For Colored Girls who consider vulnerability/ When loving yourself is Enuf

         I have read many articles and essays that have opinions with stats as to why it is so hard for the black woman to find love. I know what you’re thinking like Erynne were you not around for #weddingszn it was melanin infused. I see these women getting married and engaged and I want to say that I am extremely happy for them but being honest I can't say that I am. I can barely look at a wedding dress let alone see women from high school and college in them. It’s not them it is simply me just not wanting to think about why it hasn’t happened for me yet and if it ever will. I always find myself thinking am I not the type of woman that men marry? Am I too unpredictable in action for a man to feel secure enough to even attempt? I thought all of these crazy thoughts until I met him.This man had truly come from nowhere I like to think that God just has a funny way of doing things like that. The man was perfection regardless of his imperfections in my eyes; he was literally everything I had imagined poured into a tall bottle of honey; I had met the one and I knew it from the second conversation. I will say that he gave me true hope that love was something I deserved from another person and he showed be that it was okay to let my guard down and that I didn’t always have to be strong.

     Before him I had some run-ins with men who saw my bones and heart as their playground. I had found him ladies; the one who was going to be the end of the quest and I’d share a life with him and we’d birth a child that even the angels would envy. We had talked for months over the phone as we were long distant lovers but he always felt closer than the miles that separated us. He and I talked on the phone every night talking about the future and expressing things to each other we wouldn’t want to feel vulnerable enough to share with anyone else. Eventually, the chance to see each other had come and he had grown nervous and for some reason I could always tell when something was off with him. I think that comes with caring for someone so deeply that you pick up on those types of things. He was nervous that the idea of us that he and I both had pictured would not live up to the reality of what it would be when we saw each other finally. I like to think that it was more than I had imagined once I saw him and once we finally spent that beautiful week together. I remember him saying “I do love you” as we stood watching the Mayweather vs. Mcgregor fight under the Seattle city lights. I also remember how he looked at me when he said it I saw everything I had to look forward to in his eyes. I returned with saying “I love you too.” If you are like me you aren’t very open to loving anyone let alone showing it. I have had situations in my life that have built a wall so high that even I sometimes would lose track on how to break it down but he had the largest sledgehammer and pounded away at it brick by brick with all the patience in the world.

     He was sweet, level-headed, corny as ever but he made me laugh. I remember that week and replay it over and over in my head hoping to never lose the memory of him. I say this to say that soon after he left, he had actually gone. He went home with uncertainty in his heart about whether he and I were actually going to work, we had settled that issue and he was back on the Erynne track; but not for long. Soon after it was actually over and it wasn’t fair I had taken the option of us being together away from the both of us because of a decision I had made in the past that was haunting our future and he ended things. I was completely devastated ladies, I cried at work, at home, at Walmart even. I was standing there picking out eyelashes when he told me that he had made his decision and it wasn’t me. I was so fortunate that day to not be alone; I had my band of bad ass bitties there with me surrounding me with love and for them I am grateful. I literally cried for two whole weeks and practically begged this man to even talk to me. I was extremely baffled when the man I knew was different from the one I was receiving. He was cold, short and I did not feel the “I do love you” I had felt before. I guess I should have known that “I do love you” was a question instead of a statement.

     Regardless of his feelings mine were extremely clear I knew that I loved him and that I would say yes if he changed his mind in a heartbeat. I went on feeling sorry and sorry for myself until I hit a really low moment. I decided to handle this situation the same way I handled all situations and that was to drink it out. The next night I went out for a friends birthday and had some drinks it wasn’t a lot but it was enough to text him and to text one of my old hoes things that I would soon regret sending in the morning. Note to friends: (Friends do not let friends text while drunk especially a sad drunk at that.) After not receiving the responses that I had hoped to receive I cried in someone elses car in a beautiful dress, a freshly plucked lace front and my new Fenty lip gloss.I can laugh at myself now but that night I was a complete mess. I decided on the next day that I had to pick myself back up and I had to stop wallowing in sorrow that I honestly did not deserve. The next day I vowed to myself that I would give my three favorite vices a break. 1. Alcohol 2. Men 3.Partying. When I told some people about my plans they were like "well you don’t have to stop going out" and I stopped them because number three always leads to the others. I want to stress that number two is not a sexual thing just in case my father reads this its more of the feeling of needing the attention of men. Hey Dad if you’re reading! I decided that I couldn’t sleep in my bed because I had cried too many tears on my pillow case for way too many nights so I slept on the couch for maybe a week. I know you're thinking that I sound dramatic but quite frankly this was probably the most dramatic situation I had gone through. I figured my back hurting was better than going to sleep every night with a heavy heart and waking up with puffy eyes. I decided that I would also avoid all love songs so the new Daniel Ceaser album was out the window for sure and I would wake up every morning and listen to two songs; I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor and one time for the culture Poppin' by Rico Nasty.

