Embrace the Summer Solstice

RaDonna 1The Summer Solstice marks a time to embrace the fullness of life. 

Solstice traditions and rituals revolve around the Sun and appreciation for it. After the Summer Solstice, daylight shortens; with the light of day waning, we light fire in our hearts. 

This evokes a season of passion and pleasure, cultivating an atmosphere where our dedication to self will pay off, where we will gather from the the growth of what we’ve planted.

This ripens the energy to set goals, create plans, and manifest.

The Summer Solstice means it’s time to create, to make money moves, to blaze a trail, to move forward. Think expansion in finances, family, friendships, creative endeavors, side projects, spiritual practices. 

And my darlings, when you show up for yourself, it creates a ripple effect for you to show up for others.

We tend to think of manifestation, self-care, and intention-setting as completely self-involved— I believe it simply begins from within, but is meant to expand outside of self. For me, it is when I am sure of myself that I am most of service. It is when I am most passionate that I am most active.

So when I speak of setting goals and a dedication to self, it’s important to remember that it flows into how you interact with your community and act on your passions.

As you work through what you want to create this summer, by all means, include community service in your dedication to self. For example, if seeing images of people in cages or children separated from parents ignited something within you, harness the focus on yourself to create a plan of action. What gifts, resources, connections do YOU have to make a difference? Apply this lens to anything you care about.

The summer makes it possible to lead with heart. And it’s crucial that we all do.

To prepare yourself for this energetic shift in consciousness and this time of cultivation, here are a few ways to fully embrace the solstice:

🌻Watch the sun rise or sun set
🌻Pick flowers
🌻Arrange a mandala out of flower petals, shells, stones, etc
🌻Have a bonfire
🌻Gather herbs
🌻Light candles in your space
🌻Incorporate yellows, golds in your day
🌻Express gratitude
🌻Watch the robins
🌻Eat lemon or orange

When you feel attuned to the energy around you, begin your planning. If you want a little guidance to harness this energy through summer, consider enrolling in the Summer Soul Care Cycle.

On Turning 29

fullsizeoutput_fedWhen I think of myself as a child, a day at the park comes to mind. Five or six years old, I climbed the Jungle Jim, which clanked beneath my feet. I reached the peak, put my hands on the rail, and leaned forward as if to listen. 

I closed my eyes. I put my face to the sky. I stood still for a moment. I felt the wind carry my stringy hair and heard it bang in my ears. 

Softly, surely, I said to my friend, “it’s going to rain.”

Later at home,
when I looked out the window,
to my amazement,
the skies poured.

. . .

Birthdays jolt me into reflection.

When I look back at the past year, I feel like I embodied the Queen of Swords, whispering “bring it” to my Saturn Return. 

Oh, the universe brought it.

At one point or another, every external part of my life halted. My career, my relationship, my friendships, my network, my apartment, my plan.

I don’t believe a shattering existential crisis is necessary for growth, but I’m so grateful the pieces fell this way for me.

This year brought me back to myself.

I catch myself saying things like “I’m making my little-girl-self very happy.” “I’m just becoming who I was when I was little.” “Little RaDonna would be so into this.”

Smaller version of me would also geek out about purple hair, but there’s a feeling I get when I think about who I was when I was little.

A resounding knowing of myself, then and now.

. . . 

To look at photos of myself as a child, was to see a ghost of self. 

The person holding the photos, and the person in them felt so contrary. I could watch my essence disappear in them as I got older. It’s nothing anyone else could identify, and in fact, I was often described as confident, expressive, strong.

But there was always something missing. 

Without truly knowing it, I longed for the feeling of the intuitive, independent little girl listening to the wind. I wished I had what that girl did.

. . .

It has taken me a long time, but finally, after digging and excavating and banishing, I found her.

I found her underneath the suffering of being violated. 

I found her underneath the stifling pain and punishment of growing up imperfect.

I found her underneath all of the negative patterns my blood passed on to me.

I found her underneath the hallow security of privilege.

Deeper still, I found her underneath all of the mud and muck of a toxic personal narrative.

This year I plowed through layers of what I thought was preservation.

