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My She Daily Article

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This has been the most transparent I have ever been and it had not been for my support system such as my Crown Lens Media Group family, my husband, my son, my sister/friend Kamisha Johnson, my best friend Bianca Rhodes, supports of my work and many others Protect Your Crown: An Insight Into Mental Health would not be possible. This was a very humbling experience, thank you Melessa for this amazing opportunity.

 

http://mydailyshe.com/2017/07/18/protect-your-crown/

Its Been Awhile

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Transparency and Honesty Time:

I know its been awhile since I’ve Written but as we all have encountered, life continues to move forward and often we get thrown off course a few times. My life lately has taken me places that I do not like to be and its been very difficult for me to find the motivation to write. It has brought me back to a few of my dark places that I thought I have gotten passed and forgotten. It has tested me over and over again, trying to break my spirit, influence my way of thinking, and has brought out emotions I do not enjoy dealing with. The heads of depression and anxiety has been having an all out party, dancing so much that it had affected my health. In all honesty, the negative forces and powers that be have been trying to break me. With all of the chaos, I had to take a break from almost everything. I had to regroup and give myself time to process and be still.

My mother has always told me at a young age “You cannot save the world and you are no good to anyone else if you are not right with you”. Often times, as a lot of woman tend to do, we carry everyone’s load. I think it sometimes has to do with it being easier to decipher, and fix everyone else’s experiences or take care of everyone else, that we neglect ourselves and fail to carry, decipher, and take care of our own stuff. It’s easier to analyze, advise, and give feedback to others instead of listening to our voice within ourselves about ourselves. I will tell you from an on going experience for myself, I refuse to live this way any longer. When living this way, I find that I am living for others and through others experiences and not my own which can be very draining.

My hope for myself is to live a fruitful, peaceful, and amazing life. The burdens that are brought to me by others are not my burden to bare. It does not mean that I will not support and love unconditionally, yet it means I will not care the burden for anyone.  I will lift  up in prayer, lend an ear, encourage and hold their hand while they figure it out. There will be no judgment in the process but I will be truthful.

The other thing that I have been dealing with is acceptance. Not from someone else but acceptance of myself in all aspects. Even though I have moments that portray confidence, its sometime difficult for me to accept my power, my beauty, my greatness. I am my own worst critic and sometimes what others see, I don’t. I got pulled to the side by my step mother the other day and preceded to lecture me about one of my videos that was posted on social media. In the video my hair is natural and I had my mini afro and in the video I started apologizing about the look of it. She proceed to tell me “Never apologize for your hair or anything else, you are beautiful!!”. At the time of filming the video, I didn’t realize what I was doing but she was quick to point it out to me.  For many years, I was criticized for the way I looked, the things I did or said and it has stuck with me to some degree. Later that night, I thought about what my step mother said and many others have told me about myself and I felt what she was saying. Its one thing to hear it, its another thing to feel it. I will no longer give others (past or present) that power, especially in words, over my life. I will not allow self-doubt into my thought process. I will continue to give my self positive affirmations and understand the importance of them. I will not apologize for who I am, all that I am doing, and becoming. I am who I am, flaws, greatness and all.

My hope is that if anyone is dealing with any of the things I am/have dealt with to know you are not alone. Life is what you make it, give yourself time to regroup, know what the expectations for life are as well as expectations for yourself. If people, places, or things are not meeting your expectations, you must evaluate and know when to let it go. Know that it will not be easy, know that sometime you may struggle but you will figure it out. Forgive yourself, give yourself credit and continue to move forward.

 

Be Well,

Essence

Guest Writer: Joshua Shabazz

Everyone has a story and everyone’s story is valid. This story is about truth, obstacles, discovering mindfulness and finding balance. I am honored to have New York Times Best Selling Author Joshua Shabazz as a guest writer. It is difficult to come forward and share personal experiences and personal journeys especially as a man of color.  I am proud and thankful that Mr. Shabazz  was willing to come forward to speak his truth with transparency and honesty in order to help others. I thank you and I salute you!

