Dirty-Thirty Blues

 

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Sooo, I entered a new decade and turned thirty this year.

I wish I could say that I was excited about it, but I honestly wasn’t. There were a few reasons for my lack of enthusiasm:

1). I think, generally, in our society, to age and to be a woman is often seen as a bad thing. In Our country, a woman aging is the worst thing that could happen. As a woman ages she depreciates in value — for some. Therefore, as women, we do what we can to “stay young”. We exercise, eat certain health foods, we douse ourselves in make-up, get surgery, buy tons of anti-aging creams and anti-wrinkle creams — we do what we can. And to be honest, I felt that turning thirty was the jumping off point where I would start to depreciate in value, and the things that were once vibrant about me would begin to fade in the eyes of others — myself included.

2). I think I would’ve been more enthusiastic if I felt like I had accomplished certain things before I turned 30. I felt like I was not where I wanted to be professionally and financially, and that was a little disheartening. 

 

I felt myself sinking into an emotional and mental slump as I began to re-play self-critiscm, fear, and disappointment like a record in my brain. I knew that I had to change my self-talk fast before I ended up in tears, buried underneath my comforter. 

“Bethanee, stop. This is crazy!”, is what I told myself.

And it was crazy. I had to remind myself that I do have value and that aging is a privilege. There are plenty of people who did not live long enough to even make it to thirty. Especially to age while being a Black person is a great thing, seeing as how our lives are often tragically and unfairly cut short at the hands of someone else. To simply be Black, healthy and alive is a tremendous feat on its own. I think our society has to re-frame the horror story we have attached to “age” and look at it as part of our personal evolution that is beautiful and exciting. 

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And the beautiful thing is that I get to choose. I get to choose how I am going to perceive my age and aging altogether. I get to choose how I am going to feel about it. And I refuse to feel bad and fearful about getting older. I refuse to feel disheartened by something that is out of my control. Instead, I choose to remain excited for all the good that is to come. I choose to remind myself of my worth and my value and that, if anything, my value will be recognized because overtime I have attained skills and nurtured talents that others will appreciate. I am seasoned and have acquired a certain flavor that I didn’t have before… a flavor that only comes with time.
I choose to love and celebrate my body and my beauty at every stage, even when the rest of the world says that I shouldn’t.

I will celebrate.

I choose to be dope and fly up until my final days. I choose to take care of my body and my mind so that I can live my journey with good energy and vitality. I choose to look at aging as a blessing because there is only one other option — death. I am not ready to die any time soon, so my only other option is to live. And to live means to constantly evolve into another year. 

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In regards to being disappointed that I am not in a “certain place” by now, my response to that is, “Who said that I was supposed to be at a ‘certain place’ and where and what exactly is this place?” I think it’s great to have a vision for your future, but it’s also imperative to be flexible with your timeline. I was reminded that not everything goes according to our very strict and sometimes unrealistic, immature, and unforgiving timelines. I had to ask myself, “Is this timeline something that I wanted and designed, or is this timeline something that society (social media) said I should want and have by now?” I had to make sure that I was charting my course according to what was best for me and not anyone else. You must listen to your inner voice—the Higher Voice of God— and get clear.

Sometimes the things that you want for your future are subject to change as you grow. The things you thought you wanted prior, may not be what you want now. Give yourself the freedom to allow your vision to change and or expand. This is what I had to do. What I wanted in my 20’s is different from what I want now. Time has given me clarity.

 
Adjusting your timeline and your expectations can be challenging considering the societal pressure we all feel to succeed, but it has to be at the right time for me. And sometimes what I thought was the best time for me, was, in fact, not the best time for me. I have to be patient with myself. I am my worst critic at times, and I need to be more complimentary. Instead of being ashamed of what I feel has been a lack of progression, I must stop, look back, and remind myself of what I have accomplished thus far and be proud. I need to have faith that I am being guided wisely and that the work I have put in will pay off. 

