If I told you that you’re beautiful, some days you wouldn’t believe me.
Some days you get caught in the online web of believing that your face needs to be beat. You keep wondering how in the world Beyoncé could have possibly woken up like that. You pick yourself apart. You hate your feet. You hate how your clavicle protrudes in every photo, no matter how much you will it to do the opposite. You feel like a pariah in a world that praises curves and worships contours.
If I told you that you’re beautiful, some days you wouldn’t believe me.
You would remember that time during freshmen year of college when you sobbed to your best friend and told her that guys liked her more because she was light-skinned. You would remember trips to Miami where your dresses never fit quite right and you never fit quite in with the salacious South Beach scene. You would remember feeling like every set of male eyes always landed somewhere other than on you.
Back then, if I told you that you’re beautiful, you would not have believed me.
But, today, I am telling you that you’re beautiful.
And, today, you will believe me.
Today you’ll remember that male gazes and likes on Instagram pages are not the metrics of beauty to which you heed. You’ll abandon this idea that beauty starts and ends with what people deduce from what they see. You’ll know that beauty comes from that deep-rooted and complex place, the rich and rare combination of self-worth and self-regard and inspiration.
You, my love, are an inspired woman.
That’s where your beauty begins. It comes from this sanctuary in the pit of your belly, a place that is ignited by vision and conviction. A place moved by what you extract from interactions and observations, both grand and molecular. A place where you translate that inspiration into words that set the world on fire. Your beauty rises because of the vessel you choose to be, the purpose you choose to honor and the calling to which you choose to surrender.
An inspired woman is a beautiful one.
She has planted her feet firmly in the things that mean the most to her instead of giving in to the whims of the world.
For the world, beauty will always change. It will always be this insatiable and unsatisfied beast. It will always favor someone in one moment and shun them in the next. But, for an inspired woman, her beauty can’t waver. It isn’t up for debate. It’s not susceptible to the shifts in someone else’s standards.
No, for an inspired woman, beauty rises from that deep-rooted and complex place. For an inspired woman, her beauty is all her own: beginning to end, top to bottom, left to right. That definition of beauty propels her throughout the voyage. Serves as her bridge over troubled water. Feeds her, keeps her and carries her.
You, my love, are an inspired woman. Hold that. Know that. Keep that and carry that. When I tell you that, believe it.
I want you to stop telling me to grind. I want you to stop telling me to follow my passion or build my brand or live for today. I want you to stop digging for quotes in the morning so you can add inspiration to my timeline. I want you to stop with the love and light shit. I want you to stop trying to inspire me.
I want your life to inspire me. I want your authenticity to inspire me. I want your truth to inspire me.
I want you to tell me the truth. Finally and for real.
I want you to tell me that you’re broke or burned out or in desperate need of repair. I want you to tell me you took something strong to medicate the pain. I want you to tell me about the ugly part and how you survived it. I want you to stop playing the highlight reel, and I want you to show me all of the lost footage. The places no one has been to. The scars no one knows about. The turmoil and tumult you’ve been hiding for years.
I know that your life isn’t perfect. I want you to stop just saying that, and I want you to show me the imperfections.
I want you to stop saying things you don’t mean and posting things you stopped believing in a long time ago. I want it real, raw and uncut. I am so tired of the pretty pictures. I am so tired of your eyebrows on fleek and your face beat and your hair laid. Give me something else. Give me something more. Give me something to grab on to. Something to see. Something to believe in.
Tell me your story. Start from the beginning. Tell me that you cried until you threw up. Tell me that it still sucks, whatever it is. Tell me that you are healing. Tell me that you are a work in progress. Show me the scar. Take off the bandaid. Let it bleed. Let it sting. Let it hurt. Let it suck.
I want you to stop pretending that you have arrived. I want you to cut the bullshit. Chop it off at its knees.
I want you to reveal your beautiful disaster. Your gorgeous mess. Your impeccable chaos.
I want you to know that the mess is what gives everything layers and depth. The mess is what adds dimension to the journey. Shit, the mess is the journey. The mess is the true inspiration. Not some quote you found from Anaïs Nin.
I want to see you. Naked. Exposed. All the way fucked up.
That’s when I will be inspired. When you start telling me the truth.