I had been taking care of my dying mother for 6 years. Family would ask is mom ok, what’s going on with her. I’d tell them that she was having kidney issues that led to dialysis. I would tell them about the heart surgery that she needed. Some less serious heart surgeries she was having. But that was a true-lie. It was true that she was having those issues, but what I didn’t say was that my mother was HIV positive. She didn’t want me to tell anyone because she was ashamed of it. She didn’t want the judgment, and I didn’t blame her. I had planned to move to Dallas in 2008 just a few months later, but after my mother shared with me and only me about her truth, I decided to stay. The news broke me down like never before. But now I had to be a strong man for her. But as I watched her deteriorate and dwindle down to a woman that was nearly unrecognizable from the woman that raised me, I began to dwindle as well. My heart shattered as I work to finish my college degree, amidst my wife having a miscarriage at 5 months, losing my grandmother suddenly, and as I watched friends who I trusted turn their backs and walk away. All this while trying to maintain a home, be a father to my kids, and be a decent husband every now and then…. What I didn’t know was I was falling into a pit, mentally and emotionally. My heart was so broken that when my joy left, I didn’t even notice. My passion divorced me and my fire has been exterminated. Then through a series of irrational decisions, it all began to come tumbling down. My marriage destroyed. My home, my family, as well as my mother, all gone. I had to do something. Prayer helped, but I needed more. I began to seek help. I wish I could say it took one day, it didn’t. I was diagnosed with major depression, anxiety and PTSD. I realize that it would be a continuous journey of mental wellness in order to live and love again. Along with ongoing counseling, I began to work out 3-5 days a week, and began to take all natural substances to help me.

To regain mental balance, along with reconnecting spiritually with God on a daily basis thru prayer and study. I cut out negative people, music, negative messages on TV, etc. Natural substances that I began to take was:

  •  Multivitamin (Over the counter)
  • Magnesium (Anxiety)
  • Bebeerine (Digestion)
  • Vitamin D (Energy)
  • St. Johns Wart (Serotonin, feel good mechanism in brain) fights depression -Juicing fruits and vegetables (I hate vegetables and salads with everything in my soul)
  • Regular exercise

My prayer is that this reaches someone and changes someone’s life. Your new life is just a few good choices away!! I’ll meet you there!

One Luv,

Joshua Shabazz

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Joshua Shabazz– Father, Author, Speaker, entrepreneur and life teacher.

“I Have been working in the communities of Minneapolis and St. Paul since the age of 13. Growing up poor there were many community resources that helped my family get by, and as an adult I’ve enjoyed giving that back to other family by serving them in various ways over the last 20 plus years. My only goal is to live a life with meaning and to leave a legacy that the ones behind me can follow and be proud of”

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For more info about Joshua Shabazz and his books, please visit his website at https://joshuawatson3.wixsite.com/j-shabazzbooks

LIVE

Prince

As we approach the one year anniversary of Prince Roger Nelson transition, I felt it was only fitting to talk about what I have learned from him, in life and since his transition. I don’t need to get into details on how and what I know of him but he has been apart of me and my family’s life for many years. Most know him as an icon, a superstar, the best to ever do it. Yet, what he wanted to be known for was much different. He wanted to be known for not only his music but the message in his music, he wanted to touch others in ways that no one else could. He wanted people to think outside of the box instead of going with what people thought was “normal” if there is a such thing. He talked politics, world issues, sex, love, romance, and partying. Prince didn’t set out to be this huge famous superstar.  Like so many of us, he wanted to be heard. The more people doubted him or thought he was different, the more he lived out loud and the more different he became. I know at times it was not easy being who he was, like most people who live in the limelight, you have people and negative energy around you, it is very difficult to tell who is dedicated to you and your vision, which is why he was very private and very selective. He wasn’t afraid to speak his mind, and even throw a little shade every now and then. He spoke out about the importance of artist knowing their rights and protecting there music and legacy from those who may try to profit off of their hard work.