I won't say that it has been an easy process or that I don't catch myself beginning to cry sometimes. Last week while I was having a talk with my Dad he asked "How's my future son in-law doing?" I felt my heart drop into my stomach and the tears instantly developed in my eyes. I think as much as I am trying to get through this that I still have to deal with how the situation left me feeling and that is heartbroken. I will say that each day does get easier and the opportunity to find happiness within myself only is an empowering feeling. So to help the process along some I've had to force myself to un-follow him and actually stay off of his page and it has seemingly pretty easy. I now which it hasn’t been long since the situation can look at his page and smile because of how proud of him I am instead of cry because I can’t tell him. I am writing all of this and being extremely vulnerable because I know that there is another woman or man who has lost someone that they have loved. I need to let him go and I need to regain my strength and power. I read a piece from one of Trista Mateer’s books that said “ I said this book was about letting go but it wasn’t. It was about finding an ending I could stomach. It was throwing new paint on an old wall until I could stand to look at it again. I had to cover up all those spots we marked growth together.” I feel as though what she was saying is that in order for her to grow alone and move on she had to start over. She couldn't stand looking at the old paint on the wall because it symbolized something that would never be again and she had to come to terms with that. This is my painting and I am covering it with the whitest paint I can find. I know that there will be some rough edges and old paint that may be able to see but my start shall be new. This is now the journey of one woman with an entire world waiting for her. I am taking everyday as an opportunity to really find what is for Erynne and I feel like the who is for me will come when it does. So CHEERS! to self-improvement, self-awareness, getting over it, getting through it, the love of amazing friends and being a poppin’ ass bitch. (a shot of water for me though!)

Will Black Girls Thrive?

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These pasts few weeks seen multiple photos of all the beautiful young girls headed off to their first weeks of school. Everything from the hair, the clothing, and the new school year highs are an amazing sight to see. Through all of that I have to take a moment to think about what happens once these young girls are no longer behind the scope of their parents camera lens but in the hands of institutions that are meant to enhance, protect and enrich their lives. What will these young girls face? Will they be shunned for their natural hair, over sexualized because of their body type or will their female femininity be masculinized because Black girls are meant to be strong. Will our girls thrive?

What I fear most are the facts; and situations that have already occurred across the country that are at most shocking and hurtful to read. In 2013, Ashlynn Avery a 16 year-old diabetic girl in Alabama fell asleep while reading a book at her in-school suspension. Ashlynn who had not woken up when the suspension supervisor had asked was allegedly met with violence. As Ashlynn was exiting the room she had a book thrown at her and a police officer allegedly slammed her face into a filing cabinet. In 2015, a 15-year-old girl was slammed to the ground by an officer who then pinned her underneath his knee. In the same year two 15-year-old twins in Boston were faced with possible detention and suspension because the administration had said their braided hairstyles violated the school dress code. These are the very situations that shape our young girls lives and show them what they should perceive the rest of the world to be.

I want to take a deeper look into why our girls are so often met with violence and more suspensions and expulsions than that of their white and Hispanic counterparts. In the remarkable writings of Monique W. Morris’ book Pushout : The Criminalization of Black Girls In Schools which I will be citing throughout she stated that “ Through stories we find that Black girls are greatly affected by the stigma of having to participate in identity politics that marginalize them or place them into polarizing categories; they are either “ Good” or “Ghetto” girls who behave in ways that exacerbate stereotypes about black femininity, particularly those relating to socioeconomic status, crime, and punishments.” These stereotypes and harsh stigmas are troubling to me because I too faced the struggle of not being able to be myself in school and even now in the work place. The fact that Black girls have to be particular about the way they speak, dress, and the way that their personality is received in that setting more than the quality of education is the real distraction.

