Thanksgiving is tomorrow and while it’s a time for family and friend fellowship, good food, and good drinks, I think it also calls for a time to give thanks and show gratitude towards the year thus far!

My 2018 has been pretty good to me. I knocked some things off my bucket list, made some new friends, lost friends, found myself, and so on. So as I’m sitting here, coffee in hand, I’m finding myself overfilled with emotion when I think about what I’m actually thankful for.

Obviously, I’m thankful for my family and seeing another day on earth, but conceptually, I’m thankful for much more.Raeven of 50 ShadesofRaee

1.) Fresh Starts

For me, relaunching 50 Shades of Raee was the biggest fresh start of my year. Before the relaunch, I took a seven-month break from the blog because I just couldn’t find my voice; I felt I was being fake. To keep from feeling that way, I stepped back, did some reflecting and soul – searching, and came back better than ever. My comeback has been the best thing so far. I’m not at all where I want to be with my blog, but I’m a hell of a lot farther than what I thought I’d be. The support has been amazing and while the growth has been slow, it’s been organic, and for that I’m grateful.


2.) New Inspirations

My full-time job is a teacher. I love some aspects of it like the relationships with the kids, and hate other aspects of it, like the government-controlled aspects. However, on a recent trip to the NCTE convention [National Convention for Teachers of English], I left completely inspired and encouraged to be a better teacher to my kids. Now I think I’m a great teacher, but as a teacher, you should also be an advocate, and that’s where I could be better and I will.

At the conference, I also met so many young black educators and I was truly amazed at how amazingly intelligent each of them was – truly inspiring enough to where I left there yearning to be like them. Every day something in my life inspires me, but I have to say nothing left me as inspired than sitting in a room of educators who look like me telling me to better than I already am. That inspiration is unmatched!


3.) Heartbreak

I’m ending this year with a broken heart. It is what it is. Yeah, I cried for a few days because I’m human, but I’m thankful for it. Sometimes, we try and hold on to things that God is trying and has been trying to tear apart. This past relationship was so much better than my previous relationship in so many ways, but in many ways, it wasn’t what I anticipated or desired.

Luckily, I was blessed enough to have a guy who saw he wasn’t giving me what I wanted and chose to remove himself so that the next and better man could, and I’ll be forever grateful for that. I’m not exactly sure where that leads me and how long I’ll be in this season of singles. But I am excited about getting to know myself more and pursuing goals that I was distracted from achieving earlier. Break-up’s don’t always have to be a bad thing. It’s a set of lessons used to teach one how to navigate the social and emotional realm of another person.


4.) Being Alone

In 2016, I struggled a lot with being by myself. I had serious FOMO and whatever kind of invitation I got to go somewhere, I took full advantage of it. I did so much in 2016 that I told myself in 2017, I would sit my ass down somewhere. 2017 came and went and I did the same thing I did the year before. So I promised myself again for 2018, I would say no to people and things and spend more time alone. And I did just that.

It’s something serene and reflective about being alone – about being completely alone with your thoughts and emotions. It gives you time to process and time to learn and experience. Being by myself this year, I learned some feelings about myself that I never knew I had that I now will be working on for the upcoming year. Time alone gave me the chance to envision my life in 5 years and think about what I like and don’t like. Time alone is something that has truly shaped my outlook on 2018 and I couldn’t be more pleased and for that, I’m thankful!


5.) My Faith and Religion

I am oh so thankful for MY God and the blessings that He has bestowed upon me this year. If I’m being honest, I’m not deserving in the least bit, but He always pulls me through just in the nick of time. For me, there’s comfort in knowing that I can open my Bible and read a comforting passage promising the riches of the world or any and everything that my heart desires.

This year wasn’t necessarily a trying year [which has me concerned about 2019 if I’m being honest]. Everything went pretty smooth and I was just going with the flow. I think it’s because I have a better understanding of ‘if it’s meant to be, then it will be.’ My faith is stronger. I believe that things will happen for me without knowing how or when they’re going to happen and that regardless of my situation, I’m going to be perfectly okay and have everything I need and more and for that I AM THANKFUL!!!

 

I hope that you all have a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving enjoying friends and family. Before the week is over, reflect on your areas of gratitude. What are you thankful for and why?