Now, I’m sure all of the things I listed is common knowledge whether you knew him or not so I will simply get to the point. To me, Prince did something that a lot of us are afraid to do, LIVE. Often, we are fearful of living because we are afraid of the unknown, afraid of the outcome, afraid of being criticized or judged. How can one know what they are capable of if one doesn’t try? We must get better at believing in the unbelievable, conquering our fears and knowing that we are capable of doing anything we set our mind to, we just have to do it. Life is what you make it and if you live in fear, you’ll look up and before you know it, life has passed you by. If you’re afraid of making mistakes, you must understand that you are human and that a mistake should be viewed as a lesson. Accept the lesson, learn from it, and continue to move forward.

Often, when someone passes away, we talk about how they died. We talk about if there was anything that could have been done to have prevent it from happening, especially if it was a sudden death. We must understand that transitioning is a part of life. We all will go through it regardless of when and how, for only the highest power knows. Besides, its not about how or when you leave this life, its about how you lived it and what you leave behind. What are you doing in your life today or in the near future to leave you mark on others? Are you doing things that are fulfilling in your life? Are you living or just existing? What is your legacy you want to leave behind? Are you sharing your gift(s) or hiding it? These are the questions that we must ask ourselves from time to time, I know it is something I think about very often. The importance of life is living, plan and simple. Some may feel the Purple One left us too soon, for he had so much left to give and so much more life to live. I believe the highest power put him on earth to do exactly what he needed him to do and that it was time for him to do his work elsewhere. I know, like many love ones we lost, that is a hard and awful pill to swallow to know that they are no longer with us physically. Yet, I truly believe that energy, especially of his caliber, never dies. If you pay close attention, he never left.

In closing, the greatest thing that I learned from the Purple One is to live your best life. Love without fear, give without expecting something in return, appreciate what you have instead of dwelling on what you don’t have. Prince lived his life the way he wanted with no rules and sometimes with no plan. From traveling the world, giving back to others, learning every instrument that you can imagine by ear, creating an art form that no one else can touch for years, even decades to come and so much more.  He stepped into his purpose without any hesitation or regret. He was a man with a gift and he decided to share it with the world. I am very thankful to have been able to watch, listen, and learn.

 

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Be Well,

Essence

 

Guest Writer Kamisha Johnson, LGSW

My sister is back with words of wisdom and guidance to help uplift and enlighten the masses. I hope you enjoy this read as much as I did. Thank you so much sis, love you 🙂

The Importance of Self-Empowerment

As a therapist, I see many people that come in reporting that they have low self-esteem and low self-confidence. More often than none, we find ourselves attaching how we feel about ourselves based on how another person is treating us. For example, I hear people say “My Husband is emotionally abusive, so I feel like I am unlovable or think I am a bad person and deserve it.” I too, at times have fell into the tight grips of low self-esteem and negative societal norms. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness there are 6.9 % (16 million) Americans that suffer from a Major Depressive Disorder” (http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers). I would bargain that these numbers are in correlation with how the person was treated by a love done, friend, co-worker or peers. Them being mistreated by a person exacerbated their depression symptoms. This is a problem and is the reason why I decided to write. We must reconstruct our way of negative thinking and self-talk. We should challenge those thoughts and get in the habit of saying positive statements about ourselves. One way to increase positive self-talk is incorporating positive affirmations into our daily activities. According to New thought practicing positive thinking and self-empowerment fosters a belief that promoting a positive mental behavior by creating affirmations will help you achieve success in anything. Furthermore, this practice can be one of many tools to promote strong mental health. Some positive affirmations to say out loud daily include: “I Am Strong,” “I Am Beautiful,” “I Am Amazing,” “I Am greater than my worse mistakes,” “I Am Enough.” When you are done completing these affirmations you should smile. Yeah, yeah, I know this sounds weird. However, research shows that when we smile, it sends a message to our brain and releases serotonin which is a natural anti-depressant. So, smile even when it is difficult 😊 It is imperative that we understand that self-love is essential in being our best self. We cannot expect for others to love us at the capacity we deserve to be loved, if we do not even love ourselves. Being self-absorbed, arrogant or conceited is not the type of self-love I am referring to. I am speaking of just being happy waking up in the morning, looking in the mirror and being pleased with your reflection. We must tell ourselves frequently how phenomenal we are. Once we can master the importance of self-love we will exude this love, which in turn we will attract, love. Embrace who you are! Love who you are, flaws and all. This is when we will reach true happiness within.

