First Year Out: A Progress Report

First Year Out: A Progress Report

Nothing I’ve experienced yet can match the exhilaration I felt while walking across the stage to accept my Bachelor’s Degree. My decision to forego my sight for beauty caused everything to be a blur, except for the red folder waiting for me at the other end. My back was straight, my face was beat for the cheap seats (yes, tickets were free, but I digress). My walk was steady but paced at a notch just under “too fast!” I was a hybrid of a model and soldier; I felt my curls bounce with every step. This was my moment and I was surely going to bask in it, even if it lasted all of 9 seconds. I walked up to the dean of my program and outstretched my right hand to shake his. My left hand patiently waited to accept my degree and an alumni pin (seriously felt like I was in a secret society). “Congratulations”, the Dean said.

And I was off.

It has been exactly a year since then and the thought of that day still brings a tear to my eye. The amount of: hard work, sleepless nights, positive self-talk (in reaction to negative self-talk), money spent, energy consumed, experience gained, missed opportunities, junk food, study sessions, mistakes, achievements and of course, education needed to get through my university years; were all worth it when I slipped on my cap and gown.

That time has since passed. I turned in my gown at the end of the ceremony and my degree. My graduation cap sit at a makeshift graduation shrine in my room. Clearly, this was major for me. But what now? I thought I’d be asking the question sooner; but with a fun-filled summer and the start of a new job, I don’t think my high permitted me to come down and ask this question.

But now four full seasons have passed and I wonder where the next high will come from. Will I land a job or position that allows me to practice theories and techniques I spent so much time learning? Will I attain a salary that matches what a “university graduate” deserves?  Surely these feats would be a call for celebration. But what about the smaller accomplishments in my life? There won’t be any applause, champagne in fancy glasses, cameras from five family memories asking me to “look here, now over here!”

How will I know I am doing a good job without the celebration? Are my achievements really achievements without a graduation of sorts to mark the ending of a chapter? Even the concept of progress is now skewed for me… Without a pass or fail grade how will I know to move to the next level? How does one who’s found comfort in the institution of education mark success for themselves after they leave school?

I am still figuring it out.

Two solutions I am trying came from Lisa Nichols and a meme, seriously. According to many of Lisa Nichols’ videos on Youtube, we as people tend to focus too much on the “macro wins” in our lives. These our end goals. For example; buying a home, having a book published, saving a certain amount of money or getting a certain amount of clients to support your business, may all be what we will mark as the moment to celebrate, relax or just breathe a little bit. What Lisa Nichols advises though, is to have 10 “micro wins” that will lead to your “macro win”. These are considered benchmarks and they will keep you from feeling overwhelmed by all it takes to finally reach your macro win. She states that having these micro wins established will help to keep you on the right track and organized in terms of where to go next.

A meme I once read said, “celebrate the small victories”. And this automatically made me think of the common expression “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere!”

This means if you’ve taken steps in the right direction, acknowledge your commitment to getting that task completed. Say you are looking to have your first novel published. Have you done research on publishing houses who have published books similar to yours? Cheers! Have you put your research down on paper? Cheers! Have you completed your first five chapters? Cheers! Now, this is not to say that you should totally slack off after hitting one milestone, but you should give yourself some credit for the work put in. Progress is a process and focusing on the finish line may sometimes have us feeling dismayed and as if we aren’t doing enough.

Have you experienced this? After graduating, or just in general? I’d love to hear some of the tools you use to mark your progress. Or let me now if you’ve tried the tools above and how they worked (or didn’t work) for you. I know success is sweet, but sometimes stopping to smell the roses on the way there, isn’t so bad either.

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What to do with Your Lemons?

What to do with Your Lemons?

“Some of the best lessons that you learned came wrapped in sandpaper” -Lisa Nichols

If I had been full time instead of part time in school, I could have graduated about two years earlier. I would probably be living on my own right now, if I would have just educated myself on personal finance. Maybe I’d even have a car. And that guy… The one that made my heart flutter and inspired me to write again; I should have moved to his city. We’d probably be together- engaged even. What if I would’ve quit my old job earlier than I did? What if…

I could go on like that all day if you’d let me… Or if I did not have progress to make. Many people I know probably could too. They probably do. And I hope they are reading what I am about to write: Please stop doing that! Please stop regretting the leaps you did or did not take. Please stop feeling guilty for what you did, or said, or thought at one time or another. Please quit blaming yourself for where you are or are not in life. Take accountability yes, but please stop beating yourself up. Forgive, forgive, forgive yourself!  I know it is easier said than done, but it is vital that you flip the switch on how you process your past, if you’d like to make accomplishments in the future.

The first reason is because you are human. As human beings we work with what we have and this often times determines our next step. We have to pay bills; so we stay at a job that’s not so rewarding but provides a steady paycheck. We keep a job with consistent pay so we can live; so we lighten our course load at school so we don’t burn out (and because school is not cheap). This is what we do. We find a way to make a way. And then we get through. Acknowledge the fact that at the time, that thing you did – whatever it was, was the right choice for you given what you had to work with. And this brings me to my next point.

