Friday, April 29, 2011

Love Notes - Friday 4/29/11

And you can start dreaming this weekend! Enjoy!
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Thursday, April 28, 2011


Tell us why you felt at your best in this moment:

Most people wouldn’t try to turn a wedding reception into a “You Got Served” competition, but as a single mother, there’s no shame in getting it in whenever, and wherever I can! After taking full advantage of the open bar, I looked over and noticed that my date was dancing beside a group of girls. This would seem innocent enough to the sober eye, but to the vodka cranberry eye, it said, “Those girls are trying to challenge you!” The last thing I remember saying to my date was “Watch, I’m about to shut this down.” Really? At a wedding??? Truthfully, I feel like I’m at my best in this moment, because I was WINNING (in my Charlie Sheen voice)….kidding…(kind of). I appreciate this picture, because although I love my kids to death, sometimes it’s nice to have little reminders that let you and everyone around you know, that you still “got it.”

How do you define beauty:

Beauty doesn’t come packaged in a formula of measurements, or features, but rather in the substance of a person. Worry lines and wrinkles that have been earned through a lifetime of love & heartache, birth & death and joy & pain are reflections of the character of the soul. Beauty is resilience, determination and grace.

How do you define happiness:

I don’t think there’s a blanket definition for happiness. True happiness, for me, comes when I’m doing the things I love the most: Singing along to Michael Jackson with my kids in the car, (Soooo Tonight, Gotta Leave That Nine To Five Up on The Shelf, And Just Enjoy Yourseeeelf!), holding a baby, reading bedtime stories, good conversation with my girlfriends and getting together with family.

“Often people attempt to live their lives backwards; they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want, so they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then do what you need to do, in order to have what you want." ~Margaret Young

Your turn! Send your pics in to and tell us why you felt happy and beautiful and at your best in that moment. Feel free to share your favorite quotes about happiness and beauty and we'll include them with your feature. Please put AT YOUR BEST in the subject line.
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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pretty Things: Updos, Buns and Braids!

  Summer is quickly approaching and I could NOT be happier.  I'm a heat seeker and I love warm weather.  I love wearing my hair out in the summer, but it always gets way too hot to have all this hair on my face and the back of my neck.   Can you relate?  Here are some options to keep your hair out of the way when the humidity gets crazy.  Your hair will also thank you for the break! 

What's your go-to style for hot and humid summer days? 
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

PLPT GEMS: Meet Stefanie Newell

PLPT GEMS presents
Stefanie Newell
Author. Publisher. Entrepreneur.

Tell us about your background and how you came to be an author and entrepreneur?
I was working in corporate finance for about fifteen years prior to starting my own business. In my free time I was freelance writing and working on my debut novel The Buzz: When celebrity gossip goes wrong. I very much wanted to be an entrepreneur, so after having my book edited I made the decision to start my own publishing company instead of going the traditional route. In 2008, I formed Write One Publications, Inc. My company has since released my debut novel The Buzz, Pull Your Pants Up and be a man! by Bernice Harris and the eBook Marketing and Publicity for the author.

Please share with us the first five steps you took when you decided to start your own business.
First, I created a business plan, setting both short-term and long-term goals. I then hired a team of people that would help me through the different stages of publishing and the launching of my business. I hired a lawyer and incorporated my company, and then an accountant, a graphic designer, and a web designer. Once everything was in place, I solicited publicity from the media to begin the branding of my company.

What are the biggest challenges to be self-employed?
There are numerous benefits to being an entrepreneur but with new businesses especially, it can be challenging to brand yourself amongst companies that are already established. Having owned my business for a few years now, I find that social media is great for marketing and branding a business.

How would you describe a day in the life of Stefanie Newell? What is your favorite part of what you do?
I recently started a YouTube channel ( that follows my life as a writer. I post videos every Monday, so please subscribe. It's a fairly new channel but I have a lot of ideas for future videos.

While a lot of my time is spent writing, I spend just as much time observing people and reflecting on different life experiences for the books I write. If you'd observe me throughout the day it would seriously look like I'm just chilling out all day. I spend a good portion of my time social networking and trying to gain exposure for my brand. I blog a few times a week and edit videos for my Youtube channel. I reach out to different media outlets for interviews for myself and author Bernice Harris. When I have inspiration I'm working on my second novel, which is my favorite part of the day. I love being able to sit at my computer and bring my ideas and characters to life. Besides the business aspect of my day, writing is what brings me the most joy.