I thought I was keeping her, myself, safe, if I hid behind the walls built by my conditioning.

All it really did was keep a distance between me and my greatest self.

Still, beneath all of it, I was there.

As I walk into the final year of my 20s, I acknowledge one thing:

I’m becoming who I was before the world told me who to be. 

When I say, “I’m making my little-girl-self very happy.”  “I’m just becoming who I was when I was little.” “Little RaDonna would be so into this.”

That is what I mean.

I’m becoming the soft sureness of a sweet and sour child.

I tip-toed around it for almost 30 years, but now I step into my personal power.

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This year deepened my relationship with myself. It brought me closer to important people in my life, viewing them with a new lens. It inspired a relationship with my personal belief system, and reconnected me with my purpose on this Earth. It pushed me to develop a personal practice with tarot, reiki and meditation, all of which I need to work on and evolve on regular basis. It made it possible to become comfortable with learning uncomfortable lessons. This year made me realize that the older I get, the less I truly know; this makes me eager to explore, and truly look forward to reaching another year.

If one thing is for certain: this work is not done. There is more to uncover, more to learn, more mistakes to be made. All of it will bring me closer to my truth.

Reintroducing myself to many of you, I advocate:

Healing and growth come from navigating dark places. When you’re ready, get yourself a support system, and get spelunking.

My Full Moon Ritual

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For a few years now, I’ve been doing some sort of a full moon ritual.

It started with my soul sisters, where we had monthly full moon ceremonies, and when that slowed down, I found myself turning down other plans to still honor my rituals. I add full moons and new moons to my calendar, and plan around them.

Among many other gifts, full moons remind me to check where I’m at capacity.

When I acknowledge what’s taking up too much space in my life, I can let it go, and make more room for what I want.

For me, full moons call for SO much emotional work, but I give myself space and a process that makes me feel really good, powerful, and open.

I share my full moon ritual to give you ideas or inspiration to harness the full moon energy yourself, to support your goals and clear your heart. Take or leave what you want!

CLEAN MY SPACE

I start with the easiest, and most obvious way to clear out energy; I start with cleaning. Around the full moon, I literally clear out space in my home, my car, my purse—anything that collects junk and dust, I tackle.

Here’s some of my full-moon honey-do list:
Wash bedding and towels
Dust
Sweep/Vacuum
Clean out purses and wallets
Cleanse makeup brushes
Clean the bathroom
Take out all of the trash and recycling
Clean out the fridge
Donate clothes I don’t wear
Clean out the car

I know there’s more, but that’s a hell of a good start. You don’t have to do it all at once—I sure don’t! But I make it a habit to do these types of tasks around the full moon. It feels less like cleaning routine, and more like a ritual. I am intentionally making space for me to thrive.

CLEANSE MY BODY

Once I feel pretty good about my physical space, I focus on my body.

IMG_4966To me, cleansing my body during a full moon means to pay attention to it. It serves as a reminder to release tension. There are so many ways to clear energy out of the body, but my favorite are cleansing baths and showers.

Let me say: you do not need anything extra to make this a cleansing ritual. The idea that we only achieve self-care by spending extra money on rose petals, essential oils, etc, perpetuates a myth that self-care is only accessible to the privileged. Don’t listen to that noise.

Set your intention for the experience, such as “this water is to remove negativity,” “this water is to relieve stress stored,” etc, and you will get the benefits of the cleanse. Set your mood. Then get in!

Here are few other body-cleansing methods I use:
Yoga or Stretching
Meditation
Breathing techniques
Massage, Manicure or Pedicure (sometimes I pay for it, but mostly I do these myself)
Exfoliate (homemade sugar scrubs are my go-to and I use them all of the time, but especially around full moons)

CLEAR MY ENERGY

Once my physical space and my human body feel more clear, I move onto clearing what I’m storing in my heart and mind.

Most months, I do all of the following:
Light candles and incense
Read Tarot
Meditate
Place stones/crystals by the window
Reiki and energy work
Sage/Palo Santo

Sometimes I go deeper. Because it can be hard to specify what I need to release, I start by looking at previous intentions and goals. I write down how I’m feeling about the progress, what I love about it, what I wish was different. I write until I realize what it is that’s holding me back from manifesting or reaching my desires.

