3 Motivational Podcasts You Should Be Listening to Right Now!

build yourself up createHer

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Okay so I don’t know if you all are into podcasts, but if you aren’t, you’re missing out! I’ve found that motivational podcasts are great for building myself up and providing a positivity boost when I start feeling discouraged. There’s nothing like the testimony of other people that have achieved things that you’re hoping to achieve to keep your eyes on the prize. The best part about podcasts is that you can listen to them while you’re doing almost anything–cooking, doing laundry, working out at the gym, or commuting to work. Even though I consider myself a podcast newbie since I’ve only been listening and researching podcasts for about a year, I’d still like to share three podcasts that I’m loving right now that I think my positively optimistic & powerful readers will love as well.

3 Motivational Podcasts You Should Be Listening to Right Now!

  1. Happy Black Woman Podcast with Rosetta Thurman

I just discovered this new podcast today and I am already in love! The Happy Black Woman website has been on my radar for a little while now, but I had no idea that the website creator, Rosetta Thurman, recently started a podcast. The Happy Black Woman Community is all about helping women change their mindset, leave their 9-to-5 jobs for their own location-independent businesses, travel the world, and pretty-much “live their ideal lives.”

The latest Happy Black Woman Podcast episode that still has me on a motivational high is Episode 001: Changing Your Story and Breaking the Lies featuring Dr. Venus Opal Reese of Defy Impossible, Inc. Dr. Reese went from being a homeless teen on the streets of Baltimore to a formidable millionaire motivational speaker and mentor. You will definitely end up taking notes by the end of this episode. I know I did!

2.  Black Entrepreneur Blueprint

This is one of the very first podcasts I discovered when I really started listening to podcasts about a year ago. It has definitely been the main one I turn to for inspiration on becoming a black entrepreneur. The podcast creator, Jay Jones, is a serial entrepreneur who loves sharing his knowledge to help aspiring and current entrepreneurs “launch, build, and grow successful businesses.”

I have many favorite episodes of Black Entrepreneur Blueprint, but one of the latest ones that really got my juices flowing was Episode 61: Battlefield of the Entrepreneurial Mind, in which he talks about many of the internal and external influences that may hinder us from success as a black entrepreneur. Check it out and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

3. The Ash Cash Show

The Ash Cash Show is another recent discovery of mine. (I swear I prayed and hoped to find more motivational podcasts and they just started popping up for me.) I actually stumbled on this podcast through the creator’s Instagram page (who says social media is all bad!). Ash Cash, a banking professional for over a decade, personal finance expert, motivational speaker, author, among other things, along with cohost Tashima Jones, discuss everything relating to financial advice and motivation. I especially love that just from the very few episodes I’ve listened to so far that it’s clear that Ash has a holistic approach to financial success; his slogan is “change your mind, you change your life.”

Recently, I really appreciated Episode 14: Millennials Revealed with empowerment speaker and millennial expert Tru Pettigrew seeing as how I’m a millennial (hey what’s up with the bad rep we’re getting nowadays?). Yet, this podcast is not only great for helping millennials understand ourselves in relation to our spending habits and professional engagement (amongst other areas), but it’s great for helping other generations connect with us a bit better.

Do you currently listen to any of these podcasts? Do you have others that you’d recommend? I’d love to know in the comments or on Facebook!

Image by I’sha Gaines of HoneyBeNatural Magazine. Location: Dallas, Texas at Main Street Gardens. Courtesy of CreateHER Stock. Licensed under (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Happy World Suicide Prevention Day!

