Tag Archives: sophia ned-james

SOPHIA’S SUNDAY UPLIFT (Good for Every Day of the Week)

Sister, as you walk your fine ass into this coming week, I want you to OWN IT! Own every inch of space you occupy and every particle of air you breathe. Own it like Senator Kamala Harris owned that mediocre-white-maleness-on-a-stick, Mike Pence in last week’s debate. (When she smiled and said “I’m speaking,” I felt that in the depths of my soul, didn’t you?) I want you to own this week like it’s about to be your best week yet!

Listen. You already know that you’re gonna have to deal with some bullshit this week, right? I mean, it’s always something these days: an idiot boss, with a tenth of your brains and even less of your talent says something sideways; or a mask-less stranger gets a little too close in public. Whatever form it takes, you know some bullshit is coming your way this week, because it always does. Especially during these turbulent times.

But it’s how you deal with the bullshit that matters. So this is your reminder to own whatever comes your way this week, because you already have the power within you to get through ANYTHING. You already have what it takes to overcome any obstacles, roadblocks, or bullshit this week throws at you.

I promise: you got this!

Think about it, Sis. You’ve already survived 100% of the bad things that have happened to you, right? So I’d say the odds are definitely in your favor that you can handle whatever bullshit this week has in store. After all, you’re already a pro at getting through tough situations. You’ve been training for this your whole life.

My point is that you’ve already proven how strong and resilient you are by simply surviving what should have taken you out the game a long time ago. You’re still here, still getting shit done, and still looking damn good doing so. That tells me that you can certainly face this coming week like the Boss you are.

So get out there and OWN this week (and stay safe and healthy while you do)!

#WearAMask #OwnItSis #BlackGirlMagic #Vote2020

 

Sophia’s Sunday Uplift (Good for Every Day of the Week)

I know someone needs this message today.

Listen. You’re way too precious to beg for time and attention, Sis. Maybe you’ve simply forgotten your worth. Maybe you’ve been so caught up in “survival mode”, trying to keep your loved ones safe and healthy, that you’ve forgotten how wonderful you are. Is that why you’ve been accepting less than you deserve? Could that be the reason you’re letting someone get away with neglecting your needs? Have you forgotten that you’re lovable and deserve only the best?

Stop accepting scraps from people who don’t appreciate your value. Notice I didn’t say they don’t recognize your value. Because they do. They know full well how amazing you are. They’re just counting on the fact that YOU don’t. They only do the bare minimum for you, knowing that you’ll gratefully accept it from them. So, stop it.

No, really. STOP IT.

First of all, let me remind you that you are more than enough just as you are … flaws, and all. You’re more than enough even with those extra pounds you picked up during quarantine, and even before you’ve completed that degree. You’re enough even though you’ve been out of work for a while, and you’re still not back on your feet. YOU ARE ENOUGH! You’re worthy and deserve only the best: the best treatment, the best loving, the best of EVERYTHING! So stop settling for less, and stop putting up with the bullshit!

Secondly, you need to take responsibility for your own happiness, Sis. It isn’t up to him, her, or them to “make” you happy. That’s on YOU. You’re more in control of your life than you realize, even now, when the world is literally burning. Seize that control and create your own joy. And when you do, you’ll realize that you don’t really need approval from all those people who underestimate and undervalue you. And the people who truly appreciate you and all your magnificence will only enhance the joy you’ve created. Never, ever depend on someone else to make you happy.

Finally, you need to make your mental and physical health a higher priority. Not only do you need to protect yourself from the pandemic, but from all of the other illnesses and ailments that can affect your quality of life. If you lack insurance or are under insured (as so many of us are), get online and research what free or low-cost services are available to you in your state, county, or city. Network with your friends and family to see what resources they use. As Black people, we really need to stop keeping all this stuff so secret, and share what works so that we can all thrive and be healthy. So go ahead and start those conversations with your loved ones. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn from others who may be having the same hardships as you.

The bottom line, Sis, is that you’re too precious to let anyone, even yourself, treat you any old kinda way. You, and you alone, have the power to create your own joy, and divest yourself from people and situations that don’t appreciate your value. Stop accepting bad or even mediocre treatment from the people in your life,  stop looking to others for your happiness, and prioritize your mental and physical health so that you can thrive and live the life you deserve. Now, straighten your crown, hold your head high, and get out there and walk in your purpose!