 
God doesn’t introduce you to something until it’s your season — until you are ready. I can honestly say that I wasn’t as ready then as I am now. I have acquired more wisdom and knowledge. I have grown in self-awareness. I will forever be a work in progress, but I am better now than I was in my 20’s, and I can proclaim this, knowing it’s 100% true.

I’m simply better now than I was then.
And this is how I will look at aging.
I am wine. Time is on my side. 

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Valentine’s Day Special: “I’m Still Here”

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Well, folks, it’s Valentine’s Day. And instead of talking about more pressing issues like police brutality, global warming, the wage gap, or the incessant news coverage of Donald Trump’s stupidity, I have decided — for the sake of my sanity and the desire to unplug from worldly drama — to dedicate this post to Valentine’s Day.

Now, I’ve never paid much attention to Valentine’s Day. Although I appreciate the concept behind it, Valentine’s Day was just another day for me. I mostly looked at it as a commercial holiday and nothing more. Perhaps, it’s because I’ve never celebrated the occasion with anyone I was romantically involved with. This year won’t be any different. I am single, therefore, it will be just me and my single girlfriends choosing to acknowledge the love we have for ourselves and our friendship, rather than anything romantic. 

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For some, it might sound sad. The idea of single women on Valentine’s Day sounds much sadder than the idea of single men on Valentine’s Day. Lord knows how much pressure our global society places on women to have and keep a man. Women are sent daily signals about how our worth is dependent on a man choosing us and publicly claiming us, which, of course, is complete bullshit. Despite the bullshit, it’s hard to ignore the impact this conditioning has on women and our self-esteem. So when Valentine’s Day comes around, and we are still without a “bae”, it can lead to women feeling sorry for themselves and worrying about their romantic futures. I understand, I’ve had those same worries, not because of Valentine’s Day, but just as a result of running into guys that I never fully connected with.

However, don’t cry for me Argentina, because I am not sad about being single on Valentine’s Day. Not having a “boo” has been the least of my concerns. This past year has been such a learning experience for me. Stepping out on faith to lay the foundation for my own business has revealed both my strengths and my weaknesses. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve made great strides, I’ve cried, I’ve doubted myself and the gift God has given me, I’ve met some great people, I’ve considered quitting and going back to a stable job, I’ve cried, and I’ve ugly cried, I’ve considered securing a sugar daddy, and I’ve cried some more. But I’m still here. Granted, I’m not where I want to be, but I’m still here, and I am entering a new level of self-acceptance. I love who I am and that is something worth celebrating.

Growing up, I never had an issue loving myself, but this past year sent my self-love into question. Walking my path as a motivational speaker and dealing with adversity along the way made me question the love I had for myself and my talents. But I have chosen to not only embrace my growing pains, but to also embrace all of who I am: the parts of me that are great and the parts of me that are still in development. I have chosen to see myself in my entirety, proclaim my beauty, understand my perfect imperfections, and love myself again. I choose to love myself unapologetically, and during moments of insecurity, and with more passion than any man professes he can.e88cbf0e412471bc844088ac9b9b5efd--black-women-art-black-girls

I choose me.

I now know that when I thought I was breaking, I was actually shedding the pieces of me that I outgrew. I was having a break-through, not a break-down. I will acknowledge Valentine’s Day and every day henceforth as a day of triumph for self-love, instead of self-loathing. I will toast to this journey, how far I’ve come, and how many times I chose to stand back up after crumbling down. I’m still here.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Cheers! 

 

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Keep Me Off Your Pedestal

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This blog is in response to a comment that an acquaintance made. I told him that I have made mistakes in my life just like everyone else has. He said, “I don’t see you making any mistakes.”

I am a Motivational Speaker. I have been blessed with the opportunity to pour love and encouragement, along with some personal advice, into the people to whom I speak. However, sometimes people forget that I need that same love and encouragement poured back into me as well. I think the assumption is that as a motivational speaker, I don’t need others to encourage me because I can motivate myself. I think the assumption is that we, as motivators, have everything figured out. Well, I will speak for myself when I say that I do not have everything figured out. If I did, I would be walking on water like Jesus did, but I can barely swim.