Pop princess Ariana Grande released the song of all songs over the weekend that left everyone shook!! Thank you, next, is a melodic bop thanking all of her exes for the life lessons they’ve taught her. While a song like this is obviously not the first of its kind, it did inspire to me to do some self – reflecting about my past relationships and write a letter to my ex.

Dear Ex,

I never would’ve considered writing you anything that didn’t start and end with ‘F You,” considering our past, yet here I am. To cut right to the chase… *sigh* I want to truly thank you for everything that you’ve ever done or said to me when we were together.

We were young – I’d say what? Like our early twenties? LOL. What a time!!

Thank you for the good times and the bad… but mostly the bad, because if I’m being honest, there were more of those than the good.

Remember the time we were on our way back to school from the mall and one simple comment led into a full blown arguing match and I kicked you out the car? You cussed me up and down that highway I’m sure.  I remember driving back to my dorm in total tears, vowing myself that I was done with you. 4 hours later, we were laid up watching Set It Off. LOL.  Let’s not forget all of those times your friends told me you were cheating on me and to leave you alone. For the life of me, I don’t know why I didn’t listen. Insecurity? Fear?

For years I hated you for what you did [and we both know what you did], because all of the things you said no to for me, you told her yes. I developed a seed of bitterness that I should’ve never let you plant. Fast forward to now, while I’m not necessarily happy for you, I’m not mad at you either, and I wish you and yours the best, because I don’t want to block my own happiness. I’ve never said this, but thank you. Thank you for teaching me self – worth. In our time together, I let you run over me and while I knew better, I accepted a toxic relationship. But I’m thankful for it.

Because of our tumultuous – year long encounter, I learned to raise my standards. I learned to not accept anything mediocre in a man. Because of you, I now know what respect and gratitude looks like, because it’s the complete opposite of what I got from you. I’ve learned how to maneuver through heart ache and I owe it all to you. You taught me to be strong and to fight for myself. You taught me to stand up for myself. You were selfish, and from that, I learned to be selfish too. Your selfishness taught me selflessness and that until I want to change it, it’s all about me. You taught me that I don’t have to love if I don’t to, don’t have to care if I don’t want to, or communicate if I don’t want to.

Oh yeah, you taught me how beautiful I really am.

 

Raeven

I can count on one hand how many times you acknowledged my beauty. That does something to a girl when she’s in love you know? Because of you, I was really out here thinking that I was ugly – inside and out. Now I know that I’m the most beautiful thing walking this earth. I owe that to you, because I don’t think I would’ve realized that if it weren’t for you.

Before I forget, you also taught me what it means to really be wined and dined, because unlike when I was with you, that’s what I’m experiencing now.  Above all of that, you taught me about me. You taught me that I’m beautiful inside and out, regardless of whether I hear it from someone else or not. You have taught me to appreciate my peace of mind. Before I thought chaos was equivalent to caring – now all I seek is peace and harmony. I’ve learned through you that it’s okay to be myself and that I don’t need to minimize myself to boost up a man.

You have molded me into the woman that I am today.

I move differently because of you. I move like I’m that bitch… because I’ve learned that I am.

So I thank you.

I thank you for the laughs.

I thank you  for the cries.

I thank you for the lows.

And I thank you for the highs.

I thank you for the fights.

And I thank you for the smiles.

I thank you for the heartbreak.

And for turning me into the woman that I am now.

Whew. Okay, that felt good. Breakups suck, but it’s life. Moving on can be a challenge too, but here are three things you can do to make the moving on process a little more tolerable:

1.) Remember Your Self Worth: Relationships, if done wrong, can be draining. Emotionally, physically, and mentally. If the relationship was a draining one, I’m sure there were a few times where you felt less than what you really were – like you didn’t deserve more than what you had. We know that that’s simply not true, but the first thing you have to do, is to remember your self-worth. Dig deep into who was before that relationship and think about the boss chick you are now that you’re out of the relationship. You are a queen! Don’t forget it!

2.) Take Some Time to Yourself: The best way to learn about the kind of woman you are post-relationship is to take the time and learn about who you are. Go to social events. Pick up a new hobby. Get a new hairstyle. Do something for YOU!

