Is She Your Role Model OR Your Idol?

Many people aspire to greater things: they want to be better, look better, or do better. Often times, we look to other people to provide the blueprint. We look for people have achieved what we hope to achieve, some day, and quickly model ourselves after them. We scrounge for information on just how they were able to reach such incredible heights: what do they do? what do they eat? when do they wake up? We hope that in investigating their lives, we can find the secret formula to achieving what we seek.
Of course, learning from those who are wiser and more experienced than we are is always a good thing. Knowledge, they say, is never really wasted. However, the problem emerges when we switch from admiration to idolatry.
When we see someone as a role model or admire that person, we consider him/her worthy of emulation – a person to learn and glean from. On the flip side, when someone becomes an idol, it becomes a completely different matter all together!! We leave behind healthy admiration and take on something a lot more sinister: an obsession and a level of devotion that is far from healthy. Rather than simply wanting to learn from such a person, we want to be that person – totally NOT cool!

We see it all the time, particularly with pop culture. Celebrities like Beyonce, Lady Gaga, and Rihanna, have a following that is uncanny. Rather than emulating traits that they admire, their followers have really become, well … followers. That’s a really dangerous thing!
When we leave behind our own journeys, our own paths, and our own purpose to take on someone else’s, we always fail.
I am reminded of this commencement speech by groundbreaking screenwriter/director/producer/showrunner, Shonda Rhimes, in which she speaks of her previous ambition to be award-winning author, Toni Morrison – until, that is, she realized that she couldn’t (and shouldn’t) be anyone but herself. Imagine what we would have lost out on if Shonda Rhimes weren’t who she is.
So, it’s okay to admire people who we consider worthy of emulation, but it’s not okay to make idols out of them – fashioning our dreams, goals, and entire personalities after them. It’s not what women of purpose do. Plus, you’ll be amazed by just how much God has put into you when you commit to simply being who He made YOU.



CHALLENGE: Do One Thing Everyday That Scares You

This week’s challenge is one that’s particularly close to my heart, because most days, something as simple as sending or receiving e-mails scares me.
The root of this irrational fear is a fear of rejection. Most days, for, I send out e-mails to people I hope to feature in one of my original interview sections; or, I receive a response to one of the e-mails I’ve sent out. I always hold my breath before I open the email, because getting a response that shows lack of interest (or even worse for me: never getting a response at all), isn’t so much fun for me.

Lately, however, I’m quite pleased with the realization that I’m getting much better. Before I open one such e-mail, I simply whisper to myself that it’s only an e-mail after all, and if it’s a “No”, it’s really only a “No!” I mean, the word never killed anyone, right?
So, this week’s challenge is to do one thing everyday that scares you. It might be something as seemingly simple and mundane as sending an e-mail with a request, like my “scary” thing; or cooking something you’ve been too scared to try; or having a much-needed conversation. Or, it could be something big, like taking the necessary steps to launch a new business; or wearing clothes in bold and new colors; or trying on taking on a really big project at work.
Each day you wake up this week, think of tackling one “scary” thing.
Best of luck to you, and see you next Wednesday for next week’s challenge. :)

MUSIC TO LOVE: “Turn It Up” by April Peters

Dance music usually isn’t known for combining fun with a great message. Think about it: when was the last time you listened to a song that made you want to dance, but also left you with a substantial message and fed your soul, as well? I’ll wait! See?
Well, if that’s what you’ve been searching for, look no further than this amazing single from singer-songwriter extraordinaire, April Peters. This song is perfect for, because it’s all about celebrating the uniqueness of YOU.

Aptly titled, “Turn It Up”, it combines disco beats with modern dance pop, creating a staccato of sounds that really does make you want to “turn it up.” Hot beat aside, this song reminds us all to embrace ourselves fully & reject the idea that we’re too much. With lines like, “Too short, too tall/Too big, too small/Too smart, too dumb/That’s what they claim/Sticks & Stones may/Break my bones/But come on, son/I know my name”, April encourages us, in her amazing voice, to reject the natural inclination to shrink in fear around people who misunderstand us – asking us to go big, refusing to shrink & withdraw; being no one but our fabulous selves. How cool is THAT?!
Isn’t that a message we so need to embrace as women? I know I do!