 

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The truth is that I am not perfect. Do not make room for me on any pedestal that you have carved out to place me on. As a matter of fact, don’t put anyone on a pedestal; this would be a horrible mistake. I am simply a human being who has decided to accept “the call” to share some life lessons based off of personal experiences. I am not perfect. I am a vessel — an imperfect vessel — allowing my voice and my imperfections to serve as road maps for others. Hopefully, by displaying my journey, I will help someone else along theirs. I am a human being, which means that I am susceptible to all the emotions that human beings experience: joy, doubt, fear, peace, worry, sadness, glee, confusion, anger, etc. And on those days when I am emitting low vibrations, even though I am aware of what tools to use to counter them, I still need love to be poured into me. I need words of affirmation that will dissipate those moments of doubt. Fortunately, I am blessed to have loving, supportive people in my life who are there to lighten my load on days when I feel too weighed down.

As a speaker/teacher, the best moments are when members from the audience come up to me afterwards and share how they related to what I said and how they appreciated the message. It’s the moment when a student comes up to me being extremely vulnerable and boldly exposes all of their insecurities in front of me. They trust that I will be gentle with their wounds, that I will not judge them for how they came to be so emotionally bruised, and that I will be the sounding board of approval and confirmation that they desperately want. Those moments, as overwhelming as they can be sometimes, lets me know that what I said resonated and is relevant to what they are experiencing. It reminds me that I am here to use my gift to continue serving others — that me being honest about my growing pains aides others in understanding that they are not alone and that they can/will move past the stages and into something much better and much brighter.
It’s during these short exchanges that we affirm each other, we pour into each other and lift our vibrations higher.

 


So, no, I have not mastered life just yet, I am still learning. But as I learn, I share. I am operating as a vessel that is allowing God to use my voice and my imperfections to deliver a powerful message of self-love.

 

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Come to a FREE All Women’s Panel discussing Entrepreneurship!

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I have the wonderful opportunity to sit on a panel with these wonderful, creative, business women and share my personal journey of entrepreneurship. The goal of the evening will be to inform and inspire other women who are interested in going into business for themselves. It will also serve as a good networking opportunity!

Please come out! We would love to see you there! It’s free, but don’t forget to RSVP and get your ticket!

For My Fellow Creatives …

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I was on my way to one of my favorite places – The Coffee Bean – to meet with a new co-worker who was rapidly becoming a good friend of mine. My friend’s name is Jimmy — he is a young man with an old soul. I swear after talking to Jimmy, you would think that he has lived a few lives already lol. In addition to working for the same organization as me, Jimmy is a creative and has just developed his own Vlog on Youtube called P.O.C. Today (People of Color Today) which is dedicated to shining light on the various stories and perspectives of people of color in America. He is someone who is using his time to focus on those people who would normally go unrecognized and unheard.

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Jimmy and I start talking and the conversation flows from one thing to the next and soon we start talking about relationships. He tells me that it’s important that he gets into a relationship with someone who understands he doesn’t have a regular 9am – 5pm job, but that he is a creative and that the work he is doing is important to him. Jimmy explains that there are some people out there who question and negatively judge what he does. I can attest to these types of responses considering what I do for a living : writer, speaker, teacher. When you choose an occupation that is “unconventional” it can be difficult for some people to understand. The first question that comes to their mind is, “Well how are you going to make a living doing that?!” It can be especially difficult for creatives to walk through the trenches of other people’s doubt.