 

SOPHIA’S UPLIFT: Radical Self-Acceptance, Pandemic-Style

We talk and write a lot about how this current pandemic wreaks havoc on our mental and physical health. But have we really addressed how the isolation, stress, and uncertainty of these trying times affects how we feel about ourselves? I’m not just talking about how COVID-19 has affected depression, anxiety, and other disorders, either. I’m talking about how nearly SIX MONTHS of this mess has changed the way we see ourselves.

Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who have used the lock-down to complete a gazillion household projects, learned a new language, or baked thousands of loaves of bread. Or you may be one of those enterprising entrepreneurs who parlayed their job uncertainty into a lucrative side hustle, making more money than ever. It’s quite possible that you eat healthier, exercise every day, lost 50 pounds, and can now bench press your living room couch. You may even be proud of everything you’ve accomplished since mid-March, and your self-esteem is better than ever.

If this is you, then congratulations! And I mean that sincerely.

But, if you’re like me and millions of others, you’re more stressed, significantly fatter, and maybe even a little disgusted with how little you’ve accomplished since binge-watching The Tiger King back in the early days of this never-ending pandemic. And if you’re like us, your self-esteem has taken a beating. That’s why we all need to get back to practicing radical self-acceptance and self-care.

Radical self-acceptance doesn’t mean that you stop trying to improve yourself. It simply means that you love yourself as you are, flaws and all. It means you stop beating yourself up over the 17.7 pounds you’ve gained, and start embracing the fullness of your body. You can love yourself deeply and accept every inch our yourself fully, and still work at getting, looking, and feeling better.

Radical self-acceptance means that you’ll strive to do better today than you did yesterday, but also that you’re still proud of the person you were yesterday. It means that you love yourself out loud, because you can recognize where you need to improve, and still adore who you are right this minute

Speak affirmations to yourself throughout the day. Take time to pat yourself on your back for the little things you accomplish, as well as the big things. If all you managed to do today was the bare minimum of what you need to do to survive, then allow yourself enough grace for that to be okay. Be kinder to yourself. Give yourself a break. You really are doing the best you can at any given moment during any given day. And sometimes, that has to be enough.

When you get back to deeply accepting and loving yourself, you’ll no longer accept the things that don’t serve you. You’ll disengage from disrespectful and harmful people, and you’ll only embrace those who truly love and honor you. Some people will accuse you of being selfish when you love yourself enough to make YOU a top priority. They’ll resent your self-acceptance and confidence. But that’s okay. Let ’em go, Sis. Your real friends and family will be proud of you and encourage your self-love.

The people in your life who truly have your best interests at heart will celebrate your happiness and progress, not be jealous of it. So let those others go. They weren’t for you, anyway. Putting yourself first is an important step towards radical self-acceptance. Anyone who begrudges you that isn’t good for you.

You may not be where you thought you’d be by now, but you’re still here. And that’s something, especially during a pandemic. You’re here and you’re beautiful, and smart, and at ALL times, more than enough. Whether you’ve mastered working from home or not; if you’ve lost 20 pounds or gained them; or if you parlayed your side hustle into a well-paying job or you’re trying to survive on unemployment; you’re still here and you are amazing exactly as you are in this moment.

Don’t let the fallout from this pandemic or any of the other craziness happening in the world rob you of your self-esteem. Put yourself first, love yourself deeply, and accept who you are, flaws and all.

Stay safe out there and wear a mask!

#SophiasUplift #Uplift #selflove #selfacceptance #upliftBlackwomen #Blackwomen #radicalselfacceptance #radicalselflove #loveyourselfdeeply

 

SOPHIA’S WEEKEND UPLIFT: How Ya Doin’, Sis?

Hey, Sis! How ya doin’? You good? I know it’s been a minute, but I just wanted to check in and see what’s what.

These are some crazy times, right? A pandemic, mass protests, political unrest … there’s so much going on, right now! The economy sucks, the current administration seems hell-bent on killing us and stealing the election, and we can’t even get together with our friends (in person) and commiserate! I know it can be overwhelming and scary, so I hope you’re taking good care of yourself.