 

Be Light,

 

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Kamisha Johnson, LGSW

Holistic Psychotherapist

I’m Taking It One Day At A Time

a-level-of-self-love-life-quotes-sayings-picturesIt has been a somewhat of a difficult week for me, for life happened. Between trying to stay afloat at work, maintaining my household, putting time, love, and effort into my communities, families, and friends with projects, events, and beyond, all this while trying to find time for myself and keeping my mental issues under control has been exhausting in every sense of the word. I think one of the biggest obstacles I deal with the most, is dealing with self doubt and not recognizing the great things in my life or how far I have come. Sometimes, its the minor set backs that I focus on so much, that I don’t spend as much time focusing on the goodness in my life and the goodness I have put out to the world. If I have one person that has a negative opinion of me, my work or one thing and I have 100 people that are positive or I have succeeded in multiple tasks or goals, I will focus on that one person or thing that is  negative. I know a lot of it has to do with my anxiety, for when it hits, I tend to obsess over certain things more than others. This is the part of anxiety that I dislike the most and I am continuously working on every single day.  Everyday is a struggle but for the most part, I have been able to deal with things, yet this week has been a whirlwind. I have said “If it ain’t one thing, its another”, several times which I have always tried to refrain from saying. Yet, one thing about me is I am a fighter and I was determine to find a way to decompress and find different ways to stop my mind from racing, diminish self doubt, and show myself more love than I have been.

As much as I journal, write positive affirmations and keep them around me, I decided to do something a little different. I am a visual person, I have always worked better in taking in things when I see it. So, I decided to start making videos for myself, reminding myself of why self love is so important and recapping the accomplishments that I have done for the week. Even something as simple as staying coffee free, working out, making a new dish, I record myself a video message to remind myself of the positive things in my life. I love watching inspiration videos from others, yet it is a little different when it is coming from the person you should love the most…YOU. Its like a video positivity jar that I can always go back, review, hear, and see all of the things you have accomplished. I even got my son involved so that he understands the importance of loving yourself even at a young age.

Speaking of my son, I think that is the biggest thing that I have to keep in mind is whatever I do and all that I do, my baby is watching, good, bad, or indifferent, so I must always ask myself, what am I exposing my son to? At his age, he is very influenced and impressionable, so whatever I am saying or doing, he is seeing it with a fresh pair of eyes and ears which are like sponges. I have to be a great example for him and make sure that I am putting positive energy for not only my sake but for his as well.

Lastly, I had to remind myself that change does not happen overnight and I must take it one day at a time. I must remind myself that I have a lot to give to the world and at the end of the day, if no one shows up for me, I must show up for myself. While giving happiness, I deserve happiness as well, but there must be an understanding that as much as I want to give to the world, I must give to myself first. I say it to people all the time, love yourself first, yet I can be honest with you all and myself, that it is easier said than done, for I may not always do.

With each day I take, I must be thankful and grateful, trust myself and the path the God has set fourth for me.  I cannot be in fear of the unknown, I cannot allow negative thoughts, words, or feeling interfere with my destiny.

Be Well,

Essence

 

Ladies, This Is For Us!!!

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To the women you continue to uplift, build, and care for others,

to those that continue to fight, break down barriers, and overcome obstacles and still be mothers,

To the single mothers, the single ladies, independent, hard working women,

To the women that are taking care of business while nurturing their men and children,

To the women that are building and running Empires on no to little sleep,

To the women that keep going, knowing there’s no time to weep,

For you are my sisters, my mothers, grandmothers, and girlfriends,

A day is not enough to express our gratitude in the end,

For you are the reason this world continues and life even evolve,

although men may feel they have the package, it’s the women who have the balls.

