I’ve sat still for so long AFRAID of stepping out of my comfort zone. The fear of not trying the things i want because of what i believed would happen. “There is no way i am doing that. It will never work and besides people will look at me crazy.” Keeping myself locked up in this box of how i think others would accept me. Afraid to try something different because I may FAIL. Afraid of failure and wanting validation is what it all came down to.

Perfect example: I have been following my Mentor Mia Ray for about three years on social media. I always admired her drive, confidence, and ability to go for what she wants no matter the outcome. Just sat back and watched as I sat still and did nothing to better myself. Thinking it was impossible for me to succeed at anything I put my mind to.

Back then,  I never understood why I was this way. Growing up as a adolescences , I lacked encouragement, ambition and motivation. I rarely tried to the best of my ability and did the bare minimum. Always doing the “shortcut” version completing homework and projects because going into it, my expectations were LOW. I will say the people around me could have done a better job providing with the tools to believe in myself more. I never had a problem voicing who to blame for along time and STILL using that as a excuse as to why I felt stuck where I was as I grew into adulthood.

It’s much easier to blame others for why we are where we are in our lives. Our parents, our workplace, our peers, you name it, we blame it. For whatever reason, we will hold on to all the wrong that was done to us. The ultimate every day battle I have is with MYSELF and letting go of the hurt others did to me . My self confidence and worth was damaged. I want to be who God is bringing me into BUT those old ways tend to show its ugly face. I couldn’t let go of what “everybody” else did and ignored what I could do to change my situation.

The battle became harder when I DECIDED I no long wanted to continue to blame others for where my life was and make the changes necessary to start living life abundantly. I knew it wouldn’t be a easy process being a creature of habit but I was FINALLY ready to try.

I was finally ready to live a happy life.

The more I seeked God and the relationship I DESPERATELY always wanted with him, the more the enemy tried to knock me down. I didn’t stop getting back up and continuing to go to HIM . The more I connected with and became the better version of myself, the worst version tried its hardest to overcome, I didn’t stop pushing and fighting to be my best self. I made the decision to never give up on myself and battle who I once was with who I’m destined to be.

I finally didn’t need validation from anyone but God and myself.

I finally know now that no matter how impossible things may seem, I can do whatever i put my mind to. I may not always succeed but as long as i believe in MYSELF, i will never give up on myself! I am no longer AFRAID and that is what I call true FREEDOM!

 

 

Bernadette McIntosh Stephens was born September 16th , 1962 in Barney,  Ga. She gave birth to Laura Elizabeth Tard and Alexandria Stephens,  both in Trenton , NJ. 

 My mama was creative, intelligent, loved writing poetry , loved music 🎢 and dancing πŸ’ƒ,  hated taking pictures πŸ“· and would dodge the lense with a quickness. I remember hearing my mother singing 🎀 and snapping along to her favorite songs. Even as young as I was,  I admired my mother more than anyone or anything. She was simply beautiful inside out. ✨
She held a type a strength that I always looked up to. No matter how much hurt or heartbreak she may have endured,  she always kept her beautiful smile shining. She always put my sister Laura and I first and kept the things that mattered important.
She was the strongest woman I ever knew. πŸ’ͺ 

I remember every other weekend she take my sister and I to spend the weekends with our granny πŸ‘΅. Granny’s house was home. All my cousins would be at Granny’s while my mama,  uncles,  aunts and older cousin would play cards all night filling the small home with loud laughter,  trash talk and unconditional love. ❀ And the fish frys with the fresh fish granny would prepare herself everytime we got together.  She too was my best friend and I always looked forward to watching her “stories” with her and spend quality time. 
We’d run around barefoot getting into everything. Climbing trees and terrorizing everything. Granny would threatening us with a “switch” to the behind. Granny didn’t play but she loved all her grandchildren hard. Those were the best times and memories I will forever cherish. 