Disclaimer: I have no rights to this photo. Copyright by asboluv, "tortured soul (asboluv - stencil on cardboard)" CC BY 2.0

Disclaimer: I have no rights to this photo. Copyright by asboluv, “tortured soul (asboluv – stencil on cardboard)” CC BY 2.0

This Thursday, September 10, 2015 is World Suicide Prevention Day. Actually, September is National Suicide Prevention month. Because of this, I would like to take a little time to write about suicide since it is one of those topics that is still pretty taboo in most circles. We rarely even think about it until it affects us personally, professionally, or if we happen to see a news headline about it. However, I was surprised to find out, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), that

WHO has implemented a Mental Health Action Plan that aims to reduce suicide worldwide by 10% by the year 2020 and I definitely encourage you to check out their “Preventing Suicide: A Global Imperative” brochure. Drawing from the information I gathered from WHO’s website, other online resources, and just my own 2 cents, I’ve come up with a few simple things that can help each of us work towards reducing the global suicide rate in our daily lives:

  1. Educate yourself about suicide risk factors, signs, and facts. This post doesn’t even skim the surface of the multitude of information available about suicide. The National Institute of Mental Health, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and HelpGuide.Org are great places to start to understand suicide, identify someone who is at-risk, and learn how to help a loved one that may considering taking their own life.
  2. Don’t perpetuate the “all suicidal people are weak or crazy” stigma when discussing suicide (such as in the news) when talking with friends, coworkers, and family members. You never know if someone in your midst is going through a difficult time. It’s a lot harder for people to reach out for help when they feel they will be ridiculed or not taken seriously.
  3. Take care of yourself. Even if you’ve never struggled with mental illness and are very resilient when life throws curveballs your way, never be afraid to reach out for help if you think you may need it. Talking about your feelings with someone that will support you can make a seemingly unbearable situation a lot more bearable. Eating well and exercising can do wonders for your outlook as well!

As in the words of Mr. Stevie Wonder, it’s my hope that “everything is alright, uptight, outta sight” for all of my positively optimistic & powerful readers out there. If it is, I’m hoping you show the people around you that you love them and support them on this World Suicide Prevention Day and everyday thereafter!

If you are in a crisis and are unsure where to turn, hit up the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). According to their website, someone will take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The Power of Vulnerability

Hello lovely popped people!

My New Journal :)

My New Journal 🙂

I know that it has been a long time and I don’t have any very good reason for my long absence except that I had to leave this blog alone to get my mind right. Although my mind is still not completely right, I feel like I’m at a place where I can bring you all along on my journey to living the best positively optimistic & powerful life that I can live. I’ve decided to start journaling again to help me sort through the cobwebs of my mind and to help me focus on obtaining inner peace and self-love. As a part of my new recommitment to journaling (the reasons why I stopped journaling would make a great blog post for another time), I will try to do/read/hear/watch something every day (or every other day) that uplifts and encourages me whether it’s a Bible verse, encouraging podcast, or TED talk.

Today, I watched this great TED talk by Brené Brown called “The Power of Vulnerability.” This talk caught my attention because man ole man do I struggle with being vulnerable. I feel guarded from practically everyone in one way or another so much so that I realize it’s getting in the way of achieving some of the things that I want most out of life, primarily the feeling of belonging. For the longest time, I viewed my fear of vulnerability as simply self-preservation (as well as chalked it up to being a suspicious Scorpio) but now I feel, quite bluntly, that the bullshit has to stop. While I had little control over the circumstances that caused me to have some of my hang-ups, as an adult, I have to take ownership of my mess and put in whatever work it takes, including learning to be more vulnerable, in order to attain healing.

Check out Brené Brown and “The Power of Vulnerability” and let me know if it hits home for you!

Essence Fest 2015 Tips and Tidbits

essence fest welcome sign

I know what you’re thinking…Yes, this is yet another post about Essence Fest 2015, but don’t worry. This will should be the last one! 😉 I just want to quickly shed some insight for those of you that have never been to Essence Fest/NOLA and may be thinking about heading there next year.

Here are some things that I either would have done differently or that I wish I had been prepared for before heading to the Big Easy:

1. Get a hotel in the French Quarter or close to it.
Although I loved the spacious 3-bedroom apartment we found on Airbnb in the Filmore neighborhood (subdistrict of Gentilly), I would recommend getting a hotel downtown so that you can be in the center of the action. Maybe not on Bourbon Street so that you can get some sleep (if you plan on sleeping), but a few blocks over from it. This way you can be within walking distance of French Quarter attractions as well as a short cab ride away from the Mercedes Benz Superdome and the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center for all of the Essence Fest events. Since we were a 15-25 min drive from the French Quarter and the Essence Fest events, having a rental car was great, but it did prevent us from really exploring on foot. I think we would have made better use of our time if we were already close to most of the action and didn’t have to drive to it.