No, really. Are you taking care of yourself? Because I know you’re taking care of everyone else: your kids and family, your job and friends, your faith community, and all the other causes and organizations you give your time and talents to. But are you taking care of YOU?

I hope so! I know we talk about self-care a lot here at SuzyKnew! But the importance of self care can’t be overstated, especially now. Are you drinking enough water? Getting enough exercise? Enough rest? Please, Sis. Do whatever it is you need to do to take better care of you. Because we need you. The world needs you. Your loved ones need you.

We need you to not just survive, but to THRIVE! Listen. I know you’ve already been through a lot. You’ve endured so much during your short time on this planet, more than most people could ever bear. And your pain and struggles have shaped your strength and your beauty. Your survival is a testament to your fortitude.

But you’re more than just the sum total of your past pain and heartbreaks. You’re more than just a survivor and a “beater of the odds”. You are a fully-formed person, deserving of all the good things this life has to offer. Your dreams matter and you deserve to have them all come true. You’re not just here to make the world a more beautiful and loving place (though you do that so well), you’re also here to reap the benefits of that beauty and experience pure, unadulterated joy! You deserve this!

So go ahead and put yourself first for a while. Because it’s up to YOU to live a vibrant and meaningful life, filled with wonder and bliss. So use your time wisely, choose your friends carefully, and remember your dreams and your purpose. Hydrate your mind, your body, and your soul. Always be your most authentic self. And never settle for ANYTHING less than what you truly deserve.

Before I sign off, I want to talk a little bit about rest. Taking care of yourself means getting all the rest you need; not just exhausted sleep, but real, restorative REST. Your body needs rest. Your mind needs rest. And your spirit needs rest. If, in order for you to get the rest you need, you have to shut yourself off from the rest of the world for a bit, then do so. Even if it’s only for a few hours alone in your favorite room.

I know your family needs you. I know you can’t afford to miss work.  But you know what? I bet if you ask a trusted friend to watch the kids or take care of your mom for a day or so, they’d gladly step in and do it. I bet if you actually took the time off your job probably already owes you, the place will still be standing when you get back. You just have to ask: for help, time off, a break. So go ahead and ask. You deserve this.

I hope you take this advice in the loving spirit for which it’s intended. Because I do love you. You are me and I am you. And most of the time “we all we got”. I love you, Sis. So take care. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. And please … be well.

All My Love,

Sophia

#selfcare #selflove #upliftBlackwomen #Blackwomen

 

SOPHIA’S INSPIRATION: Self Forgiveness by Sophia Ned-James

Ladies! Let’s talk about Self Forgiveness!

For many of us, the forgiveness of others and the forgiveness of our God are the cornerstones of our belief systems. We’re taught from a very young age that to forgive is divine, and that we should forgive others as God forgives us.

But what about forgiving ourselves? What about showing ourselves a little grace for our stumbles? I’ve noticed that, for women especially, self forgiveness is a lot easier said than done.

Why is that, though? Why is it so hard for us to forgive ourselves? Why do we, as Black women, spend so much time beating up on ourselves for the mistakes we made in the past?

I won’t pretend to have all the answers, though I’m pretty sure the reasons are layered and deeply rooted in the perpetuation of white supremacy and patriarchy. Because everything seems to be layered and deeply rooted in the perpetuation of white supremacy and patriarchy. But that’s a discussion for another day and another column.

The point I’m trying to make is that whatever our reasons for holding these forever grudges against ourselves, we need to stop! Black women especially need to learn to forgive ourselves as readily as we forgive others, and as completely as God forgives us. Period!

Sisters, it’s so important that you make peace with your past, and then let it go. You are so much more than whatever awful things you did back then. Your mistakes don’t have to define you, so stop giving them so much space in your head.

Listen. Everyone messes up, sometimes! So stop being so hard on yourself! Learn from your errors, do better next time, and move on with your life. Focus on where you’re going, and leave where you’ve been in the rear window.

2020 has been hard enough, already. A global pandemic is wreaking havoc on humanity and you’re doing the absolute best that you can. So show yourself a little grace and let those past mistakes and stumbles go. You’re not the same person you were, so love and forgive yourself for who you are in this moment. You won’t regret it, I promise.

Stay safe and healthy. And be kind to yourself!

