Monday, December 29, 2014

4C Natural Hair | KCCM week 5 check in

Ten Steps to Successfully Achieving Your Dreams in 2015

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By J.Naomi Johnson

The dawn of a new year is upon us.

There are one million reasons why you should not do it. You are safe. You’re okay with the way things are. The job you have pays the bills and so on and so forth.

These are vicious lies. You have to stop lying to yourself.

Maybe, when you were in school and you had the time to fart around ideas, lying to yourself was okay. You found yourself majoring in art history one year and business the next. You said you’d take a year off then came back six years later and completed your degree. There is nothing wrong with that. Hell, I did it. Shit gets in the way. Life happens and it was cocktail hour.

The problem is to not get caught up in putting your dream in the background. Putting your passion away into your pocket is a downright crime.

Well those days are gone. That was so last year. It’s 2015. The time is now. The fate of your world depends on it. I know it’s better said than done but you can do it. I have faith and a top ten list of ways that will help you to chase your passions and achieve your dreams this new year. Yey!

So here we go.

10.) Believe in your talent.
The idea is yours. Others may have an idea like yours but no two people are the same. I can hear you right now. “Well, someone already thought of the idea…so…” So what? In school I once took a marketing class and the teacher said to never reinvent the wheel just make it roll faster! You and only you stand behind your process. No one is as passionate about or as attentive to the needs of your project more than you. You got to believe you have something special. Believe in your vision. It’s yours.

Speak it into existence. Talk about it all the time. Talk about it so much that people tell you to relax. Talking about it puts your dream in the front of your mind and keeps you focused. Passion is the fuel to a dream and when people see how passionate you are they began to believe in your dreams too.

Listen, regardless if someone is already doing the idea God created your blessings specifically for you. Stop looking at other peoples blessings and focus on obtaining your own. Which brings me to…

9.) Stop monitoring your Instagram and Facebook!
Unless you are marketing or launching campaigns do not sit and waste your time feeding into the hype of others. Websites like the ones stated, no matter how entertaining, are nothing but one big ole show and tell. Someone’s fantastic life took a lot of preparation and maybe even some drama to achieve. Do not rate your life based on the online photo albums of others. This is a detrimental mistake. You don’t know if the grass is really greener or if it is just some good looking astro turf. Also, aside from marketing you don’t need to let people know what you’re trying to do because there are some haters out there. A majority of them are on your Facebook. Seriously. Take the achievement of others and refocus that energy as motivation to create your own online show and tell. Here is a game: For every friends accolade add another task to your do to list to make you venture a reality. This really helps when you are trying to develop your marketing strategies for your business plan.

8.) Get a little crazy and take some risk.
Some of the most magnificent people were thought of as smucks, losers, lames and crazy. If everyone had the same dream than it would be a societal norm. I think family can be some of the hardest critics. They cannot see the finish line of your dreams only the fact that you where indecisive in college and when you were sixteen you wrecked your dad’s new car. You get what I am saying? Don’t be afraid to take risk. A lot of the people around you think your nuts anyways and that opinion will not change until you are successful at your venture.
It is the bottom line: try it.

Whatever it is try it and see what happens. You want to say you did try. You are not going to catch anything different fishing around in the pond you are custom to. You have to get the big fish out in the open water.

7.) Stop taking note of what you cannot do and start utilizing your ability.
Not to take it to the streets but I have seen a hustler make something outta nothing. Single mothers do it every single day. The college student figures it out too. I know when I first got to Atlanta I was broke as hell but I would take those receipts from Popeye’s and complete the surveys on the back and get a full meal for like two dollars. So instead of saying I'm not going to eat, I said I have to figure out a way to eat. But anyways, do you see the difference of thought there? I chose that regardless of how IT happened IT was going to happen. I chose this over the can or cannot school of thought. Because believe me your girl was going to eat.

In the real world, people of color are not always born into financial ability. The idea of being able to throw your kid a couple grand to start a new venture is not a reality for most people. If your one who maybe has to figure out how to get your dream don’t limit yourself by what you don’t have instead say, “I gotta whole lotta…(fill in the blank)” and work with that. It’s a definite bonus if you get what you needed for free too. You are only limited by the boundaries that you create for yourself.

6.) Lose faith in the word No.
It means nothing. When someone tells you no it’s because they don’t want you to proceed with what you are doing. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. People say no for a ton of reasons. They say no because they could not accomplish the task. They say no because they don’t want you to accomplish the task. People will tell you no all day long but there are billions of people on this planet and one person will say yes. Lose your faith in the word no and replace it with this person cannot but somebody will.

5.) Get up, get out and meet somebody.
Remember when I said earlier you should be talking about your dreams all the time. Well your friends should also have dreams. I don’t mean they should be dreaming. I mean they should have solid plans in motion. If your friends do not than you need to find some people that do. That’s networking 101. I am not saying that you need to leave people behind. I am saying that you need to increase your circle of connections and connect to people who are trying to do the same as you. Networking can open doors to finance, skill, organization etc. It is a beautiful thing when people from different walks of life come together and create something that society can utilize. A good place to start is So don’t be shy. Get out there and socialize.

