Self Awareness Month: Tyree M.

Tyree is an artist from Hollis, Queens now residing in Long Island, NY. He is the youngest of four, and has been blessed with the talent of expressing himself through music. Tyree is a visionary, and brings a fresh breath of air to everyone under the sound of his music. He enjoys writing, hanging in the city, and working hard so that his family can live the American Dream.

Q. What does self awareness mean to you personally?

A. To me, self awareness means; to have understanding within yourself. When we lack self awareness, we become lost, and its hard for some people to come back from that.

Q. What are your greatest strengths?

A. I tend to read peoples vibes well, and I learn a lot about people by just observing them. I also have the ability to express myself through music, better than I do with others. Those are some of my strengths.

Q. Name one old habit you are trying to get rid of.

A. I have the habit of keeping to myself very often. It can be a good or bad thing. The good thing is, I get to learn more about me. The bad thing is, I become less social with those around me. It's something I'm still working on.

Q. What steps are you taking?

A. Just taking it one step at a time. I know somewhere down the line I'll get better.

Q. What is one attribute that you have to offer others?

A. I offer to others what I don't offer to myself as much, that's love and self care. That's my best attribute Id say.

Q. Where do you find strength?

A. I find strength in myself these days. Growing up I was hard on me, and only I was able to better the situation. Once I overcame my personal problems, I've been feeling unstoppable.

Q. What life lesson would you like to pass on to the next generation?

A. Life is like a wave, there will be ups and downs. Just know that everything that you are put through, is beneficial towards your growth.

I would like to thank Tyree for taking the time out to do this interview, and thank YOU the readers for encountering this beautiful soul with me.


Self Awareness Month: Tonya I.

Tonya Ingram is the 2011 New York Knicks Poetry Slam champion, a member and co-founder of NYU's poetry slam team, a member of the 2011 Urban Word-NYC team, the 2013 Nuyorican Grand Slam team and the 2015 Da Poetry Lounge Slam team. She is a 2014 Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of Growl and Snare. Her work has traveled throughout the United States, Ghana, The Literary Bohemian, Huffington Post, Amy Poehler's Smart Girls,LupusChick.com, For Harriet, Buzzfeed, Afropunk, Rude Magazine, Cultural Weekly, The WILD, Upworthy, To Write Love On Her Arms, Youtube and season four of Lexus Verses and Flow. She has shared the stage with Hill Harper, Soledad O' Brien, President Clinton, Anthony Hamilton, Lynn Whitfield, and others. She is a New York University alumna, a Cincinnati native, a Bronx-bred introvert who recently returned from Los Angeles where she completedher MFA in Public Practice at Otis College of Art & Design. 

Q. What does self awareness mean to you personally?

A. Self-awareness is the ability to understand oneself during the missteps and miracles that shape our lives.

Q. What are your greatest strengths?

A. My greatest strength is sensitivity. Some may consider that a huge weakness, but I think the complete opposite. Sensitivity is a sixth sense. It is a gift to be considerate of life on such a level. I'm often teased for being too sensitive, but I perceive it as a value. It is how I feel that helps me understand and connect to people. It allows me to not overlook the overlooked.

Q. Name one old habit you are trying to get rid of.

A. Being ashamed of asking for help. I am very independent, probably to a fault. However, it is a great human characteristic to be able to ask for help. We can't do this life alone. There is no shame in admitting that. Recently, I have found myself needing to kick the habit of guilting myself. It is ok to be vulnerable. That is what people relate to. When I turned 22, I was diagnosed with lupus, a chronic illness. I did not understand what was happening to my body, to my sanity. I was hospitalized in the intensive care unit and felt closer to death than ever. It was during this time, I was greeted with so much care that it still baffles me til this day. I was not left alone during my month-long hospital stay. People were thinking of me. People were kind to  me. People came to see me. I needed help, and it was given .During Christmas, although I was stuck in a hospital gown, I was given gifts. I was not forgotten. The most powerful thing many of us can do is to repeat that mantra. I am not forgotten. Do not count yourself out. People want to be there for you. You are worth someones time.

Q. What steps are you taking?

A. I recently started a compassionate crowd sourcing campaign to help get an apartment. Since graduating with a masters degree and moving back home, it has been a difficulty making adjustments. I value my mental and physical health very much and asking for assistance during this time is what I need.