How do you find balance between family and work?
It's actually easier now to balance family life than it was when I was working in Corporate America. Before, I'd come home exhausted, both physically and mentally. I lived for the weekends. But now, I drive my son to school and pick him up every day. I'm not on a set schedule anymore, so it allows me to be more relaxed and carefree which I love. I work throughout the day as opposed to a nine to five schedule. As a result, my son and I are able to spend a lot more time with each other.

How do you stay motivated and overcome doubt, fear and negative thinking?
It can be very difficult to step out on faith and pursue your dreams, but being an entrepreneur has been a goal of mines for a very long time. When I feel myself having doubt or becoming fearful I call in reinforcement. I seriously have an arsenal of positive people and books that acts as my support system. On a daily basis I read positive affirmations, listen to motivational speakers, and read as much positive material as I can digest. I try really hard to stay away from anything that will make me succumb to negative thinking. I gave up watching the news many years ago for this very reason, as well as certain websites and television shows.

What advice would you offer to others who are searching for their purpose or are afraid to take the first step towards their dreams?
Before I ever started my business, and while I was still working in Corporate America, I would envision the life I wanted to have. I knew that my dream was to own a business, but I had no idea how it would play out because it would require me to leave a great career. So instead, I envisioned what I wanted my life to be like once I was an entrepreneur. I created a vision board and I took it day by day working on my goals. Initially that was as simple as writing an article for a magazine. Then it was starting on my novel, and that novel eventually turned into the launching of my business. And then lastly an opportunity to step out on faith when the company I was working for went bankrupt.

My life is exactly how I envisioned it. So I would tell anyone who has a dream to first know that it is possible and then spend time envisioning what you want your life to be like. This will help you to set short and long term goals. Lastly, relinquish any fear you have by working on your goals little by little, starting out at step one until everything unfolds and you've eventually accomplished your dream.

Name someone who has inspired you and why.
When I first started my business, I was really intrigued with hearing the stories of how people became successful. And it seemed everywhere I turned there was another beautiful story of how someone stepped out on faith, overcame obstacles and not only achieved their goals but surpassed them. There are so many people I am inspired by. I would say blogger Necole Bitchie, author Randy Gage, wine enthusiast and author Gary Vaynerchuk, Tyler Perry, and Oprah Winfrey are a few people who inspire me.

How can people connect with you?
I blog on my life and provide tips for writers at My YouTube page follows my life from random vlogs to a series I do called Breaking Down The Manuscript that walks aspiring writers through the manuscript phase of their book. On Twitter you can follow me at and of course if you'd like to learn more about my business and the books I publish you can visit my website at

You can also find the full bio for Stefanie Newell here.
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Friday, April 22, 2011

Love Notes - Friday 4/22/11

We hope everyone has a wonderful and safe holiday! Whether or not you celebrate Easter, be sure to enjoy your weekend.
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Thursday, April 21, 2011

At Your Best ~ Leeann

Tell us why you felt at your best in this moment:

I always feel my best when I am surrounded with GREAT friends. This one in particular, Karimah, is my “LOL twin”, there is nothing we can’t laugh about together. On this day we were celebrating my mother’s 50th Birthday it was a very cold April evening, but you would never know from these smiles! Not only am I enjoying a great day with a great friend…I am also rocking a fabulous head of hair (that always helps a gal feel her best!) 

I live by the old adage… “Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are.” …surrounding myself with friends that bring out the best in me.

How do you define beauty:

Beauty is a state of mind. Feeling your best from Head to toe. It is not about what you are wearing or how great you applied your latest MAC eye shadow…it is about feeling beautiful with out all those things.

How do you define happiness:

Anything that makes my heart smile! For me beauty and happiness go hand in hand. When I feel my best, I am my best and happiest “me”.

Your turn! Send your pics in to and tell us why you felt happy and beautiful and at your best in that moment. Feel free to share your favorite quotes about happiness and beauty and we'll include them with your feature. Please put AT YOUR BEST in the subject line.
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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Achieving Clarity About Your Spiritual Devotion

In this month's PLPT Guest Post, Pastor/Professor Lawrence Ware helps us to more clearly see how our ideas around God and spirituality are affecting us.

I love parables.

They are little stories that allow divine truths to be communicated in deeply affecting ways. If one were to discuss the phenomenologically transcendent nature of reality, then they would lose their listeners. Tell a story about a prodigal son, and people are all ears. Jesus was a master of them. So was The Buddha.