4.) Stay consistent.
If the plan is to wake up every morning at 8am than wake up every morning at 8am. The longevity of your brand or venture depends on your consistency. You must produce the same quality of service and goods each and every time. As humans we appreciate consistency. Think about it. Did you like the person you dated who you could count on or did you appreciate the wildcard ex? Granted I am sure you had fun with the latter but I am willing to bet you viewed the prior long term. One way to stay consistent is to set a schedule of due dates for yourself. Stick to your schedule like the holy grail. Never veer from it. Not even for a second.

3.) Become a dictator of your time.
That is one thing we just don’t have a lot of. You cannot just give people who are not helping you to succeed time. It’s too precious. Be about your business and value your time. One thing that helps most business savvy people is that they equivocate time with cash. Loss of time equals loss of money. Do this and you will be mindful of when people are wasting your time. It becomes offensive because it is not theirs to waste. Take a stand when you are losing time and say it. Plan in advance so you save time. Make sure every moment brings you closer to your goal. You only have a certain amount of hours in the day. Once they are gone, you do not get them back.

2.) Always finish what you start.
You better finish that business plan. You know, if you finish what you start you already surpassed people who were trying to accomplish the same goals as you? You may fail but do not allow failure to be your reason for not finishing your plan. Even if you fail you are still moving in a positive direction. Some ideas may not be so great but by finishing the task you have completed something and that is better than nothing at all. On the other hand if you fail you know what steps not to take in the future.

1.) Plan a celebration no matter how small for every accomplishment that brings you closer to your dream.
Throw a party, go shopping or dine out at your favorite restaurant. You deserve to acknowledge your success. There is a great feeling when you accomplish your goals. Celebrating also helps to remind you of where you came from and how much you have done. This also allows for a mental break and gives you a reset to the next phase of your planning. Pretty soon you will have reached your dream and can begin a new venture.

EXTRA.) Don’t let your past become chains. I will talk more about this in the next post.

I hope this list helps you succeed. Please remember to subscribe and comment to my blog and share!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Black Women and Our Limitations of Strength : The “Figure it out Yourself” conundrum.

By J. Naomi Johnson

We all heard about it. The news hit heavy. “Titi Branch, co-founder of Miss Jessie’s hair care line, dead at age 45.” Julee Wilson,

As shocking as that was to the entire natural hair community the cause, an apparent suicide due to asphyxia, was even more alarming.

Besides feeling that the Black community had been robbed of yet another innovative powerhouse many were left wondering how and why this could have happened. Why would someone so beautiful and successful feel that this was the final option and that there were no other choices? We may never have that question answered but the many articles, Twitter post and online blogs all point to depression as the culprit. Some post even included contact information to suicide prevention hotlines.

But is providing the info for help going cure the problem? Although helpful, the answer is no. “Many African American women do not seek treatment because it is viewed as a personal weakness, not a health problem.” National Alliance on Mental illness,

How many times have we been told to be strong when faced with adversity instead of being offered an answer? How many times have you been told that it will pass and to have faith instead of given a viable option to solve the problem? Often, being told to be strong is a passive aggressive way to being told to suck it up and deal with the situation never really gaining the resolution or support we need. Black Women: Your strong, you will figure it out yourself.

The common misconception that strength and perseverance are the same thing is cliché. Strength is the measurement of one’s current state. Anybody can be strong but not everyone is successful in using their strength to overcome obstacles. Whereas to persevere is to “to continue doing something or trying to do something even though it is difficult.”

What does this mean? It is simple: Your strength can fail you but perseverance will not.

Black Woman, you must persevere!

Since slavery that is what we have been doing. We have had to be our own solution. We have had to figure it out ourselves and although it has helped us to persevere it has had severe side effects. Depression is one.

When does it stop? We need help. We need a solution. We need action. Not to be told to build a bridge and get over it. Not to just be strong and continue on. We need results. Damn it.

Although depression is a real issue, with Black Women leading the trend, the truth is Black Women are under attack and constantly at war. No one could walk a mile in our shoes and no one would want to. We don’t want to. We are at war with the masses, we are at war with our men, we are at war for our children and even worst we are at war with ourselves.

Shows that air on VH1 and Bravo such as Sorority Sisters and Real Housewives of Atlanta, respectfully, help to promote unruly behavior between us. Yet, we watch these shows critiquing the women we view on them while encouraging premeditated division in our social group. These shows also plant seeds within each of us. Seeds that inevitably will not cultivate the next generation of progressive Black Women. This is most devastating and disturbing because we are successful in numbers. Just recently we witnessed the power of large numbers in places like Ferguson and New York in response to police brutality.