The concern that we should all have is the investment that the school systems are making in our young girls; the time they are spending to really understand who they are and their needs. So often the Black girl is not seen for who she is but the narrative that the stereotype that has been place on her is perceived to be. Monique states in her book “The public’s collective consciousness, latent ideas about Black females as hypersexual, conniving, loud, and sassy predominate, even if they make it to college and beyond. Public presentations of theses caricatures-via popular memes on social media, in advertising, or in entertainment- prescribe these traits to Black women.”  This is not only how Black girls are seen but how some see themselves as well.

The most moving piece of her writing that still speaks to me as an adult is where she states that “Black women and girls in America are subjected to dormant assumptions about their sexuality, their “anger”, or their “attitude.” They have long understood that their way of engaging with the world- how they talk, how they walk, how they wear their hair, or how they hold their bodies- is subject to scrutiny, especially by those in position of relative power. They feel the gaze. They intuit its presence. They live with this knowledge in their bodies and subconsciously wrestle with every critique of how they navigate their environments.” “Today, Black girls across the country are struggling to make meaning of their status as Black, female, and disproportionately represented in high-poverty, low-performing schools. They use terms like “ghetto” and “ratchet” to describe their condition and are collectively engaged in the creation of counter narratives that allow them to move through life with dignity-but it’s not easy.

So what is our role as Black women who are seeing our children, nieces, cousins and young girls off to school? I feel as though it is our responsibility to take action and continue to create our own narratives. The more we promote ourselves as strong leaders who are nurturers as well the more our youth will emulate. They deserve a chance to be themselves and follow their dreams to whatever heights but they must see the possibility in the woman that have come before them. Our social media presence is no longer just our own; we are setting the tone for what our young Black girls aspire to be. Mothers I implore you to talk to your daughters and really inquire about what is going on in their day to day experiences at school. I ask every woman who is reading this to be the woman that you needed as a girl; and once we take a look at who that woman is I can only imagine the change.

 

INTERVIEW: DJ U.NO.HU TALKS THE TURNING TABLES OF LIFE AS A FEMALE DJ

If you're like me you find the art and culture of mixing two songs together at the right moment to be a magical moment that when done right can give you the ultimate euphoria. There is also nothing like seeing a woman truly immerse herself into a lifestyle and culture that was never intended for us to be apart of. This woman is turning heads and turning tables. I am extremely inspired by her passion for music and her hustle. She is her own best supporter which is a necessity when following a dream. I am so honored to tell the story of in case you didn't know DJ U.NO.HU and my objective is that all my IT GIRLS out there are inspired as well. So without further adieu DJ U.NO.HU DROP THAT...

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Tell us a bit about yourself. 

I was raised in Salem, OR and moved to Seattle to attend UW.  I graduated in 2016 from the Foster School of Business with a double concentration in Marketing & Entrepreneurship.  I now work full time as a Project Assistant at an experiential marketing agency called Oasis Productions in South Lake Union.  We produce events for companies such as Nickelodeon, Honeywell, and Sprout.  I also DJ and have spun at venues including Barboza, Kremwerk, The Crocodile, Still Liquor, and Chop Suey as well as events such as Upstream Music Festival and Day Shift.  On my free time, I enjoy staying healthy by working out, spending time building with friends, reading, and watching cute cat videos.


What was your inspiration to become a DJ?

I have always been involved in music.  I grew up playing the piano and flute.  It was not until middle school that I became more exposed to the hip hop scene by participating in a dance team and attending jams to support my sister in her break dance and all styles battles.  By the end of high school, I started listening to and connecting with hip hop music more heavily.  People around me were always asking me to play music or to show them new music.  My sister then recognized the potential I had to become a DJ and pushed me to learn.  I began taking lessons in my earlier years of college, learning the ins and outs of using turntables.  At the same time, I became a part of the Hip Hop Student Association at UW and began planning and working events that highlighted the five elements of hip hop: DJing, emceeing, break dancing, graffiti, and knowledge.  I remained in the club throughout my four years at UW, learning more about hip hop and connecting with influencers in the scene.  From then on, my passion for hip hop consistently grew and it only made sense that I would dedicate my time and effort to share what I loved and what made me feel good with others through performing.