There is a story The Buddha tells of a few blind men and an elephant. Each blind man is led to a different part of the elephant (one the head, another the trunk, another the leg), and each is told simply: this is an elephant.

As the men discuss what an elephant is, they discover that they have very different impressions of the same being. They discuss the matter with such passion, that some are aroused to anger. In fact, they almost strike one another!

The Buddha uses this parable to teach the importance of intellectual humility.

We live in arrogant, dismissive times. Tolerance is in short supply. Many are seduced into thinking that their way of life is the only way. The Buddha, here, teaches that we are only partially aware of true reality—that is, we are only partially aware of God.

We love to place God in boxes. We say he is revealed exclusively in the Quran; or he is felt most acutely via meditation; or that God is the universe—thereby emphasizing God’s transcendence; or he is a he, not a she. These are all limitations that we place upon God, not limits that God places upon God’s self.

Truth be told, God is bigger, more complex than any of us could possibly imagine. No one has the market cornered in regard to truth. There is so much to learn and experience. We spend too much time talking, and too little time listening. We are an opinionated generation that is short on truth. We are so busy announcing what will and will not work for us that we fail to give what we know a diligent try. We are so conscious of the religious mistakes of previous generations that we fail to see that what they believed, while flawed, helped them to endure.

Our culture is hungry for spirituality. We are beginning to understand that consumerism isn’t going to fill the emptiness inside. We can cover it up, dress it up, or ignore it, but at some point we have to address it: the things of this world are unsatisfying. Children grow up. Spouses and loved ones disappoint. Cars lose value. A chair is just a chair, and a house is not a home.

We yearn for something deeper. We yearn for something more substantive. We yearn for that which can only be whispered, never fully known. We yearn for God.

Devote yourself to earnestly seeking God, and you may be surprised where he shows up.

Lawrence Ware is lecturing professor of philosophy at Oklahoma State University and Pastor of Christian Education at Prospect Church. He writes for Tikkun and Religion Dispatchers all while living in Oklahoma City with his wife and sons.
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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

PLPT GEMS: Meet Deva Barnes

PLPT GEMS Presents
Deva Barnes
Image Consultant. Event Planner. Business Owner.

1. What is your passion and what is your outlet for it?
As long as I can remember, I’ve loved fashion and beauty! Not just for myself, but those around me. I always loved helping friends pick out that perfect outfit or helping them with their hair and make-up. I really didn’t have an outlet until recently; I just had a ball at the mall for hours by myself. I also did Mary Kay for a while--I just loved the atmosphere of getting friends together and “playing make-up” just like when I was a kid. Except I’m much better at it now!
2. How did you get started? How did you prepare yourself?
Last fall I was really down about work and my future career prospects. I just started to brainstorm on what I could do to could bring me fulfillment as well as extra money and what I could possibly do full time at some point. I really sat and thought about what I would do for free, that could be translated into business. Eureka! Image Consulting & Event Planning! During that time, I happened to come across some extra money and immediately went about applying for an LLC and building a website.
3. What obstacles did you have to overcome?
Honestly, the biggest obstacle that I face and have yet to fully overcome is myself. You know, “getting out of my own way”. There is always so much work to be done when entering the marketplace and making the public aware of your business. When you’re used to working for someone else, your duties are usually pretty well defined. When running your own business, finding time to do EVERYTHING is a real challenge. My biggest obstacle is setting aside time to nurture my business after work and on weekends. I value my downtime and transitioning to there being no such thing is difficult. Downtime now means time that I need to put into my business.
4. Is your passion your full time occupation? If not, how do you balance it with the your other responsibilities?
It feels like I have 2 full time jobs, secretary and wife. I can’t even imagine what it will be like to throw kids into the mix! Getting home at 6 and then making dinner, going to the gym, tidying the house, spending time with my wonderful husband, Scott AND then finding time to sit down and do research for clients, build my brand and make blog entries is crazy. There never seems to be enough hours in a day. I’m working on the balance. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed because something always has to fall by the wayside. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day
5. How do you stay motivated and overcome doubt, fear and negative thinking?
I do what I can and just try not to beat myself up too much about what didn’t get done. I always tell myself, “Every day is a new day to succeed.”
6. What advice would you offer to others who are searching for their purpose or are afraid to take the first step towards their dreams?
My advice would be to really think about what you LOVE to do; what would you do for free. That way it won’t feel so much like work when you have to put in the hard hours. Taking the first step is the most daunting part. It’s so much easier not to but I never want to die saying “I always wished I had….” I’d rather try and know I gave it my all than to have regrets. So I would tell anyone, get out there! It can be scary and overwhelming but the satisfaction of knowing I’m taking control of my dreams and destiny far outweighs the fear of the future. Nothing will ever happen if you don’t try. I keep these two quotes close to my heart:
"Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome." - Samuel Johnson
"Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking." - William B. Sprague
7. Name someone who has inspired you and why.
I have an Aunt who went to Sweden at 19; she bought a one way ticket and never came back. She found her dream, her career and her husband. She went on to become a huge celebrity there. She sang gospel/spiritual music in a country where she didn’t even speak the language initially. She has sung for Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks and many other dignitaries. She spent about 45 years there and recently retired back to New York City. She’s inspiring because she leapt on a dream and found her destiny. She made her own path and flourished against many odds; a black woman in a Nordic country where they had never even heard Gospel music! How crazy is that? It proves to me that even if you don’t know where you’re going, you never know where you’ll end up if you follow your dreams.
8. How can people connect with you?
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Monday, April 18, 2011