[Fun Fact: This post celebrating tall women was inspired by April & another friend, because of the self-assurance they have, and their refusal to shrink.]
Enough talk, though! Get into this song!!! Download it on iTunes when you click here.


And while you’re at it, listen to this other hauntingly beautiful song by April, called Tryin’, from her forthcoming EP, TransMusic.




Follow April Peters everywhere:
Facebook: April Peters Online
Instagram: @apriljay
Twitter: @AprilPeters
YouTube: AprilPetersOnline


If you’re in the NY area, catch April LIVE on May 5. Details below!

{Images via April Peters’ Official Facebook Page}

MARRIAGE: How Much of Your Spouse’s Validation Do You Really Need?

Before we say, “I do”, we think deeply about the person we want to marry. We pray that they are people of quality and character – people who bring out the best in us, and the best in themselves.
Many times, when we marry, we get so wrapped up in the person we marry, because we become accustomed to doing things as a unit. Because we try to make decisions as a unit and live life in partnership, we sometimes forget where one person ends, and the other begins – so much so that we get so caught up in our spouse’s opinions of us.

Of course, most of the time, if you’ve chosen well, your spouse is the sort of person who believes in you and spurs you on to victory. However, there will likely be occasional moments in which that might not be the case. What happens, then?
What I know for sure is that the only person whose validation should be absolute is God’s. Everybody else’s validation and opinion will fall short, sometimes. Heck, many times, our own thoughts about ourselves are flawed.
Let us always remember that our spouses are working alongside us on life’s journey, but we are still individuals with our own journeys. Let our spouse’s opinions not be the word on which we rest our lives, if we know that God’s opinion is something else (and His opinion is never really an opinion – it’s a FACT).

{Image via}


Are You Beautiful or Just Average?

As women, we all know that the world imposes stupid and often impossible standards of beauty on us. We are expected to be mature and sophisticated – yet, perpetually stuck in time-frozen youth. We’re expected to “wake up” looking flawless – yet, we’re also pushed to alter our physical selves. It’s an endless, disgusting cycle that can be difficult to get away from.
I recently came across a video from skin and hair care brand, Dove‘s “Choose Beautiful” campaign. In the video, shot in 5 cities across the globe, women have to choose between walking through the door that says “Beautiful” or “Average”. Most of the women end up walking through the “Average” door. Hmmmm, right?
When I first watched the video, I asked myself if I could honestly see myself walking through the “Beautiful” door or the “Average” door. I imagine that, for most of the women, they genuinely don’t see themselves as “beautiful” and so, they walked through the “Average” door.

However, it is also very likely that the women had second thoughts about walking through a door that publicly declared them “Beautiful”. I can imagine that they didn’t want to seem vain and conceited, or that they didn’t want to be judged by strangers, who would likely begin to appraise if they were worthy to walk through that door. That, too, is an issue for us all.
Why do we so often shrink so much that we are afraid to state publicly that we see ourselves as beautiful, when that should be the default lens through which we see ourselves? Why do we put so much value on others’ opinions of us that we hold back from seeing ourselves as the insanely breathtaking masterpieces that God made us to be?
If someone asked you right now if you think you are beautiful, what would you say? Why? Think about it. It’s worth exploring! Then, work at getting to a place where you can answer with a resounding “Yes“, because your validation and God’s are really the only one’s that really count.