As a woman, do you find that you face challenges being taken seriously in an industry that is predominately male? If so, why?

Yes, when I started performing out in the public, a lot of people would just stare at me with a surprised look on their face and when it would come up in conversation that I DJed, people would be in disbelief. There were times in the past when I expressed I wanted to spin at certain venues, but the people who booked for the venues did not give me a chance to show what I could do. I do not experience those things as much now that I perform more, but I do still feel male DJs get booked over female DJs. I get there are more male DJs out there, but more people need to give females the opportunity to be highlighted. I was never intimidated by the fact that I was one of the few females out here doing it. If anything, it motivated me to prove people wrong and change their perceptions. I take pride in representing the ladies in this art form and we definitely bring a different vibe and feeling as females are more intuitive and empathetic.

 

How would you describe the feeling you get every time you are spinning for a crowd?

My heart is racing from the nerves and from the excitement.  I love hearing the reaction from the crowd with every song selection and it feels amazing to see people with huge smiles on their faces, singing along, super in their element.  I become one with the crowd as I tailor the special experience we share together. 

 

What advice do you have for any young girls or women looking to get into the business?

I would advise them to learn on turntables and not controllers.  Turntables are the foundation and it is so much more valuable and respectable to know how to use them as opposed to defaulting to learning on controllers because it is easier and cheaper.  Secondly, really stay true to yourself.  It is important to know your crowd and what is fitting for the event, but a DJ is always able to bring her own personality and style into any situation.  Thirdly, be open to constructive criticism and trying new things.  It is easy for us to get comfortable or stuck in our ways, but those who grow the quickest are eager for feedback and willing to explore other opportunities. 

 

How would you describe your style as a DJ?

Uplifting.  I want people to feel better during my set than when they walked in the door.  My sound focuses on Hip Hop and R&B, merging old school with new school.  Through what I play, I aim to make people feel incredibly comfortable in their own skin, free of worries, and on top of the world.

 

What keeps you motivated?

Growth.  I strive to improve myself in all aspects of my life.  Life is too short to not do whatever we want to do, say whatever we want to say, and experience all that is out there.  I want to travel the world, exercise my creativity, and meet inspirational people - everything I am doing now is working towards that.  There are countless opportunities for us; the world is really our oyster and it is up to us to make what we want to happen, happen and get what we want when we want it.  I remind myself that the only person that can stop me, is myself. 

How would you describe an IT GIRL?

To me, an IT GIRL loves herself and knows what she wants.  She is not afraid to chase her passions.  She is willing to take risks and learn from her mistakes.  She is resilient: even if things don't go her way or if things get in her way, she will find another path or create her own.  She enjoys trying new things and always gives her all to what she cares about.

Well it girls I know that was enjoyable but there's more. Do not forget to check out DJ U.NO.HU on her Soundcloud which is linked below!

INTERVIEW: FROM CORPORATE AMERICA TO LIVING OUT HER PASSION. JESSICA QUANDE TALKS TAKING THE LEAP TO MAKE IT ALL HAPPEN.

When I think of a woman who carries amazing energy and who aspires to inspire all of those around her; Jessica Quande is the first person that comes to mind. I met her while on set for a photo shoot and was instantly drawn to her spirit and the confidence that she carried with her on to set. I was inspired by her life and knew that she had a real story to tell and an impact to make on many women who wished to break out of the norm and do what it is they love. If you are unfulfilled or just plain tired of living for the worlds expectancy then this is one story you definitely want to keep reading. IT GIRLS get ready to be impressed and inspired by my interview with the amazing Jessica Quande.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

 

I fell in love with Dance Fitness about 8 years ago. I found a gym close to my house on a groupon and the rest is history. I began my fitness journey once I got out of a very bad relationship, my self esteem was low, I gained a lot of weight and had alienated myself from a lot of friends. It was time to refocus all my energy on me. Right away I knew I had found my "thing". I always wanted to go and be with the music. Dance helped to open the doors into fitness. I started going to the gym, getting trainers, trying out boot camp classes. And since day one on that dance floor I have lost more than 125 pounds, regained my confidence and have become a positive person again. I am a true believer if you find something that makes you want to get healthy, then getting healthy just becomes a benefit of the activity. I am truly blessed to get to do what I do. To see people get healthy, laughing, making friends and WANTING to sweat. It's so refreshing to unite over music, dancing and fitness.  I left Corporate America the end of 2016 and was SO scared to make the jump, but I had to follow my passion and purpose. And it was one of the best decisions I've ever made. Besides dance fitness, I am a social butterfly, I love being around people. I enjoy learning new things whether its about a culture, how to cook a new food or make basically anything on Pinterest. I love the arts, nature and Disneyland. I defiantly love Disneyland. 