If You Want To Change Your Life, Change Your Focus

Often the things we dream/wish/hope for are right at our fingertips. We are just too busy focusing on other things to notice. If we would only dedicate the time and make the effort, we would be well on our way to achieving what seems impossible; instead we are distracted and looking for easy answers in all the wrong places: at the bottom of a martini glass, in salacious reality TV, or in a man (whatever our avoidance drug of choice).

There's nothing anyone else can do for us that we can't do for ourselves. This week, think about what you can do to propel yourself into the life you desire. Decide to do the research, make the phone call, or submit that application--in other words, take your destiny in your own hands.

Sure, you'll need help along the way, and the right sources of guidance will be placed in your path at just the moment(s) you need them. But remember: there is no magic pill or potion--only hard work.

There will be moments where you break down and want to give up. Don't. Keep pushing. The times when it seems the hardest test how badly you really want what you say you want.

We think because we want it, it should come easy. However, many of the best things--the ones that are truly worth having--are gained through trial. The things that come easily, often leave just as easily (ever heard the phrase "easy come, easy go"?).

Pouring your heart and soul into something will help you to nurture it. Going through the fire to achieve something will allow you to appreciate how sweet it is to finally be on the other side. My mother once said to me, "If it never rained, we couldn't fully appreciate the sunshine." If not for the dark side of a situation, we wouldn't be able to recognize the light.

Take advantage of a new week and a new opportunity to shift your focus, rearrange your priorities, and re-dedicate your energy and resources to manifesting whatever it is you desire.
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Friday, April 15, 2011

Love Notes - Friday 4/15/11

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Thursday, April 14, 2011


Tell us why you felt at your best in this moment:

This was at my surprise baby shower in 2008 that my friends (including GG and Kim) and family threw for me. It was the biggest, pinkest, tears of joy lovefest that I could have imagined. I know that I’m loved, but to see all of that love in one room was overwhelming. I feel at my best when I’m surrounded by love, even if it’s just me acknowledging that I love myself.

My daughter, Kayla, was the unborn baby of the hour at the shower. She represents so much for me… faith, God’s love, and the reminder that I don’t have to try to be in control because God always is. I wanted my life to go according to my own timetable, but when I let go and let God, here comes this beautiful creature into my life. To Kayla, I’m the best, even when I’m not. I’m just ‘mommy’ to her, and that is one of the best roles that God has blessed me with.

How do you define beauty:

Beauty is knowing who you are inside, and actually liking that person….not because you’re perfect, but because you’re you. That love for self tends to radiate out and touch others. I find kindness, a sense of humor, and a caring spirit to be beautiful qualities that are also magnetic.

How do you define happiness:

Happiness is not only being loved, but loving. It’s appreciating all of the little things of beauty that surround us everyday. It’s going to bed every night with the peace of mind that no matter what stress or trials have come my way that day, my blessings are too numerous to count.

Your turn! Send your pics in to and tell us why you felt happy and beautiful and at your best in that moment. Feel free to share your favorite quotes about happiness and beauty and we'll include them with your feature. Please put AT YOUR BEST in the subject line.
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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Happy Black Girl Day - Link Love!

In honor of Happy Black Girl Day, we're spreading a little link love to our fellow happy Black girl bloggers. These are some of the posts that are inspiring us this week:

7 Tips to Help You Stick to Your Budget
Over at A Woman's Worth, Arlice Nichole gives some great advice for sticking to your budget. She promises that these are not the typical "total deprivation" tips, and we think she's right. Read the full article to discover some creative and practical ways to help you stick to your budget and still enjoy your money.