And that. That feeling right there. That is the shit I want to let go. In order to truly let it go, we must acknowledge it. So I write about what it feels like to be stuck in a pattern, to feel angry or scared or cocky or small. And I write what it would look like if I didn’t feel that way anymore. When I can summarize the sticky feeling, and visualize what it feels like to be free of that feeling, I write that down on a small piece of paper. And I set that shit on fire! If you do this, make sure you’re in a safe space, obviously. Fire is dangerous even if you’re grown.

Overall, this cleansing ritual takes me a few days. I start the week of the full moon, and make sure I have time to cleanse my space and body before the full moon. When the full moon is highest is when I clear my energy.

You don’t  have to do it exactly like this – the point of a ritual is to discover what works with you and allow your rituals to honor your spirit. Even writing it out, there are ways I would change this myself.

A message to men

CW re: Olympic-Gymnast Father Lunging at Dr. Devil

When I was 9, I watched as my dad charged toward my neighbor’s house with a bat in his hand and rage in his eyes; he just learned that my neighbor molested me, and he was intent on enforcing justice.

A little girl watching her life rapidly change, this reaction made me more afraid than I already was.

I know he meant well, but it felt like I was spiraling downward in a moment where I already didn’t have any footing. Everything felt out of control, and this outburst shocked me.

Within a few minutes, my dad calmed down—I don’t remember if it was because of my mother standing between him and the house, or if he saw me witnessing him behave this way, or if he realized the short-sightedness, but he stopped. Instead, he, my mom, and I retreated from the summer heat, and sat down to talk about what happened.

With this in mind, please note that it is with faith in men that I share this perspective.

The Olympic gymnasts’ father attacking Dr. Devil sickens me; watching it, and hearing the girls shriek, it is almost more traumatizing for me than hearing the testimonies.

This is not what being a “hero” looks like. Although I understand his anger, and I get the urge to attack him, I am disappointed that he was unable to control himself, and that so many people glorify his behavior.

Families of victims, men specifically, please remember: this moment is not for you.

Attacking him does not change what happened.

Attacking him does not keep your loved ones safe.

Attacking him does not heal your loved ones.

Instead, it jeopardizes their healing.

If you are in this moment as a parent, first you must recognize the sensitivity of the situation—how hard it was for your child to come forward, and how afraid they are of the consequences.

Think about it: it might feel good for a moment, but the chaos you create and the punishment you might receive for “defending their honor,” or however you justify it, makes healing harder for your child.

They already feel guilt and shame. They already feel the painful emotional fallout. They already have a difficult time understanding what happened. They do not need the added burden of coping from your actions, too. They do not need to think, even for a second, that what happens to you is their fault.

They are just beginning to unravel the emotional shifts of their trauma, and they need you to be there for them. Use your emotion, your broken heart, to bond and connect with them; I promise you this feeling will permeate much longer than an impulsive reaction.

Even with all of the rage, disappointment, disbelief you feel, your child is the priority.

You cannot be their hero if they suffer because of actions you take in their name.

Become their hero by showing them healthy male love. Remind them every day, in many ways, that they are beautiful, powerful, capable and worthy.

Become their hero by listening, and being an open avenue for them to speak their truth.

Become their hero by teaching boys how to treat girls.

Become their hero by holding your friends, your coworkers, your family accountable when they do something gross (such as hitting on the waitress, commenting on the sexuality of another coworker, shouting at someone walking down the street, etc).

Become their hero by emulating respect and appreciation for women.

Become their hero by doing all of this before there is a need, a hole to fill. That way they know it’s safe to come to you if the unspeakable needs to be spoken.

This is how you become their hero. This is how you hold your male power. This is how you use your masculinity in a safe, healthy way.

Committing violence in their name distracts from their voice and energy.

Committing violence in their name perpetuates the narrative that men are inherently erratic.

Committing violence in their name takes you away from them.