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

The Grace To Fail By Sophia Ned-James

The recent demise of Senator Kamala Harris’ U.S. presidential bid got me thinking about how Black women and other women of color are rarely ever allowed to “fail up”. White men do it all the time! You need look no further than the current occupant of the White House for the most glaring example of this.

Even Black men are allowed to “fail up”, or at the very least, are afforded enough redemption to make money. Yes, Black men have it a lot harder than white men, because of white supremacy. But for every Colin Kaepernick that can’t catch a break, there are 10 Chris Browns out here flourishing. Yes, the same Chris Brown who has a nasty habit of beating up women is still out here selling out shows. That’s how patriarchy works.

Black women and other WOC don’t have it like that. Senator Harris, the only Black woman in a ridiculously large field of Democratic presidential candidates, certainly didn’t get to “fail up”. Hers wasn’t the only campaign with organizational and money issues. Yet she still suspended her run for the presidency way sooner than many of her lower polling, lesser known white male counterparts. Even if, as some hope and predict, she ends up on the ticket as the vice presidential nominee, that she “had to” quit so soon is telling.

Anyway, this whole thing got me thinking about how Black women and other WOC don’t get to “fail up” the way that men do. And I realized that a big part of the reason for this is that we don’t allow ourselves to do so. We’re our own harshest critics, and are often the loudest voices telling us what we can’t or shouldn’t do.

I really wish that Black women, in particular, gave ourselves the number of chances that mediocre white men give themselves. After all, we’ve proven time and time again that, when it comes to beating the odds, Black women truly are undefeated. By the time most of us reach adulthood, we’ve learned how to make a way out of no way and overcome obstacles that would have flattened anyone else.

Yet, when we make mistakes in our careers, our families, or in life itself, we beat up on ourselves harder than anyone else. Sure, we pick ourselves back up and keep it moving, but we often carry the baggage of those mistakes with us, limiting how far we allow ourselves to go.

I just think we need to get better at forgiving ourselves for the stumbles we make in life. I mean, aren’t we supposed to learn and grow from our mistakes? Aren’t we often better people for them? So why are we so hard on ourselves?

Today I implore you to allow yourself the grace and freedom to make mistakes and grow. You are the sum total of your experiences, both positive and negative. You wouldn’t even be YOU without the tears you’ve shed, the pain you’ve felt, or the stupid stuff you’ve done.

Mistakes and pitfalls are part of the process and integral to your journey. You’re stronger because of them. You’re better equipped to take on even tougher challenges because of them. Now you only need to believe that you’ll ultimately win because of them.

So when you fall, pick yourself back up and reach higher. Don’t just keep it moving, keep it moving on up (cue The Jeffersons’ theme song here). When you reach one goal, aim even higher for your next one. And when you reflect on your life, be sure to celebrate the fullness of your journey, because you couldn’t have gotten where you are without being where you’ve been.

We all fail sometimes. That’s just how life goes. But as Black women and other WOC, we have to realize that we can “fail up”, too. We can falter and then climb higher. Because we really are that amazing.

Sophia’s Sunday Uplift for December 1, 2019

SOPHIA’S SUNDAY UPLIFT

Well here we are: at the beginning of the last month of 2019 and the last month of the decade. If you’re anything like me, you may feel like you’re not where you want or need to be in life. You’re probably fretting about what you haven’t yet achieved and what you still need to do. You may even be comparing yourself to others, worrying that you’re being left behind in this race called life.

But my sister, please clear those negative, defeatist thoughts from your mind. You’re not in a race against anyone but yourself, and your own dreams and ambitions. So stop being so hard on yourself! You may not have reached all of your goals for 2019, but at least you’re still here and still fighting. You’ve made it this far, and that’s quite an accomplishment.

Think about it: so far, you’ve survived 100% of all the bad stuff that’s happened to you this year. 100%! So relax those shoulders and unclench that jaw. Take some deep, cleansing breaths, and as you do, inhale love and exhale all that negativity that’s rattling around in that brain of yours.

And remember that guy you just couldn’t live without? Well, you’ve survived every single day that’s passed without him. You may still be hurt … you may even still be heartbroken. That’s okay because it’s perfectly normal to mourn the end of a relationship, and the loss of love. But what’s not okay is allowing your mourning to keep you from moving forward in life.