During high school, Jazmine was diagnosed with Graves’ disease, an autoimmune diseases that causes an overproduction of thyroid hormones. Read more about her incredible Learn how she has transformed tragedy into triumph with her upcoming charity event Inspired 4 Change.
Tell us more about your journey.
Right after my senior year of high school I lost a drastic amount of weight very quickly. I went from weighing 145 to 100. I was constantly sleepy and had no social life; my hair began to fall out as well. The doctors didn’t know what was wrong with me and my mom thought I was depressed. One day a doctor finally tested my thyroid and discovered I had Graves’ disease. Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease that causes an overproduction of thyroid hormones. It causes extreme fatigue, weight changes, heart complications, tremors and sometimes bulging eyes. I became insecure about my physical image and I felt like I was living the life of a 50-year-old rather than a 20-year-old. Due to the severity of my condition, I suffered heart complications as well. After my last procedure I decided to become an advocate and help educate and inspire others through my passion and my story.
You conceived Inspired 4 Change after being diagnosed with Graves Disease. How important is it for young people to turn misfortune into action? It is extremely important. Every major accomplishment in my life has been produced from a misfortune. I wasn’t able to attend the college of my choice because of lack of financial support and rather than give up the dream of college I went to community college and ended up attending a university that I never thought I would (James Madison University). There I learned about my passion for event planning. I learned the importance of being a leader in a population where you are the minority. And it was there that I gained a true understanding of what it meant to be a sister and the importance of helping your community through joining Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated. I recently experienced my first heart break and it tore me up; I felt my life was over and I felt the lowest I had ever felt in my life. But it was through that I was able to examine who I really was and what type of woman I wanted to be. It pushed me to follow every dream for myself and to be confident in who I am as a woman.
Is there a lot of advocacy in the medical community for Graves Disease? How will your event help further that advocacy? There sadly is not just because there are so many autoimmune conditions and Graves’ isn’t considered to be life-threatening. Many people overlook the severity of autoimmune diseases which is why they are termed invisible illnesses. Most people think you are fine because in most cases there are no physical symptoms but the internal toll it takes on your body is significant. I believe my event will help spread awareness because most people have never heard of Graves’ disease, and when I share my story people are always shocked. Also my hope is that more people will know the importance of getting every body system checked out because most people never get their thyroid levels tested.
What do you hope attendees at Inspired 4 Change get from the event? How do you want them to feel when they leave? I hope they gain an understanding of you can’t judge a book by its cover. The most annoying things people say to me are “You’re too skinny, you need to eat more” and “You look fine there’s nothing wrong with you.” I eat all the time, but my metabolism is in overdrive and my body is constantly going at 100 mph. And just because I look “fine” doesn’t mean I’m not hurting. I have to take medication every day for the rest of my life. I may never be able to have a child of my own. At least one a week I struggle with the symptoms of my condition. But I don’t allow this to defeat me. I want the attendees to feel inspired and say “Wow, I can do anything I put my mind to in spite of what my obstacles are.”
What advice would you give to young people who want to become advocates and raise awareness about certain diseases or issues? I would say do it and don’t be afraid to be truthful in what you have experienced. It’s difficult opening up and sharing your story because people always judge and someone will always find something negative to say, but it’s your journey and story. You never know who you may be helping through sharing your story or sharing your gifts of song and poetry or whatever your passion is. There is only one you so even when you feel like there are a million people doing this same type of thing or talking about this same issue, it doesn’t matter because no one has a story identical to yours.
Who or what has been your biggest inspiration?
My grandmother and my godmother are by far my greatest inspirations. My grandmother is a strong woman of faith and she never lets that waiver. She is loving and has dealt with adversity in the most beautiful of ways. My godmother was the one who always pushed me to chase my dreams. She gave me the confidence I needed to become a woman. She always told me I could do anything; she always reassured me that I was beautiful and kept me encouraged and in prayer. Both women have inspired me in every area of my life.
Inspired 4 Change is an event created to inspire, spread awareness and showcase talent. The event will feature local DMV poets, musicians and singers all coming together to display their talents for a great cause. All proceeds from ticket sales will go the American Thyroid Association to further research and support for Graves Disease. To purchase your ticket to Inspired 4 Change, click here and visit @Inspired_4_Change on Instagram to learn more.