I know when you learn of something so horrible, it’s so hard to figure out what to do. It feels like a blast of energy; your adrenaline pumps, your vision blurs, and the ringing in your ears makes it feel like all sound has escaped you. It’s difficult to reason when your brain is sending fear and rage and panic messages through every cell of your body.

I know you feel this way because that is how it felt when it happened, and every single moment after. It still feels this way sometimes when I recollect those memories.

Every step feels like the ground could break away.

Where will you be when your child feels like they’re falling? With their abuser, in jail? Or will you be there to catch them?

If you are given the chance, be the solid ground they very much need, my brothers. You are stronger than you think you are. You are needed more than you know.

10-Step Ritual To Heal an Object

We all own objects that carry a memory, a history.

Whether an heirloom, tokens of past love, or even clothes you wore on a really bad day, these items carry energy that mess with your mood.

Items you’re unfamiliar with can carry some weird vibes, too, especially if you’re sensitive to energy. More than once, I’ve picked up items at vintage stores that sent chills down my spine, or touched a shirt on a thrift-store rack that made my hand tingle.

With objects like these, we have the ability to restore the impact they have on us by resetting their energy.

This is why I’ve made a habit of cleansing my belongings. In fact, I cleanse my tarot cards between each client, and I cleanse my crystals twice a month, on the new and full moon. Energy carries over, whether or not we’re conscious of it.

Below are steps I’ve used in my own practice to cleanse items. You can use tools you’re comfortable with to aid your ritual, like sage or selenite, but at the core, your belief in the change is what makes it possible.

1. Make Time
Depending on the person, the amount of items, the amount of healing that’s necessary, this could take anywhere between 30 minutes to 3 hours. Trust yourself in blocking the appropriate amount of time, and set the boundary that nothing else will come in the way.

2. Gather Your Items
Obviously, you’ll need to have the items you want to cleanse close by. Also gather anything that helps you meditate or relax. Let me be clear: you don’t need anything to cleanse your items. Use what’s accessible and comfortable to you. I mix it up, but a journal and a favorite pen is always ready. Other items could include: sage bundle, candles, incense (make sure you have a lighter or a match), tarot cards, crystals, meaningful alter items, sound bowls/bells, salt, lavender oil, feathers, and I’m sure so much more that’s not coming to mind—the point is you can use whatever feels good to you.

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3. Find Private Space
Because this is a private experience, allow yourself privacy. Although an interruption won’t damage you or the process, it could jump you right out of your headspace. To some, this means locking the bedroom door, to others it means finding a lovely place in a park. Just choose somewhere you feel comfortable and protected.

4. Mark the Beginning the Ritual
To begin my ritual, I light incense, letting it burn around me, then sage, waving the smoke around my head and the area where I’ve rested. At times, I’ll also use a sound bowl if I need a different sensation. Many times, I’ll write why it’s important for me to set an intention, what led me to this point. Truly, you just need to do something that makes you feel ready to begin. Focus on your breathing. Set stones in a circle around you, or draw in the sand. Repeat a mantra. Meditate. Dab oil on your wrists or third eye. No matter the action you choose, you open a portal for healing. It gives you space to connect with your source, your spirit guides or yourself. It grounds and focuses you toward the task at hand.

5. Express Gratitude
After you feel physically grounded and spiritually connected, write or think of three things for which you are grateful. Be honest, but try to go beneath the surface. After you think of three things, then express gratitude for the item for which you are blessing and its journey to come to you. I usually talk to my spirit team in this portion.

6. Think Happy Thoughts
Seriously, this works. What is your purest, happiest memory? Fill your body with that feeling of elation, bliss or excitement. Let yourself feel that happiness.

7. Speak a Mantra or Prayer
Write an affirmation for your items. These are the intentions you’d like for each item, how each one will serve your greatest good. You can set intentions for things like Protection, Love, Creating Memories, Instilling Confidence, Healing… whatever you want that serves your greater good.

8. Clear Energy
Hold the item in your hands. Using the spiritual tools you’d like, take that positive energy, that happy feeling, and visualize it emitting from your hands and into the item. Repeat your affirmation over and over in your mind. If you use sage, gently blow smoke onto the item. If you use stones, place one or more on the item OR circle the item with your stone. If you use your body as your spiritual vessel, simply keep the item between your hands, feeling the warmth of your energy embrace your item.

