Is the Sky Really the Limit?

When I was growing up a phrase that I remember hearing often is “they sky is the limit”.

I was never very fond of that phrase still, it stuck with me.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I consciously questioned why that phrase didn’t sit well with me.

I remember some of the questions that I asked myself were

-Why was there even a limit?

-Why is the limit the sky? Everyone can see the sky. If you are familiar with basic astronomy, then you know that there is so much more beyond the sky, so much more that scientists have discovered and even more that they have not. From stars whose lights extinguish well before lighting up our night sky, to planets humans may never set foot on. I have a hard time knowing all that and aiming only for the sky. And even though I was very young at the time that is what my young mind struggled to grasp. I had no idea what I could accomplish when I set my mind to do things, so I couldn’t understand why the adults around me encouraged me to set a limit. Why would I put a cap on my potential to achieve? Why did whoever come up with that phrase…why did they stop at the sky?

More importantly why do we as human beings place limits on ourselves? In my experience so far on this planet, I have observed that the people who are quick to tell me or someone else what they cannot or should not do are the ones who limit themselves the most.

I am not exempt from doing this to myself, it seems the older I get the less ‘fearless’ I feel moving through life. And I am learning that this is not uncommon, and I am not the only one. I’ve also learned that it takes a conscious effort to first become aware of the limits that one has set on themselves and even more effort to course correct once one is aware.

I say all this to bring forth the question, “what limits have you placed on yourself?” whether through external forces such as society and the individuals you surround yourself with or internal fears that may whisper in your ear, telling you all the reasons you shouldn’t. That you can’t.

If you’re like me at all at first, you may deny that you are limiting yourself with your own beliefs. And that’s fine, you may not be ready for the commitment of honesty to oneself required when addressing the limits you place on yourself. That was me at first, but you can only survive in that space of denial for so long, before life and growth requires you to expand. And the first step is developing the awareness and honesty with oneself.

Some of the limits I placed on myself include:

Limit 1- not taking full advantage of my day and claiming that I don’t have enough time to do all the things I want to.

Limit 2 – Delaying traveling by myself because it’s more fun with others (Who’s more fun to me than me?? Tuh!)

Limit 3 – Not asking for help because I feel like I should be able to handle this (whatever ‘this’ is) on my own and feeling less capable because I did ask for help.

After identifying the above, I had to ask myself why I was trying to do things in this way? Why was I trying to live my life this way? And was there possibly another way, maybe the way that I may have been influenced to believe was not the “right” way?

Limit 1-Why do I feel I need to do a million things in one day? Why do I feel so bad when I’m not able to cross them off my list? Perhaps that list needs to be adjusted? Is that so terrible?

Limit 2 – Do I mind being by myself? Yes? Why? No ok let’s go – buying the plane ticket that I can afford.

Limit 3 – I started saying ‘this is too much’, ‘I feel overwhelmed’, ‘I need help’. Oddly enough my world did not blow up after I asked for help, and the only person looking at me with shame for asking for help was…me. Interesting.

Did all of this happen overnight? No, it did not. Identifying and addressing the limits I place on myself is currently ongoing and I don’t see an end anytime soon. I identify and smash limitations I’ve outgrown every day, because I made the commitment to myself to do so. And through my growing pains that’s one of the things I’ve re-discovered, in life, you must keep pushing forward in one direction or another in order to move in any direction.

It’s important to note, that having limits is not a ‘bad’ thing. Identifying and knowing your limits allows you to identify whether they are beneficial and serving a function in your life. Is that function helping or hindering you from moving in the direction you want to go in? That’s up to you to decide, because you are the one who get’s to choose which limits stay and which you need to get rid of. And you can choose whatever you want to be your limit, it doesn’t have to be the sky because that’s what everyone else seems to be aiming for. I want to know what’s beyond the sky.

Blogger, Tawana Waugh

Cutting Ties With the Past and Moving Forward In Your Future

Everyday should feel like a new year. You know, that feeling you get when you wake up
screaming new year, new me? Yes, keep that same energy throughout your everyday life.
Wake up every morning with a refreshed mind, new attitude, and a fun way to live out your long and short terms goals.