2. Plan on getting up early if you want to see any of the empowerment speakers.
Each day, you will need to be at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center as soon as they open if you plan on seeing any empowerment speakers for that day. The events at the convention center are free and open to the public. This means there may be a ton of people trying to see the same speakers or attend the same workshops as you. You can only grab tickets for events on the day that they will take place; you can’t get the next day’s tickets in advance. The upside is that you can get tickets for yourself and your friends so everyone doesn’t have to show up early to get the tickets if they don’t want to.

3. Plan on not sleeping.
If you come to New Orleans during Essence Fest, you probably will get very little sleep because you won’t want to go home after the concerts in the evening. You probably will want to hit up the French Quarter. That will make it harder for you to get up early and make the most out of the free daily events at the convention center (see number 2). Bring a pack of Red Bull in your suitcase, prepare to guzzle some coffee, or just mentally prepare yourself to be a drunk zombie during your entire trip.

4. Keep that itinerary short.
You will not get to do half of the things you planned to do while in New Orleans.
Most people probably aren’t anal enough as me to make an itinerary, but if you are, know that you won’t get to do half of the things on there. Essence Fest has enough activities to keep you engaged all day, which makes it hard to take time to explore the diverse neighborhoods and dining options in NOLA.

5. You won’t see all of your fav musical performances. Be choosey.
You probably won’t get to see all of the artists that you want to see during the evening concerts at the Superdome. There’s very little time between the main stage performances and the superlounge concerts, which is probably intentional. If the performances didn’t overlap a little, there wouldn’t be nearly enough room in the superlounges. The superlounge concerts are a lot more intimate than the main stage performances. If you get to a superlounge early enough, you could end up standing at the front of the stage. However, getting there early would mean missing a good chunk of the main stage performance happening at the moment. I missed out seeing Raheem Devaughn perform in a superlounge, which I heard was amazing, only to see a disappointing mainstage performance by Missy Elliot. I’m still pissed at myself about that. Be warned!

Have you been to Essence Fest this year or in previous years? What would you do differently if you go again?

Feel the Wrath of My Keyboard (My New Grievance with the Chicago Park District)

A part of being positively optimistic and powerful is standing up for yourself and for others that are mistreated or marginalized. This doesn’t require a lot of neck-twisting, eye-rolling, or cussin’ folks out. We have so much more power than we think we do simply by expressing our grievances as calmly and respectfully as we can. Sometimes, this may require us stepping back from the situation to calm our emotions and put our unintelligible, angry thoughts into a form that is clear and persuasive.

We all have different strengths. My husband is a persuasive speaker. He probably can convince a dog that it’s actually a cat. Although I can be articulate when I want to be, I know for sure that I can go into beast mode when I write. I would rather treat someone’s life with my pen rather than play the dozens with my mouth (but best believe I have my moments!).

Two years ago, I had to put my treat-your-life writing skills to work when a Chicago Public Library employee treated me like one of Cinderella’s black step-sisters. I won’t go into the details of the incident, partly because I half remember it and also because the specifics aren’t important. One of the library employees, not sure of her title, was unnecessarily rude so I took it upon myself to send a very long, detailed email to a general email address that I found on the Chicago Public Library website (info@chipublib.org in case you need to put someone in their place).

I didn’t really think anyone would respond. My husband didn’t think anyone would respond. However, I had to give it a shot because I was so upset about the incident. To our surprise, I received the following email: (Note that I removed the identifying information of the library branch that I had the issue with simply because this was a one-time event and they usually have good customer service.)

Dear Ms. (Removed my last name)

I apologize for the bad experience you had at the (Removed library branch name) branch yesterday.

I’ve forwarded your complaint to the Library’s Assistant Commissioner for Neighborhood Services, who oversees this branch.