Q. What is your best attribute that you have to offer others?

A. My kindness. I may not have a lot, but I have that. I'm very soft spoken and I'm a huge introvert, but my kindness is large. I never want people to feel like they don't matter.

Q. Where do you find strength?

A. Primarily, I know, and find my strength in my relationship with God. I understand that there is no greater kindness than that which I get from God. Secondly, my strength comes from my story. I have lived such a full life in such a short period of time. I have experienced sexual abuse, chronic illness, and depression. I have watched the ugliness of domestic abuse find my mother. I have been a body who did not want to live any longer. I have been there. I have been there and I am still here. Of course, this is not on my strength alone. I know that this is because of such a grace that is on my life. I find strength in being able to tell  this story to people across the world through poetry. My story is a gift for others to know their strength. 

Q. What life lesson would you pass on to the next generation?

A. Do not be afraid to take up space. Do not be afraid to tell people what you need. You are not wrong for feeling. Feel, my friend. Feel. Tell your story because it is bigger than any of us and that is the miracle we all need.

I would like to thank Tonya for her time, honesty, and vulnerability. You can check out her amazing poetry at the links below.

Thank you so much for encountering this beautiful soul with me.

xxx Jo


Tryna Get That Old Thang Back

God doesn't want us to have rigid rituals with Him. With the new covenant He is more interested in having a relationship with us. 
- Joseph Prince

I've always been amazed by one thing in my walk. I've been considering and thinking about how when I'm on fire for God, and in a routine of spending time with God, everything is peaches and cream. But man, if I miss a few days, it's kind of hard to get that old thing back! 

If I'm being completely honest, a few days can make me feel so far away that it's hard to push through and get back in the groove again. Please don't tell me I'm the only one! 

Being a mom has really caused me to struggle with the basic rhythm of life that I like to keep.


While considering how and why I feel myself drifting away like a leaf being blown away with the cool autumn breeze (pretty poetic huh?) I've come up with a few reasons I believe this can happen so easily to you and me.

I LOVE the quote above. Sometimes I can be "doing" what I think I'm supposed to do, but it's all out of rituals. I wake up, read my devotional, say a little prayer, try to make it to church on Sunday, but am I doing these things to satisfy my own ritual? Or with the real intentions of keeping my relationship with God? 

This leads to my first point and solution. 

Pray without  ceasing - 1 Thessalonians 5:17

When I think about the basics of keeping a relationship going, of course communication is the key. I mean I can not imagine not speaking to my husband, or good friend daily, all through the day, and yet expect the relationship to remain in this positive place. I can see how not speaking to my husband or friend could cause distance between us, and how awkward it could be trying to get that relationship back.

So naturally the above scripture makes complete sense. I mean I'm not going to lie, when I first saw this scripture I gasped! Pray without ceasing.

Cease: Bring or come to an end

How on God's great earth could I pray without stopping? Well the same way I can text my best friend all day talking about everything under the sun.

How much more should I be eager to stay connected to God? Now does this mean getting on my knees every few minutes in the street and saying the Lord's prayer? Ha! Absolutely not. Prayer is just a conversation with God. Nothing more, nothing less. 

It should be second nature to me to constantly be thanking God for all of his blessings, small and large. I should yearn to be in constant communication with God the same way that I do with friends. Prayer is what keeps us connected, and in tune with Him. 

I can honestly say that one of the main reasons that I can feel so distant ,and far from God is simply because I am not taking the time out to communicate with him. He is waiting to connect and kick it with me, but by me allowing our conversations to become a here and there type thing, I am creating the distance. 

Can I get an amen? AMEN!

My next conviction is spending time reading, and getting to know Jesus better.

Now it can be extremely hard for a mother of an active three month old to sit down and read anything. But just because there are things that make it hard, doesn't really excuse me or you from doing it.

I mean if the whole point of Christianity is to be more like Christ, how pointless is it to not make time to read about him and his flawless ways. How can I learn to be caring, forgiving, loving, if I don't study the way Jesus did it.

Let's keep it real. I'm sure we all have people we love to read about. Fashion bloggers, rappers, youtubers, historians. Why is it so exciting? Because we are getting to know them in a more intimate way. Reading about them allows us to feel as though we know them personally. So how much more does reading the word that is alive, and life changing teach us about God?

I'm really putting myself in check here. Breaking a little sweat.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edge sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints, and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. - Hebrews 4:12

This scripture is so real to me, and an explanation to us of how not reading the word can make me/us feel far from God. The last line says "It (the word of God) judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Without God we are all vulnerable to our flesh and attitudes. Our flesh wants to do what we want to do, when we want to do it. 