If there is any question I am asked more than the others, it is about how I stay inspired.
inspired: (adj.) aroused, animated, or imbued with the spirit to do something, by or as if by supernatural or divine influence
inspire: (verb) to fill with an animating, quickening or exalting influence
It’s nice to be asked how I stay inspired. It is even nicer to be told that I inspire others or my words are inspirational. But, sometimes, I really hate the whole inspiration thing. Sure, I read things or hear things that spark thoughts for me. But, in terms of my sustained and steady output, that’s not about inspiration. It’s about conviction.
People wrongly assume that writing happens while you nurse a cup of chai tea and channel a burst of energy from a quote you just read or a song lyric you just heard. People wrongly assume that the act of writing is this beautiful thing and your house is filled with sweet music, a vase of peonies sitting atop your desk. People wrongly assume writing is about inspiration.
It’s not. It’s about conviction.
conviction: (noun) a fixed or firm belief
Arguably, I am becoming more spiritual these days. I haven’t exactly decided what that means, but it’s a journey I’m undertaking (probably thanks to my constant consumption of OWN). Part of that journey is about this unrelenting conviction I have about what I am supposed to put into the Universe. My belief when it comes to my work is that the things I create are supposed to be in Universe; I am simply the vessel, the gateway, the channel those things traverse in order to exist. If I don’t do the things, if I don’t write the words, if I don’t roar the poems, they don’t exist and I am shit for not letting them happen.
Let’s level-set: I don’t think I’m the Messiah. I’m just a crazy writer with clarity and purpose.
I think too many of us spin our wheels digging for inspiration, chasing it, seizing it on the rare occasion when it comes and then feeling handicapped when we can’t create without it. But, inspiration is like a friend with benefits: she shows up, she does the job and then you don’t know when you’ll see her again. You don’t set a date. You don’t make a plan. You just hope she reappears to fulfill a need. It’s tough to depend on her for anything consistent or lasting.
Conviction is a soulmate. Conviction is there, all the time, 24/7, seven days a week, even when things are awful and you want to give it all up for the chance to dick around. Conviction is rock-fucking-solid. Conviction doesn’t flee. Doesn’t waver. Doesn’t change.
Conviction about the work is what keeps you grounded when things go awry or when plans change. Where inspiration is beautiful, conviction is ugly. Inspiration is a burst of energy; conviction is sleepless nights. Inspiration is pretty roses; conviction is dirt and mud and grit. Inspiration is tough to find; conviction is tough to lose.
As I write this post, I’m frustrated as hell trying to secure an opening act for the second annual “See. Speak. Feel.” showcase. What I thought was a guaranteed plan didn’t work out. But, I keep working because I am incredibly convicted about that showcase. I know the showcase isn’t about me; it’s about that rare moment when all of those people in that room get to be together and have that creative, vibrant, beautiful space. That moment is something that is supposed to exist. It is supposed to be here. So I deal with the unpredictable highs and lows of producing the event because of that rock-fucking-solid conviction.
Something is supposed to be in this world. It has nothing to do with you. But, it’s supposed to come through you if it has any chance of existing. So in that case, it has everything to do with you. You are the gateway, the vessel, the channel, the path it has to traverse in order to make it into the world. You’re the molecules and the atoms. You are the pulse of the whole operation. And being that gateway, that vessel, that channel, that path, that pulse means you’ll get your ass handed to you. Sometimes things will suck. You will get whipped around by the Universe as it fights to get that thing done through you. But, it has to be here. And if you don’t let it happen, it doesn’t exist, and then you’re shit for that. You are shit if you don’t let it exist. Don’t chase inspiration; honor conviction.
Conviction. Find that. Seize that. Believe in that.
This year, I found so many Internet gems, and, in many cases formed incredible partnerships and connections with the people behind these online spaces. I wanted to finish off the year by celebrating these blogs, the bloggers behind them, and the memories I have of connecting with and meeting many of these vibrant, creative and beautiful people. I know a list of 50 blog is pretty lengthy and you certainly won’t take every blog with you into 2015, but I hope you’ll find a few that stand out and pique your interest.
What this list represents: 50 online spaces—blogs, websites and communities—that mean something to me personally and the creators behind them, many of whom inspire and influence my own writing.
