CHIC Journal: Chilleeeeee, I've Evolved!

I'm just coming off my high from attending the Women Evolve Conference a week and a half ago. The conference took place in Denver, Colorado. Denver was such a nice place and the conference was amazing, so good that I had to share with my CHICmoms. 

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I wish you guys knew where I was mentally and spiritually before the Evolve conference. My mental space was at capacity, although I was still making strides towards my goals, I wasn’t sure if I believed in myself anymore, and furthermore, I convinced myself that God had moved on from my prayers.  I told my friend (and fellow CHICmom) about the conference, mainly because I love Pastor Sarah and Angela Rye, and I’d been following Tiffany Aliche for some time for financial tips.  I wasn’t too sure I wanted to go, so I didn’t make it a huge deal. But thank God for persistent caring friends because she wasn’t taking no for an answer, so we pressed our way to this conference. By press I mean my friend searched online for the best plane tickets. We couldn’t find decent round-trip tickets, so we brought two one way tickets on two different airlines to make it work. We stayed in a CHIC affordable hotel surrounded by nothing but restaurants and aesthetically pleasing views in the bougie area of Denver (our Lift driver said that, not us..lol)  Thanks priceline. I have to give my friend all the credit because she booked everything! 

 Founder, Jessica Byrd and fellow CHICmom, La'Keysha Jackson

Founder, Jessica Byrd and fellow CHICmom, La'Keysha Jackson

Fast forward. Friday morning beginned with a message from Pastor Sarah. When we arrived, I was distracted by the photo ops (I love me some good chic photo backgrounds), but we made our way in the sanctuary. Listen, the minute we opened the door, Pastor Sarah was going in!! "Wait a minute Sarah, let us get settled In first lol". She wasn't playing with us. She meant business. Her message: The Wild Woman. Let’s break this down. Pastor Sarah referenced Revelation chapter 12, The Woman and the Dragon. In short, this chapter talks about a woman giving birth while faced with an enormous red dragon of which had seven heads and ten horns. The dragon’s mission was to devour her child the moment it was born. However, she gave birth to a son who will rule all the nations, and God snatched her child, and the women fled to the wilderness to a placed prepared for her by God. 

Let’s bring it home.  

God is positioning some of us to our place of wilderness, the place he has prepared for us. The place where our dreams and goals live. However, being in an area of the unknown is uncomfortable, it forces you to grow. In Pastor Sarah’s words, “ you’re going to have to fight some dragons to get to the other side".  In this place, your faith is going to have to stand tall right next to your obstacles.  Being in the wilderness is where you build your character, where you learn how to fight back, and also where you learn how to go after what you want in life in the midst of your trails. Pastor Sarah challenged us to be a wild woman. A wild woman who’s strong enough to fight those dragons In your life, strong enough to reach down and birth those dreams.  As God showed in this chapter, he will provide a way even when we don’t see how, but we have to make the first step, we have to trust, and believe that if we continue to walk the walk, he will be there all along. As Pastor Sarah put it, “You push, God pulls.” She continued, “get in birthing position, push through those obstacles, fight the dragons of insecurity, depression, bitterness, hurt, fear, and whatever else is holding you back.” 

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Listen, Pastor Sarah got my life in 20 minutes, and this was just the opening message. I do no Justice here for how powerful the message was. Talk about someone crying, and makeup running. You see at this point, I’d applied to over 100 jobs, been on at least ten interviews and doors kept closing. I’d prepared for my interviews, reached out to my mentors, and still my emails were filled with rejection letters, it was depressing. I was ready to expand my marketing career, but nothing was working in my favor.  I never struggled with finding a new job, but I knew that meant one thing. It was time for me to level up. I’ve had a dream I’ve been carrying for some time, but I’m scared as heck to launch it. So I’m forced in the wilderness, this unfamiliar place where I feel like nothing I planned is going my way, but my dreams are on the other side of this dragon of fear. It caused a spiral in my mental health but honey now I  know, I’m a wild woman, it’s time to fight those dragons, it’s time for me to get in my birthing position and stop watching from the sidelines. I’m called for this! So in this place, I will fight for it, go for it, and birth out my ideas. Thank you, Pastor Sarah!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Chilleeeeee you got me together. 


Next, the breakout sessions started. I attended the session titled, Are you really ok?, facilitated by Barbra Russell, a Licensed Professional Counselor.   This session discussed mental health awareness and symptoms. One word, amazing! I’ve never heard mental health broken down to the science of our brain. Our brains are wired to be in solution mood all the time (which isn’t always right), our right brain communicates to the left side of the brain to form our thoughts and feelings. Sometimes we make up solutions to make sense of our thoughts. For instance, if something or someone hurts you, we tell our brain it’s our fault, or we’re not good enough. Doing this allows us to find a solution to the things that happen in our life.  Additionally, if we’re not communicating the right message, this can lead to a spiral of depression or anxiety. Learning the science behind our brains was so eye-opening. The key takeaways: 

  1.  Be aware of how you communicate with your mind. Understanding how you internally communicate with yourself is very very important. It’s a conscious decision to train your thoughts.  Side Note: There’s medicine to help with this if you need extra help. 
  2.  Create boundaries in your life. Define your boundaries for your friends, family, spouses, work, and even yourself. Once your boundaries are established, the hard part is speaking up when boundaries are violated. Yes, this all ties into mental health. There’s a three-step process to this, 1. saying something isn’t ok when your boundaries are crossed, 2. openly expressing how you feel, and 3. setting consequences if these boundaries continue to get violated. I recommend reading the Book Boundaries; it truly helped me set limits in my life.  
  3. Have a treatment plan for depression. Knowing the root of your depression will help you treat it. Treatment plans are unique for each person. But one thing that helps with depression is keeping a gratitude journal, finding something to be grateful for every day. Getting up early in the morning and starting your days with prayer can help as well. Pay attention to your thoughts and notice different triggers that force anxiety and depression. More importantly, pay attention to the lies we tell ourselves and create a different story! As always seek help if needed. 