"You know what it feels like when you spend beyond your budget. You come up short when it's time to pay the bills. You dip into your savings to play catch-up, and then feelings of defeat start to set-in because all things financial are thrown off. It's one of those feelings that you don't forget. Keep that in mind when you're tempted to spend on something you didn't budget for." Read more

The Difference Between Being Tough and Brave
Being a happy black girl means knowing the difference between being tough and being brave. As Rosetta points out in this post, at certain times in our lives, all of us have been one or the other. It's important to stand up for yourself, but having the presence to know how to go about it and when it's necessary requires wisdom.

"When I was growing up, my grandmother taught me that being tough is good. She said to be nice, but not too nice or let your guard down too much. That way, nobody can walk all over you or “get over” on you. But as I’ve gotten older and more mature, I’ve found that her advice often comes from a place of fear because of her own life experiences." Read more

Who Comes First?
Do you consider self-care to be high on your priority list? Too often, it's not something we think about and it's the first thing we sacrifice when other demands overwhelm us. In Who Comes First, Jess reminds us that it's OK to put yourself first. As women, in particular, we tend to take care of everyone else's needs before our own.

"How can I be expected to take care of someone else if I cannot even take care of myself? How long do you expect to take care of all those other people if you are neglecting yourself? You simply have to come first. What is it that rejuvenate you? Is it prayer? Meditation? Walking? Exercise? Music? Writing? Reading? Whatever it is, do it!! You absolutely need time that is yours and yours alone, where you create a space to explore whatever it is you need to explore at that moment." Read more 

For more information on Happy Black Girl Day, visit The Beautiful Struggler.
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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

PLPT GEMS: Meet Shivawn

PLPT GEMS presents
Shivawn A. Mitchell Founder & Ceo "L.o.v.e. Movement Network"
Counselor. Writer. Motivator. Entrepreneur.

1.  Tell us about yourself and how you came to establish the L.O.V.E. Movement Network.

My background is in the social work field and I currently work for a counseling agency. I’ve always been the person who everyone even strangers come to for advice so I knew counseling was the best choice for me when choosing a degree. I am a writer junkie I’ve always written in journals since I was in middle school and it’s my therapy. Right now I have about 4 journals floating around in my house and I’m currently about to publish my first book. I also have a love for accessories, shoes and fashion. This has turned into another project with a business partner Charisma Adams. We are about to launch a boutique “The Beauty Boudoir Boutique” which launches April 1 (@TBBBoutique).

I decided to establish the L.o.v.e. Movement Network because I saw a need for women to have support in every area of their lives. Most networks “communities” focus only on one aspect of life (business or entertainment). But I know we need help in more than just those few areas. I want the network to become a wellness center for women.

2. What has been the biggest challenge so far?

My biggest challenge has been getting ahead of myself. I have so many ideas and plans for the network but I need to build what I have and stop putting so much pressure on myself. I’m starting to understand that if I’m impacting one person that is all that really matters.

3. What are your goals for the network?

My immediate goal is to strengthen the chapters we have located in Ohio, Atlanta, Canada and New Jersey. I really want us as a group to do more ground work. Meaning more connecting with each other outside of the network through meetings and other activities. I really want women to walk away equipped to help the next lady they meet and their community. Also there is a need for mentoring young ladies. So I would like to see our mentoring program grow. Those are my main two focuses.

4. Why do you think it is that some women have a hard time connecting with other women?

I truly believe women from an early age are condition to feel a negative way about other women. It’s almost like I’m going to get mine and I’m going to push you down in the process. Then that thought process is reinforced through the media. So it makes it hard to connect because you always believe that the next lady has motivates to do you in.

5. How do you stay motivated and overcome doubt, fear and negative thinking?

Wow. This is a good question. Some days this task is easier than others. First I have to stay prayed up because it is easy to become discouraged when things aren’t going exactly as planned. Also I’m very mindful of who I allow in my ear. People can add to your stress level and that’s something I try to avoid so I suggest that you pick like minded people to be in your life. And in order to stay motivated I set goals for myself and I don’t compare myself to the next person. I speak those goals daily just as a reminder to self.

6. What advice would you offer to others who are searching for their purpose or are afraid to take the first step towards their dreams?