Attitude: a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person's behavior

My flesh/attitude wants to wake up, check Instagram, Facebook, have a cup of coffee, play with Jax, and maybe go out for the day. The less time I spend allowing God's word to check/judge my attitude, the more my behaviors reflect the lack of consistent communication.

Mind blown.

The amazing thing about it all is God's grace is new each morning, and he is literally waiting with open arms to be in communication with me and you, and speak to us through his word. I know often times I can over complicate things. The truth is my rituals don't keep this amazing relationship in tact, and neither do yours. Honest, open, and constant communication with God, along with desiring to read more about him is what makes this relationship flourish!

Now HOW am I going to get that old thing back?

Discipline my people, discipline. I have to let the excuses go, and just get into it. Yeah I may not recieve a three page sermon the first day that I get back into my reading. I may even feel silly or awkward saying a little prayer. But genuine and real relationships aren't formed by wishing that they would happen. They are formed by taking action! So that's what I need to do! You too!

I am sharing this with you guys because I truly believe we all go through times like I am going through right now. Where the business of life can take a toll on your priorities, and making God number one in our hearts. 

I am hoping that we can take a vow today, together to make the time to have conversations with God. Not just asking for things, but thanking him for what we already have, and letting him know what's on our hearts so that we can keep an amazing relationship with him, like we do with our loved ones. 

I am also hoping that we dive into the word, and stay committed, making time to find out more about our amazing God, and allowing the word to strip away our settled way of thinking and replace it with God's concerns, priorities, and heart.

I am so grateful to be on this journey with you guys. Thanks for taking the time to read my heart. 

Until next time,

xxx Jo


Urbini Omni Plus Travel System Review

Hey ladies and gents! Welcome back to my blog!

So lets get right to it! As soon as I entered my third trimester, I began the stroller hunt. I knew exactly what I wanted in a stroller, I just needed to find all of my request in one contraption. Here is my long list of needs/wants.

1. It had to be inexpensive. I call myself cheap, but my classy friends say that I should refer to myself as frugal... the fancy way of saying cheap. haha! I did not want to invest thousands of dollars into a stroller and car seat.

2. It had to be front facing. Yes I am THAT mom. I want to see Jaxen 24/7. Even as he moves on to be a toddler, I would like to look down at him and know that he is ok. Do not judge me lol.

3. I needed a travel system. I wanted to be able to pop my car seat off, place it in the car, and then pop it back on when I reached my destination. I don't like the idea of having all these different pieces. It's hard enough to remember all the things that I need in my diaper bag. 

4. I also wanted my toddler seat to be able to pop on and off, and be front facing.

5. Although I wanted something cheap, I was completely obsessed with the idea of having a bassinet attachment. If I'm being completely honest, I was more obsessed with the LOOK than I was of the idea of having the baby be able to lounge.

After doing a LOT of research, I came across the Urbini. My heart was literally filled with joy as I went down my checklist and discovered that this travel system met all of my needs, and was so affordable!

Although I love all of these amazing features, there are a few things that I do not enjoy about this travel set.

The Cons
  1. The wheels! Man oh man. As long as I just have the baby in the stroller we are good to go. But as soon as I add my diaper bag, or grocery bags, my wheels act like they are on crack. They spin out of control, and basically have a mind of their own. Extremely annoying. 
  2. Although it is amazing to have the car seat snap out of the car and straight onto the stroller, it sometimes takes me about 5 minutes to get it to snap in. Now my amazing husband figured out that the handle that you use to carry the car seat has to be in a certain position. But man, it should snap in a lot easier than it does.
  3. The shade cove barely covers anything. I had to purchase an attachment to make sure that the sun was not beaming on the baby..
Overall, I believe my list of pros and cons are about even. I work with and use the stroller because I have it, but  I'm not sure I would purchase this for any future children. Mainly because of these wheels man. What's the point of a stroller if you can barely push it? 

Well I hope that this review helped anyone considering purchasing this stroller, and maybe even gave some of you mom and dads some ideas about what to look for in a stroller.

Thanks a bunch for taking the time to read! Comment below what strollers work the best for you!



Self Awareness Month: Brit V.