Black Woman, we must win this war but in order to do that we have to battle depression, we have to protect ourselves from the exploitation and destructive media, we have to cultivate our families and make the best choice for prosperity and future generations. We must not be succumbed to a good time or getting “Two on” for the hell of it. We need a plan and I have some ideas that may help:

1. Shows that are not conducive to the efficiency of Black women have to be boycotted. In a TMZ video Al Sharpton stated, “Hollywood is like the Rocky Mountains…the higher you go the whiter it is.” Although harsh, this is often the case. This creates misunderstanding of ethical obligation. What is virtuous to the executive is not to the Black Women who produce the high ratings for the networks. By not watching these shows you are effectively digging into the pockets of the advertisers and sponsors which cause them to not work with that particular network. A great example of this is with Kelcie McCrae who created a petition to cancel the VH1 show Sorority Sister’s.

2. We must have dialogue. We have to talk about it. We have to bring to light these issues and stand with each other often times being the support our fellow sister needs to lean on. When I was an intern with the Pan African Arts Society of Denver we worked with a group called Phenomenal Woman. This group met once a week to talk. That one meeting was the difference in many of those women’s lives. There are also many groups that support women on website like Those groups range from natural hair care to fitness. As Black Women we must utilize these opportunity to form close bonds and address issues.

3. Black women have to take an active interest in their health and practice actions that encourage a healthy lifestyle. I think this is the hardest because Black Women have so many societal obligations and roles. Often time is not an option and instead of going to the gym after dropping the kids off we have to go to work or back home to finish the laundry and so on. Start slow and take out time for you to focus on you. Pick up a activity or go for a walk or jog. Start slow and then increase when you’re ready and committed.

4. Don’t hide behind the mask. A good friend of mine would say, “You gotta love you first.” I love make-up and adding extensions to my hair for different looks just like the next girl but I keep in mind that those are additions to me. It does not benefit you to have a beautiful sew-in but damaged hair underneath and it is equally destructive to have a poor skin complexion under hordes of make-up. Make-up, weave and even expensive clothing are not you. Those things are just extra. At one point it will all have to come off and you have to face who you are in natural form. The more you do the more you give away to people. This is counterproductive because people already know what to expect of you. In other words, they know what you are about. This makes you a one dimensional character. A woman with no layers and boring. I don’t care how beautiful you are. Once people see you as boring they will start to lose interest. There should always be something left to “wow” the masses. Think in terms of your favorite car manufacturer, all the features are add-ons and not the engine. You can go without the add-ons the engine will always be there.

5. Make the right decision not the selfish one. I am completely guilty of this. This is a journey for us all. This goes for career and family life. Black Women at work can become competitive because of the lengths they have to go to break through that “glass ceiling”. One way to combat that is to form workplace support or mentor groups allowing for women to help develop each other for promotion and developing a semi-counsel to deal with or address issues within the organization. Large numbers and reach in different departments is always best.

6. Love each other more. Very simple call to action. Look at your sister as a vehicle for success and hope and show love. If you do this you will receive it. Tenfold.

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Painting a picture on being REAL in the US.

By J.Naomi Johnson
Being real comes in many forms. 

It is relative to each of us.  So frequently in this country people believe their individual realness to be the truth and reality that everyone must live in.   I too have committed this crime.   Taking the vantage point of my scene I assumed I’d receive instant validation for any and all of my actions.  My thoughts were that I was justified.  Period.

Is this keeping it real?  Or was I really just making excuses for not growing as a person? Was I wrong?

I define growth as acceptance of change and development causing one to be greater than before.  The real or published definition of growth according to my Google search engine is, “the process of increasing in physical size.” A seed must grow.  A baby must grow.  So it would appear that without growth you are just there.  Soon ceasing to exist.

This is the portrait of the United States right now.  We are all just keeping it real.  The police who are under fire for their brutality claim they are keeping it real.  The people who riot and destroy countless businesses and homes in protest claim they are really upset.  The government that limits intervention to focus on money matters says they are really doing their best.   They are all just keeping it real.  They are all just making excuses to prominently affect the lives of one another.
So yeah, the United States has grown but it has not grown. I guess it just keeps it real and really has not become anything except for crowded.

When I did what natural girls do called the Big Chop, I wanted to get rid of all the restraints that I had holding me back from loving who I am completely.  A beautiful Black Queen. Hair is a big thing to women.  Trust me when I say we spend thousands on it.  Surprisingly, now that I am natural, I feel like I spend even more than I did before.  But anyways, to me this act was, is and will always be keeping it real.  That is from my perspective.  However, my entire family swore I was pulling a Brittney Spears.  They challenged the notion that it would liberate me and even suggest that it may not grow back.
In a way, they were somewhat right.  It took trial and error, reverting back to permed hair and two more big chops before I got the results I wanted.  Whew!  In time, my family took notice of my tenacity and struggle and changed their overall perceptions. It also helped that more men and women were beginning to join in the movement.   Looking back at my hair journey I see we all had our convictions but we all grew together.  Both sides took change and developed a greater understanding of each other’s perspective. 

This experience was more than real.  It was common decency at its finest.  A very rare but effective tool.   Perhaps this is the remedy to our societal woes: COMMON DECENCY.    Providing each other with civility and dignity everyday.  Maybe that is the mural that needs to be created here.
And that is REAL.