What was the deciding factor that led you to leave Corporate America and start your business?

This was a hard decision to make. I have my BA in Fashion Merchandising and working in Corporate America was always my dream growing up. Yet as the years went by my passions changed and I found my purpose within Dance Fitness. I've been a fitness instructor for a little over seven years now and along the way created some amazing relationships, helped people get healthy while also making them laugh. I have been so blessed to have my paths with Donna and Jessica Black (yes they are sisters!), being able to start this business with them has been such a blessing. One day we just kinda decided "let's do it". We have all been apart of other dance fitness formats before and know each others work ethic that moving forward with our CTY experience was kinda a no brainier. I do have my moments still of uncertainly with leaving my corporate job, but besides that everything else feels so right. 

 

How did you deal with the opinions of others once they found out you had made that decision?

I really haven't heard many negative opinions. I've been in the fitness industry so long that many people didn't even know I also had a full time job. I also surround myself with positive mindset and motivating people (along with MANY entrepreneurs) so that could be a reason why I have had nothing but support! Yet if I were to get negative feedback, it would not effect me nor my business partners as we know our purpose and all the good we want to spread. 

 

In the world of dance fitness as it is becoming a popular form of exercise; how do you handle feelings of competition?

Dance Fitness has became a major part of the fitness world. I remember taking a step class back at Bally's Total Fitness when I was 15 and that was the only fitness class offered. Now, if you look at a gyms schedule there are 15-20 classes with multiple formats. The nice thing about so many formats is that there is something for everyone and instead of looking at it like "why do they go to their class and not mine" or "their choreo is better" to me it's more of just options. The goal should always be helping our students get healthy and sprinkling a little laughter in their too. The way I teach is different from Sally or Susie and vice versa. I enjoy that there are multiple formats and different genres of music offered. As long as what we do as instructors makes a difference in someones life, then we have filled a purpose. Stay humble and focus on inspiring <3

 

What is some advice you would give to any female entrepreneur just starting out?

Choose the people in your circle wisely! People that remind you to stay focused and that you CAN do anything. It is so important to be around others that have words of encouragement but also are not a "yes man" and able to give you their truthful opinion. You WILL hit rocky roads, you WILL have "WTF" moments. All of that is apart of the process. Keep your mindset strong and just pick back up. One of my favorite quotes I think of during hard times is "Fall down seven times, stand up eight". Network!!! Get out there and support other female entrepreneurs, learn about your community, get involved! So many of the amazing people I have met along my journey that have helped me with bouncing business ideas around are people I met through events or fundraisers. Stay humble, stay grounded. Remember your "why" and why you even started all of this. Give back, as much as you can. Time, money, services. This world needs more of it and I highly believe this to be a trait that helps us to grow. 

What motivates you?

People. Connections with others. Knowing that we are making a difference through dance and exercise. That the lives we touch, touch others. I started dance fitness for myself, once I feel in love with it, it was no longer for me, it was to spread the love. That is and will always be the biggest factor that keeps me going.

 

 

What do women need more of?

Embracing each other!!! Get rid of the competition! Support other women, introduce friends to friends, spread the love. 

What do women need less of?

I guess I jumped ahead in the last question, lol. LESS COMPETITION! This world is HUGE there is enough room for us all to succeed without having to bring another down. Less negativity about themselves! The things I hear women say about themselves, their looks, their bodies. Every time I hear a friend say something negative about themselves I usually with counter and say "stop, now tell me something you do like about you". Words are power and we need to be mindful how we speak of ourselves and others. 

RAISE YOUR GLAM VIBRATIONS WITH THESE MUST READS!