9. Meditate
When you feel the intention is set, put your items aside and meditate. If you already have a meditation practice, do what works for you. If you do not meditate, simply focus on your breathing. Allow that happiness to continue filling you up. Do this for any amount of time that feels right. I get out my journal and spend some time writing about how I feel, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

10. Close the ritual.
When you’re finished meditating, come back to your space. Move slowly. I rub my hands together, then rub my hands on my knees. I wiggle my fingers and my toes. Once my body is more aware, I do something that clearly means I’m finished—usually that act is blowing out a candle or shuffling my tarot deck. Sometimes it’s completing three more deep breaths. Some people snap, clap, or use a bell. What you do doesn’t really matter, but consciously end the ritual.

 

This does not in any way need to be seamless. It has taken me about a year to really identify a ritual, but I still change it up depending on what I need at the time and what else I’ve learned. Allow yourself time to develop a style and a ritual that works for you.

The most important thing, no matter what, is that you believe in the intention you’re setting for the item.

Your belief is what sets the intention in motion, and what allows it to thrive. This item will continually mean something different for you. Sometimes, the pain is deeply embedded in an item. In that case, I would do a release ceremony every full moon, and an intention ceremony every new moon, until I feel the healing has occurred.

It just so happens, there is a new moon in Virgo tomorrow. Whereas full moons are wonderful for releasing energy, new moons are prime for bringing in energy. Several of my favorite astrologers, such as Chani Nicholas and Jessica Lanyadoo of The Hood Witch, are saying that the galaxy has created an environment in which Tuesday’s new moon is particularly effective for focusing on your own energy.

Tomorrow would be an incredibly powerful day to try to reinvigorate the energy of an item that brings negativity in your life–but you can do this anytime!

Let me know how this goes for you.

Seven Shifts of My Writing Retreat

Writing Retreat CabinLast month, I gifted myself a writing retreat.

For seven days, I enjoyed the sounds of nature, ate healthy food, and wrote my damn heart out.

In fact, I wrote over 10,000 words: 2 short stories, new web copy for my entire website, 12 finished poems and 10 more draft poems, plus I journaled at least twice each day, adding up to over 20 hours of writing.

The rewards were much more expansive than the words I wrote.

I thought the activities I planned would certainly enhance my writing, but I had no idea I would uncover the emotional, spiritual, physical barriers that blocked my ability to express myself and live fully in each day.

1. Making Time to Write
Whether on my laptop, in my journal or on scraps of paper, I wrote for over 20 hours. An intentional move, I planned six hours a day for writing (otherwise, I probably would have slept through the entire week of solitude). In the mornings and afternoons, I scheduled between two and three hours of uninterrupted writing, plus an hour in the evening to read what I wrote with fresh eyes. During the writing blocks, I let the ideas flow naturally. The snippets of stories lingering in my mind were finally were pulled out and given life. I worked through the moments of self-criticism. When I felt restless, I walked over to table where I laid magazine clippings, scissors and glue, and collaged to get my mind out of a funk. I walked around. I lit incense. When I was ready, I went right back into writing. Creating the space to write is sometimes all it takes.

2. Connecting with my Voice
When I lose sight of myself, I can’t write. I can’t get anything on paper that truly satisfies me because I question every word. Without a doubt, the most profound experience from this writing retreat was the connection to my own voice. Assisted by the absence of external pressure, limiting beliefs, and noise, I settled into myself and finally wrote with ease—by pausing, by refocusing, by intentionally focusing on me, I reconnected with my voice.

3. Setting Creative Intentions
At the beginning of the retreat, I nested. I put my belongings away, cleared the energy, lit a candle, poured a glass of wine, and opened my journal. Sitting in peace, I envisioned the types of writing that would make me feel fulfilled and productive, then listed them in my journal. The goals were not cemented, but being aware of what I wanted to accomplish made it easier to get started.