Brit is a 20-something year old from Queens, now residing in the BX. She is an amazing mother to a beautiful baby girl, and one of the best Kindergarten teachers around. Brit has overcome many obstacles with her head held high, and finds strength in setting a positive example for her daughter. 

Q. What does Self Awareness mean to you personally?

A. "Personally self awareness to me can be defined as a clear view of my wants and needs. Being fully self aware would include knowing my weaknesses, my strengths, and being able to fully know my beliefs and emotions. Being self aware also gives me a better understanding of how the world views me, and how I view the world. Working on my self awareness allows me to look at the wold in a holistic view." 

Q. What are your greatest strengths? 

A. "My greatest strengths would have to be my will and my determination. I make my mind up about something, and I kill myself to achieve those goals, big or small. I am also very passionate and I love with all of me."

Q. Name one old habit you are trying to get rid of.

A. "One habit I am definitely trying to get rid of is self doubt. I'm always second guessing myself. " 

Q. What steps are you taking?

A. "I want to be more positive, maybe even a little more cocky. I need to bring my confidence forward. I also remind myself of everything I've already overcome, and accomplished! Telling myself 'You've got this, you've been through worst' helps me the most."

Q. What is your best attribute that you have to offer others?

A, "The best attribute I have to give others is my heart. I think about others, and how to treat them. I often put others before myself because I find pleasure in others happiness!"

Q. Where do you find strength? 

A. "I find my strength from deep within. I try to treat others how I want to be treated, cliche but it is the truth. I also find strength when I look at my daughter. I do not think that I would have accomplished so much if I didn't have her presence pushing me to be great. She is my overall greatest accomplishment."

Q. What life lesson would you like to pass on to the next generation?

A. If I could find a message for the next generation to follow, I would tell them to enter the world being colorblind, and I would want them all to practice being mindful of others. I would want them to understand that yes, people are different, and no one person is the same shade, but that should never stop you from wanting to achieve greatness. It should not be a clutch. You are great no matter what history, or society places on you. You are judged by your character, not by color. Practicing mindfulness is also a great tool, and it has changed me this last year. It helps a person be more self aware. Mindfulness has decreases my stress and anxiety levels and overall has improved my quality of life.

I would like to thank Brit for her time. I hope you guys enjoyed encountering this Beautiful Soul with me.



Self Awareness Month: Jomael Young

Jomael is a 30 something year old, residing in Queens, NY. He is married, and an amazing father to a beautiful five month old. He works hard daily to connect dads to resources such as jobs, clothing, and activities that they would have no means to attend such as baseball games. Jomael loves basketball, and his family.

Q. What does Self Awareness mean to you personally?

A. "Self awareness means being aware of who you are, and where you fit in your surroundings; how you connect with others. The most dangerous (and sadly entertaining) people on the planet are those who have no self awareness."

Q. What are your greatest strengths?

A "My greatest strengths are my abilities to observe and self assess,"

Q. Name one old habit you are trying to get rid of.

A. "Inconsistency is a habit I think I'll be trying to get rid of for the rest of my life. Whenever I see success, consistency has the most to do with it."

Q. What steps are you taking?

A. "I'm doing my best to be mindful of how important it is to be consistent. Snoop recently told me to 'Stay ready, so you never have to get ready.'"

Q. What is your best attribute that you have to offer others?

A, "The best attribute I have to give others, I would like to think is laughter through observation... I think people find great comfort in saying out loud what they are thinking."

Q. Where do you find strength? 

A. "Right now I find the greatest strength in my son. To have a child is very re-defining life wise. Legacy, and leaving something for  him to build upon have now become more important than... well...anything."

Q. What life lesson would you like to pass on to the next generation?

A. The most important life lesson I'd like to pass on is that what you're looking for is wisdom, not knowledge... And be aware of how terrible  your music is.

I would like to thank Jomael for his time. Hope you guys enjoyed encountering this Beautiful Soul with me.



Breastfeeding :The Good, The Bad, The Ugly!

Encountering Breastfeeding 

Ladies, ladies, ladies! I have encountered many things in my life, but I must say breastfeeding has definitely  been the most challenging, while also one of the most rewarding encounters yet! 

During my pregnancy I watched many videos of instructors, and moms gracefully placing their baby or doll to their breast and instantly this beautiful, and magical latch happened! I read blog after blog, where women described this heavenly and divine connection that happened almost instantly. So you could only imagine that I was completely blindsided by my experience!