But, in order to live a life of progression and optimism you have to cut ties with your past.

No, I’m not talking about ex’s & old friends (apply if applicable) but specifically the old energy that you kept around for comfort. The things you once did to cope with stress or uncertainty. This can extend out to toxic behaviors practiced in relationships, stress eating, playing victim, or “ghosting”. Reverting back to those toxic behaviors where you was not acting in your best interest just hinders your personal growth and the respect you already built for yourself.

No judgement though, but it stops here!

We’ve all done things we weren’t proud of at one point in time, but that was the past and we should leave it there. Who are you now? Better yet, who do you want to be? In this life, our one life that we live, we have the sovereignty to choose our path and be whoever we want to be.

Regardless of the odds stacked against us, continue to work and take those strides to become what you dream of. Build your network to reflect who you are and where you desire to be. I understand life isn’t a fairy tale, but don’t we have the power of internal monologue? And control over our internal environments?

Cutting ties with the past and moving forward in your future is the best way to stay productive and live above the bulls**.

People will criticize you everyday and anyway.

Move for you.

Move towards your future.

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Losing a Loved One to Suicide

My views of suicide are probably different than most people’s. Surely, we have all experienced suicidal thoughts. ( Many of us are afraid to admit it.) On August 18th, 2014, I got a call that one of my best friend’s took their own life. Months before it happened, he had been on my mind. I meant to call him or send him a text but never got around to it. It slipped my mind every single time. I often find myself thinking, what if I would have remembered to call him. Would he still be here? I like to think yes, because we both had that special effect on each other where we could pull each other out of those dark places. 

I can never bring myself to talk about his death, I guess saying it out loud makes it seem too real. Sometimes I still find myself waking up in the middle of night just crying, and it’s been six years. Therefore, I’ll say this, after his death I cannot fathom to think about any suicidal thoughts. The pain that this has caused me makes me never want to put my friends and family through.  It truly never goes away; you just learn to go numb thinking about it. I’ve lost friends from accidents, diseases and overdoes, but this hits completely different. My closest friends don’t even know this, it’s something I cannot bring myself to talk about. To be honest I don’t remember what life was like before I even met him. 

Above all, this whole experience made me realize no matter how much you think you know someone, we are all fighting our own demons. Now, whenever someone crosses my mind I don’t hesitate to reach out and I don’t ever expect a response. You never know how a text or call can save someone’s life. Although time has passed, it’s still a constant struggle that I battle every single day. I learned that suicidal thoughts are temporary and just an easier solution to no longer be present. There’s video of a man that jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and he states that as soon he let go, he instantly regretted it.

I guess what I am trying to say is that you matter, I matter, we all matter. Life comes with its trials and tribulations, but it doesn’t mean it’s time to give up. Losing someone to suicide is truly something you never get over. I can say though on my darkest days, I tend to go on long car rides and just think. On these car rides, my Passenger Airbag always disables which can only happens if someone is sitting in my front seat without a seatbelt. Maybe it’s a glitch in my car, but I think I have an idea of who’s there.

Don’t hesitate to reach out and it’s okay not to get a response. You never know how a text or call can save someone’s life.

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No. Is a Complete Sentence.

As a Black professional in my predominantly white workspace I find myself needing to stand out or making sure that I am doing my job thoroughly. Growing up, my mother always told me that I had to work twice as hard because I am Black and a woman. The pattern of being the “yes” person can easily turn into me being the bad person when I say “No.” I get the shocked gaze, a follow up asking if everything is okay, or a “think about it later and get back to me.” This results in me questioning myself.

Am I doing enough?

Should I explain why?

Will this make me look bad?

Then guilt settles in.

After talking with my therapist, we discussed how saying no has a period at the end. It is a complete sentence.

We explored that my reasoning for saying no is to protect me, so I won’t overwhelm myself with the responsibilities that I already have. Colossians 3:23 (NLT) says, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you are working for the Lord, rather than for people.”