The second reason you should stop dwelling on past “mistakes” is because you were not who you are right now. The mindset you have, your rationale and your wants and needs are not the same as they were 5 years ago, 6 months ago- or even yesterday in some cases. You are not the same. You have been through things since then, you have learned lessons from your actions, both good and bad. So now what seems like the worst mistake ever was once the best decision you could have made, but because now you’ve seen the outcome, your opinion has changed. Right now, you are like a defeated general looking over a map and pin pointing everywhere your soldiers should have went or every move they should have made, because the war is over. And like the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. Now let me give you one more thing to look at.

You only know where you “went wrong” because you have since learned from your experiences. I can confidently say that at least 75% percent of your biggest regrets taught you one thing or another about life, money, love, family and last but not least, yourself. Take a few moments to think about some of your regrets. Now think about how you now maneuver in life because of the lessons you were taught. Some were hard lessons, I don’t doubt it. But hard lessons or not; it happened, you cannot change it, so why not make some lemonade?

Sitting in the past not only keeps you from prospering in your future, it makes you neglect your present. Who are you now? What good are you doing now? And why would you ever let yesterday, keep you from today? Or tomorrow? You are worth more than your mistakes. You are not the sum of your failures or accomplishments, but the sum of the lessons you learned from both.

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How to Maintain Balance in Your Life

How to Maintain Balance in Your Life

Life can be overwhelming, and your personal health will suffer without proper care and the only way to ensure wellness is to maintain balance. The importance of a balanced lifestyle prevents any illness and disease that can arise from not taking care of your mind and body.

This may be a challenge but will be beneficial in the long run. Trust me, being a student I have realized that the only way to simply get through the week, it is crucial that I take some time out of my day to chill out. It may have taken a few mental breakdowns to figure out that stressing out impacts my well-being, but it is never too late to get on track.

Imagine working hard every day and not being able to enjoy it. It’s a total tragedy to live every day only to go home and start all over again with little motivation and enthusiasm. You have the ability to undertake everything you desire you just have to organize your time.

Follow these tips and I promise you, you will be wondering what it felt like before you didn’t have balance in your life.

Relax, Refresh and Recharge

Make a commitment to have some you time. If you’re treating your body like a machine on overload then you must take out the batteries and rest. Take note of all aspects of your life work, play, relationships, etc. By simply organizing your weekly schedules using day planners you can visually see how to go about your day, and fit in a 10-15minute break.

Also, make some time to visit friends and family and enjoy the love that surrounds you. This can be done by fitting in a lunch/dinner date or even spending a fun night out.

Make Cuts

After organizing your life (which btw takes time so do not be discouraged – have a routine and stick to it), go through your weekly schedule and eliminate the non-essential activities. Ask yourself, does this benefit me? Will I need this in the long-run? Your life, your decisions.

Lights Out

I cannot stress enough how important it is to get a good nights rest. Not only will you be relaxed, but sleep is an advantage to better health. Staying up late attempting to finish something will end in nothing but a disaster because it will be rushed leaving you exhausted. Being well rested gives you more energy to get more done in a calmer manner.

Remember that you are only human and can only handle so much before crashing. Do not believe that there is a certain way of living, know that being empowering and kind will be the best thing for yourself. Treat your body well and I assure you, you will see results. Feeling beautiful makes you beautiful.

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Brunching in the City

Brunching in the City

 

In 2017, I made a promise that I would attend more events within my lovely city of Montreal. This past Sunday I attended Brown Beauties Brunching by Four Brown Girls. The concept is to provide women a place to network while empowering women and highlighting female entrepreneurs. This was their 3rd brunching event and it definitely won’t be the last.

The event was held at building 3737, which is owned by a black entrepreneur and all businesses within the building are black owned! The event was divided into two rooms, one with food and drinks and the other with Canadian vendors. Some of the vendors were Artizans, who sold jewelry, hair products and natural juices. Inhairitance, which is a well-known natural hair salon. Toronto’s own Karlyn Percil was present with her must have success planner. This was great as it opened my eyes to see how many black owned businesses exist and are accessible.

The main event was the discussion panel which consisted of Camille Dundas from CTV Your Morning and ByBlacks.com, Model and founder of Born to Rise Aiesha Robinson, founder of Salon Inhairitance Abisara Machold, founder of !Nu.I clothing Vicky Joseph and comedian Dorothy Rhau. These ladies displayed the true essence of black girl magic, they revealed their struggles within their career and personal life. From Aiesha dealing with Vitiligo, Abisara feeling like an outsider with her natural hair while growing up in Austria and Camille second guessing hair choices to in order to be accepted as a journalist with a mainstream audience.

As women, I think we can all relate to these stories of working hard to prove ourselves in the workplace. Trying to find a balance between being professional while not losing who we actually are in the process is a struggle that many of us face. We watch what we wear, what we say, how we react and as black women we are always questioning our hair choices – natural vs. weave, wigs or a perm. There’s so much that we go through that it can definitely put a strain on us.

Overall, I truly enjoyed the event, from women randomly complimenting each other, seeing people purchasing and interactions with the vendors. By the end of the brunch, the panelists made sure that the women left empowered, knowing that we as women are enough and that we are beautiful just the way we are.