This list of books is designed to help encourage and enrich the lives of women aspiring for more. If you need wisdom on love or life this list will definitely be the best place to start. I have personally read through each book multiple times and continue to reference the pages in my everyday life. So ladies get your highlighters and prepare your mindsets to be shifted. Also because I believe every reader deserves an excerpt i have given you all a peek into each book. Enjoy!

GIRLCODE: UNLOCKING THE SECRETS TO SUCCESS, SANITY, AND HAPPINESS FOR THE FEMALE ENTREPRENEUR

 

 

"I am witnessing a phenomenon. It seems as though a growing group women entrepreneurs all around the world has discovered the secret to success and happiness in both their lives and careers. It’s almost as though there is a hidden, underground world of power playing females who have all cracked a magical code: they think positively, they support one another, and they truly believe they can have it all —and you can, too. There is something dynamic that happens when women genuinely show up for each other. When we lose the facades, when we cut the bullsh*t, and when we truly have each others backs. When we stop pretending everything is perfect, and we show the messy, beautiful parts of ourselves and our work that all look awfully similar. When we talk about our fears, our missteps, and our breakdowns. And most importantly, when we share our celebrations, our breakthroughs, and dish on what works. There is no reason to hoard information, connections, or insight. Wisdom is meant to be shared, so let’s start sharing what we’ve learned to make each other better. Let’s start building each other up. Let's live up to our potential and start ruling the world. GIRL CODE is a roadmap for female entrepreneurs, professional women, “side hustlers” (those with a day job who are building a business on the side), and anyone in between who wants to become a better woman. This book will not teach you how to build a multimillion dollar business. It won’t teach you about systems or operational processes. But it will teach you how to build confidence in yourself, reconnect with your “why,” eradicate jealousy, and ultimately learn the power of connection. Because at the end of the day, that’s what life and business is all about." Cara Alwill Leyla

STYLE YOUR MIND: A WORKBOOK AND LIFESTYLE GUIDE FOR WOMEN WHO WANT TO DESIGN THEIR THOUGHTS, EMPOWER THEMSELVES, AND BUILD A BEAUTIFUL LIFE.

 

Style Your Mind is a workbook and lifestyle guide for women who wish to make personal and professional changes using the life coaching process. Filled with powerful questions, thought-provoking activities, inspirational quotes, and lifestyle tips, master life coach and bestselling personal development author Cara Alwill Leyba leads you on a journey to style your mind, empower yourself, and ultimately live your most gorgeous life.

I AM THAT GIRL: HOW TO SPEAK YOUR TRUTH, DISCOVER YOUR PURPOSE, AND #BETHATGIRL

"In a crazy, media distracted world the important questions often get lost like: What's your passion? What's your purpose? Who do you want to be? Alexis Jones has built a career listening to and helping girls around the world figure out those questions in order to inspire them to think for themselves, to speak their truth, to discover their purpose, and to dream HUGE! Alexis believes that you're not broken nor do you need to be fixed. You already are that girl who creates magic wherever she goes, who lives fearlessly, who inspires those around her to dream bigger, and who will leave the world better, just for having been in it. Stop listening to that voice inside your head that tells you you're not good enough. Stop worrying that you don't have the perfect body, perfect job, perfect relationship, or perfect anything for that matter. Stop letting other people draw boundaries and limits around your life. And start living the life that you truly want (now!), the one you didn't think you had the courage to imagine, but the one that's absolutely possible! Including stories from thirty incredible women, Alexis has compiled everything she's learned into one complete guide to being That Girl, the best version of you." -Alexis Jones

 

LEAVE YOUR MARK: LAND YOUR DREAM JOB. KILL IT IN YOUR CAREER. ROCK SOCIAL MEDIA.

Aliza Licht-global fashion communications executive, AKA fashion's favorite 'PR girl' and former Twitter phenomenon-is here to tell her story, complete with The Devil Wears Prada-like moments and insider secrets.Drawing invaluable lessons from her experience, Licht shares advice, inspiration, and a healthy dose of real talk in LEAVE YOUR MARK. She delivers personal and professional guidance for people just starting their careers and for people who are well on their way. With a particular emphasis on communicating and building your personal brand, something she knows a thing or two about, Aliza is your sassy, knowledgeable guide to the contemporary working world, where personal and professional lines are blurred and the most important thing you can have is a strong sense of self.