This was an excellent session. Barbra also addressed how bitterness and hurt can trigger different signals to our brain if they’re not handled and managed correctly. 
The night ended with a pajama panel discussion titled, Flaws and All, the panelist were Angela Rye,  Caitlin Crosby, and Cora Jakes Coleman. 

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It was so refreshing to hear a panelist of women discuss their journeys, flaws, and their learning experiences. One question that hit home was, “What’s one thing you wish people knew about you, that most people wouldn’t know because of your status and position?”.  Angela Rye mentioned that most people perceive her as aggressive, but in reality, it’s a defense mechanism. She openly shared how she’s working on being less defensive. My friend and I asked each other the same question. I mentioned I wish people knew the battles I fight internally to keep going and creating events for our members and evolving this organization.  I want people to see beyond the social media highlight reel to know it takes a passion for delivering on your goals and encouraging others even when you don’t feel like it, or when your strength is being tested. I don’t do this on my own. It requires true supporters, reliable board members, partners, sponsors, and prayer. God for the plug, please. 
Overall, the panel discussion revealed that we all have flaws and different insecurities we face, the real challenge is how you deal with your insecurities. You can let them be a hindrance, or you can glow up, brush yourself off, work on what you can and keep going. 

 

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Day 2
 

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Day 2 begins with a breakout session by Tiffany Aliche talking all things finance.  I've been working to improve on my finances for some time, delayed gratification gets me every time; I want it NOW! I'm slowly making strides by learning to budget, plan and save. So this session was right on. Key Takeaways:

  1. Separate our needs, from the things we love, to our desired wants. This model is the mantra you should live by when deciding to purchase or do something. Do you need it?, Love it?, Like it or Want it?. I loved how Tiffany talked about not making someone’s else love, your wants. For example, if you don’t enjoy brunch every Sunday but has a girlfriend who does, why spend your money on her desires? Wouldn’t you instead save it for your love (enjoyment), such as traveling or shopping? We have to be clear about the things we desire to do with our finances.
  2. Have different accounts to see how your money operates. This include a bills account, spending account (heres where you save for the things you love), and an automatic savings account (preferably online).  Once this is done, move on to investing and getting six months worth of living expenses in your savings account. The key is to "separate to see" remarks Tiffany.  We should be in control of our money not the other way around.
  3.  Improve your credit with a "jump man" credit card.  Tiffany coined the term  "jump like Jordan" credit card . This is a credit card used to pay a bill of yours every month and then you pay off the credit card, and repeat. This helps your credit jump to a higher score.  But you must pay off the credit card every month or you can get into trouble. Hello discipline. 
  4. Make use of unexpected money. Unexpected money happens in a variety of ways but one common way is when you’re going out to eat with your friends, and she offers to pay for your lunch, bingo!! Tiffany talked about not just spending that money but using the unexpected cash towards one of your financial goals, such as paying down debt. Ok, Ok, I get it. I need to stop shopping (eek)! 

Tiffany session was very informative. Personally, I need to change the way I think about finances, it takes proper planning just like anything else in life. Time to get back into budgeting and deciding what's truly important to me as it relates to my spending and saving. Thanks Tiffany!

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 The next session I attended was, Turning your Passion into Profit by Ronne Brown, a self-proclaimed empowerment entrepreneur for all Girl CEOs.  Another amazing session. This section discussed ways we can take our passions to the next level. Ronne also candidly spoke about her journey in always finding a yes, even when told no. As a young mother, many people counted her out. However, she found a way to use her voice to teach other women to step into their dreams.  She was also sweet and complimented my hair..lol. Loved her! My key takeaways: 

  1. Before you launch a product and/or service you should first have a community. A community of a core set of people who believe in your mission and/or purpose. Many times we launch products thinking that everyone will love it. Ronne suggested surveying the market first, engaging and creating a community of potential core audience to understand their likes and dislikes. Knowing this will help you leverage your understanding of your target audience and customer database. 
  2. Take out the “what’s in it for me attitude.” Yes, sometimes you’re going to have to give things away for free to build an audience and clientele. Your mindset can’t always be, “how am I going to benefit?” Sometimes you have to give to receive, this means engaging in the right circles, letting people try your product, offering services for free, and sowing into your clientele by offering meaningful and impactful content.
  3. What's your story?! Every brand and business must have a story behind it. People are more interested in YOU and your WHY verses your brand and/or product. People are yearning for auntencity, so you need to hone into your story. Know your why and tell it!! Always think about your story and connect it to your brand and your business. 
  4. NETWORK, CONNECT, NETWORK. During the session, Ronne challenged us to get stop and exchange contact information with someone on our row. This was so simple, but yet imagine how many people would have walked out that room without meeting one new person. We do it all the time. We’re afraid to connect with other women, or we don't want to be judged, so we say nothing. We have to learn to network and boldly introduce ourselves and our business, after all, no one else will! Get out your comfort zone and network with others, you’ll never know how one connection could lead to a business partnership. 

The conference was amazing! The night ended with praise and worship by Pastor Sarah and finishing remarks. Guest were invited to Church service on Sunday, but I had to get back to our CHICmom playdate.  Listen, I evolved spiritually, mentally, and professionally. It was everything I needed and more. The sessions are scheduled to be released online Wednesday at Woman Evolve, so mark your calendars.  Also, the dates released for next year’s conference. This experience was indeed a life-changing moment for me. Time to EVOLVE!

 Myself, and Ronne Brown

Myself, and Ronne Brown