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But I reminded Jimmy – and myself — that we are visionaries. As visionaries we can’t allow the thoughts and opinions of others who are not visionaries to weigh us down. Also, we should not become upset or get offended by those comments because they are not the visionaries and it is not their fault that they can’t see what is so clear to us. Those type of people have to see to believe, but creatives see the vision first and then manifest it. Our only role as creatives is to manifest our vision and provide the nay-sayers with what they initially had trouble seeing and believing. As artists we have a very important role in society because, not only do we reflect what’s going on in our communities, but we bring life, culture, enlightenment and beauty to the world. We shape the world. With our music, poetry, dance, paintings, vlogs, cuisine, books, fashion, designs, podcasts, movies, etc. we revive and rejuvenate those who come into contact with our art, and the creative energy and foresight that we have been blessed with has a ripple effect and can serve as a catalyst for positive change.

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So to all my creatives, hold on tight to your vision and do what you can to bring it to life. To deny the expression of the creative energy within you would be to deny a major part of who you are. I’ve met creatives who stopped creating in order to do something more “professionally appropriate” and they were so unhappy and unfulfilled. It would also deny the specific gift that God has given you, and the gift that was given was not for you to conceal but to reveal for the elevation of humanity. Your gift is to be used to serve others. Now get up and go out and let your light shine, bring someone out of the dark.

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Car Crashes and Resurrections

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There I was, scrolling through instagram, when I saw a picture of my friend, Binna, lying in a hospital bed. She had gotten into a car accident, but was trying to assure us that she was ok — it was just like Binna to say that. She was the third friend of mine who had gotten into a serious car accident that month. When I saw the picture of her totaled car, which looked like it had been stepped on and squished down by a giant, in addition to her hospital photos where she laid there bruised and cut with a fractured rib, my heart jolted. Binna was in positive spirits, but I was frazzled.

When I finally saw her and asked her about the accident, she only spoke of the good things that happened as a result of it. I told her that there was no doubt that there was a divine hand on her life and I’m sure she felt so blessed to be alive. Binna said that she was definitely blessed. She spoke of how the accident changed her; she claimed that she wasn’t the same person anymore, and that she couldn’t conceive being who she once was. Of course I asked her what she meant by that, and, in retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have asked her to explain such a loaded experience in that rushed moment, but I just had to know something. I could see it was a little challenging for Binna to quickly sum up everything she meant by that comment, and I could see her trying to find the right words. All she could muster up to say in that moment was that she just loved herself more. Not that she didn’t love herself prior to the accident, it’s just that the love she felt for herself now was deeper than it once was, and the things that she used to stress over, she now finds irrelevant, therefore, she no longer stresses over it. There was an appreciation for life itself, for simply being, that she was awakened to.

There was something about Binna saying that she loved herself more that really struck me. I envied her. I wish I carried that same deep love and awareness that she spoke of. Don’t get me wrong. I do love myself, but I can also be pretty hard on myself and readily harp on my self-perceived flaws and countless mistakes. But Binna seemed to be on a different level. She was calm and at peace and happy — un-frazzled. I salivated for the same thing.

Binna’s story is not the first one I’ve heard where someone has had a near death experience that makes them infinitely more grateful for life and for themselves. It’s a shame that life has to be nearly taken before we gain an appreciation for it. I’m on a quest to gain that same depth that Binna now wades in, just without the near death experience lol. However, talking to Binna pushed me one step deeper into that realization. It appears as though her “accident” had a ripple effect and stirred me while I was apparently sleep walking. I’ll take it as one of God’s many signs telling me to chill the f*&k out and take note of all I have to smile about.

Thanks Binna.

January 6th: The Feast of Epiphany

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Today,  January 6th, is “The Feast of Epiphany”. It is a Christian celebration that honors the manifestation of a divine being: Jesus. This is the meaning behind my name — Epifani. Meaning not just a bright idea, but the celebration of a new beginning, a new way of thinking — an unfolding of a new consciousness and understanding of our relationship with God and ourselves.  I believe names are important. They carry an energy and breathe an intention when spoken. This is because words, themselves, are powerful and can manifest, which is why it is vital to always remain aware of what we say and what we allow ourselves to hear and believe. My mother loves words and understands their power, which is why she gave me this name. She wanted to make sure that with every call of my name she was evoking something powerful and wonderful and divine — she spoke life into me, and I am very grateful for that. I love my name.  Bethanee Epifani ( B’Epifani).