Quite a few times I’ve been fearful in making moves but I don’t allow that fear to paralyze me. I have moved in fear several times. It’s a choice to get up and decide to be great. You have to believe in yourself even when no one else does.

Searching for your purpose is a process. Your purpose is always tied into service, how can you make something better, how will this help someone out or solve a problem. Don’t feel the pressure to have it all figured out in a day grow through it!

7. Name someone who has inspired you and why.

My younger brother Aaron is my daily inspiration. He is so driven pertaining to his passion “basketball” and that drive is producing so many opportunities. Its like his focus is on 100 no matter what people say he believes in himself without a doubt. So when I start to feel like I’m going to quit I just think about how much he’s overcame and that everything doesn’t come easy.

8. How can people connect with you and the L.O.V.E. movement?

You can join the network by visiting or follow us on twitter at @L_oveMove.

Check out the pics below from the Love Movement - Ohio Vision Board Party:

Thanks Shivawn!
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Monday, April 11, 2011

My Personal Mission Statement


In December of last year, I began working on a personal development challenge called The 31 Days to Reset Your Life Challenge. Rosetta Thurman at the Happy Black Woman blog instituted this recurring challenge on her blog for "..anyone who wants to manifest a change in their life or simply gain more clarity about their path to happiness and success."

While I am not normally someone who favors these types of challenges, I dug into this one with gusto. I was at a point, I think, where I knew there was some self-discovery that needed to be done and this was a way to be guided to do the work. I fell behind on said work a few times...and eventually stalled on the challenge around day 14, yet, I gained some very valuable little nuggets of information about myself, my values and how I act upon those values.

Through the activity on Day 4, envisioning your values in action, I was led to create my daily habits list (which I shared here a few weeks ago), and I've been able to affect change just by being constantly present with myself, and consistently aware of when my actions are of benefit to me versus when I am engaging in self-sabotaging behavior.

And on Day 5 of the challenge, I created my personal mission statement, as tasked; and I might venture to say this was my favorite exercise. It was a beautiful way to set the intention for my life--kind of like writing a love letter to myself. I hadn't necessarily intended for anyone else to see this...but here goes:

My Personal Mission Statement
I value love, family, friendships, spiritual and physical health, financial abundance and freedom, and a sense of achievement. I deeply value honesty, loyalty and authenticity in myself and everyone around me. I appreciate girl time, sweet wine, good books, travel and beautiful trinkets.
I believe in the benefit of environmentally conscious behavior, support of local farmers and growers, and consumption of fresh organic and locally grown foods that are free from chemicals.
I have been blessed with the gift of communication and intend to use the written, spoken and sung word in a way that is refreshing, honest and freeing--both for myself and others. I specifically want to aid young women and girls in loving themselves and their journeys, armed early with knowledge and lessons that I learned in a more difficult, arduous way.

In my work and in my life, I will always push past the fear and do exactly what my ego is fearful of, because this is how I capitalize on my opportunities. I will push myself past the limits of what I know I can do to conquer those things I have never done before.

I will continue to be a patient, loving and dedicated mother and one day soon, I will be all these things in a wife as well.

I will always choose love over fear, forgiveness over pain and high high heels over flats.
If you could set the intention for any kind of life you wanted, right here and right now--just by writing it down--what would you write? What do you value and how will you put these values into action?
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Friday, April 8, 2011

Love Notes - Friday 4/8/11

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

AT YOUR BEST ~ Adriene

Tell us why you felt at your best in this moment:

2010 was a tough year for me—in fact, one of the most trying years of my young life. I had lost my job in the middle of an awful recession, my grandfather had a mild stroke and several bad car accidents, and my grandmother was diagnosed with stage IV endometrial cancer. There were many times where I could have just given up. This picture was taken on December 11, 2010 at my 26th birthday party. Despite all of the troubles of the past year, my eternal optimistic spirit never allowed me to give up. Even with all the tears, pain, and heartache, I was still joyful and most importantly, still smiling!

How do you define beauty:

Beauty is being comfortable with who you are. There is no desire to be anything else than what you truly are.

How do you define happiness:

Happiness to me is that moment when you take a deep breath and look around and realize that everything is just as it should be. You wouldn’t change one thing about the path you took to get to that very moment.