I have this verse on my desk as a constant reminder that I’m not here to please people but do the work that God has given me the gifts and ability to do. It is easy for me to feel like taking on more responsibility will result in me being seen or receiving recognition. When you have those moments where it’s difficult to say no, I challenge you to think about these reminders below and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Knowing my why.
    a. Is this responsibility within my means?
    b. Does it help me further my purpose?
  2. No. Is self-care.
    a. Will I get overwhelmed?
    b. Does it take time away from my me time?
  3. No. Sets boundaries.
    a. Is this something I can take on and do it well?
    b. Is this in my job description?

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Reality Hits

Thanks to fairytale books and romance movies, we’ve been conditioned to think that
relationships should live on cloud 9. We believe we should always be happy and never have
moments of emotions that contradicts that idea.

Let me be the first to say, this concept is toxic and a false positive!

Life is never all sugar and rainbows. And to be honest, rainbows only appear after some form of rain. And rain is not always a bad thing; it’s a cleansing and a sense of
renewal. That is the type of mindset we should have when it comes to relationships and our love life.

We have to get uncomfortable and have those tough talks. Step out of our comfort zone to
actually know what are the things that we like/dislike. Express those raw emotions and learn how you all handle indifference and return to one another. Expecting things to be perfect at all times will break your heart the moment something occurs that strays away from the picture perfect “relationship goals” lifestyle you’ve created in your head.

Shot by @zexy.zw

As crazy as it may sound, disagreements may build your relationship rather than break them.

Its that moment when REALITY HITS that introduces you to the person you’re dealing with at their core. You’ve been given an opportunity to see how they handle you, your emotions, their self-awareness to the issue and the steps they take to effectively communicate and regroup after the fact.

Now I don’t know about you, but witnessing the care and attention to both of our feelings and the dedication to work through an issue …. That’s how I know I’m truly loved and my fairytale is indeed real.

Let reality hit you.

Let love guide you through mishaps.

Do not get caught up with social media posts of other couples, because let’s be real, who is honestly posting their downfalls and misfortunes? Who’s posting anything without some type of filter or editing?!

Be proud of the love story you created and live out your fairytale.

Enjoy the journey and fall into real love.

Blogger, Shyian Massup

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Give Yourself Grace

I saw a meme on Facebook once. It said something along the lines of “when God was creating your purpose/life path/destiny, he already factored in your stupidity.”
Now, as blunt (and funny lowkey lol) as that sounds, if you really think about, it’s incredibly
comforting as well!

Let’s break it down this way. When it comes to being a woman, a black woman at that, we feel like we always have to be on top of our game. Our hair has to be on point, our bodies have to be snatched, we have to be successful and smart, the perfect wives and/or mothers, and we have to be strong. We ESPECIALLY are EXPECTED to be strong. The Strong Black Woman has been an image that we have had to uphold for years, and we’re expected to be all of these things, and then some, for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!

We also have to be real about the fact that as soon as a black woman slips up or messes up in any kind of way, in whatever area of life she is in, history has shown that she will be judged pretty harshly and practically demonized for it. Well, the God that I serve says that he has set His children APART from that toxic kind of culture, and that HE gives us GRACE when we mess up!

Recently, I have entered a space, where I am experiencing a lot of “newness,” and it feels as though I’m growing through and growing up in ways that I haven’t been exposed to before. I am in a place of growth, and I have learned, so far, that growth is this non-linear, messy, weird, rollercoaster of a journey that exposes parts of you that you need to confront in order to reach where God is taking you. And in that space of growth, you’re going to trip, fall, mess up and slip up. But that’s OKAY!

I don’t know about you, but I beat myself up really bad when I mess up. I would internalize the feeling of embarrassment or guilt, and those would eventually turn into anxiety that would influence how I would navigate my life moving forward. But the crazy thing is, that’s not fair to me. And if this happens to you too, it’s not fair to you either.

See, I’m really starting to truly learn how much God really loves me. He knew I was gonna mess up before the incident(s) (definitely more than one situation lol) would take place, and He’s been right there waiting to help me move on to the next thing. I just didn’t always realize it.