*screen shot pic from timeanddate.com*

Chadwick School Daze

 

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This week I had the honor and pleasure of returning to my old high-school to deliver a presentation to the senior class. I attended Chadwick School in Palos Verdes. It was surreal stepping back in time and returning the campus that had such an impact on me. I uprooted all of those old memories. Thinking about all the good times with my friends, in addition to, all the stressful moments we shared. Chadwick was the place that challenged me and forced me to stretch, to grow, to think, and laid a foundation for who I am today. It was an honor to be back.

Speaking to the senior class and sharing my story and life lessons from my book,
My Quarter-of-a-Century Life Lessons, was an experience I will always cherish. While speaking, I saw myself in them. I saw all the doubt I once had, the fear, the worry as to what the “Real World’ would bring. Would I be successful? Would I be ok? It brought me tremendous joy to affirm their questions and say, “Yes, you are going to be just fine.” It felt good to be used as a source of encouragement and reassurance for them.

I was also touched by those students who came to speak to me and ask me individual questions. I wasn’t expecting to be embraced to that extent, and they all echoed the same appreciation for my words, for my honesty, for my advice, and for reaffirming their success.

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I went into the lecture hall not knowing what the result would be. I wasn’t sure how I was going to be received. I only sincerely hoped that I could provide them with something beneficial that they could take and carry with them.

What ended up happening was even better. I very much wanted to be a blessing for them, but they were the ones who blessed me. Karma is real. You get back what you put out. And the same warmth that I gave to them, they returned 10x that warmth to me. It helped to re-affirm what I am here to do, which is to use my words to teach and uplift others. You never know how your words can affect someone. How a smile, an embrace, or simply listening can help ease the weight of the burden that someone else is quietly hauling. I was reminded of all this that afternoon. picsart_12-01-08-47-42

I know what my purpose is…I guess I’ve always known. Thank you Chadwick.

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Dating 101: Couple Pics lead to Poor Choices

 

 

 

Well it’s that time of the year where I’m starting to see my friends post their engagements on social media. And I’m also starting to see my single friends salivate over these images and what they assume to be a wonderful love story that they desperately want to happen to them. Their feelings are normal and completely understandable. I, too, want companionship; I also want to find “the one”. But I have to remind my friends and myself that what you see reflected off of a social media page does not always provide the full scope of anyone’s romantic relationship. You sincerely hope that people are in love and you wish them well, but you don’t know the details of anyone’s relationship. You don’t know what is taking place behind the scenes and whether or not you could deal with certain circumstances. Now my intention is not to sound bleak, dispiriting, or ominous. My intention is not to have you looking at couple photos with the mindset that something is wrong their relationship…not at all. The intention focuses more on getting you to stop and think before you compare your situation to someone else’s. Remember that your love story will happen in it’s own time, and that you too will be in the coveted position of posting couple photos that will annoy your Facebook friends.

 

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So until then- and this is primarily for my ladies – DO NOT GET INTO A RELATIONSHIP FOR THE SAKE OF BEING IN ONE. It blows my mind and breaks my heart how women settle for and go back to these sorry ass dudes all because they don’t want to be without SOMEBODY. These women will endure emotional, verbal, and physical abuse. They will lower their standards, shrink themselves. Some will allow their boyfriend to shadow them from their self-worth to the point where they know longer see themselves. They become lost in his shadow and are kept from their own light, thinking they are in love, but they are desperately trying to soothe a broken image of themselves.

And why is that, in 2016, women still find themselves in these positions? Is it because having a “man” is something that is still considered highly valuable, and we are conditioned and pressured to have a “man” as a way of increasing our own value? I just don’t understand.

Women YOU ARE THE PRIZE! Don’t settle for just any ole body who does not recognize that you are amazing. Do not fight over, social media stalk, or stress over these boys…leave them alone! Bid them Adieu! And make space for someone better to enter your life. Don’t allow these engagement photos to seduce you into entering into something that has the potential to leave you extremely disappointed.