3.) Breathe: A break up is going to take time. You won’t get over your ex in a day, a week, or even a few months; sometimes, it might take more than a year. While some may say that’s too long, remember there’s no right or wrong way on how to grieve a lost relationship. Take however long you need to. Just don’t lose yourself and beat yourself up in the process!

<3

 

 

5 hard lessons blogging

Am I crazy that even though I’ve had 50 Shades of Raee for over a year, I consider this my first full month of blogging? If you’ve been rocking with me since day one, then you know that over the course of my journey, I’ve had to take breaks – long ones. For one, balancing graduate school and work was just too much for me to handle and then when I got back into it, self- doubt put a stop on my motivation. Now, I’m back and better and am excited about the upcoming content I’m coming with!

I took some time out to reflect on this path month regarding what I’ve learned so far and what I should’ve done differently and wanted to share with you all.

Here are five hard lessons that I’ve learned so far in my first month of blogging.

 

Lesson 1: You Have to Remember Your Focus

It’s easy with all of the content being dished out from other bloggers to want to try what they’re doing to see if it’ll stick. But that’s the biggest mistake to make! Whatever reasons you have for creating your blog, remember not to lose focus on you. If you want a travel blog, then focus on travel. Fashion? Work on dishing out quality style content. Whatever it is that your blog is about, keep that focus and keep it on you and no one else.

Lesson 2: Engagement Is Hard But It Matters

This was and still is one of the biggest things that I’m struggling with. Engagement is hard simply because it requires effort from other people. It is truly a challenge to get people to care enough about what you have to say to support you! For me, my question before I press ‘publish’ is, “Is this enough for someone to care?” If the answer is no, I go back to the drawing board. But engagement doesn’t just stop at posts. It deals with you engaging on social media also. Are you liking people’s posts? Do you ever leave quality comments? How about that Twitter conversation you see. Do you ever chime in? If the answer is no, then it’s time you consider how you can boost your engagement!

Lesson 3: Your Theme Is Actually Important

I would see other bloggers constantly talk about how important having a cohesive theme for your blog is and to be honest, I never paid them too much attention, until I started transitioning my blog into a brand. Now, I’m learning just how important your theme actually is and how it needs to be consistent across your social media platforms. The good thing about themes is that it can be completely customizable and you can use whatever colors and aesthetic you’d like.

 

 

For my blog, I knew that I wanted a crisp yet classy theme that had touches of femininity. As far as my colors, my two favorite colors are pink and black. If you look at my blog and all of my other social media platforms, you’ll see pink and black somewhere in the mix. This is important because when it’s my work, my followers will know and new followers will see the same thing across the board.

Lesson 4: Comparison Kills

I had to learn the hard way that comparison kills. Comparing yourself and your journey to other people will keep you grasping for straws and searching for something that will stick! I had to learn quickly to enjoy my blogging journey and to appreciate my blog for what it was. My blog is a representation of me and includes topics and content that I find interesting and that my audience will find interesting. I’m only in competition with myself and that’s how I move. As you are on your blogging journey, focus on yourself and ensure that your audience hears your voice and not the voice of three other bloggers rolled in one.

Lesson 5: Consistency Is Vital

Whewwwwww!!! This is a lesson that I’m still learning. But in sum,

Consistency Matters!

Consistency Matters!

Consistency Matters!

At the end of the day, if you want your blog to grow, you have to be consistent. If you want more followers and more engagement, you have to be consistent. If you want your blog to turn into a brand, you have to be consistent. Now for me, it’s almost like calling the kettle black, because consistency is hard for me, especially when I have life and work going on. But I will say, I’ve gotten A LOT better at it due to my editorial calendar! My advice is to take small steps when aiming for consistency. If you know you’re going to get burned out from posting four times a week, then only post twice a week and fill in your day spaces with social media posts instead! Do what works for you as long you stay consistent!

—Have you learned anything in your blogging journey? If so, leave a comment below and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram!

 

hard lessons learned blogging - pinterest

I’m 25. Kind of single. Still living at home with my mom! Am I mad about it? Naw!