{Image via Beauty is Diverse}

ROMANTIC INSPIRATIONS: Sticky Note Affirmations

Everybody loves a pick-me-up, right? I know I do.
So, why not create some sticky note affirmations for 2: the one you love and yourself.
The key is to leave these sticky notes precisely where you know they will be seen. For instance, for most people, their work requires that they use their computers constantly. Leave a sticky note on the keyboard, where you know they will absolutely be seen. Write what you want: short and sweet; long and deep; sexy and flirty; grateful and appreciative; complimentary and thoughtful. Take your pick. :)
While you’re at it, don’t forget about yourself. It might sound corny to write a note to yourself – after all, you are writing it to yourself. However, don’t under-estimate the power of a pick-me-up. You might just stumble on that “You can accomplish GREAT things” sticky note when you’re feeling defeated. Or “You are absolutely beautiful” note when you feel less than attractive.
You can leave it in plain sight, where you’ll see it everyday. Or keep it semi-hidden, so you get it just where you need it. For instance, you can leave it in a mirror, or stuck to one of your work shoes or favorite bags. It can be on your desk, or in your underwear drawer.

We all need a little bit of affirmation in our lives, and the more we get and give those, the better our world will be.

CHALLENGE: Compliment At Least 1 Woman Everyday This Week

What’s constantly on my mind here at is how beautiful and unique we truly are as women. In many ways, we really do hold up the world. God has made each of us with a uniqueness that is impossible to duplicate, and I wish we celebrated that more often.
We have all had moments of jealousy or envy, or feeling the need to shrink in certain company.
Atong Arjok, Mari Malek, Mari Agory, and Nykhor Paul for Suited Magazine Spring 2015 by Paul Jung 2
This week, I want us ALL to take the challenge to compliment at least one woman EVERY SINGLE DAY! If you see a woman on the street who has amazing skin, a great outfit, is gorgeous, has a great smile, a wonderful spirit, or amazing business sensibilities, please go on and tell her. You can compliment another woman via social media, or telephone.
You’ll notice that the more you do it, the more you’ll love to do it.
What’s even better is that you’ll start to notice the beauty in the women you see, and then, notice the beauty in your own self.
Ready to get on board with me? Let’s do it!


{Image from | Photo by Paul Jung for Suited Magazine}

How Spring Cleaning Can Boost Your Self-Esteem & Be Fun for Your Marriage

As women, many of us love to show the world the most attractive version of ourselves. We put on our best clothes and most exquisite shoes to show just how fabulous we are.
However, at home, we are often the exact opposite. We can be drab and disheveled, wearing clothes that are worn out, torn up, holey, and plainly unattractive. Add in the extra responsibility of being a mother, and we can get really bedraggled.
I am so guilty of this! We get into this mindset that these are really our most comfortable clothes; however, they can take a toll on us emotionally. I know for sure that when I am dressed in comfortable, yet attractive, clothes at home, I feel so much more confident and put together. There really is something about looking good – regardless of where we are – that boosts our confident and makes us more ready to take on the world.
4 Lupita Nyong'o by Alexi Lubormirski for Harper's Bazaar UK May 2015
I am currently in this frame of mind. Though I am yet to do it, one of my goals this season is to clean out my closet, and get rid of clothes that (though comfortable) are just drab and worn out, haven’t been worn in forever, or have been in my closet for far too long. I want to be left with comfortable and beautiful clothes that only make me feel my best.
You know that feeling you get when you’re looking drab, and someone shows up unannounced? Yeah, that feeling! I don’t want that feeling anymore. It’ll definitely be a work in progress (being a mom definitely has its way of getting in the way of your plans … LOL), but I really do want to get there.
To make cleaning out the closet an even more fun and worthwhile venture, you can enlist your spouse’s help, if you have one. Try on clothes that you’re wondering if you should keep or toss, and have your spouse help you decide. It’ll be fun, funny, and may even be a sexy time for you both.
Here’s to looking and feeling fabulous at home and out. :)

{Image Credit: Photo by Alexi Lubormirski for Harper’s Bazaar UK May 2015}


Viola Davis has been on everyone’s lips these days – and it couldn’t be happening to a more deserving person. A fiercely talented thespian (winner of 2 Tony Awards and a 3-time nominee), an extraordinary actor (winner & nominee of so many awards, including 2 Screen Actors’ Guild Awards, 3 Golden Globe Nominations, 2 Academy Award nominations, among several others), and a great role model, Viola Davis’ journey is one that I find incredibly inspiring for so many reasons.