Paul Keith
Chicago Public Library
400 S. State Street
Chicago, IL 60605

Then I received this email:

Ms. (Removed my last name),

Thank you for taking the time to let us know about the service you received at the Chicago Public Library (Removed library branch name) Branch. We do apologize for the inconvenience you experienced and the rude service you described. I’ve included your concerns as you’ve stated below. The branch manager at (Removed library branch name), (Removed branch manager name) is a very service oriented manager and will address you concerns with the staff. I know Ms. (Removed branch manager name) would be happy to talk with you about the details of this incident in order to direct her efforts towards correcting such behavior appropriately. She can be reached at (Removed telephone number of branch manager).

Please feel free to contact me if I can be of further assistance. I do plan to follow up with (Removed branch manager name).

We hope you will continue to enjoy the resources and services offered by the Chicago Public Library.

Best Regards,
Roberta V. Webb
District Chief
South District

I’m showing my P.O.P. community these emails to show you that it is possible to have your voice heard when lodging official complaints about poor customer service received at public institutions. Sometimes it seems like there is very little accountability in public service offices (DMV anyone?), but we have to speak out for the potential for any type of change to occur. Speaking out doesn’t have to involve screaming loud for more impact. If you feel disrespected or mistreated by a public or private sector establishment, you can definitely use your pen or keyboard to voice your concerns without losing your self-respect or adding more lines to your rap sheet.

Recently, the Chicago Park District has become the focus of my writing wrath. The short story is I was looking forward to finding a summer program for me and Little L to do this summer. Last summer, we took a swim class for babies 6-18 months at the University of Illinois at Chicago and took a music class for babies 6-12 months at the Old Town School of Folk Music. The classes were fine, but I think I was too ambitious. It was a tad bit stressful to get my then 10-11 month old to both classes on time and in good spirits.

Little L at her Old Town School of Folk Music class, Summer 2014

Little L at her Old Town School of Folk Music class, Summer 2014

This summer, I was looking forward to finding a Chicago Park District program that may be a little bit closer to home. I was extremely disappointed (angry really) when I logged on the Chicago Park District website to discover tons of classes for Little L’s age range (1.5-3 year olds) on the North and Southwest sides of the city, which consist of predominately white and Hispanic neighborhoods, but very slim pickings of classes in this age range where we live on the Southeast side of Chicago (full of predominately black neighborhoods). I saw one swim class somewhat near me (maybe there were two or three, but definitely a stark contrast to the plethora of classes available in other areas). Where were the arts & crafts, gymnastic, or gardening classes for young toddlers on the Southeast side (or even West side, the other predominately black section of the city) like in the areas heavily populated by whites and Hispanics? You guys already know that my hands are hot and ready to shoot an email off to play@chicagoparkdistrict.com to tell them exactly how I feel.

What do you all do in hopes to spark change? Do you find that writing emails or letters to establishments or politicians help? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook.

The Popped Black Woman Blog Affirmation

When I think back over my life, it’s clear to be that I’ve always been a weirdo…or at least a better term would be extremely self-aware. Maybe that’s just the curse of being a writer. I was always very aware of my feelings. Even when I was told that I was being too sensitive or upset for nothing, I always felt too strongly to believe that my feelings were without cause or merit.

So when I felt like something was broken in my home–like something was not normal, even though I had no clue what “normal” was–I sought for more information and eventually for support. Mind you, I grew up in the city so I was used to seeing the reality of urban life–poverty, violence, the usual stuff they show on Fox news (cut the last part, it wasn’t that bad). I’ve never lived in the “gutta”, but it definitely wasn’t pristine or well-to-do either. I lived in apartments mostly, first on the south side of Chicago and then on the west side. I was always well-fed and well-clothed. But, I also felt in my gut that it wasn’t normal for my father to drink the entire day–morning to night, everyday. I knew it wasn’t normal for me to be ashamed to bring friends home from school because my place looked like something from the TV show Hoarders and because I didn’t know what my father would say or do. I knew parents argued, but I knew it wasn’t normal for my parents to physically fight enough to break bedroom furniture.