Look we found it, lol.

And listen, as I’m writing this, this isn’t some end all be all thing that I’ve completely learned to overcome, I’m still walking through this period of growth even now! I’m just recognizing that in the middle of this, I’m not alone, and that I can stop using the hammer on myself, because I have an amazing Father in Heaven who has shown incredible grace to me.

So if you’re like me, and you are on this learning curve of life, Give Yourself Some Grace Queen!

Learn from your mistakes, don’t dwell on them and keep moving forward. Keep walking! God loves you so incredibly much, that He’s ready and willing to help you even when you mess up.

Why? Because you are learning and growing to the place where you need to be. You’re not alone! We gon’ walk this path together and get where God is taking us!

2 Corinthians 8:7 But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.

2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

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LIVE. We need you!

I think if we’re really honest with ourselves, that’s been one of the hardest things to do since “our year” started. You know, we probably all said in 2019 that 2020 was going to be “our year” at least at some point, or at least thought about this year being “that year.” I don’t have to go into how this year started off just all the way wrong. If you been here, then you know.  

September is Suicide Awareness/Mental Health month. More people than you think struggle with suicidal thoughts. If we’re not careful, we can assume those dealing with mental illnesses are just putting on a show or begging for attention and we don’t have time to deal with it. It’s a brutal process, and I’ve been on both ends, and I became fed up with how I was being treated by someone who was dealing with something I wasn’t equipped to handle, so I can understand this thinking. This makes me even more grateful that we have professionals who dedicate their lives to rehabilitating people to a healthy mental space. I love to see that my generation is tearing down that notion that going to therapy is whack, because we see and saw older generations struggling with the things that they could’ve broken years ago, and they never went to get counseling because they were taught that it was for crazy people, or to just praise their way through it. 

Let’s be clear: Jesus and therapy go together. Spoiler alert: sometimes demonic attacks happen, yes. Plenty of dark forces in this world that we can’t see in the natural, so it’s not an abstract thought. Sometimes, it’s because we lack healthy habits, and/or we’re, well, ill, and illness are to be treated in order to encourage wellness. Praise God through everything, regardless, good and bad, and at the same time, don’t ignore when He’s telling you to seek professional help. One of Jesus’ disciples was a physician. He didn’t ask him (Luke) to negate his gift and profession. He used that for His glory. We’d be shorting ourselves if we didn’t take advantage of those who went to school to literally commit their lives to the wellbeing of others. 

It’s okay not to be okay. What’s not okay is staying there and not trying to work through it, even if that means seeking professional help. Not to say don’t rely on your friends. If you got a pack of solids, lean on them. Just keep in mind that unless they’re licensed, they’re not professionals, so they won’t know everything. 

Some of the most unlikely people struggle with mental health and suicidal thoughts.  

Blogger, Kiarra Williams

You know, those people that always seem happy. Always cracking a joke and making others laugh. The ones always wanting to help others. Seeing the best in people. Encouraging others when they’re down. Usually, it’s the “strongest person/people you know.” The ones that won’t really talk about what they’re going through because they tend to suffer in silence. Imagine going through 2020 and not grieving about any of this chaos in this world only to find it continuing to pile up, and you’re now stuck under that pile, trying to get through your day.  

Finding myself buried under a pile of my own at times, I couldn’t stay silent because I know there’s someone else out there that needs to hear this. Just a fair warning: I’m about to get really raw with y’all, so feel free to take everything in doses. 

I think I was in the 7th grade when I recall having my first real suicidal thought. It was honestly just a very confusing time for me, and I just started to feel like a burden and that it’d be easier if I wasn’t here. Fantasized about how I’d just end everything in the least painful way possible, how my mom would react when she saw her baby was no longer here, who’d show up to my funeral and what’d they say about me, what my legacy would be, my nieces and nephew and the trauma that would cause them, etc. I’ll never forget, there was a girl at church my age, maybe a few years older, who did exactly what I never had the courage to do. At her funeral, I couldn’t stop crying, because a part of me knew that was supposed to be me. 