What this list does not represent: The Internet behemoths like Very Smart Brothas, Clutch Magazine, xoJane, etc. Those are all sites that I frequent, but I wanted to bring visibility to more independent spaces and creators.
The list is divided into seven sections based on each blogger’s niche, messaging and brand.
The Visionaries—these are the bloggers who seek to uplift, inspire and really encourage people, particularly women, to live life according to their purpose
The Business Mavens—bloggers whose business and branding expertise are top-notch
The Truth Tellers and Storytellers–the largest section of this list that includes bloggers whose message is simple: seek and speak their truth and/or tell stories that entertain us like hell
The Online Community Architects–bloggers who have dedicated spaces to bringing people together and developing a unified voice based on the work of many different contributors
The Lady Squad–women whose voices speaks to feminism, womanism and conquering the world with a vagina in tow
The Artists and Intellectuals–bloggers whose spaces are dedicated to showcasing dope shit and/or really making us think
The Fashion Club–the cool kids kicking ass in the world of fashion and personal style
“The visionary starts with a clean sheet of paper, and re-imagines the world.” Malcolm Gladwell
All The Many Layers
I had to kick off this list with GG Renee Hill of All The Many Layers, a woman whose work, voice and message continue to inspire and propel me. Her “daily indulgence for soulful women” is a space I love visiting to receive a wise gem and just feel at home. I met GG back in March of 2014 when she performed at the “See. Speak. Feel.” showcase and we have developed such a beautiful creative partnership since then. There is hardly anything I ever do or plan that doesn’t involve reaching out to GG in some way and I am grateful for the support and encouragement she has continued to show me.
Respect Your Struggle Minaa B is getting back to the basics of storytelling with her lifestyle brand, “Respect Your Struggle.” In a world where it’s way too easy to only publicize the highlight reel of your life, Respect Your Struggle, aka RYS, is all about being brave, vulnerable and telling the stories that matter most.
The Free Your Mind (F.Y.M.) Project It doesn’t feel like that long ago when I was Raven’s teaching assistant during her freshmen orientation course. Now she is a beautiful and confident woman at the helm of The F.Y.M. Project, a space dedicated to inspiring and connecting women of color. What started as a project for her gender studies class transformed into a place that upholds and uplifts women. I can only imagine where 2015 will take Raven.
Blogger. Poet. Author. Sheryl Leigh is a light beam. There isn’t any other way I can think to describe her. I had several chances to interact with Sheryl over the course of 2014, mostly at spoken word events, and it’s always clear that her vision and calling far exceed what I could ever fathom.
Write. Laugh. Dream. Ashley Coleman of “Write. Laugh. Dream.” is one of my new favorites from this past year. I stumbled upon her work in the fall and felt moved by her fresh and bold approach to a simple yet complex topic–love. Ashley was kind enough to be one of the sponsors for my NYC Bloggers Brunch and her book “Dear Love” is something you do not want to miss.
Nai’s Visions “Powerful beyond measure” is the first phrase that comes to mind when I think of Jasmine Jenai of Nai’s Visions. We connected earlier this year on social media and she has been a gem to me ever since, particularly as one of the women who contributed to “The War on Black Women’s Bodies.” When I interviewed Jasmine for the series, her honesty and vulnerability poured out in a way that made me so proud. Can’t wait to see what’s next for this woman.
Amber Janae Anyone who writes four books before age 30 can only be described as a visionary. That is exactly what writer Amber Janae has done. She continues to document her journey as a writer and young woman on “Who Is Amber Janae” where her tagline is simple and beautiful: Be inspired. Be encouraged. Be blessed.
The Business Mavens
“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.”
The Alisha Nicole Goal-setting, resources for entrepreneurs and turning passions into businesses are all a part of Alisha Nicole’s M.O. on her website. I started following Alisha earlier this year, but really became a fan after I had the opportunity to guest write for her site during one of her blogging breaks. Then we had an amazing conversation a few months after that and her insight and inspiration were next-level. The world isn’t always easy for women, especially not those who want to fiercely pursue their dreams, and I’m so glad Alisha Nicole is creating a smart space for those women.