If you find yourself stuck, unable to break free of that post-breakup, fugue-like, all encompassing funk, then please get some professional help. If you can afford it, or if your insurance covers it, get some therapy. If that’s not an option, talk to your pastor, imam, rabbi, minister, priest, or whomever you turn to for spiritual guidance. Find and join a local support group. Lean on your friends and family. Do something so that you can start your new year in a better place.

The fact of the matter is you have to go through it to get through it, and that includes heartbreak. Whether you need professional help or not, know that ultimately, you’re going to be okay. You will get past this. It just takes time, patience, and support.

In the meantime, try to focus on the good that’s happened. Turn your thoughts to the positive and remember that in 2019, you’ve conquered every single fear you’ve faced, and overcome every single obstacle that would’ve kept you from getting to where you are right now. So give yourself some credit, Girl! You did that!

Also remember that no matter how alone you may feel at times, you’ve got people: family, friends, and friends who’ve become family. They may not always be in your presence, but they’re always in your heart and you’re always in theirs. Someone is praying for you or thinking loving thoughts about you, even when you don’t realize it. Take comfort in that.

I guess what I’m trying to say as we approach a brand new decade is: you’ve done too much and come too damn far to give up now. You are a bad-ass warrior who’s faced down her fears, overcome insurmountable obstacles, and kept going when others would have faltered. As Lizzo says, you’re 100% That Bitch and you’re gonna be just fine.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Giving Thanks While the World Burns: A 2019 Thanksgiving Special by Sophia Ned-James

IT’S THANKSGIVING! 

For most Americans, Thanksgiving is a special time where family and friends gather for fellowship, football, and food.

Yes, we Black folks also acknowledge the repugnant truths behind this problematic holiday, with its white supremacist, genocidal beginnings. That’s why we don’t even tell that tired old revisionist story about the pilgrims anymore. Or if we do, we make sure to tell the truth and shame the devil!

For us, the holiday is really a chance to pause and reflect on all our blessings. It allows us to focus on the good things in our lives for a change, which can be a real challenge these days (more on that in a minute). Even if you’re the type who counts your blessings every day, there’s just something extra special about setting aside a specific day to do so with your loved ones.

Also, the food is amazing! Seriously, can’t nobody do Thanksgiving like Black folks.

But to be honest, I’m struggling to get into a thankful mood this year. And I know I’m not alone. From the social media posts I’ve read and the conversations I’ve had, the state of the world has got everyone feeling some type of way.

Can you blame us, though? I mean, we Americans are going into our 3rd year of the worst presidency in our nation’s history. And even if 45’s ultimately impeached by the House of Representatives, the chances that he’ll be removed from office by the Republican-led Senate are slim to none. It’s hard to feel grateful when you live in a country with an unhinged criminal at the helm of a corrupt and racist administration.

Even if you set aside the fact that our democracy is in peril, things are still pretty bad, especially if you’re Black and a woman. Our voting rights, civil rights, and reproductive rights are under vicious attack. White supremacist misogynists have been emboldened by our so-called leaders, putting all of our lives at risk. And despite being the most educated demographic in the country, Black women still only earn $.61 for every $1 a white man earns.

And don’t even get me started on how Black girls’ hair is heavily policed in school; the same school where they get punished harder and more often than white girls. Meanwhile, they’re also overly-sexualized and abused at higher rates than white girls.

Family separations happen at our southern borders, where (and I can’t even believe I’m typing these words) babies are kept in cages. Domestic and intimate partner violence is on the rise, as are sexual assaults and rapes. Sex trafficking is a multi-billion dollar business, and is growing. Too many of our families suffer from food and housing insecurity and soul-crushing poverty; while at the same time, we have billionaires who pay little to no income taxes.

On top of all of that, we’ve abused our planet so badly that we’re witnessing, first-hand, the effects of climate change with deadlier weather events and contaminated water. Add to all of the above, the growing number of raging wildfires, our world is literally burning down around us!

So how can we, as Black American women, still feel real gratitude on Thanksgiving Day this year? How can we find thankfulness in our hearts when our hearts get broken every damn day in this country?