Even with the hurt and fear of what may or may not come next,  my mama never let it show. She was so genuine and wanted everyone around her to be happy. She didn’t play about her family,  especially her children, not one bit. 
I remember one summer my mama,  who I might add does NOT swim,  jump in the deep end to save my bad ass after I jump inside the pool. She showed the true definition of what a Mom will do to protect her child and how selfless she was. She saved my life. 
She was and still is my role model. A true definition of a queen. πŸ‘‘
But in the blink of an eye she was gone. God had other plans for Bernadette.

 One afternoon after a beautiful day spent with her and my sister,  God called her home. I remember being numb and so young I didn’t really understand what was going on. I remember being scared and so confused. 
When I lost my mother, I lost everything. My sister and I were seperated and I didn’t see her again for years. I remember being so angry for so long because I didn’t understand why was this happening to us. 

 I always felt so guilty think what could I have done different for her to still be here. 
I lost a piece of me when she left,  when my sister left and I suppressed all of these feelings and thoughts for a long time. I was silent for a long time, and I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I didn’t want to face it. I would isolate myself from everyone and everything growing up. I let anger and depression take over my life for a long time. 
But I had to stop blaming God for taking my mother from us.  I didn’t understand then that what I went through needed to happen for me to get where I am today and where I will continue to go. After years of feeling the emotions I endured,  I learned ways to gain my happiness again.
I talk to my mother ever single day even thought she’s not here physically. I ask he questions,  share my thoughts with her, laugh with her and she’s everywhere I go. She is by my side as I raise my very own daughter.  My little girl sees her picture everyday and knows that’s here grandma and smiles at her. I know she is with us always and I’m so grateful for that. πŸ™Œ

I love you mommy and thank you for being my hero and my forever angel.  You put everyone’s happiness before your own. You made so many sacrifices and I am so grateful and appreciative of YOU! You had alot of pain that may have been ignored but now that I understand, I AM SO GRATEFUL! I strive every single day to be an amazing mother just like you. 😘

To all the mothers out there:  Happy Mother’s day . Enjoy your loved ones today and know that you are loved,  appreciated,  and I see all you hard work.  We see all the sleepless nights,  the prayers made,  all the tears shed,  and all the laughter shared. I love you ❀
To all the daughters and sons:  show you mother or a woman who is special to you in your life you love and appreciate them. Don’t take them for granted even if you don’t agree with them,  see their point of view and have that respect for them. Cherish them and keep them close❀

​I haven’t always loved my natural hair and knowing who I am today you would probably never guess. I did EVERYTHING  possible to have straight,  kinkyless . Ignoring getting trims so my hair would seem longer than it should be,  excessive heat EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Putting hair glue and sew ins just trying everything I could so I didn’t have to wear my “ugly” hair. Relaxers. 
That good old “creamy crack“. πŸ™„
I get it,  I’m not the first nor will I be the last person with self “hair” hate. I’ve cut all my hair off where I was virtually  bald and I have had hair past my shoulders. I wasn’t afraid to try different things with my hair. But on day something click in my head : I can color,  cut,  put chemicals and all kinds of crazy stuff,  but why am I so afraid of rocking my hair the way it grew out off my head? 
*Ding ding ding*,  you guessed it: I was afraid of what people would think. It sounds a bit looney but I serious was terrified of how people would react. I spent my school years in prominently white school where all the girls had long,  straight hair that blew with the wind. 
That is all I knew and I found myself trying SO hard to keep up with the european way. Kids who didn’t were made fun of because their hair was “nappy” or “ugly“. It didn’t help that my step mother knew nothing about taking care of a little black girls natural hair and never took the time to learn so got “perms” (or the correct term,  relaxer) every month.
The relaxed phase lasted until I turned 18 years old. Graduation day of 2010, I got a relaxer and my step sister glued some tracks in to give me more length. My loved how my hair looked and I felt so confident walking across that stage toward my diploma. What a great day I was that quickly turned into a nightmare. 


The next morning was something straight out of a movie
.