Have you ever seen me tweet about my obsession with By Regina? I’m sure you have. Because I’ve done it quite a bit. By Regina is a site for bloggers, freelancers and creative businesses and it is filled to the brim with amazing resources. The one I found most helpful was Regina’s “How to Write a Blog Business Plan” which I walked through countless times this summer with Emily. Regina’s newest resource is “EPIC BLOG“, a one-year editorial planner.
Think and Grow Chick You have to love a site whose tagline is “Achievement tips for ambitious chicks.” I started following Think and Grow Chick earlier this year on Twitter and her website includes posts about personal growth, business and career, money and more. Definitely a must-have for any female entrepreneur in 2015.
The Truth Tellers and Storytellers
“Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.” Robert McKee
Everything EnJ Erica is the only person I could think of to kick off this list. Most of you have heard me praise Erica at length for her transparency, vulnerability and down-ass realness. Erica is without question my writing soulmate and I am so proud of her. Her blog series “What Binds Us Together: Our Stories”, a 2014 Best Personal Blog win in the Black Weblog Awards and her unbridled honesty have skyrocketed her this past year. I know there are only bigger, better and brighter things ahead for my friend.
Yetti Says “I write to share my experiences, the good, the bad, the ugly.” That’s Yetti’s motto on Yetti Says, a space where Yetti lives boldly and unapologetically. Yetti and I connected during the early part of 2014 and it’s been cool to watch her evolve and grow into her fearlessness. With an event on the way to kick off 2015, the Yetti Says and Certified 10 brands have wonderful things in store for the new year.
Greatest Escapist Hands down, there is not anyone who can tell a story quite like Kate of Greatest Escapist. She
can write about a midnight train to Georgia or her plight as a “crochety grammarian” and I always find myself cracking up. I had the chance to meet Kate first at the “Brunch, Blogs and Books” event I hosted back in May and then we connected at one-on-one at brunch later in the summer. I’m sad she has moved from D.C. back to her hometown in Ohio, but I know I’ll continue to follow her tales of the insane and mundane on her blog.
TwentySomethingNCounting Noëlle of TwentySomethingNCounting is hilarious, uncensored and authentic. I first met Noëlle back in 2013 at my first event, a NYC Bloggers Brunch, and she was the life of the party. Whether she’s chronicling the lives of the students she works with or pontificating about dating and relationships, Noëlle is always going to serve it to you straight, with hilarity and wit.
Life in 100 Words I don’t know anyone who knows Minnie of Life in 100 Words who would not describe her as the sweetest person you ever met. On her blog “Life in 100 Words” Minnie recounts her experiences in life and love, with each entry written in about 100 words. I was so excited to meet Minnie back in August at Erica’s “What Binds Us Together” brunch and I can’t wait to see where life (in 100 words) takes her next year.
The Skinny Black Girl Sometimes you go to read Robyn’s work and you have to stop yourself because the realness cuts deep. Or, maybe that’s just me. But, Robyn, aka The Skinny Black Girl aka 2011 Best Personal Blog winner in the 2011 Black Weblog Awards, has a way of writing that puts a mirror right up to your face. Her work forces you to take a good, long, hard look at your life through the honesty of her own. I haven’t ever met Robyn, but feel connected to her through our Best Personal Blog wins. I look forward to her continuing to pen next year.
Briana Ford “Writer, Influencer, Shero.” When I grow up, I want to be all of those things and I’m inspired by Briana Ford who already is. I had the chance to chat with Briana during her interview for “The War on Black Women’s Bodies” and her story touched me and added new layers to the project. Also, how could you not love a woman who says she gets excited to buy “books and body butter”? Amen!
Tamm, better known as Citizen T.S., is one of the most cool, calm and collected people I’ve ever met. Her blog Citizen T.S. is about “challenging the status quo” and she is definitely the type of person who lives what she writes. I look forward to reading as Citizen T.S, the blog and the woman, continues to evolve.
Memoirs of the Chic “Just a 20-somethin’ trying to find my way and be great.” That’s Jaida’s tagline on “Memoirs of the Chic” where she writes about everything from pop culture to beauty and whatever is in between. I connected with Jaida earlier this year on Twitter and look forward to seeing where she takes MOTC in the new year.
xoSoleil Soleil Santana is all about love, faith and hope on her blog xoSoleil. Santana is someone else I connected with via Twitter this past year, and it was her post entitled, “On Dealing With Depression and Suicide, published shortly after Robin Williams’ death, that really drew me into her writing. Like many of the other truth tellers and storytellers on this part of the list, Soleil remains transparent in her work and I appreciate her for that.