Now for the moms who had it easy, and the above paragraph describes you... God bless your heart! Maybe my experience will be just as lovely next time. 

To be completely honest, during my pregnancy as my due date got closer, and closer I became more and more nervous. I could feel my nipples being torn up, and nightmares of them becoming raw and falling off invaded my dreams! 

Finally the day arrived!! June 24th I gave birth to my baby boy! Now I knew what was coming from all of the videos I watched! As they wiped him down my heart began to pound. The moment that had been giving me night sweats was here. As the nurse walked over to place my baby on my stomach I knew that she was a few steps away from encouraging me to BREASTFEED! 

Panic filled my mind! Would it be like the videos? Would my baby boy latch on so perfectly, and we live happily ever after? Or would my dreams of my nipples being raw and falling off come true? 

Well I wouldn't find out that day, because I panicked and asked the nurse to take the baby! Now let me mention that I also had a high fever and my blood pressure was so low that I had uncontrollable shivers, which made it hard to even hold him. But if I'm being honest, I was slightly relieved. 

But that would soon change... 

Because I had a fever, my precious newborn was taking to the NICU. After a few hours they informed me that they obviously could not starve my child, and that they would need to give him formula. Now in no way am I against formula, or mothers who give formula to their children. At the end of the day you have to do what works for you.

I wanted to breastfeed so desperately that this news was devastating to me. Although deep down a part of me seemed to be relieved. After a few hours the fear was gone, and I was wishing that I had my baby in my arms, doing one of the most natural things that our body was created to do.

When my baby was returned to me, he was well adjusted to the bottle. What did this mean for me? Jaxen did not want to put in the effort to suck on my breast, just to get out little drops of colostrum. I mean who would want to after experiencing the beautiful flow of that sugary formula, satisfying his hunger in minutes?

Was this it? Were my chances of ever breastfeeding over? Honey child when I tell you the Lord made a way, he made a way!

It took some time (two weeks to be exact) but I eventually was able to get my baby boy to latch on... to ONE boob that is. You see while my right nipple had everything in order, my left nipple was completely FLAT!

So this leads to.... THE BAD

  • After feeding for 30 minutes to a hour every 30-40 minutes, and gently laying the baby down, I had to drag my tired self to an outlet and do what? PUMP my left boob. By the time I did that and used the bathroom the baby was up to feed again.
  • Did I mention I was feeding every 30 to 40 minutes?
  • Oh but did you catch the part that said he was actually eating for 30 minutes to a hour??
  • My nipples were so freaking sore
  • Jax could have finished eating for just five minutes and want to eat again
Now of course things didn't stay this way forever. I am proud to  say that after all of that pumping, my left nipple is no longer flat. Jaxen still feeds for about a hour, but doesn't need to eat again for about two hours, and can even go longer during the night. Between 6 and 9pm he feeds on and off but more just because he is a little clingy around that time. And my number one accomplishment is that I no longer have sore nipples!

Now that the mood has been lifted a little, on to THE GOOD 

  • Bonding! There is nothing like the time I get to spend with little man watching his little jaw move up and down. Knowing that he knows that I have the goods for him is an amazing thing.
  • Snap Back! Honey booboo child it has been two months, I have not ran one mile, did one crunch, or step foot in a gym, and I am smaller than I was before I had him. 
  • Have you checked out the price for formula? I am blessed to be a stay at home mom. Any extra money being saved is a win  for me.
  • Less to pack! Man I don't have to think about warming bottles, keeping them warm while out, worrying about running out. Its a beautiful thing.
  • Shopping! All clothing must be breastfeeding friendly, which means my closet got the ultimate update. 
  • Feeling Empowered! I must say in the beginning I did NOT feel empowered. I felt defeated. But now I can hold my head up knowing that I am doing something so natural. I can admire how amazing, detailed, and intentional God was when creating us. And I feel empowered knowing that I will have a healthy little chunk because I was able to overcome, push through, and continue to breastfeed.
So ladies, my biggest advice is don't do like me and watch thousands of videos of other women's journeys and try to make it your own. Those videos may show that breastfeeding for some is instantly magical. But do not feel discouraged if that is not currently the case for you. If you decide on formula, good for you, if you breastfeed, good for you. Just know that everyone's journey is different and valid. For me breast feeding ended up having its perks, but boy oh boy was the journey a rough one! 

Comment  below and share your experiences with breastfeeding. I would love to hear your stories.


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