Updated: Jan 3
“The beginning is always today.” —Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
It seemingly took an eternity for her to arrive but now she is here. Let's hear it for 2021! She has finally come. What does this new year represent for you? What are you hopeful for? For me, it means new beginnings, opportunities, and experiences, which causes me to be hopeful. I am calling it a year of promise because there are amazing opportunities on the horizon. Here are five things that I am looking toward to in the new year.
Maintaining Healthy Habits/Sharing My Love of Cooking:
Nearly two years ago, I made a commitment to transform my health. The news of my prediabetic test status did not sit well with me. It caused me to take a step back, reflect on my eating habits, and take action. While I did not eat a lot of sweets, I began to realize how much sugar was in most food products in the United States and I made a conscious decision to cut refined sugars from my diet. As you can probably imagine, this was not easy but necessary. Thus, I did what I needed to do to get the results that I wanted.
For more than a year, I did not eat food items with refined sugar, and it was quite difficult to find sugar-free products. This lead to my culinary adventures! I began making my own pasta sauces and sugar-free desserts. I created my own recipes by using healthy food alternatives.
Now, I will actually allow myself to enjoy a sugary treat every now and then. Still, I prefer fresh and dried fruits like raspberries, mangoes, tangerines, dates, figs, and tamarind. I eat fresh plant-based whole foods and my body thanks me for it. I have more energy and those 27 lbs. have gone bye-bye!
My journey to achieve better health has caused me to think about ways to inspire and support others who are on their individual health journeys.
This year, I want to show other women how to make healthier food choices while still serving good food. So, I have decided to start offering virtual cooking classes that focus on preparing healthy plant-based foods and sugar-free desserts. I will share my recipes and show women how to transform their health through cooking demonstrations.
Amplifying My Voice:
For several years, I have presented educational workshops at local and national conferences. All of these opportunities have helped me make meaningful connections with people within the educational community and given me platforms to share my knowledge. Still, I knew that I wanted to prepare myself for a larger speaking platform to reach more people. So, I reached out to an associate who is in marketing to seek guidance. One day later, I received information about a speakers tour audition. It was perfect timing. So, let's just say that it was divine intervention.
With only two days to prepare a 2-5 minute speech on leadership, I carefully reflected on what I wanted to share during my virtual audition and I decided to focus my speech on leaving a leadership legacy.
In December 2020, I was selected by the Fair Consulting Group to speak on the Leadership Experience Tour to be held on Saturday, April 10, 2021, at the Embassy Suites in Troy, Michigan. The tour will feature motivational speakers from across the United States and Canada. The program will be live and virtual. The aim of the tour is to motivate, inspire, and educate audiences on strategies to thrive in their personal and professional lives.
It is always exciting when someone recognizes your speaking talents and gives you an opportunity to share your voice with a broader audience. Needless to say, I am honored to be a part of this exciting speaking tour and professional development experience. It will help me further develop my speaking abilities, amplify my voice to change lives, and give me opportunities to connect with other talented speakers. This is going to be the year that I take a leap and dive fully into positioning myself for more speaking opportunities to share my message on leadership with the world.
To register to attend the Leadership Experience Tour, visit LET2021.
Language Learning and Exchange:
Last year, I discovered Black Girls Learn Languages, an online community of Black women, who love foreign language learning as much as I do. In May 2020, I virtually attended the inaugural Sisters Only Language Summit, where I met Black women who spoke French, Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, German, and Arabic. It was pure Black Girl Magic!
On Saturday, January 30th, the second annual Sisters Only Language Summit will be held virtually and I can't wait to reconnect with my sisters and speak French. I know that it is bound to be another amazing event!
Beyond attending this event, I am looking forward to formally studying French at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Last year, I was accepted into the French Studies program at UM-Dearborn. This represents my second degree from the University of Michigan and my goal is to become fluent in French to be able to instruct in the language and provide translation services for organizations. It also gives me a direct pathway to pursue advanced study of the French language.
In the summer, I will study French at the Middlebury Language School in Vermont. Last year, I deferred my enrollment in light of the current pandemic. Even now, I may have to participate in the program virtually depending on how things progress. Still, I look forward to being involved in the program and growing in my language fluency throughout the year.
In 2020, I became a citizen diplomat with Global Ties Detroit. I had an opportunity to host a guest from Burkina Faso in my home. The Women of Courage awardee ate dinner with me and my other invited guests as we discussed health and educational systems that affect young girls and women in Burkina Faso.
Since then, I have developed an even greater desire to engage in global conversations on education and health disparities as it relates to girls and women. I enjoy being able to combined my love of cooking with my passion for education and health matters by simply opening the doors of my home to foreign leaders.
Global Ties Detroit is the only organization in Michigan that gives citizens opportunities like this to serve their community and country.
This year, I know that there will be more opportunities to host international leaders who are visiting Detroit to learn about our local economy and community. I look forward to continuing to serve as a citizen diplomat and engaging in conversations with global leaders on matters of health and education.
In my early 20's, I attended tons of writers workshops and relentlessly submitted my children's manuscripts to publishers. I received several rejection letters before receiving a publication acceptance letter in the most unexpected way.
After attending a poetry writing workshop, I sent my children's manuscript "Mama Got Rhythm and Daddy Got Rhyme" to the editor and workshop leader. I simply wanted to get a professional critique of my manuscript. I did not have an agent representing my work. So, I knew that getting my manuscript professionally critiqued probably would be the best way to improve my chances of getting my work published.
Four weeks went by before I received a letter expressing interest in publishing my work. The editor wanted to me to make a few minor changes but offered to publish my children's story. This is not the most common way that writers' work becomes published. Still, I was thankful for the opportunity. It was my introduction to the publishing world.
After publishing my first children's book, I continued to write and publish feature articles in various publications. I even continued to write children's literature. However, in between managing other commitments, I did not make the time to relentlessly submit my other children's manuscripts to publishers or agents.
This year, I am determined to change that. There are several stories that I have written that have not been published yet. Some are for children, whereas others are for adult audiences. I have decided that this year will be the year that I start sending out my work to publishers again.
Even if I do not end this year with another publishing contract, I am committed to sending out my unpublished children's stories in hopes of finding a suitable publisher or agent to represent my work.
As we begin another revolution around the Sun, I believe the future is bright. For me, there are a number of possibilities that exist. Still, I am going to be mindful of how I walk out each of my goals because it is easy to reach a point of burnout. So, I will continue to prioritize my health and make time for rest in the midst of pursuing my goals. I sincerely hope that you will do the same.