Real Life Actually
I’m usually not into mommy blogs, but there are two that I had to put on this list because of their fresh and nuanced approach to that blogging niche. One of those blogs is Real Life Actually where mommy, wife and kickass woman Chaunece offers her perspective on “adventures in boo-loving, mommyhood, passion and purpose.” Chaunece and I tried to get together a few times this year and kept missing each other, but I have high hopes that we’ll finally get a chance to meet in 2015! Until then, I plan to keep up with all of her adventures online.
Chymere Anais Chymere is one of those ride-or-die supporters and we’ve been connected for quite some time. I have followed her work as it has evolved and no matter what platform she’s writing on, it is never a question that this woman can write her ass off. On her eponymous site, Chymere seems at her best as a writer, documenting her journey as a young woman and discussing the things she’s most passionate about.
Britticisms In a world of 140 characters or less and listicles out the wazoo, Brittany of Britticisms understands the fine art of writing personal essays. (No, really, she has an “essays” section on her blog which just gives me life.) Earlier this year, I read her short essay, “Today, Again” about a horrendous incident of street harassment, and the piece both haunted and shook me in a way that not most writing can. This journalist, essayist and warrior is someone to watch.
Cicely Rue Cicely Rue is a bright and determined spirit, and that became clear when I interviewed her a few months ago for “The War on Black Women’s Bodies.” From fiction to poetry, and personal musings to writing woes, Cicely Rue is a site that offers a little something for every woman from one hell of a woman.
Young, Creative and Unemployed
It’s hard not to love the dauntlessness behind a blog called “Young, Creative and Unemployed.” While those three words describe the life that so many millennials are living, writer Shanti is bold enough to write about it. I am excited to see where 2015 takes Shanti and her creative lifestyle.
The Blonde Misfit
My writer boo Jamé of The Blonde Misfit rounds out this list of truth tellers and storytellers. Jamé and I exchanged emails earlier this year and then, as fate would have it, we randomly met on U Street after my Twenties Unscripted blogaversary happy hour! Jamé is a ball of energy and that liveliness comes through in her writing. She continues to evolve on The Blonde Misfit with her daring approach to the world around her.
The Online Community Architects
“We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.”
Brown Girl Bloggers There are so many black women who are blogging, but Candice VanWye is someone bringing us all together. She is the helm of Brown Girl Bloggers, a site dedicated to connecting minority bloggers, showcasing their stories and providing them with resources to elevate their blogs to the next level. I was so happy to see BGB return this past autumn with a new look, additional team members and a vision that can’t be stopped. I know Candice has amazing things in store for next year and I can’t wait to see her unveil her master plan.
Be Moxie “Be bold. Be determined. Be savvy.” That’s the mantra at Be Moxie, a site intended to “guide and provide resources for women of color to flourish in academic and professional endeavors.” I always see Be Moxie hosting the most dope events and even though I love my suburban life, their NYC events make me want to reconsider a move to the Big Apple. I had the opportunity to be featured earlier this year as a Moxie Leader and I was super honored to be a part of this global and empowering community for women.
There are a shit ton of twenty-something websites out there (including the one you’re reading right now), but few are kicking ass the way GenTwenty is. Founder Nicole Booz continues to take the site to new levels. This year brought about an amazing site redesign and a new book: GenTwenty’s Guide to College Success(which will be reviewed on Twenties Unscripted in January!) I’m so glad I had the chance to partner with Nicole this year and I look forward to staying connected to this awesome brand for millennials.
For Women, To Women I have known Carey Lee, the editor-in-chief of For Women, To Women, for awhile since we first met on Twitter. But, it took me some time to realize she was at the helm of For Women, To Women, an incredible site that is all about boosting women and encouraging them to live up to their true potential. This site features the work of amazing ladies and also curates other great things women across the globe are doing. This site is definitely a space to keep in your bookmarks for the new year.
