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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

5 Ways To Do Better By Black Women by Sophia Ned-James

Sisters!

We all know that #BlackGirlMagic is real because we live it, breathe it, and manifest it every single day. We’re out here making strides and building legacies. We’re thriving and breaking down the same barriers that held our foremothers back for centuries.

Yet somehow, we Black women are still perhaps the most maligned, abused, and mistreated demographic in the world! We’re woefully underpaid and overworked. We’re constantly underestimated. We’re always expected to take whatever’s offered and do more with less. And on top of all that, we’re expected take care of every-damn-body.

Listen. It’s time to turn things around and change the narrative. We deserve better, so we must demand better. As the saying goes, we teach people how to treat us. Well, we need to start teaching people how to treat us with the awe, reverence, and respect we deserve. 

Here are FIVE THINGS we can all stop doing RIGHT NOW that will make the world a better place for all Black women:

1. STOP judging a Black woman’s beauty by European standards (skin color, hair texture, and body size/shape);
2. STOP judging a Black woman’s strength by how she copes with oppression and abuse;
3. STOP judging a Black woman’s worth by whether or not she’s in a romantic relationship;
4. STOP judging a Black woman’s womanhood by whether or not she has children; and
5. STOP judging the value of a Black woman’s emotional or physical labor by her willingness to provide that labor for less than it’s actually worth.

Let’s do it for the diaspora, for Black sisterhood, and for OURSELVES!

~Art is “Internal” by Mia Bergeron. Neither SuzyKnew! nor I own the rights to this artwork.

Sophia’s Sunday Uplift for June 23, 2019

I long for the day when a Black woman’s strength isn’t measured by how much mistreatment she can endure. When you’re strong because you have to be, people tend to forget that you can be vulnerable or that sometimes you need help. And it’s easy for them to ignore your humanity because they think you can take it. Sure, we can take it. We can take whatever life dishes out, and look damned good doing it, too! But we shouldn’t always have to.

#NotYourMuleAnymore #StrongButHuman #BelieveBlackWomen #RespectBlackWomen#ListenToBlackWomen

~Art: African Woman by Psichodelicfruit

Sophia’s Sunday Uplift for June 9, 2019

Self Love Is Everything!
Stop letting the opinions of others determine your self-worth! You’ll always be “too much” for some or “not enough” for others. Instead, focus on embracing who you are right now and loving yourself unconditionally. That doesn’t mean you should stop trying to improve yourself, only that you should love yourself as you are now. 
When you learn to love who your are regardless of what others think about you, you’ll live a happier and more fulfilled life. Self love is everything!

~Art is “South African Woman” by an unknown artist and I don’t own the rights to this image