What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within out into the world, miracles happen." -- Henry David Thoreau

Your turn! Send your pics in to and tell us why you felt happy and beautiful and at your best in that moment. Feel free to share your favorite quotes about happiness and beauty and we'll include them with your feature. Please put AT YOUR BEST in the subject line.
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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Art of Adversity

We all have a story. I'm always inspired by positive, confident women who exude the kind of wisdom that can only come from authentic living. As a woman who has struggled with self-loathing and depression, I'm particularly inspired by women who have overcome personal hardships and are candid about their experiences. I remember the first time I heard Janet Jackson say that she'd struggled with depression throughout her life, I felt a tug at my heart. I remember wondering what she could possibly have to be depressed about.

This was the beginning of my awareness that all of us are dealing with something - no matter how successful, glamorous, or carefree we appear to be. What is it that gives some of us that drive to keep pushing when every fiber within us wants to give up? Sometimes it's the simple awareness that our pain has a purpose. Our struggles can blossom into the most beautiful creations, but it's up to us to develop a constructive eye that can discern the possibilities from the pain.

The following women have inspired me to write and to connect with people using the power of words to free myself from isolation and self-pity.

In her new book, Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through, Iyanla Vanzant opens up about the death of her daughter, her unexpected divorce, the loss of her home and her tumultuous financial troubles. She's even brutally honest about her contemplation of suicide.

"Vanzant displays the scars of her life with an authoritative honesty, in the hopes of helping someone who might travel a path similar to hers, hurting unceasingly and hoping for help seemingly never on its way." Morris W. O'Kelly, Huffington Post

Vanzant's books have been key in my journey of self-discovery.  It amazes me that even before the more recent series of unfortunate events that have befallen her, she was an abandoned child who was sexually abused, a teen mother, and an abused wife. 
"Facing the truth was one of the bravest things I have ever done. I was addicted. Not to drugs. Not to alcohol. But to unconsciously creating situations from which I needed to be rescued, situations that would allow me to feel bad for myself, that I could wallow in, that I could whine about, that gave me juicy stories to tell. Looking that square in the eye was awful." - Iyanla Vanzant
I continue to wish her well and be inspired by her story.  We cannot be sure of how many times we will fall down, but as long as we keep looking up - we can always get back up.

How many of us grew up with Mary J. Blige? There's something about her voice and her words that always resonates in my soul.

Despite her success, for many years Mary's life was rife with drugs, alcohol and abusive relationships. When she sang "All I really want is to be happy...", I felt her torment; that knowledge that exists just beneath the surface that somehow I was denying my own happiness but not understanding how to stop doing it. When she sang "I like what I see when I'm looking at me when I'm walking past the mirror...", I felt her joy and self-love that she worked so hard to find.

Throughout the ups and downs of her career, music has been there as her outlet. Personally, her music helped me connect with my own emotions time and time again. On September 20, 2011, she'll be releasing her 11th album My Life II, The Story Continues. I can't wait!

Years ago, I saw a documentary about Waris Dirie, a Somalian model who had endured and survived the trauma of female circumcision as a child. Her story stuck with me, for I'd admired her as a model for a long time before I became aware of her story. At the time I couldn't fathom how someone could go through such an appalling thing and get past it.  I was a teenager at the time and an aspiring model.  I viewed the models I admired as "perfect" and their lives as charmed.  As I mentioned earlier, I began to realize that physical appearance, wealth and status were hardly indicators of the content of a person's life.

She wrote an autobiography, Desert Flower, that was recently adapted into a film with the same name with supermodel Liya Kibede playing her. Waris left the modeling world in the late nineties to increase awareness of female circumcision. She's written several books and established the Desert Flower Foundation as well as other projects to raise awareness of female circumcision and to raise money for schools and clinics in Somalia.

Each of these women have made an impact on how I view and deal with my own struggles. I know that both beauty and pain are realities of life. My intention is to give purpose to my pain and these women are ideal examples of how to do so.

Who has inspired you with their testimony or creative expression?
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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