My Creative Connection While My Creative Connection is currently on a hiatus and will return January 5, this site had to be on the list. My Creative Connection is all about uniting black creatives. I have been incredibly fortunate to connect with Melissa Kimble, the site’s creator, this past year and was lucky enough to be featured on My Creative Connection’s list of 45 Millennials of Color Blazing Their Own Paths earlier this summer. Once MY CC is back on January 5, I can’t wait to see what Melissa has up her sleeve.
See Jane Write It’s hard not to love a site that is about “empowering women writers, bloggers and entrepreneurs.” Javacia Harris Bowser is the founder of See Jane Write and she’s the epitome of unstoppable. Not only has she created a hub for creative women in Birmingham through See Jane Write, but she also blogs about her adventures as a “southern fried feminist” on her blog Writeous Babe. I met Javacia this past summer at the BlogHer 2014 conference and getting the chance to chat with her was one of the highlights of my time there.
Mira Johnson has started a movement with her monthly #Ambitionista Twitter chats that bring together inspired and driven women. I’m not always able to attend, but when I do, I love how many new and motivated women I have the chance to meet. I look forward to seeing what Mira does with the Ambitionista community during 2015.
Her Agenda An informative and inspirational hub for millennial women, Her Agenda encourages women to stay on the move, features high-powered women executives and highlights job opportunities among other things.
The Lady Squad
“I am a strong woman with or without this other person, with or without this job, and with or without these tight pants.”
The Frenemy Once upon a time, my friend Lindsay sent me a blog post called “Dating In Your Twenties.” That was the day I fell in love with Alida Nugent’s work on The Frenemy. I read her blog religiously, was a silent fangirl, eventually grew the balls to interview her when her first book dropped and got the chance to meet her this past year when she spoke at my “Brunch, Blogs and Books” event. Alida is a talented, down-to-earth, extraordinary woman and the no-bullshit voice she raises for women inspires me time and time again. With a new book dropping in 2015, I know Alida will only continue to conquer the world.
Revolutionary in Pink Pumps
Body image. Race. Culture. Success. Feminism. No topic is off limits for one of my favorite bloggers, Ariel of Revolutionary in Pink Pumps. I quickly took notice of Ariel’s work this year and I always feel that little pitter patter in my heart when one of her new posts hits my inbox. We met earlier this month at the NYC Bloggers Brunch and Ariel is just as beautiful in person as she is in her writing. Can’t wait to see how her words continue to transform the world.
There is a quote by Susan Sontag on Jessica Schiffer’s “About” page that sums up her writing precisely: ““The writer must be four people: 1) The nut, the obsede 2) The moron 3) The stylist 4) The critic. 1 supplies the material; 2 lets it come out; 3 is taste; 4 is intelligence.” Jessica’s talent always draws me in. My heart is with her right now during the sudden passing of her father, and I know that his beautiful spirit will continue to live on through her work.
Bené Viera Bené Viera is that chick. I have loved her writing for years now and had to refrain myself from fan-girling out when I had the chance to meet her back in August at Erica’s “What Binds Us Together” brunch. Her writing is bold, unapologetic and raw. She has written a lot of things that I’ve met with an impassioned “Yassss”, but one piece that always stood out to me was her post, “Girls Are Made Of Sugar And Spice And Everything Nice.” With her new Centric TV column “No Ma’am” on the way to kick off 2015, I know I am going to be “Yasss”-ing a lot more to Bené’s work.
Pinkasaur For awhile, I was connected to a little pink dinosaur on Tumblr and I knew I liked the dinosaur’s content, even though I had no idea who the dinosaur was. Soon enough I learned that Mackenzie was the lady behind the dinosaur, and I continued to stay connected with her, even getting the chance to feature some of her work during Twenties Unscripted’s Guest Writers Week during the summer. Pinkasaur is all about feminism and fun, two things the world could use a lot more of.
Janelle of Renegade Mothering has next-level talent and truth. Her site and her story are proof that stripping everything down to the core and bare essentials are what can really draw people in. No bells. No whistles. No bullshit. Just really incredible writing and cut-you-to-the-core stories. I heard Janelle deliver one of those stories during the BlogHer “Voices of the Year” contest when she read her essay “We don’t start with needles in our arms“, a gut-wrenching piece about motherhood and alcoholism. Janelle amazes me. The end.