4. Unattaching from Results
Having vision is necessary, but sometimes we unfold in ways unforeseen. I learned to allow the space to evolve. For example, I started out wanting to write 3,000 words each day. When I only made it to 1,500 words the first day, I was disappointed. I realized, however, that 3,000 was, first of all, an ambitiously arbitrary number. It also meant nothing when I recognized how much I was able to accomplish by allowing myself the room to adapt, and giving myself permission to be proud.

5. Establishing a Routine
I don’t know about you, but I tend to get lost in the flow of life. Although I consciously scheduled this writing retreat, I did so in the name of creativity, focusing on actions and activities that would open my ability to express myself. What I didn’t realize is that I was creating a foundation on which to build my life beyond the writing retreat. I am notoriously a “no talkie before coffee” type of person. During the writing retreat, within the first hour of being awake, I stretched, exercised, ate breakfast, meditated, wrote in my journal—I even forgave myself for missing the alarm clock. Coffee became an afterthought, a luxury, not a necessity. And my attitude, that groggy, cranky, I’d-rather-be-sleeping feeling completely left my body. These are not actions that can only happen within the confines of a secluded cabin. These are things I can do every single day. I just needed a jumpstart.

6. Nourishment
I actually took breaks to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, allowing my mind to rest. Before this, I usually skipped breakfast and lunch, shoving food into my face at 3:00 in the afternoon as fast as I could, with whatever was around (usually potato chips). This writing retreat gave me a chance to reinvigorate my appetite and replenish my energy. Doing so, I experienced a deep paradigm shift. In a cabin, far away from resources, each meal needed to be planned. Before arriving, I bought and prepped all of the foods that make me feel full and happy. Even though I enjoyed what I prepared, there were two occasions when I really, really did not want to cook. To me, this was something I needed to process, and I was centered enough to do it. I asked myself why I felt lazy, why I didn’t feel like cooking. Deep down, I don’t want to cook because I don’t want to pause anything I’m doing to focus on myself. I didn’t feel worthy enough to take time for myself. Once I got to the root of this feeling, making healthier choices during the retreat, and every day since, has been so much easier because… hell yes, I am worth it.

7. Needing Support
Nothing surprised me more than the final shift I experienced. Each day, after dinner and during the time I set to review and refine my work, I craved a conversation. In truth, I really needed input and ideas on my writing to help break through areas in which I was stuck. This shocked me, because I LOVE being alone. Still, the importance of surrounding myself with different perspectives was just as high as the importance of stillness.

I am forever changed by the experiences of this writing retreat.

✨I lived with focused, but flexible, intentions.

✨I learned a lot about myself and my limiting beliefs.

✨I *finally* wrote down the ideas that floated in my mind for months.

✨I enjoyed my own company.

✨I established positive habits.

✨I felt nourished and nurtured.

When I gave myself permission, I finally became the person I dream of being.

I am the most grounded, secure, fulfilled and confident I have been in a long time. From a writing perspective, a path was paved, to make writing a daily practice, to stay connected with myself, and to set my sights on a goal, but to be open to how I get there. As a person, it showed me the vital need to take care of myself, and how achievable daily self-care truly is. It was in these moments that I realized I wanted to share this experience with others, so we could help each other on our writing journeys.

If an experience like this sounds meaningful or interesting to you, I invite you to join a writing retreat I’m hosting this fall. November 9-12 in Hocking Hills, this women’s writing retreat will mimic many of the practices I developed in my own endeavors. Transitioning to the role of facilitator, however, I’ll also incorporate elements of tarot, reiki adjustments and meditation, of which I am practiced and/or certified. I hope to see you there 💜

xo,

radonna

Women's Writing Retreat

Everyday Sacrifices

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Today, Memorial Day, I feel inspired by the word “sacrifice.”

Especially now, as I recover from this ankle break, acutely aware of how I spend my days, a question circles my mind: would I be at peace with my life if all was lost tomorrow?

The honest answer is, well, no.

Many of us need to put food on the table, keep the lights on and work to wear socks, bras, shoes and clothes without holes. When getting by is the real priority, devoting life to the pursuit of fulfillment is a luxury many of us cannot afford.