If I’m candid, I still fantasize about that moment from time to time. Present day, 2020. A few years ago, everything just seemed to be going wrong, and I was drowning in the weight of the world, so I wanted to go drown my problems in drinking. I went and bought a bunch of those personal bottles of alcohol, because my plan was to knock every last one of them back on an empty stomach, in hopes that the process would be quick, and I’d black out and never wake up again. I think I told one of my best friends I was checking out because I couldn’t do this anymore, and then when she called my phone numerous times, I watched it ring because I couldn’t answer it. I was stuck. I didn’t know what to do at that time. Was thinking about how worried she must be, because she’s done nothing but love me and be there for me more than I could imagine or think I deserve, and she also doesn’t live near me and can’t get to me as quickly as she’d like, while trying to fight the thought of pulling the hypothetical trigger. All I could do was lay there. I didn’t drink any of the liquor, and I just decided to lay there and try to pray/fight with God (our relationship is rocky at times, and this was one of those times for sure, so I wasn’t even sure that was working) and think my way through everything, and eventually I fell asleep and woke up to see the next day. I kept thinking about my nieces and nephews, as they gave life a lot more meaning when they came into my world. Having them look up to me, and knowing I’d made it this far, I knew this couldn’t be the way I let them remember me. They’re honestly the reason I’m still alive today, and why my love for them runs that much deeper. 

Why am I saying all of this? I cannot cannot cannot stress this enough: YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT PEOPLE ARE GOING THROUGH BEHIND CLOSED DOORS. You’re only going to see so much because you don’t spend every single moment of someone’s life with them. We all need time to ourselves, to deal with and reason with ourselves. You don’t know what someone experienced in their day, in life, that affects their attitude when they talk to you. So don’t take everything personally. If your friend is struggling, just be there for them. Be patient. Don’t take your insecurities out on them. Instead, in all your getting, get understanding. You can have expectations for communication because you have a relationship with them, but don’t expect people to be available for you all the time, and never give them the grace to be available to themselves.  

If you’ve ever felt this way, you’re not alone. Too often we fight in silence and think no one else is going through what we’re going through. 

LIES. 

I don’t have all the answers. I do have some things I notice work for me, when I’m consistent: 

  1. If you’re struggling, look into counseling. I can finally admit I need it, as I used to be one of those people who thought counseling was a slap in the face to Jesus, and I’m working to make sure it’s something I can keep up with.  You’re not crazy. You need healing, as we all do. Give yourself some grace. Let’s normalize this conversation. Please drop your [preferably] Black therapist recommendations below, as someone reading this may need some suggestions. Also check out Start Saying More, LLC  
  2. Ask your friends for encouragement. Have them tell you things about yourself they see in you that you may not. Ask them what you mean to them. Ask them to spend time with you when you’re at your worst, and to just be there in your presence. Having intimate friendships is so crucial in general. 
  3. Write it out. Get all of these thoughts out of your head and onto paper. When you’re in good spirits, take some time to write down everything you have to be grateful for, and tape them to your wall, next to your bed, so you can look over and see them when you’re having one of those days. If you can find the energy, say those things out loud. Speaking out loud silences the voice in your head, and gratitude literally can change your outlook on life. If you want to be bold and even more empowered, write out scriptures instead or in addition to that, so you can have those constant reminders right over your head.  
  4. If you can get out of bed, go for a walk. Fresh air, from nature doing what it does outside, literally is what your lungs need, even if it’s just for 5-10 minutes. Listen to the birds. Watch how the leaves fall. Fall in love with the imperfections in the sidewalk, because they have a story too. Everything is for a purpose, on purpose. So is everyone, including you. 

Most importantly… 

Live. 

We need you. 

@passionatewomancs

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You Belong There, Sis

Do you know that feeling that sinks into your stomach? The one where you enter into space and immediately feel like it’s too good to be true? Or that thought that you think what you say in that space doesn’t have value? Or let’s talk about how your presence, hair, style, and sometimes age disrupts the sameness culture. Right, you guessed it, imposter syndrome!