 
I went to straighten the hair on my head that was left out and it burned right off!  I was mortified and left with a bald spot in the middle of my head. 
 It was AWFUL and I was broken.
 The little bit of confidence I did have was thrown in the trash along with my burnt hair πŸ˜”.
After that,  I made the decision to make that  transition. It was definitely hard and something to get use to. I cut out chemicals but continued to straighten my hair (not as often as I used to).  This lasted for 3 years and then I got pregnant. Toward the end of my pregnancy,  I decided I was going to go natural and do it the right way. 😊
Yes,  I ditched the chemicals BUT I also ditched the heat.  I made the decision to love the hair God blessed me with for the sake of my daughter. I was going to be her very first role model and everything I did,  she would see. Including how I loved myself.  I couldn’t teach her to love her God given features if I constantly tried to change mine. 


Today,  I love every single strand of coily mess that grows out of my scalp.πŸ™Œ

 I love the thickness and I love the fullness. I love that my hair is what makes me stand out. I embrace my hair and although at the time it happened I didn’t appreciate it,  I appreciate that my hair breaking off happened. I probably would have never found the self love I have for myself today or it would have taken much longer than it did. 
Things happen how they are supposed to and you may not understand when it does happen, but it will make since eventually. I can walk around proudly with my fro not giving a damn about what the next person thinks. Let them laugh,  let them judge,  let them look and let them disagree. πŸ’…
I really don’t care,  because finally I found who I am and I’m able to live in MY truth. I’m able to be naturally me. ✨

Being a black woman in 2017 is such an empowering and beautiful thing. All the opportunity and “acceptance” to showcase the magic we have to offer the world. I am pro Black. That doesn’t mean I am anti White or anti any other race. That means I am proud of what I am and where I came from.
My ancestors before me have been oppressed for 400+ years. Never allowed to embrace their culture,  skin,  religion,  and beliefs openly. Never being allowed to take what skill God has given them and gain the knowledge to do what they want in life. Their strength to keep pushing against all odds is what inspires me today.

 
Though time have changed,  black people are still oppressed. We are opressed in the workplace,  profiling,  social media, the gifts we have to offer the world are suppressed. Thats just to name a few things. Same shit,  different toliet,  right? The problem is still present and hasn’t gone anywhere. 

I will never understand why repecting and treating a person is based on their skin COLOR. Regardless of that ONE difference, each and every on of us are HUMAN

 
Now comes the “disadvantage” of being both a woman and being BLACK. 
Image those things I listed and times them by 2. Simply by the double jeopardy of being both Black and woman ,  society has problems respecting the humanity of both groups. 

Society is somehow for whatever reason threatened by a strong BLACK woman. 

Society has this idea that all black women are what the media and Hollywood portray. We are bitter. We are angry. We are lazy. We are stupid. Ghetto. Ratchet. Ugly. Not good enough. 

They have no idea the beauty that lies within us. We are strong. We are loving.  We are compassionate.  We are intelligent.  We work our asses off. We have class. We are beautiful. We are enough.  WE ARE MAGIC. 



We may always be looked at as lesser than and may never get the respect we are owed. We have to continue to shed our light and shine bright. Continue to be our best selves. Uplift our fellow sisters and always encourage one another. Always have a shoulder for our sisters and push her to her greatest potential.

 
We have to continue to spread LOVE
The journey has not been and easy one.  It may never be.  But I wont allow society to suppress me from living. Suppress me from being happy and proud of who I am.
I will continue to express my blackness through my hair no matter how “nappy” it is to you. I will continue to feel sexy in my “too dark” skin.  I will continue to stand tall knowing the magic I have to offer. 

Regardless of uncomfortable or upset it may make others around me,  I can’t  be anything other than I am.

 
#blackwoman 

I remember this day this photo captured like it was yesterday.  Yes,  this was my love bug’s first birthday party. But this day reflected an equally great achievement 

DAD AND I HAVE SURVIVED YEAR ONE! 

We had made it through with her being a happy,  healthy baby girl with all her parts still intact πŸ˜‚ Looking at this photo,  you probably wouldn’t have known I was BARELY holding it all together. 

I was literally late to my child’s birthday with having to get last minute things my LATE sister was expected to bring. She did but I was a panicing nut case running around trying to do EVERYTHING. 