Me, being the weirdo/maybe too self-aware teenager that I was (or maybe just hella lonely from being an only child), I sought help. I found an Alateen group, a group for children of current/past alcoholics, in a nearby suburb when we lived out west and convinced my mom to drop me off for a few meetings. I only went a couple of times because it was a lot to unpack emotionally and I wasn’t quite as ready for that as I thought. It was too much hurt to feel in front of strangers and I couldn’t take hearing the stories from other teenagers that went through the same things I did and often worse. There were very few kids in the group and eventually I found myself in a meeting with just the adult leader and myself and just decided it was too uncomfortable to keep going back.

Alcohol...starting parties and ruining homes since...forever???

Alcohol…starting parties and ruining homes since…forever???

All of that spiel was to bring up the fact that Al-Anon (Alcoholic Anonymous) and Alateen have the 12 Step Program and other mantras/pledges/affirmations/statements that they follow. In fact, “The Laundry List” describes me, an adult child of an alcoholic, so well that I can barely stand to read it. I’ve come to realize that I was paralyzed by my experiences growing up for most of my teen and young adult years. I figured it was about time to create a new statement for myself, as well as an affirmation for the Popped Black Woman Blog community. I refuse to allow my supersensitive self to be stuck in a rut because of past baggage.

The PBWB affirmation epitomizes what this blog hopes to accomplish: support for positively optimistic and powerful women that know who they are, believe that they can do anything, and do everything in their power to be better versions of themselves than they were in the past. Of course, we don’t always feel this way, which is why we have to remind ourselves of the truths below everyday and especially during those low moments.

Here is the Popped Black Woman Blog Affirmation:

I will act lovingly towards myself in thought and deed.

I am more than a conqueror over obstacles, anxiety, fear, and self-doubt. They will not prevent me from pursuing my dreams.

I will not ask for anyone else’s permission to live.

I will not allow other people’s actions towards me or feelings about me determine my mood or how I feel about myself.

I will not compare my shortcomings or achievements to those of others. My journey is mine.

I will only compete against the person I was yesterday.

Today is a new day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice in it and be grateful for it.

Do you all have any personal affirmations or mantras that you’d like to share? Do you think that they work in keeping you focused on your goals/purpose? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook. Stay popped loves 😉

Women’s History Month Music Playlist

I came across an article on Madame Noire featuring songs that empower women in honor of March being Women’s History Month, as well as another list that they have of songs that specifically uplift black women. I cosign to many of the songs they included and even found a couple that I hadn’t heard before or at least not the original versions. For instance, I think every black elementary school sang “Young, Gifted, and Black” at one assembly or another back in the day. However, reading Madame Noire’s article was my first time encountering Nina Simone’s version of the song.

Attribution: Nemo. Pixabay. CC0 Public Domain

Attribution: Nemo. Pixabay. CC0 Public Domain.

Since I not only love many kinds of music–spanning many genres and decades, but I believe it has the power to encourage and heal better than any other art form, I figured I’d compose my own women’s empowerment playlist featuring 5 songs that were not mentioned on the Madame Noire playlists.

1. Mary J. Blige, “In the Meantime”

So I am a huge Mary J. Blige fan. Therefore, it was hard to pick just one of her songs for this list, but I forced myself to pick my absolute favorite one when I need a little pick-me-up. I’ve always loved her because she just comes across as so real and genuine. She has overcome so much and is the epitome of positively optimistic and powerful in my opinion. “In the Meantime” was my go-to song in college. In fact, it was on my iPhone playlist which was called “Shower Party” because I used to bring my mini speakers in the dorm shower room and play my tunes while I washed all the nooks and cranies. Check it out if you’ve never heard this song. It was on the 2001 “No More Drama” album.

2. Mariah Carey, “Make It Happen”

Now this was another artist that really made it hard for me to just pick one empowerment song! Lord knows Mariah got me through many o’ dark days in my teenage years and early twenties! Not to mention she improved my vocabulary by throwing in smart words, like “dissipate” and “ambiguous,” in her songs every now and then. I’m not as much of a fan of the new Mariah, but she will always have a special place in my musical heart. “Make it Happen” has always been encouraging to me because it’s about her start from the bottom to the top and how she made it by faith and perseverance.