It is better to be single and at peace surrounded by friends and family who truly love and celebrate you, than to be in a relationship that chips away at your self-esteem and happiness and leaves you disconnected from yourself.

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Give it time ladies, it will happen. For now enjoy the opportunity you have to be completely selfish and finally learn how to love yourself. If you haven’t figured out how to love yourself you run the risk of being lenient with your heart and placing it in shaky hands. So stop the madness. Disconnect from our virtual world for a while and come back to yourself. Remember that your Love will blossom at the appropriate season. Don’t rush the process, allow it to unfold naturally.

 

Lets start new day. Top view of beautiful young African woman in tank top lying in bed and stretching her arms

 

The Orlando Shooting and the Never Ending Fight over Gun Control

 

I think the most frightening world is a world in which everyone is frightened of each other, where people no longer recognize themselves in the other person and only see what they’ve been taught to fear. What’s even more frightening is when frightened people carry guns. I don’t know about you, but knowing that everyone is strapped doesn’t make me feel safe at all. My life becomes even more threatened, and the chances of getting killed by a bullet over a misunderstanding or misidentification, or a combination of someone’s poorly channeled anger coupled with their equally poor aim, doubles. So when Trump gets behind the mic in front of a mass audience professing that the Orlando shootings could’ve been prevented if other people in the club had a gun is completely asinine. The ignorant and moronic statements this man makes sends shivers down my spine and leaves me utterly bewildered.
Question: WHO GOES TO THE CLUB WITH GUNS, TRUMP??!!!
Oh! …that’s right, NO ONE!
“Why?”, you ask, because it’s F*#KING STUPID!

Solving gun related issues by bringing in more guns is not the answer. With the media only aiding in our suspicion of each other, we all will be looking at each other as a potential threat. When you have a nation of people who are scared of each other, you get a nation of people who have neglected reason and logic and compassion, and, instead, walk around with their finger on the trigger ready to go after anyone they assume to be dangerous for any number of reasons.
Black people have known forever what it’s like for the world to look at us with suspicion, prejudice, and hate. Now the focus has shifted to the Muslims within our country, and it’s outrageous how one group of people become the targets of such bigotry. We forget that the majority of us all want the same things and desire to cause no harm. We forget that we all want to live out our days in good health, safety and security, and live long enough to see our kids grow up. Unfortunately, our similarities get lost in the frenzy of death.

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The murderous attack that happened in Orlando tragically follows a string of horrible gun violence that has taken place in our nation. As I watch CNN and look at the faces of all those who were murdered, my heart breaks yet again. It’s becoming too frequent, too normal. It’s like getting hit to the point where you feel numb: The Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, Umpqua Community College in Oregon, Planned Parenthood in Colorado, Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina, the Washington Navy Yard in D.C., Ft. Hood Texas, Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Sikh Temple in Wisconsin, Century Theater in Colorado, not to mention a more recent threat at UCLA. The list just keeps going.

I don’t know how many more times I can watch President Obama address the nation with another grief filled speech asking for the nation’s help to enforce more strict guns laws, requirements and background checks.
Whatever your stance is on gun control, I think we all can agree that something has to change. I don’t understand why people are fighting about this. Clearly the rise in body counts has not been enough to get people to lessen the grip on their stance and come together to actually solve the problem. How many more people have to die before we set aside our pride and egos? How many more funerals have to be attended? How many more mothers, spouses, and children have to cry out loud in pain, anger, and disbelief? Something must change.

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Meanwhile, I pray that we do not become conditioned and confused by what the media puts out, and remember that one person who does a horrible act does not reflect the attitudes of an entire group. I pray that we don’t trade in our humanity and common sense for a safe full of fire-arms. I want safety just as much as everyone else, but protection will not come by building walls and putting snipers on the roof. Safety and protection comes from a unified effort, where everyone rallies against the ignorance and hate that permeates throughout our communities, and awaken to the fact that we have more in common than not.