Growing up extremely poor in Rhode Island, Davis was privy to desperate pangs of hunger – a cause that she is currently working hard to tackle, through the Hunger Is initiative. Her family was so poor that they lived in a building so rat-infested that they had to wear thick scarves around their necks at night to keep from getting bitten. To compound things, they were the only African-American family in their town, which led to lots of racism and the experience of  racial epithets. Quite a story, huh?

Today, she is one of the most talked-about actresses in television, has been very happily married to actor-producer, Julius Tennon for 12 years, and is a proud mama of 4 year old daughter, Genesis, who the couple adopted in 2011.
Looking at the amazingly beautiful and successful person she is today, it’s hard to imagine that this was her reality. Everyone has a story.
Here are some of the reasons Viola Davis really inspires me.

Have you seen this woman’s SKIN? Viola has some of the most deliciously luminous skin I have ever seen. Always shining like a perfectly polished diamond, I really find her skin to be one of her most beautiful features.
 At 49 (she turns 50 in August), Viola strikes me as a woman who has arrived at a place of acceptance in and love for her skin. She carries herself like someone who owns her features and has finally arrived at a place, where she looks in the mirror and is happy with what she sees.  That is something that so many women – of all hues, shapes, and sizes – struggle with.


Viola has been very open about discussing the journey it has been to owning her beauty. From internalizing racist adjectives from white children from her childhood about being “ugly” to internalizing her mother’s own battle with self-esteem, Davis never saw herself as truly beautiful. To worsen things, when she was 28, she woke up one day to bald patches on her head: her hair was falling out!!! She soon realized that she had alopecia areata – a condition that causes hair to fall out in round patches – and felt even less beautiful. She quickly embraced wigs as her best friends, her crutches, and was never seen without them, even while taking a bath!
Thanks to her incredible husband, Julius, who encouraged her to embrace the totality of her natural self, she decided to do away with the wigs and accept her natural hair. This led to her oft-talked about appearance at the 2012 Academy Awards, sans wig, with her beautifully coiled natural hair all aglow. By stepping forward into herself, she has encouraged so many women of African descent to do the same. You can often find her now, doing interviews and appearances in all her natural glory.

Despite being termed “less classically beautiful” by a controversial New York Times article by writer, Alessandra Stanley, Viola had the courage to do something few actresses in recent memory had done: she sat before the world and took off her wig and every. single. trace. of. make up. in a How to Get Away with Murder scene that will be forever etched in my memory (and that of millions of others). She sat before the world naked, bare, and confident. Social media was abuzz, and Black women everywhere rejoiced.
To stare down people who had thought her less than attractive or older in a world of such superficiality is what I call “the ultimate beauty with courage”. For teaching us all how to throw caution to the wind, realize that our validations do not come from others, and stand in the power of our own beauty, I salute Viola Davis.
Viola Davis is an embodiment of the saying, “Whatever is worth doing is worth doing well.” A formidable actress in every single role, Viola had still been long typecast – playing roles of people relegated to the background or with incredibly one-dimensional stories. Hailed as a star actress by such Hollywood heavy hitters as Denzel Washington, Davis still never received the recognition and quality roles she deserved. In fact, Denzel (who was her co-star & husband in the stage play, Fences) recommended that his daughter, who is also making her way as an actor, use Viola Davis as her blueprint, because every performance of hers is a tour de force.