Just like most of us, when I was 18 years old headed to college, thinking about life post-college, I didn’t expect to be living this life at 25! I just knew I’d be living in New York or Atlanta in my nice penthouse apartment, working my entertainment job, making it rain, living life! But LOL!

When I hit 21 years old, several people told me that I wouldn’t have it figured out until about 30! Of course I didn’t believe them because well…they don’t know me or my life! But it turns out they were right because here I am at 25 still trying to figure it out!

When I was about 23 everyone from high school and college was moving out of their parents house, getting engaged and married, and having kids. I wasn’t! So naturally, I felt like I was behind the curve- the late bloomer. Now at 25, knocking on 26, I’m grateful and much more appreciative of where I am in my life right now! I strongly believe that our twenties is the time for self-discovery, expression, learning and growth. At what other age can you party all night and get right up for work the next day, take sick days from work just because, travel around the world and shop to you drop without explaining yourself or answering to someone? Exactly!

I have a full time job with benefits, a new car, still living at home with my mom and am not embarrassed about it! Why? Because for what? Honey I’m living and I don’t feel bad about it! Sure I could move out, but what’s the rush when I’m stacking my coins, saving for the house of my choice [I refuse to live in an apartment when they cost the same as a mortgage]. Am I next in line for marriage and kids? Well God is in control, but if I was in complete control, then most definitely not! But I don’t stare at others in envy because I know that God is still working on not only me, but working on MY king who’s being perfectly molded just for me!

It took a few years for me to get here but I don’t fault myself for not being on the same page as my peers anymore. I’m enjoying traveling and buying whatever I want and doing whatever I want without worrying about someone else and I’m loving that! Call me selfish! I don’t care! Everyday I learn something new about myself and unlock a different element of myself that I never knew existed! I’m cherishing the quiet time I have now because I know in a few years, it will be something that will be scarce to come by. I’m more than content in this space that I’m in and am very appreciative of each day!

Remember, you are where you are for a reason. There is nothing wrong with being on a different path from those around you! Embrace the moment, live for each day and live YOUR life! Happiness is not a race. It is a journey!

This past weekend I was able to do something I haven’t done in a long while! I caught up with some old friends which provided me with a much needed mental and emotional break that I didn’t even know I needed. I have a group of friends that I pretty much spend most of my time with and because of that, I’ve put my other friendships on the back burner. Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate my #squad, but when other friends started hitting me up voicing their frustration that I’m “never around anymore” or that I’ve “forgotten about them” or even worse…getting called “stranger” from my best friend, I knew I had to get it together and break away.

Thursday night I had dinner with my best friend and we were able to turn catch up something serious! Even saying that sounds crazy to me because I’m one of those people that strongly believes one shouldn’t go longer than two or three days without talking to their bestie!! Meanwhile, I hadn’t talked to my best friend in over three months!! Over the course of our conversation I shared some things with her that I had been holding in and needed her guidance in helping me make certain decisions. She reminded me that inner peace is the most important peace to have and if something in my life isn’t right, then it needs to be eliminated-regardless of how much it may hurt. Something that although I already knew, I still needed to hear.

On Friday, I grabbed lunch with another friend and our margarita -filled chat was filled with open and deep conversations about careers, relationships, our faith and our future – a conversation that was severely lacking in my other friendship. I left our lunch feeling so energized, positive and more importantly truly happy! I honestly felt better after catching up with them!

Meeting with my friends this weekend left me nourished and empowered. Things that had me feeling uncertain prior were now a bit more clearer, I wasn’t weighed down by my own burdens anymore and I was genuinely excited to spend time around good people. I was able to get different opinions from people I trusted which put me in a different  mindset regarding certain things. Restoring my friendships is very important to me right now especially with me being in the current space that I am in, in my life. I don’t have time to hold onto negative energy or people, which leaves me with an empty space that is craving to be filled with positivity.

I think it’s important for friends to match your fly. If y’all aren’t on the same page, level or you aren’t getting what you need from the friendship, then it may be time to move around. The next time you are feeling bogged down, stagnant in a friendship or you’ve been a bit M.I.A. a little bit too long in other friendships, reach out to those from your past! Spark up a much needed conversation and let the laughs go from there! You’ll be surprised at how much of a revelation and pick me up the encounter will be in your life going forward!

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