22 Things I know for sure + Week Long Birthday Freebies

Does your birthday month tend to make you as introspective as mine makes me?

It feels so odd to me that by the first day of November every year, I automatically start re-evaluating my life and my year. I get really introspective about lessons learnt and go through the process of forgiving myself for mistakes made.

This year the lovely ladies of BGIO were using their birthdays as an opportunity to reflect and share things they know for sure. Obviously I decided that it would be a great idea to share these reflections.

If you would rather skip over the lovely & quite humorous list of 22 straight down to the end of the post where I talk about all the lovely gifts YOU will be getting because it's my birthday week, I promise you won't hurt my feelings but I also promise that the list of 22 has some nuggets of wisdom that could potentially change your life!!  

Now onto the list of 22 things I know for sure in no particular order of importance.

  1. We can create the kind of lives we want. It's hard but not impossible.
  2. Knowlegde is freely available but wisdom comes with battle scars. 
  3. Heart beauty > body beauty.  
  4. Shakira was right, hips don't lie.  
  5. I don't cook and clean and nurture because I am woman, but because I am human. 
  6. Vulnerability will break you but it will heal you with a serum that not only puts you back together but also makes you stronger and more resilient.  
  7. Confidence is not a liability. 
  8. God isn't interested in "using" me, He is interested in partnering with me..but I can always say no.  Freewill is a wild ride.
  9. If I had to do it all over again, I would still be a 5'1 woman with thick juicy lips & thighs that touch,  a really complicated last name, and my exact same lovely and sometimes contradictory personality. 
  10. Age is just a number! It doesn't define anything.  
  11. My mom is the exact definition of a superhero and my dad is a real life angel sent to earth to make us question life as we know it [so basically I am the product of a superhero + an angel]. :)
  12. Show up, build things, take up space - that's why I was sent to earth.  
  13. NYC is my spirit animal. 
  14. I reserve the right to change (my mind, tribe, opinions, passions).
  15. Sometimes we just need to stop fighting. 
  16. I am not care free no matter how much I try to be.  
  17. Maktub [go read the Alchemist to get this]. 
  18. The goal is not to be perfect but to become.
  19. Everything has a cost - weigh your costs. 
  20. Time is your slave not your master.  
  21. The more you give, the more you get. 
  22. God absolutely loves the hell out of me [this is actually a  theological statement].

 

NOW for the Birthday freebies:  

Every few years on my birthday I like to add something to the world rather than take something from it. This year is one of those years! Every day this week I will do a special reveal/give a freebie but you have to go to my Facebook page by noon everyday to get access to the freebie or be on my special friends email list.

  • On Tuesday I will be sharing a special travel guide with lots of awesome hacks for people who are looking to travel more in 2017.
  • On Wednesday I will be making a special announcement for THRIVE African Girl and unveiling our new project about storytelling in media.  [hint, it involves stories and podcasts and lots of fun girl time].
  • On Thursday I will be sharing about "The Art of Slow." It's a little book that I may or may not have written and how you can get your hands on it. 
  • On Friday (my actual birthday) I will be sharing all about Afangideh Global - which is the most exciting thing in my life to date because it will literally change people's lives and that's what we are here for right?
  • On Saturday I will be sharing some events I am collaborating with other amazing people on that will be going on in 2017 AND you do not want to miss out on those! 
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ON GRAND GESTURING YOURSELF; NYC 2016 & WELL SUMMIT

Grand gesture Yourself

 

“Grand Gesture Yourself”

I slowly muttered that to myself as I waited in line at JFK to board my plane to NYC because at that exact moment all the doubts hit in my mind:

Is this even worth it?

holy mess! How much did I just spend on hotels again?

Is this some '20 something crisis?'

Going to New York wont teach me anything that I don't already know!

What if I don't fit in with the other people at the WELL Summit?

 

“Grand Gesture Yourself, Salem. This is not about anything other than doing a grand gesture for your heart.”

I've often shared how self care is not the easiest for me! I know its not easy to tell when I talk about it so much and appear to do it so well, but lean in and let me tell you a secret – its tough. My heart crumbles into a million pieces when I consider that people will think I'm lazy or wasteful of my resources, but then again its not about what any one else thinks. Thats the core of grand gesturing yourself.

What counts as a grand gesture to yourself?

Something that is completely irrational to every one else looking in, but to you its something large and extravagant that means the world to you.

I guess at this point I'll tell you a little story pre-grand gesture that gives a little context as to why:

In October I realized that so many big changes were about to happen so fast in my life and it honestly scared the confidence out of me. Was I ready? I had just now gotten into a good 'adulting' routine and now I would be adding more responsibility that could upset homeostatis. What would these changes mean for me financially? Lots of uncertainty started seeping in. Lots of things that I had been keeping as options needed some good closure and a decent burial. And I was honestly terrified at the new doors that were opening up.