3. No Doubt, “Just a Girl”

As I said before, I’ve always loved many kinds of music. I remember a time when I was ashamed of my appreciation for pop and rock (I had a huge punk rock phase in high school. Can someone say Blink-182?!) because it wasn’t cool for a black girl to listen to anything other than rap or R&B. But as an adult, I embrace my specialness and I attribute it to my father because he played Foreigner, Pink Floyd, and other not typical Black people music as well as the Isley Brothers and Rick James in the house when I was growing up. All that to say that I thought Gwen Stefani was the ish way before she started collaborating with Eve and dabbling into “urban music.” This song is the anthem for all girls that are tired of people telling them what they can’t do and trying to keep them in a box.

4. Jill Scott, “When I Wake Up”

What R&B/Neosoul fan doesn’t love Jilly from Philly? She’s the truth. Enough said. This song is from her 2011’s “Light of the Sun”, which was a great album. It’s one you can play all the way through which is hard to find these days. Play this when you’re in your feelings and know that when you wake up everything you went through will be beautiful.

5. Shawn Colvin, “Sunny Came Home”

This is another throwback to a time long past. I love 90s music with a passion. I really like songs that tell a story and this one seems to be about a woman who decides to get out of a bad relationship by burning her house down–in reality or metaphorically I don’t know, but either way it’s bada$$. My favorite lyric is “She’s out there on her own and she’s alright. Sunny came home.”

What songs would be on your empowering playlist in honor of Women’s History Month? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook. Until next time, stay down with the P.O.P. 😉

Encourage Yourself

I have a confession to make. I haven’t been on my personal development ish like I should. I definitely can feel the difference in my outlook and thoughts. Lately, I’ve been losing focus on the big picture and only focusing on the day-to-day instead. I need to get that P.O.P.ed (positively optimistic and powerful) momentum going again.

Has anyone heard the song “Encourage Yourself” by Donald Lawrence? I know everybody that ever occasionally listens to Gospel has. It’s about using God’s Word to encourage yourself. When I was younger, whenever I was feeling down or going through something difficult, I would find somebody to call to encourage me. Whether it was having my older cousin pray for me or venting to a friend, I looked outward for that encouragement. Yet, many of us know that as you get older, your circle gets smaller and smaller. And there are certain things that you may not even wish to discuss with others because quite simply, you’re not a little girl or teenager anymore and you now have “grown folk business” of your own. Plus, as you enter certain stages of your life, you realize that you can’t run to other people for advice or encouragement because they may not understand or may not know the best way to encourage you.

This topic of encouraging yourself motivated me to write this post and share a few things that may help you all encourage yourself when you’re going through something whether it’s big or small. Below are 3 things that I find useful when I need to encourage myself.

1) Think of 3-5 things that I’m grateful for.

Yeah, it sounds hokey, but it really works for me. When I find myself complaining that I don’t have this or that, I stop and think about all of the blessings that I do have. I think about having shelter and food, a healthy child, and a partner to share life with. The thing about stopping to count your blessings is that you often can’t stop at just 3-5 things. The list is never-ending.

2) Read something encouraging

If you’re a Christian or Muslim, you may find encouragement from the Bible or Quran. Anyone may find encouragement from reading a personal development article or book. Anything that helps you focus on where you want to go instead of where you are could help. I like to frequent blackenterprise.com or read books from my Pinterest board appropriately titled, “Boss Books.” Even a biography that shows someone else’s “failures” and “successes” could help. I’ve had Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson on my to-read list for awhile.

3) Listen to a positive podcast

I only recently got into podcasts within the last 6 months or so. It was actually my husband who suggested it to pick my mood up while driving to and from work. I tried out a few, but I struck gold when I stumbled on Black Entrepreneur Blueprint! This podcast has encouraged me more than words can describe. This podcast and a cup of coffee gave me momentum to make it through the work day. It features interviews from prominent black entrepreneaurs. All of the interviews were informative and encouraging, but I especially enjoyed listening to black women discuss their journeys into entrepreneurship. I needed this at a time when I felt like I had no purpose and I was only a tiny cog in a big, spinning wheel. I believe this was a major force in my determination to return home to care for my daughter, get my financial house in order, and start my own business. For anyone that knows the rat race isn’t for them, give this podcast a listen!