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Perfect Christmas Gift Ideas for Young, Savvy Entrepreneurs

Perfect Christmas Gift Ideas for Young, Savvy Entrepreneurs

It’s that time of year where we take out the big, long jackets to prepare ourselves for an unexpected winter. Or the time where we call our mothers and grandmothers to see if any sorrel has been made yet. (All my West Indians know what I’m talking about.)

As for many of us, we’re rushing to the malls last minute to find the perfect Christmas gifts for family, friends and bae. But I know for me, my close friends are mainly females and many of them are the true definition of a boss lady. My best friend is currently majoring in Nursing and my other friend is majoring in Communications. (Hi Kateleen and Jocelyn!) And when I tell you their work ethic is out of this world trust me, it’s beyond remarkable.

When it comes to finding the perfect gifts for young female entrepreneurs, it can be a bit tricky. Because you know us girls LOVE gifts. But with apps like Instagram and Tumblr constantly sharing interesting and eye-capturing gift ideas, who said shopping for your girl this Christmas season will be hard?

Here is a list of cool gift ideas to buy for a young, savvy entrepreneur:

Year of Yes Journal

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If it’s one woman who never slows down her grind for anyone, its Shonda Rhimes. After releasing her successful book #YearofYes, she’s back with a journal edition. This journal is a daily guide for all the boss ladies to keep track on their daily tasks and goals. Perfect gift for your go-getter girlfriends!

Bella B Rose Boutique
I’ll admit that sometimes when I attend networking events, finding an outfit can be hard. Between choosing a blazer or a simple dress, it can get frustrating. (girl problems, I know) But if you have any upcoming events you’re attending in 2017 with a friend, why not slay together in your outfits? Bella B Rose Boutique is a chic online boutique for women and has clothing for all my stylish and confident women. Check out their collection here

WIPP 3 Panel Discussion

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If you attended the first Women Inspiring Passion and Purpose (WIPP) panel discussion, you’ll know there was nothing but inspirational gems shared throughout the event. WIPP shares powerful knowledge through events and online content which focuses on body image, career cultivation – just to name a few. Their 2nd panel discussion is happening May 13th and you don’t want to miss it. This is the perfect event to network in Toronto with hardworking, influential women. For more info, click here.

CPRS Student Membership
If you’re a student like myself studying public relations, joining an organization to help strengthen your communication skills is key. There are some organizations that can be a bit pricey for memberships but with Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) they have an excellent student membership. From panel discussions to top networking events, you’re able to meet professionals in the industry and understand how to build successful relationships. And they only charge $50! (That is a steal) If you’re looking to join an organization in the new year, I highly recommend joining CPRS. You can check out more info here:

Moleskine Writing Set
Staying organized and keeping on track with your daily tasks is key when being a young entrepreneur. And with today’s technology, there is always a new gadget or accessory created to help us save so much time. Moleskine recently introduced the new ‘Smart Writing Set.’ This set allows an individual to write in their notebook and your notes will turn into PDFs and be stored on your phone and laptop. I know, crazy right?! If you know a friend who loves to keep track of their notes, this accessory is definitely for them. Check it out.

Instant Camera

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If it’s one thing us girls love doing, it’s taking pictures. You’ll catch us in the bathroom trying to get the perfect angle for group selfies with our girls or playing the role as photographer for our peers. Wherever we go, we always want to capture the perfect moment. And with Instant Camera, you can’t go wrong in capturing your moment. It’s the go-to camera. It’s light to carry, takes bright pictures and help capture the perfect photos we need. Pretty much everything us ladies need.

Crossbody Handbags
I can speak from personal experience that I’m not a huge fan for big handbags. Even when attending meetings, I try carrying a small purse. Lately I’ve been into crossbody handbags. Their super cute, pretty medium in size and very beneficial for me. I can use the same crossbody handbag at a networking event, going out for brunch with my bestie and sometimes when I’m attending a late-night function. If you’re into crossbody handbags like myself or know of someone who is, this is a great Christmas gift to give this season. Aldo has a beautiful collection of them here
.

 

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5 Travel Tips: An Olympian’s Guide to Traveling the World in Style

5 Travel Tips: An Olympian’s Guide to Traveling the World in Style

Over the past few years, I’ve been on a plane venturing across the globe more times than I can count. From Toronto to Slovakia to California to Australia and back, “home“ has been many places to me along this journey. 

Why do I do it? Well the answer is simple.

The feeling you get when you have millions of Canadians supporting you, fans around the world cheering you on, a chance to inspire young girls, and the honourable opportunity to represent your country playing the sport you love, is irreplaceable. I’ve been playing on the Canadian National Basketball Team and professionally overseas in various countries for 9 years. Basically this means, I do a lot of travelling and I pretty much live out of a suitcase. I enjoy every minute of it and wouldn’t trade it in for the world. Playing abroad gives me the ability to adapt to different lifestyles, try various types of food, and of course…shop ‘til I drop.

Thinking about racking up more frequent flyer miles yourself?

(more…)

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