Btw, these are all good changes, things I am legitimately excited about (and will be sharing soon in a new post) – but to my heart a change always feels like a death of something familiar, and any opportunity to give more of myself requires more strength in opening myself to be scrutinized and to potentially fail. I knew that I needed to take the time to regain confidence and prove to my heart that I could be faithful to caring for myself in a new season of life with lots more responsibility.

I knew that I needed confidence and to be in a place with people who prioritize wellness – but I had no clue with that would look like.

Within a couple of days I heard about the WELL Summit (a curated event thats all about wellness, empowerment, learning, and luxury).

As I sat on my bed listening to one of my favorite podcasters [shout out to Lauren Ash of Black Girl In Om] share about this fabulous event she was speaking at for the weekend in New York City, my heart knew that a weekend to NYC was exactly the kind of grand gesture it needed.

 

NYC has always been the place I feel most confident. Every time I visit there, the city has always has a gift to give to me and I always leave feeling like I can take on the world. It heals me. It connects me to people who are so similar to me. It fills me in so many rich ways. And honestly after a day spent navigating the subway system and the streets, I feel different and sufficient.

As soon as the thought of NYC got into my head I could not shake it off – no matter how much I wanted to. And after lots of talking about it, analyzing it, asking God for signs, trying not to get too excited so I don't get disappointed, analyzing the pro's and con's, I was sitting standing in line about to board my plane to NYC!

A couple of more “grand gesture yourself” pep talks later and I was actually in the air on my way to my favorite city in North America. And a few hours later as my plane was getting ready to land – I looked out into the city and the tears just started pouring. These were proud tears from my heart because I had actually taken the time to do something big for me.

Let me tell you, true to form my heart knew exactly what I needed because my days in NYC left me feeling full, expectant, and competent for the new challenges ahead. The time to clear my head, to eat halal food, to be close to the water, to be around thousands of other people in Time Square, to worship at Hillsong NYC, to attend the WELL SUMMIT!

Well summit

 

WELL SUMMIT was everything I could have hoped for and more:

I met fabulous people!!

Got lots of yummy treats!

Drank so much cactus water that I forgot what real water tasted like...jk, but seriously!

Healed from a lot of things I didn't even realize I needed healing from [thank you Cyndie]

Created a new mantra that encapsulates a new vision of where I see myself headed

Had so many opportunities for gratitude.

As I step back into my new roles and a new season back in Alabama, I hope I will always remember that sometimes I just need to get out of my head a bit and check in with my heart. I know little acts of self care will always be entrenched into my routine, but I hope I practice grand gesturing myself a bit more because when I love myself large I have more capacity in me to serve and love other people without expecting anything from them.

 

grand gesture yourself

 

 

What to do when there is nothing to do...

If you've kept up with any of my blogs before, you know that I am a pretty big advocate of authenticity in my writing so here you go - a post about reality. 

A few months ago I made a promise to myself that when I feel stressed, anxious, or not doing okay, I will not numb but rather I will breathe into the discomfort that I am currently feeling and just be there in the feeling.

I don't know how fun that sounds to you but it is one of the hardest thing I have to do. I am a big fan of positive emotions and the idea of settling into a negative emotion without trying to make it go away is not fun for me.

This week has been usually hard - work stress, personal stress, brain stress, life stress, 20 something stress.

Now I have methods of stress coping but have been pretty dang ungrateful because none of my stress management protocols were doing a very effective job of making me feel better. 

Have you ever had days, weeks, months like that? 

Where you've tried everything you know - the tea, the yoga, the breathing, the self help, the communication and nothing is working?

What to do when there's nothing to do?

I have been coming back to that phrase in my mind all week because I am a fixer, a problem solver by nature and by profession. However the reality is that some times there is nothing to do. Some times there is no quick fix. There are no easy answers. There are no books to read about it.

Some times the only thing you can do when there is nothing to do is put one foot in front of the other and keep moving along in the journey of life.

That was the answer that kept coming to me and it felt pretty cliche so I kept trying to dig deeper, to research more, to find an answer, to create peace. More new age chill music playlist. More prayers. More throwing myself into work projects. More hours of sleep at night.

What to do when there's nothing to do?

Today I got a reminder that made me absolutely certain that the best thing to do when there is nothing to do is to keep moving. In the middle of my workday I got a reminder that tomorrow will be a year since the second life threating motor vehicle accident I have been in. It stopped me in my tracks. The entire scene replaying before my head.  I was inches away from crashing into a gas tank and potentially setting my car and myself on fire. It should have been worse. It could have been worse. My life was spared by God. 

So maybe in the middle of my quarter life crisis week, I may not get an answer, I may not get stress relief in the way I am craving - but the only thing I can do when there is nothing to do is keep moving. I can keep living with the conviction that my life has some value. That Someone out there is looking out for me. That I am not completely alone. That everything will all come together in a beautiful way someday soon.

What to do when there's nothing to do?

Keep breathing

Keep moving

Keep walking

 

 

One Year As A Lawyer - Reflections on A Life in Law.

May 9th 2015 - I added the words ESQ to my name. A title that had taken 3 years to earn in theory but in reality considering the fact that at the age of 6 I had chosen the legal profession, it felt like my whole life and educational career had lead up to that moment.