PLPT GEMS: Meet The Ladies of Afiya, LLC

PLPT GEMS presents
Ashley, Jerilyn, and Tiara: The Ladies of Afiya, LLC
Scholars. Synergists. Healthy Hair Gurus.
1. Afiya provides consumers with natural and organic beauty products: How did Afiya get started?
In 2008 Jerilyn went natural and in 2009 I went natural. Both of us found that a lot of the natural products being offered weren't truly natural and also that a lot of them were very expensive. So Jerilyn started mixing up shea butter with different ingredients and eventually we started to do more research on natural ingredients that promoted healthy hair and hair growth. Later on we sent some samples to be tested by Tiara and she distributed the product to her co-workers. Everyone started to place orders and here we are 1 year later still in business.
2. What obstacles were overcome to get the company up and running?
I wouldn't say we had any obstacles to get our company up and running. Afiya took off faster than expected when we started and the first year has been great! With our busy schedules as full time students, one of our obstacles has been making time to travel to promote our business. We'd love to be able to travel more and get the products into more hands but time doesn't permit us to do so unless it's the summer.
3. Is Afiya your full time occupation? If not, how do you balance it with your other responsibilities?
Yes, Afiya is a full time occupation along with school. Jerilyn and I are both full time graduate students. Tiara works along with us part time. The key to managing school and the business is having a schedule and sticking to it.
4. How do you stay motivated and overcome doubt, fear and negative thinking?
PRAYER! Having a business in a recession takes a lot of prayer. Also, our customers keep us motivated. Just hearing the great testimonials about how our product helped someone through their transition process to natural, or how our eczema butter healed their skin makes this business worthwhile.
5. What advice would you offer to others who are searching for their purpose or are afraid to take the first step towards their dreams?
I would say just step out on faith! If you have an idea or a product that you think is worth sharing with the world just do it! Afiya started as an experiment and look at us now! Make sure that you do your paperwork and establish yourself as a legal business to assure that no one steals your ideas and surround yourself with people who love and support you.
6. Name someone who has inspired you and why.
Our parents have been a great source of inspiration throughout this entire process. They have a tremendous work ethic that laid the foundation for our work ethic, and our drive for success.
7. PLPT is all about nurturing the synergy of inner and outer "pretty". How do you feel your products promote this balance?
Afiya is an all natural chemical free product line. Our products are designed to nurture our customers inside and out! We believe that beauty begins on the inside and is magnified on the outside.
8. How can people connect with you?
We have a number of ways to communicate with everyone. Our shop site is and our official website is Also feel free to email us at Lastly we're on two social networks: and
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Monday, April 4, 2011

The Price Must Be Right - Revisited

Singer, Ayo

One of the keys to happiness is accepting that everything has a price. It’s up to you to determine if what you think you want is worth the price. There is a price to being in a relationship, and there is also a price to not being in a relationship. There is a price to being a working mom and a price to being a stay-at-home mom. Either pay up or let it go. You won’t know if you are willing to pay up until you have a realistic view of the cost implications and rewards. In other words, what are you willing to sacrifice and why?

We don’t always want what we think we want. Many of us spend so much of our lives seeking recognition, never developing or using the benefits of the things we do naturally. Many people dream about owning their own business, only to find out that they don’t like the demands and responsibilities of being their own boss. Perhaps you think you want to marry a rich professional basketball player until you experience the lonely side of being married to someone who’s away from home 80% of the time. It’s so easy to romanticize someone else’s situation and glorify all the things that you don’t have, but how many people can truthfully say that they know what it takes to acquire and maintain these things? Moreover, do the things you want truly align with who you are and your divine traits and talents?

Often, we think we want things because of the validation and approval we think we’ll get from sources outside of ourselves. If we would stop chasing other people’s dreams, we might find that we have our own ideas and abilities that can lead us to our own unique abundance. Whatever you spend your life's energy doing, you must be willing to give it your all through the ups and downs and the uncertainty. Yes there is always a price, but if you are investing in things that you are passionate about, you will always be rich and the flow of possibility will be limitless. The more of yourself that you put into your hopes and dreams; the greater the reward.

Are you dreaming about attaining things that you have no desire to roll up your sleeves and work for?

My 4/4/11 Response:

I wrote this almost two years ago, and it resonates with me even more now.  I realize that the reason success seemed so elusive to me in my twenties was because I wasn't putting myself into my dreams.  I had lofty ideas of success, but no cognizant connection with my passion.  I would half-heartedly try this or that, but I never stuck with anything.  Now I know that I didn't stick with things because I wasn't passionate about them.  At the time, I made the assumption that I just was a lazy person that didn't have "the right stuff."

Once I started putting energy into things that I love to do, not for the fame or success - but just for the love of it; I realized that it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks, how much it pays, or how hard I have to work.  Success is doing what you love to do.  Period.

Have you (or someone you know) ever gotten caught in the trap of reaching for a goal for the wrong reasons like money, status or fame?  How did it turn out? 
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Friday, April 1, 2011

Love Notes - Friday 4/1/11

What's more freeing than having faith that good things will come to us, without having to worry about "how" they're going to happen?! I can't think of anything either. Happy Friday!
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