And a special bonus…

4) Laugh! IMG_1618

Everybody says laughter is the best medicine (I don’t know if they considered medical marijuana in the mix) and I have to agree. Sometimes everybody needs to stop taking themselves so seriously and have a good laugh. I like to lurk on Twitter for some good laughs when I need a little pick-me-up since I love a silly meme, gif, or vine every now and then. Plus, it just seems like the world’s best everyday comedians are on Twitter. Here’s one of my favorite vines. You’re welcome.

How do you all keep yourself encouraged when you feel more pooped than p.o.p.ed? Share in the comments or on Facebook.

Vision Boards: Planning Your Year and Beyond

A couple of days ago, I re-read Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson M.D. The first time I read it was in my eighth grade reading class. My teacher, Mr. Enri, had us read the book as a class and discuss it. (Mr. Enri if you happen to read this, know that you will always be one of my favorite teachers!) At that time, I understood the importance of the story, but now, after more life experience filled with many ups and downs, it really clicks.

It's a really quick read.

It’s a really quick read.

The story centers around “Cheese,” which is really what each of us wants out of life. One person’s “Cheese” might be a nice house and rewarding career, while someone else’s could be spiritual and mental peace. In the story, four characters search for their “Cheese” through a maze. The readers learn many simple lessons about life in the process, of which I hope to unpack a few in future posts so stay tuned.

However, what I want to focus on today is the importance of visualizing your goals. This helps to keep you motivated while moving towards them. One of the “littlepeople” of the story, Haw, does this on his search for “New Cheese.” He imagines himself eating his favorite cheeses, which makes him more optimistic about reaching his goal.

We can gain a lot of momentum in our journey through life by picturing ourselves reaching our goals in our minds. Yet, sometimes it’s even more inspiring to have a physical representation of our goals and desires to help us stay focused as well.

I’ve decided to create a vision board to look at each day to keep all of the “New Year, New Me” momentum going well past February 😋 I’m hoping that having something that I can physically look at will help me on those days when I’m feeling discouraged.

For those of you in need of where to start with creating your own vision board, look no further because the popped black woman is here to help.

You will need a few basic things: a piece of cardboard/some other kind of sturdy base, a couple of old magazines, a pair of scissors, and some tape, and maybe some music and/or wine to get you excited about visually planning out your new adventures for the year and beyond.

Don't worry. I didn't touch the Obama section.

Don’t worry. I didn’t touch the Obama section.

Here’s how to get started:

1) Use what you got.
There’s no need to go out and buy a fancy poster board. We’re all watching our pockets these days after all. I cut out the side of a cardboard box that I had laying around the house to use as the actual vision board.

It was waiting to be trashed.

It was waiting to be trashed.

2) Cut pictures and words/quotes out of old magazines.
I love Essence magazine for this project. There was a time not too long ago when I had boxes of old Essence magazines from years ago stored in a closet in our apartment. Eventually, my husband convinced me to throw most of them out, but I still had a few to use for inspirational photos and phrases.

You can choose pictures and words that may not have obvious meanings, but they could represent certain things that only you can understand. You can be as candid as you feel comfortable.

3) Tape the photos and words to your board.
I fold regular off-brand “Scotch” tape to the back of the paper so that you can’t actually see any tape when looking at the board. That’s just a personal preference since I think it would look kinda elementary school-ish to see pieces of tape everywhere. Also, I like to layer the pictures close together at different angles so you barely see any card board in the background. That’s just a personal preference as well.

Partially finished. Can I just say that Ms. Serena is looking fierce as usual?

That’s all folks! It’s really that simple. Take pics of your vision boards and send them my way via Twitter or share your thoughts below. Keep it p.o.p.in! 😉