to create a special support system for people just like me. I wanted women at my college to have a safe space to heal from these experiences.
K: When did you first discover your love for writing and entrepreneurship?
N: Ever since I was a young girl, maybe around 11-12, I used to jot things down and had multiple diaries that I also wrote in. I never knew how much writing meant to me until I got older. I think it’s a deep rooted connection between pen and paper. For me, when I write something down, it becomes more real. As far as entrepreneurship, during my undergraduate years of college, I knew it was a path I was interested in, but I wasn’t confident in it until after graduation. I literally got so miserable at my job and felt I should truly follow my passion.
K: One of your phrases within your apparel line is a powerful statement, "Create Consent Culture." Explain the meaning of this. How do you define consent?
N: Create consent culture is about uplifting survivors and teaching human decency. Through this brand, we emphasize the importance of consent, respecting one another and bodily autonomy. Right now we live in a rape culture world which is an environment where sexual abuse is normalized. Rape culture is perpetuated through misogynistic language and behavior that includes blaming the victim for the abuse. Creating consent culture means we understand that consent it our given right. Consent is a mutual, ongoing agreement to anything.
K: What do you want your audience to take away from your brand?
N: I would like our audience to know that we are all healing from something. You are not alone. Your voice is vital.
K: In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up to tackle the world again?
N: In moments of self doubt, I like to read quotes from my favorite self care author: Alex Elle. Sometimes I cry it out and try again the next day! That’s the real. I’m not afraid to admit I’m a water baby and I have embraced my sensitivity as I’ve grown older. Most people view sensitivity as a weakness. For me I’ve owned my ability to feel things so deeply. I think it’s amazing honestly.
K: In your own words, how would you define the difference between sexual assault and sexual harassment?
N: Sexual Harassment is a form of discrimination. Examples of this include: verbal comments, unwanted touches or sexual advances. Sexual assault is intentional, unwanted sexual contact. Sexual assault includes use of force and intimidation. It is when a victim doesn’t give consent or cannot give consent.
K: At what moment in your life did you say, "This is it. This is what I was meant to be doing!" What called you to it?
N: My "This is it. This is what I was meant to be doing" moment came after my first semester of leading the Worthy Women support group I founded. I felt empowered just hearing positive feedback from all the group members who participated. This special moment reaffirmed that this was my path, and what I was meant to be doing!
K: What quote or saying inspires and motivates you to be yourself and do what you love?
N: A quote that really inspires me is: “Plant yourself where you will bloom.” This is the ultimate reminder for me that no matter what you are temporarily stuck in, you can grow from it. Every chapter in your story builds a foundation for a beautiful flower to grow.
K: What characteristics do you most admire in other creative women?
N: In other creative women, I admire transparency the most. I believe that if you are true to yourself, your audience will be genuine.
K: Knowing what you know now, how do you handle consent for sexual intimacy in relationships and encounters?
N: I am a huge advocate for open communication when it comes to any form of intimacy. You should have conversations at each step.
K: Do you believe that mothers and daughters/fathers and sons should discuss more openly about sexual harassment and misconduct? If so, what should they say?
N: I most definitely believe that it’s a conversation we should all be having more. Everything starts with simple respect for others. It’s never too early to start teaching consent. I believe that healthy conversation within the family unit is great, and promotes awareness and openness amongst one another.
K: In the powerful #MeToo Movement, the case of Larry Nassar, former USA Gymnastics team doctor convicted of years of sexual abuse against many USA gymnasts such as Aly Raisman, Simone Biles and more, has prompted questions from athletes and fans alike. Why do you believe that many women are hesitant to come forward when sexual assaulted?
N: Often times survivors are blamed for the circumstances that led to the assault (such as what they were wearing, if they were drinking). Along with being blamed, they are criticized for how they did or didn’t fight back. Victims are often too ashamed to come forward because sexual assault can seem very humiliating and dehumanizing. Attached to the shame is also a lot of self blame.
K: As a fellow blogger, what do you feel distinguishes a good writer from a GREAT writer?
N: Im still in my earliest stages of writing opposed to where I want to be, but I would say PASSION distinguishes a good writer from a great writer. I believe that you should do everything with passion! Often what happens is when you aren’t in it for passion, dreams, ideas and creativity begin to fade out. Keep the passion in whatever you love, strong!
K: What is the biggest sacrifice you've made throughout your journey of becoming a blogger and entrepreneur?
N: I would say the biggest sacrifice I made throughout my journey was quitting my full time job at Nordstrom in January of 2017! It was the scariest thing ever. I made the decision and didn’t consult with anyone; friends or family. I literally told myself I was going to quit by a certain time because I wasn’t truly fulfilling my purpose there, and now here I am!
K: What are great resources for women to use for those who may have experienced sexual assault?
N: Great resources for women are any local crisis response centers! Any crisis hotline, women’s resource center/ student health at any college, local support groups are all great resources for women that have experienced assault.
K: Are you working on any new projects that we can look forward to in the future?
N: I am looking forward to having a support group in the community! I am not sure of an exact date, but it will happen. We have also collaborated with the lovely empowerment coach, A. Richbook of Durham, NC on this event called “The Lotus Gathering.” This event is to inspire and empower victims and non-victims to take back their power through connecting with themselves through love. It is our goal to aid people (mostly women) in truly understanding the multifaceted experiences of domestic violence. If they've been affected, we want to provide a safe space for a jumpstart to healing. It will be an annual domestic violence awareness event. This past October was our introductory year, but we plan to expand next year and make it even bigger!
K: What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs?
N: I would tell any aspiring entrepreneur to stay true to yourself, don’t be afraid of your first “NO”, and make time for self care. Self care is imperative and you can not serve others if you don’t treat yourself well!
K: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
N: You can all follow me on social media! IG: NadiyahForever, Business IG: WorthyWomenNC, and website: wwshopnc.com!
I would like to send a special thank you to Nadiyah for taking time out of her schedule to interview with me! It was super fun doing this interview, and I had a great time talking consent, self-care, and women's empowerment, with such a sweet, passionate individual! In our society today, creating consent culture is so important! It all starts with a healthy conversation! I can't wait to see more amazing moments from you! Thank you for sharing your light with us! Thank you for reading, and thank you for allowing me to share my soul with yours! Happy #SoulfulSunday! Share, like, comment! Tell us what you think!
WE ARE WORTHY.
Welcome to the launch of my new book blog! Thank you all soooo much for reading and I can't wait to hear your thoughts, ideas and comments! Enjoy! :)