I was still putting up decorations while dad was trying to operate a grill he had NO idea how to get started. My sister finally made it with the stuff we needed (we had duplicate decorations; all of it was returned the next day πŸ˜’) and jumped right in to help. People started showing up and I was a COMPLETELY mess inside and out.  I needed to shower and my hair was as wild as ever.

Luckly,  God Mom made it with the cake and cupcakes moments after and I was able to whosa for 10 whole minutes!  Even in our small cozy 2 bedroom apartment, we had a ball of a birthday. Everyone came and showed our Journi some love and made me forget about all the reality that we faced after they were gone. 
We made it through but boy it was a struggle for the both of us.  We were blessed with a happy girl but we were having trouble keeping things together at times like any parent with a newborn.  

somedays we didn’t know our left’s from our right and wouldn’t see eye to eye about decisions

Somedays were better than the next and it put a lot of tension between us. With him already having a child,  he felt he knew more than me when it came to certain things.  “I basically helped RAISE my nieces and nephew,  Manny I know what I am talking about. ” NEITHER of us had a real clue how parenting 24/7 really was. 

Just the night before her party,  we had a disagreement that left us not talking the rest of the night… But we had to swallow our prides,  let it go and smile through for the sake of our daughter. 

At the end of the night,  babygirl was bathed and put to bed.  After cleaning  up the day’s fun,  we sit.  And something strange happened that I will NEVER forget. We just LAUGHED. We laughed for a good 2 minutes. The crazy party was we said nothing we just… Laughted.

After talking,  we realized how petty and small our fight was. We were to blessed and we let a stupid disagreement divide us. Look at how blessed we were and what we have made it through.

We went through some of the worst times and have been dragged through the mud by people who just wanted to “help” us get on our feet. Every single time,  God pulled is through and blessed us two times over. We worked hard and remained humble even as the blessing flowed. That was the we vowed to NEVER allow that to happen again. 
Yeah,  we fall short but we have learned to check ourselves and when we are wrong to correct ourselves. We were damn good parents we just needed to be confident in that. Once we became confident,  we began to flourish. 

Mommyhood is not a easy job.  You are STILL very emotional and scattered sometime after (lasted a year and a half AFTER I had Journi), you still have doubts if you are doing things right,  you have sleepless night watching your baby and continuously checking of they are breathing πŸ™„, you have moments where eyou feel like a failure and just need to cry it out. 

You have these hard times but you also have those wonderful moments.

You get to watch you child grown right before your eyes, you are there for all their milestones, you see there smile and hear their laughter, all the sweet hugs and kissed they are  so generous to give especially when you feel like you aren’t  doing your best.  She always makes me feel like the best mother alive. 

Motherhood is full of pure beauty and full of memories I’m blessed to look back on

There are good time,  worst times,  and better times. I wouldn’t choose my life to have gone any other way. Seeing jer smile is a blessing in itself. And knowing what I know now,  anything we face we will prevail,  I know that for a fact. 

The older I get, the more comfortable I have BECOME with expressing myself.  Of course,  I’ve learned along the way there are a number of ways you can. I tended to choose the wrong way when I was younger and found it never worked out the way I thought it should.


 Mostly negative,  overly dramatic and what many would call “doing TOO much”. 


It was hard for me to see things from the inside looking out.

You are either oblivious to whats going on or you choose not to open you mind, your heart and to close you mouth long enough to realize it.

Whatever it was for me,  I had fallen tired of the way I felt after a situation’s aftermath when I would act out.

What is the point,  where did you think this go with how you chose to handle things?



There was no point and I always felt childish and unhappy EVERY SINGLE TIME. I just wanted my way,  point blank. I also took me to be blessed to be able to bring another life into this world. That was where I learned the true meaning of selflessness,  unconditional love and that it definitely wasn’t all about me. 
I had to learn to build a bridge and get the hell over it. Took a lot of praying, trusting, crying, falling and letting go to finally learn how to handle things and handle it in a positive manner.

How I can express myself without getting defensive and still get my point across.  How people understand me better when I sit and think before I speak. I have come a LONG way but there is still many things for me learn. I have some chapers on my story to tell but its far from complete. Excited for all that is to come.