The moment.

The pure magical moment when I heard my name called by one of my favorite legal minds & law school father (Professor LaGard Smith), walked up the stage praying my black stilettos would hold me up, shook some hands, smiled for some pictures, shook some more hands and received my 'diploma' 

law school graduation

Pure magic. 

The moment when you get called back on stage as one of the 3 people in your class to receive a graduation award.

law school award

That moment when you know that you have earned a professional degree by your sheer brain power - no handouts, no favors, no politics, no friends in high places. Just you, your God, your brain, your note book, your perseverance, your tears, your charts, your grit, every single day for your entire educational career. That moment when you look out into the crowd and see your people, the ones who went through all of it with you - the good, the bad, the ugly. They showed up for you over and over again.

A moment that in reality doesn't last more than 30 seconds but feels like an eternity. 

I hope everyone gets a moment like that a few times in life.

                                                                          #Squad

                                                                          #Squad

While those were some of the most magical days of my life and the fact that 2 days post-graduation I was getting on a plane and flying home to Africa (a grad gift from my daddy) only made the magic of that week prolonged, I have realized that the days following graduation were the real test of character.

Africa was pretty great - especially when I got to use my knowledge of Immigration law to help a disabled immigrant at the airport who was being mistreated. That was great. But coming back to U.S soil and having to spend the next 2 months, my first 2 months as a lawyer, studying for the Bar exam was not great at all. The 2 days of taking the Bar Exam was only great because I got to spend those nights at a fancy hotel with one of my favorite people. Spending the next month trying to figure out what I 'wanted to do with my life' and applying for jobs was incredibly disappointing and heart wrenching. Waiting for 2 months after the Bar Exam to find out whether I passed the most important exam of my career was excruciating.

As life would have it, September was a good month for me. I started working a pretty great Law Firm that had everything I was looking for in my ideal post-law school first job and I found out that I passed the Bar Exam (after several panic ridden days).

Life as a first-year Lawyer has taught me a few things especially that you are at the very bottom of the pool when it comes to lawyers. Stay gracious and humble at that realization. The learning curve is huge. No matter how many times you read about 'work-life balance' the first time you are faced with the the decision to take work home and offset that balance, you will choose to take work home. Have lots of grace on yourself, there will be a few mistakes and disappointments. Don't take the results of a case personally. Ethics rules are your best friends. Always use a disclaimer.

Life as a brown woman in Law has taught me well how to be a minority in a profession where people automatically assume that you are the client and not the lawyer (even when you have a power suit on). 

Life as an African in the American legal system has taught me that no one is ever going to say my name right the first 10 times - be gracious anyways. 

All things being equal, good days & hard days - law was my semi-magical choice and I don't regret where its taken me and whats its taught me about myself and about the world. Thats the thing about choices though, you just have to make them and be open to learning from them. I chose law and its been a semi-magical year of being entrenched in it. I cannot wait to experience more years with this profession and see where it takes me!

Happy Lawnniversary Jones Class of 2015.

MY CHARGE TO YOU - NOURISH, FLOURISH, SLAY!

HELLO BEAUTIFUL HUMAN!

nourish-flourish-slay

I love how technology has the ability to connect us - here I am sitting right across from you with my 'Zen' tea in hand in the early hours of the morning, wondering what you will be doing when you read this. What are you doing? How has your week been? What mood are you in? Take a second to check in with yourself. Take a deep cleansing inhale and feel it deep from your belly.

Doesn't that feel so great?!

I really love that you chose to spend time with my words. Thank you! I'll make it quick and straight to the point!

I am giving you a charge for today -

Do one thing to Nourish your body, soul, spirit. 

Put yourself in an environment that will help you Flourish.

Completely Slay one thing you do today.

Completely small, actionable, and do-able but it will change your life if you actually do it.

A few months ago I gave myself the same charge just for one day and it has evolved to be a living breathing part in my life. It forced me to evaluate the things I was doing and how nourishing they were to me and really think about the things that nourish. It made me realize that watching TV after a stressful day at work was not in fact nourishing or stress relieving. It helped me notice that I flourish better where there is no clutter and put me on a war against clutter in my spaces and led me to be only surrounded by things that Spark Joy (Thank you Marie Kondo). It also led me to change the way I view productivity, rather than my usual way of adding more things on my to-do list than I could ever get to, I cut my list down by 50% and decided that my goal was to 'slay' at the 50% - I am slaying! Thanks to this charge I have incorporated some big changes to my diet - that were really just small changes at the time (Always eat Kale salads on Saturdays, No meat on Sundays, Meal prep sundays and Wednesdays, 3 fruits & a veggie for lunch most days, Buy groceries at a place that makes you feel good about yourself).

So here's to a charge that will change your life - but don't start on it with the intent to change everything - just do one small thing TODAY. And the day after if you wish. Small changes over time in the grand scheme of life are the big things.

Have a wonderful day my friend and hop on to my instagram page and let me know if you intend to take me up on the charge and how it has changed you!