To the women who raised me, to the woman that made me, to my sisters that had my back,

Today is the day to stand up and say “Girl, you did that!!”

Happy International Women’s day to all of my sisters!!!! Let’s continue to shine!

Be Well,

Essence

You Can’t Please Everyone

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In life, everyone has their strengths and everyone has their weakness. One of my weaknesses is that I am a people pleaser. I am a person who tends to put others needs before my own, I worry about not only others well being but I tend to take on their problems as well. If it is someone I love and care about, their opinion and feeling towards what I do, effects me tremendously. I have been told at a very young age that I take on a lot more than I should. When you combine that with me being sensitive and vulnerable at times, it does effect my mental health and self esteem. I begin to have self doubt or sometimes I would base my decisions on others, even if in my heart or mind disagreed. I would often be conflicted within, because I wanted all parties involved to be happy. I also had this unhealthy motto “If I give others what they wanted, they would give me what I needed”.

Honestly, this has been a issue for me since I was fairly young. My mother would always tell me “I know you want everyone to be your friend and to like you but not everyone will. You have to be your own best friend first and everything will fall into place.” Although I took in what she told me, low self esteem, self doubt, unhealthy relationships and friendships dulled her words.

It wasn’t until I was much older that I had to stop and realize that I cannot do everything for everybody and I for damn sure cannot please everybody. I had to stop and ask myself what is it in me causes me to bite off more than I can chew or what in me allows others thoughts and opinion to dictate what I do or don’t do? I had to do a lot of reflecting and soul searching because ultimately, it started with me. I had to get to the point where I had to:

  • Re-evaluate  who I surrounded myself with- I had to ask myself are those around me having a negative effect on me by being judgmental/negative or was what they were saying or doing coming from a place of love? I also had to be aware of what kind of energy they were taking into their spirit. Being an Empath, whatever energy one surrounds themselves with, I take that energy into my spirit, like mirror neurons.  If their life and way of thinking was a total mess, I had to separate myself from it.

  • Celebrate strengths/accomplishments versus highlighting weaknesses/failures- I try to look at everything that I do and say “Girl, you did that” even for the smallest accomplishments. I reflect on how far I have come and what I am doing in the present and sometimes I have to cry happy tears (with my sensitive self :)).

  • Forgive myself- I speak about this quite frequently because it took me a long time to forgive myself for decisions and things that I have done in my life. Yet, at the end of the day, they were all lessons learned and all things have helped mold me into who I am today. You cannot change what has already happened nor can you predicted the future. You have to forgive, accept, and move forward.

  • Give yourself permission- We all go through things in our lives where we try to be strong and hold our emotions in or show no emotion at all. You must give yourself permission to process emotions, feelings and thoughts. Allow your heart to break if necessary, cry, scream, do what you have to, but don’t stay down for too long. There is still much work to do for self.

  • Accept it- You just have to accept that there will always be doubters, haters, those that try to question who you are and what you stand for. They are entitled to do so but you have to accept people for who they are and accept what they are showing you. At the end of the day, its about what YOU think, YOU set the tone for your life.

  • Know your values, what you stand for and honor them- I had to ask myself what does Essence stand for and follow? Is it Kindness, Love, Integrity? Is it empathy for others? Once you establish your values, it will be easier for you to accept who you are and when others try to be apart of your life, they will have to fall within those values as well.

  • It’s ok to say “NO”- This is always difficult because being a mother hen myself, I want to help everyone. Sometimes, there will be things that you just cannot do. There is no sense of you stressing and you must be honest with yourself and others when there is something you just can’t do, especially with adults. You have to let grown folks be grown folks and allow them to figure things out. As my friend Sanni Brown says “Not my monkey, not my circus.”