The Artists and Intellectuals
“I’m not a perfectionist. I’m just very observant.” Chris Van Allsburg
S. Ellis, The Writer
Oh, Stacy-Ann Ellis. Where can I possibly start when it comes to the triple threat that is Stacy-Ann Ellis? I met Stacy-Ann back in 2013 at my NYC Bloggers Brunch and have been a fan of her work–photography, art and writing–ever since. On her blog S. Ellis, The Writer, her knack for stringing sentences together in beautiful and eloquent ways comes through. You can also check out her art and photography on Stacyannellis.com.
Therapy for Black Girls
I probably quoted Dr. Joy of Therapy For Black Girls a gazillion times in Part 5: Mind and Spirit of The War on Black Women’s Bodies. When I stumbled upon the blog earlier this autumn, I knew Dr. Joy would prove to be an incredible resource for the series. She was such a gem during our phone interview and I’m moved by the work she is doing when it comes to black women and our mental health.
Untitled, 1975 Raegan Mathis is a woman of many talents. On her blog Untitled, 1975, she combines amazing photos with beautiful writing. Rae is the epitome of what a successful blog transition looks like. She started Untitled, 1975 after sunsetting her blog “From Rae With Love” and she did so while keeping her content top-notch.
50 Books in 2014
Dana Sukontarak may have been chronicling her way through reading 50 books in 2014, but this site is a great reference any time you’re looking for a good read. I worry that people simply don’t read anymore, so it’s refreshing that someone with Dana’s penning game is both reading and sharing her reviews with the rest of the world.
The Fashion Club
“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” Coco Chanel
The Stylish Standout
Journalistic prowess, a knack for building clean, organized websites and a keen understanding of his readers are just some of the characteristics that make of The Stylish Standout’s Founder and Editor-in-Chief Michael Jones successful. Michael is one of my close friends and mentors, and any time we get the chance to catch up, I am always learning something new from him. The Stylish Standout’s motto “You weren’t made to fit in” is right up my alley. Can’t wait to see what surprises Michael and his team have in store for 2015.
A woman named CosMORGpolitan kept popping up on my Twitter timeline earlier this year, so
much that I had no choice but to take notice. Morgan and I linked up shortly after. Not only does her mosaic of personal fashion on CosMORGpolitan continue to turn heads, but she is also the founder #BlackGirlsWhoBlog, a social media community of black female bloggers that won Hashtag of the Year in this year’s Black Weblog Awards. Morgan’s latest adventure has taken her to NYC and it’s been incredible to watch this pistol grow and take off. I know she is only going to continue to amaze the world next year.
2nd and L
Morgan’s #BlackGirlsWhoBlog partner in crime and the illustrator behind the brand is Lindsay of 2nd and L. Her motto is “Vogue in one hand, my sketch pad in the other” but there is a lot more beneath the fashionable layers of this woman. I met Lindsay this past summer and have always felt extremely connected to her. Maybe it’s because we are birthday twins (one day apart) or maybe it’s because she is simply a woman after my own heart–brave, daring and resilient.
Fashion of Culture I don’t know much about the fashion world, but it seems Sabrina, creator of Fashion of Culture, does it right when it comes to merging fashion news, headlines and think pieces. Fashion of Culture won the 2014 Black Weblog Award for Best Fashion Blog and I look forward to seeing what else Sabrina has planned for the upcoming year.
The Feisty House When you visit The Feisty House, it’s clear that creator Krystal knows how to make her house a home. The site has a clean, simple and feel-good design and is filled with resources all about “inspiring women to live beautiful lives.” Her site is proof that fashion and style are often times an amazing gateway to talk about anything under the sun that inspires us. I met Krystal at this year’s NYC Bloggers Brunch and she is someone I know I’ll keep in touch with as I continue to visit her site.
LoSo Fancy Fashion blogger, friend and former college roommate Laura of LoSo Fancy rounds out the list of 50 Blogs to Take Into 2015. I don’t know if there is anyone I am more proud of than Laura, a woman who has pursued her passion fully, taken risks and opted for the road less traveled. Her fashion blog continues to take off as she partners with other bloggers, contributes her work to other sites and inspires women with her personal style. I know there are only better things ahead for this lady.
And, of course, I hope you’ll take Twenties Unscripted into the new year with you as well! What blogs did I miss? What are you definitely reading next year? What else should be on my radar? Let me know in the comments section!