We sacrifice our true desires and dreams to create concrete circumstances every day.

If your life was memorialized tomorrow, though, what legacy would you leave behind in the stories people tell about you, in the way people feel when they think about you, in the contributions you made to society?

Maybe you’re already living it. Maybe in the way you love your children. Maybe in the way you speak up against oppression. Maybe in the kindness you share with everyone around you.

But if you’re anything like me, and crave that warm, whole feeling in your gut when you think about what you’re doing with your life, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate.

What do you sacrifice to get by?

IMG_0767After I broke my ankle, I only took one day completely off, and that was the day of the necessary corrective operation. The very next day, despite the pain, despite, then, the pain medication, despite the discomfort, I opened my laptop and went back to work.

It took me a while, but once I realized my commitment to pleasing others ranked higher than healing my own body, I knew I needed to shift.

For me, this shift means investing my time in what (I think) I came on this earth to do, but never save energy to pursue. Every day that I spend most of my time serving others’ wants and needs, I sacrifice my power.

I don’t owe anyone anything. I don’t owe anyone my mornings. I don’t owe anyone my thoughts before I go to sleep. I don’t owe anyone the sacrifice of my voice for the hope that their feelings, their goals, their lives will be better.

I do, however, owe it to myself to stop sacrificing my energy.

I owe it to myself to spend more time with people I stopped making time for once I got too busy and too tired.

I owe it to myself to speak the words I came to say.

I owe it to myself to give myself space to create.

What do you need to do that would help you spend more time on what fulfills you?

For you, it could mean taking an extra five minutes to cuddle with your kid or pup or partner in the morning, or turning off the alarm clock entirely. It could mean smiling at everyone you see—or canceling fake smiles once and for all. It could mean quitting your job, or it could mean showing up more fully if you know you truly love what you do.

We have this one life. How much do we need to sacrifice for things that don’t fulfill us?

“Only one chance, one bullet in the gun. This is my life and I only got one. Yea the safety’s off and I put it on stun—I’m ready to shoot.” —Last Chance, Nicki Minaj feat. Natasha Bedingfield.

Also, this was supposed to be really short. My bad 😉

You Call Me Rae, But That’s Not My Name

My real name is RaDonna, and I only see or hear that name at the doctor’s office, in a letter from the IRS, or from a few high school friends. Basically… I rarely hear my real name.

For at least 16 years—over half of my life—I have been known as Rae. Early in my life, my dad started calling me “Rae” because apparently it came out faster when I was up to no good (knowing myself, I imagine this happened regularly). Then, sometime in elementary school, I stopped answering to RaDonna altogether. I spelled Rae so many different ways; at first Ray, then other variations like Rā, Rai and Rei, finally landing on Rae sometime in middle school. The rest has been my life. Rae Reed worked for me.

As I grow older, however, I find myself gravitating toward RaDonna. Not surprisingly, this year I enter my Saturn Return, therefore I equally find myself confronting who I was, who I am, and who I want to become.

Turns out, I want to be more like RaDonna as a girl.

When I think about who I was, RaDonna as a girl, I think about the girl who listened to the wind to discover whether or not it was going to rain. I think about the girl who stood up to a bully on the playground, and ended up getting in trouble for it. I think about the girl, no older than six, who snuck out of her Linden home late at night in her pink pjs and chased down the ice cream truck after hearing its song (the driver sent me home; apparently ice cream wasn’t the product they pushed).

To me, RaDonna represents a defiant, intuitive girl with sass… almost exactly who I turned out to be, or try to be, after all of life’s self-discovery.

For the past couple of years, I’ve planted seeds here and there to discover what it would feel like to be called RaDonna again. Every time I hear or read that name, I feel butterflies dancing in my stomach. It makes me feel seen, so much so that I feel vulnerable.

Yet, I hesitated.

Everyone I know, personally and professionally, calls me Rae. In a sense, I feel like I’m changing everything about myself, and exposing my complete self to everyone I know. But when I really stop to think about it, neither my left nor right brain gives any fucks about those things. I’m sure I don’t need to reiterate the shitshow 2016 was. At a minimum, however, it has proved that life is short and unpredictable; we should not waste any time being anyone other than who we want to be.