  • Pay it forward- There is nothing like the happiness that I feel when I helping others. By doing something nice for others you are setting the tone for your life and you may encourage others to do the same. What you put out there, you will receive back ten fold.

  • Me, myself, and I- If you have nothing or no one, you always have YOU. Treat yourself how you would want others to treat you. Talk to yourself, compliment yourself, take care of yourself, hell, take yourself out.  You can choose to be your own worst enemy or your own best friend. The choice is ultimately yours.

 

Be Well,

Essence

 

The Skin I’m In

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“You’re too dark”
“You’re weird”
“Are you ok? You look like you put on some weight!”
“You dress like a dude”
“You’re too tall”
“You need to workout”
“You’re too nice””You’re too sensitive””You’re not good enough””I’m tired of you””You’re a B*tch”I wish you were like my homegirls”

The statements that you see before you have been the statements made towards me throughout my life. From family members, those that I thought were friends, and those that I’ve dated. Though it may be surprising to some and for others they see it as just words. For me, these words at one point, had power. These words were said so often, I began to believe it and began taking them into my spirit. With that, low self-esteem, depression, disliking who I was, questioning who I was, and trying to be something I wasn’t to the point I was putting myself in toxic situations, came into play. I remember trying to starve myself and working out the point of passing out just to keep my shape in college because I was told I was starting to put on weight. I remember trying to keep up with the labels and fashions while letting bills fall behind just to impress people for I was worried what others might think or say. I remember giving ex lovers my time, attention, and money, making sure they were taken care over, although I received nothing in return. I remember saying sorry for things or taking the blame for something that I knew was not my fault, just to keep the peace and/or to be liked or accepted.

What is ironic about it all is at one time, I was mentoring young girls on how to have self love and self respect, yet I wasn’t doing that for myself. I would conduct discussions and activities along side my mentor focusing how to build self confidence and self worth, when at the time I couldn’t do that for myself. One thing I was very good at was masking my pain and what I was going through. Most days, I wouldn’t even look myself in the mirror because I didn’t like was I saw. I mainly wore black because that was how I saw things in my world. When in public, I always tried to be fun and bubbly but when I got home, I would cry or overthink everything that had transpired. There were times I was disappointed with myself for not being what others wanted me to be or I felt I didn’t meet expectations of what was made for me by others. See, what people said or thought, mattered to me. When it was negative, it set the wheels in motivation for a negative path and a negative way of thinking.

It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s when came to the realization that those words, statements, and others like it had power because I gave it power. No one or nothing can have power over you unless you allow it. I had to learn to love the skin I’m in. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy but all I knew is that I was tired. Tired of hurting, tired of trying to keep up, tired of hearing voices, doubts, and statements from others. I was willing to do what ever it took to get back to me and loving what I saw.

I took baby steps, started writing more. What ever was on my mind, good, bad, or indifferent, I began to write down. I started controlling my response to things. I may not be able to control others, but I can control actions. I began to think before reacting, because as humans, when tend to react as soon as something is stated or done and a lot of times we don’t think things through. Bottom line, I was taking my power back and following the “Stick and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” motto.

Today, with me finally loving who I am and who I have become, doesn’t mean just my physical, its all of me. Me, myself, and I have a understanding of one another and we have a bond that can never be diminished or broken. No longer will I be put in somebody else’s box or be labeled as if I’m going to be categorized to fit some type of group or mold. I may not meet the so called expectations of others but I exceed my own.

I love my sense of humor, I love my drive, I love the way I love life and the people who are in it. I love that I was able to overcome obstacles and still stand with my head held high. I love my creativity and ideas no matter how big or small they might be. I love my sense of adventure and how I have learned to enjoy life more. I love that I don’t take myself too serious and I can still laugh at myself from time to time. I love that I am not afraid of the unknown and still working on being better for me. I love my skin, my hair, my size, my features because it is what makes me unique.  I love the skin I’m in, others just need to deal with it.

 

Be Well,

Essence