When I first started my “big girl” job (salary paying job), I assumed it was like any other 9 to 5 that I’ve held in my college days. I just graduated with my master’s degree and walked in on my first day and felt different, singled out, and chillingly alone. At the time, I was the only Black person, the youngest, and the one with the least working field experience.

Going into meetings, I silenced myself because I felt inadequate. I was starting to feel frustrated because I couldn’t put into words what I was feeling or how to even talk about it because it seemed “ungrateful” cause right, I have my master’s degree and landed a salary job.

I joined a small group at church that was for professional women who were 25 years old to the early ’30s. One night at small group bible study, the leader told us to anonymously write down on a notecard something that was bothering us professionally. We folded the notecard and placed it in a basket. She passed it around and told us to pick one up and provide words of encouragement on the back of the notecard. When I got my note card back it read, “1 Timothy 4:12- Don’t let anyone look down on our because you are young, but set an example for believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity” and some more encouraging words about how God has purposed me there and that I belong there.

I immediately started to cry. Those women spoke into my life and said God didn’t bring me this far and allowed me to ace my interview for me not to belong. They told me to hold my head up, walk with grace and confidence, and start speaking up because they hired me because I am valuable.

Two years later, I hold 2 committee chair titles, an award titling me New Professional of the Year, and pursing my Doctorates degree. All this to say that I truly belong

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “for I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you future and hope.

If you are experiencing imposter syndrome, always remember that God has gone before you, you are meant lead, and you belong there sis! 

Blogger, Semline Delva

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Keep Pushing

“If at first you don’t succeed. Dust yourself off and try again”. This is literally a golden life motto. If you don’t get it the first time, now you know what NOT to do for that second attempt.

This mindset and mentality is not set in stone for business opportunities, but can be used within your life across the spectrum. An educational class, a skill/trade, a friendship/relationship, a job opportunity, heck even your first child! (I’m clearly the middle child and you see how
awesome I turned out).

Keep Going.

Keep Pushing.

Never stop in the darkness, when there’s light and joy at the end of the tunnel.

Model: @Shanice_Royal

Some things are easier said than done. I know this… But your
favorite Olympian, athlete, actor or musician did not ace their craft in one try. They practice day in and day out. Day by day they tackle a task and once they achieve it, they level up to push themselves further. Apply that same logic.

Take it one day at a time and perfect being the best you, the best partner, the best parent, the best business owner, the best student, the best whatever it is that you want to be. At the end of it all, you will always be victorious as long as you Keep Pushing through to get to where you want to be in life.

And remember…

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Self-Care is an Act of Personal Revolution

Many of us have this perceived notion of self-care being scheduled spa days, getting a new hairstyle or engaging in recreational pursuits. Granted, these are all actions of caring for self but what I mean by self-care is the effort you put into your health and wellness. 

When is the last time you introspect and really asked yourself “Am I doing okay?” “What do I need to break free from? Or what is it that I need to maintain happiness?

Living through this pandemic and days of uncertainty, it is vital for all of us to prioritize ourselves.  Self-care present itself in three different forms. Mental health, emotional awareness and your physical being. Checking in with yourself and reflecting on the adjustments needed to suit your life is an act of personal revolution. Revolution, in a personal context, is leading your life in such a way where you are thinking and acting on the betterment of self. You revolt against the “old” way of doing things and push yourself to foster new habits. Regardless of external pressures, your personal revolution is defined by you and only you! 

In the process of caring for self, personal revolutions take place in solitude and quietness. Similar to the act of meditation, it is about discovering the many layers of self and focusing your attention on your intentions. People will know you have changed your intentions because your behavior will reflect through your actions. 

The path to self-care isn’t easy, hence it is a revolution.

A continuous battle with yourself to practice freedom and individuality. Self-care is all about you and how you choose to express your purpose, beliefs, philosophies, and emotions. We each have a unique gift and purpose to bring our own personal revolution to the world. 

What’s your self-care niche? 

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