That’s why I’m starting to go by RaDonna again. Because that’s my name, and when’s a better time?

I guess that’s why I’m sharing this transition with you. Don’t wait any longer to do the thing you want to do. It’s your fucking life.

With that being said… I like it when you call me RaDonna (sing that to the tune of Big Poppa and you won’t be disappointed).Continue reading “You Call Me Rae, But That’s Not My Name”

Leaders can’t have green lips.

I learned my first real leadership lesson in 5th grade.

The educators at Finland Elementary selected me to represent the school in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at another school close by.

It was a big deal, and I was so excited. My parents were excited, too, taking time off work to show support for their over-achieving daughter. The principal even promised to drive me there in her car.

I dressed up, trying to look like a grown-up, like my mom who I thought always looked so ready for business.

I forgot, however, that it was St. Patrick’s Day. I forgot to wear green.

When I arrived at school before the ceremony, the kids noticed, and desperation overcame my small stature. No kid likes getting pinched (what jerk created that rule anyway?).

A brilliant idea lifted my spirits.

I went to the bathroom, taking with me a bright green marker. It was in that small, poorly lit bathroom where I made a conscious decision to color my lips green.

Walking back into the classroom, I felt tremendous pride for outsmarting the cruel rule. I guess I’ve always been a trendsetter, because everyone wanted green lips or green hands or green nails.

With a grin, I showed my teacher, Miss O’Brien, thinking she would admire my creativity. I can still recall her horrified, disappointed expression. And it still makes my cheeks turn red.

Miss O’Brien hurriedly grabbed my hand and brought me outside for one of the most straight-up discussions of my life. To paraphrase, she told me that when one is chosen as a leader, it is because he or she is held in high regard. It’s because that person makes decisions which positively influences people. That person sets an example.

Miss O’Brien taught me that day that humility is a power. She taught me that being myself, the excited girl who wanted to dress to impress the audience, is what made me vibrant. She taught me leadership isn’t about fitting in, and that I don’t have to look stupid to stand out.

Avoiding the Rabbit Hole

spiral

Eventually, you will be interviewed by a writer. An opportunity to tell your story, this is a crucial moment to get that story straight.

I’ve interviewed business executives, entrepreneurs, police officers, young professionals, Olympian athletes, community leaders and more. From this experience, I’ve learned what makes a great interview, and what makes it great to read.

I want to help your next interview tell the story you want the world to know.

These few tips will help you avoid the places where people usually get stuck.

It’s a compliment.

If you’re being interviewed for a feature, most of the time it’s because you did something right or something to get noticed. This is a good thing. Of course, do your due diligence. Perhaps the entity the writer represents is not in your best interests to support. That is okay. Once you decide to proceed with an interview, realize its potential to be a really positive opportunity, and treat it as such. Attitude is everything.

Be comfortable.

Being nervous is normal, but if it causes tension, it could limit the success of your interview. If meeting at your office makes you comfortable, do that. If meeting for coffee or drinks helps, do that. Although, keep it to one shot of tequila, friends. Any more than that, and you’ll forget what question was asked, and you open up about that semester in Italy. Yikes.

Say what you mean.

It helps if you know the context of the article beforehand. Jargon and an expansive vocabulary aren’t necessary, especially if you use a word incorrectly. Talk about what you know. Additionally, if you say the word “damn” in a really awesome quote, be ready for that to be printed. If it’s a commissioned piece in which you paid the writer, you’ll be safe. But if you’re going in the Metropreneur or Columbus CEO, be wary of your language unless it’s how you want to be represented.

Avoid the rabbit hole.

Good interviewers ask open-ended questions. Be prepared to have answers. Be yourself, but be conscious that everything you say is game for being repeated. Again… if the semester in Italy becomes the interview focus, what do you think the article will be about? Probably some connection the writer derives from that experience to your current endeavor. So stay on topic. Best practice would be to have some flexible talking points in mind, not to discuss word for word, but as a basis for your goals of the interview.

 

What would you add to this list?