Yes, we’ll dutifully bear the brunt of the cooking and planning for our families, and we’ll even enjoy it. We’ll watch football, catch up with our loved ones, play some cards, dance to some old-school jams, and laugh til our bellies ache. We’ll do all this because that is what we do. We persevere. We fight on. We feed our families, and we make the best of it.

Black women have made “getting it done in the face of adversity” an art form, but we’re still human. We still hurt. We still experience pain and heartbreak.

So if you’re struggling to be thankful this Thanksgiving, you’re not alone and you shouldn’t feel bad. But no matter how bad things are, there’s always something to be thankful for.

Here are a few reminders of your reasons to feel and express gratitude:

  1. You’re Alive! Listen. Despite everything you’re going through, you’re still here. You woke up this morning when a lot of other folks didn’t. And even though you may have some health challenges here, and a few more aches and pains there, you are alive. Always be grateful for life.
  2. You’re Loved! Even if you’re currently single and don’t have the romantic love you long for, revel in the fact that you are loved by someone. Your family loves you. Your friends love you. And of course, God loves you. Even if your loved ones have gone on to Glory, their love for you remains forever. Never forget that you’re loved.
  3. Your People! Whether it’s your family or your friends, you are blessed with loved ones with whom you can truly be yourself. These are your people, and you’re as lucky to have them as they are to have you. Even if you don’t have healthy relationships with your family, you’ve somehow managed, in this crazy world, to create a “family” with the people who know you, get you, and love you. That is something special, and Thanksgiving is the perfect time to celebrate it.
  4. Your Talents! Everyone has something they’re good at, whether they have the chance to utilize those talents, or not. Maybe you’re a gifted singer or sculptor. Maybe you’re the best cook in the family. Maybe you have the gift of being able to bring people together to accomplish a goal or complete a mission. Or maybe you’re really good at sales and marketing. Whatever you’re good at is a talent gifted just to you. So flaunt it. Explore and expand it. Share it with the world! But most importantly, be humbly grateful for it because no one else on the planet can do what you do the way that you do it.
  5. Your Hustle! You may already have your dream career (lucky you!), or you may just be working a job to pay the bills. Whatever it is you do, be thankful you have something. Your hustle may barely make ends meet now, but your basic needs are still being met. Even if you want to cuss out your boss, be happy you have a gig.

If things are hard for you right now, take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone. These are truly the times that test our souls. But so far, you’ve survived every single bad day that’s come your way.

So please remember that you have much to be thankful for, and try to enjoy the time you spend with your loved ones. Even if you’re flying solo this Thanksgiving, be grateful that you’re still here and still you … even as the world burns down around you.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

 

 

 

Growth and Expansion by Sophia Ned-James

First of all, my sister, your beauty is boundless! Everything about you is lovely and lovable, so don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. You’re already a work of art, made in God’s image, so love who you are right now!

That said, you must continue to grow and expand. And that means letting go of anything and anyone that no longer serves you. Just like your hair won’t grow unless you trim the dead ends, you won’t grow unless you get rid of the dead weight. It’s way past time to unload all that unnecessary baggage, lighten your load, and expand!

Don’t worry, though. A lot of that dead weight will fall away naturally. Because as you continue on your journey of growth and expansion, you will alienate, intimidate and even infuriate some people. And that’s okay! Not everyone will be able to handle the new you. Truthfully, some of them don’t deserve the current you, either.

So stop wasting your emotional energy on people who are never emotionally available to you. Instead, devote your valuable time and energy to those who feed your soul and help you grow.  Just keep moving forward and trust that the right people will love and encourage your journey, even when they can’t travel it with you.

#growth #expansion #selflove #selfcare #BlackWomen

Monday Motivation by Sophia Ned-James

Sisters,

In this life, you will experience defeat, but you won’t always be defeated. Every heartbreak, setback, or failure may bring you low, but trust and believe, you won’t stay down forever.

Pain is temporary, and victory is imminent!

Read that again.

Remember those words. Write them down if you have to. Repeat them to yourself whenever you feel sadness, fear, or doubt.

And when you’re having a bad day, week, month, or even year, remember to dig deep within and tap into that all that strength and resilience that got you to this point. Then pick yourself up, shake yourself off, adjust your crown and go build your world!

You got this!
#LoveYourselfFirst