In spite of the lack of meaty roles she has been offered, Viola has sunk her teeth into each one, delivering performances that have been nothing short of unforgettable. So unforgettable, in fact, that her 11-minute single-scene performance in the 2009 movie, Doubt, which starred Meryl Streep and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Let that sink in: 11 minutes on-screen ONLY, earned her an Academy Award nomination. If that isn’t excellence, I don’t know what is. Really!

Because she has been diligent in her work and committed to being excellent in every role – whether major or minor – she is finally getting the opportunities she deserves. In 2014, she was cast as the complicated and no-nonsense Annalise Keating in the Shonda Rhimes-backed ABC runaway hit, How to Get Away with Murder. She is bringing excellence to every single scene!
She inspires me to always do my best work, regardless of how small or unrecognized it may be, so that when the huge opportunities arrive, excellence is already my habit!
Viola Davis is one of those people who, in spite of the challenges and the odds, focuses on what she wants and works hard towards it. She ignores the bumps on the road and focuses on the destination, instead.
According to a Theatre Communications Group article,

“In college, Viola recalls participating in one acting class full of bright-eyed hopefuls. Her teacher was determined to knock some sense into them. He told everyone who wanted to be an actor to raise his or her hand. Then he bombarded the students with the hard facts of an actor’s life: scarcity of work, financial hardships, cutthroat competition, cattle calls, no health insurance, no sick pay, bad breaks, bad agents, bad roles—you name it. One by one, the hands shot down. At the end of his rant, only Viola Davis still held her hand up high.”

In 2006, Viola lost her father to pancreatic cancer; she states that it was  a truly excruciating experience that changed everything in her life, helping her adjust her lenses and begin to focus on the things that matter the most – God, family, and love. Here’s what WebMD quoted her as saying,

“If you knew you had only five minutes left, you learn what’s important. It was like that when my dad passed. Anything you thought was important fades away. Anything that angered you or destroyed you is forgotten, and the only thing that is left is pure, pure love. Because at the end of the day, nothing else matters.”

“I’m living my life with purpose, and I think when you do that[,] things fall in line, and they fall in line in the exact order they should,” she says. “I now understand the importance of love. And for me, the most important things are my husband and my daughter. Because they make me feel needed. They make me feel like the space I’m taking up on this earth is important. That I’m important.”

On learning to embrace fear, Viola had this to say to Vulture: (You should definitely read the full article. There’s so much to glean from.)

“Nobody tells you about failure,” Davis argues. “People always talk about winning, vision boards, getting what you want. People also don’t talk about fear. It’s always keeping fear at bay. Squelching it. Throwing it away. I’ve embraced fear and failure as a part of my success. I understand that it’s part of the grand continuum of life. I’ve been through it all. Breakups, heartache, and I’ve lost a parent already. So now I get it at this age, I get that that is it. That life literally is what you make it.”


In what is undoubtedly one of my favorite quotes ever, and one that I actually plan to pass on to my children (with a tweak or two), Viola reminds her daughter, Genesis, everyday of the 2 most important parts of herself: her head & her heart.

“I tell my daughter every morning, ‘Now, what are the two most important parts of you?'” Davis began. “She says, ‘My head and my heart.’ Because that’s what I’ve learned in the foxhole: What gets you through life is strength of character and strength of spirit and love.”






The Journey to Beautiful Series: Oreka Godis

The Journey to Beautiful Interview Series is a celebration of influential and inspiring African women across the globe. Its aim is to teach every woman to define beauty on her own terms, to live purposefully, to accept what makes her truly unique, and to fall in love with all of who she is.

Oreka Godis
NAME: Oreka Godis
LOCATION: Lagos, Nigeria 
WHY YOU HAVE TO KNOW HER: Oreka Godis is a Jill of all (media) trades, if there ever was one – but not in the I-can-do-it-all-but-am-not-very-good-at-it type of way. No way!!! Oreka works hard at mastering her craft, and being the very best she can possibly be. Let us count the ways …
Last year, she starred in the critically acclaimed Nigerian stage adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s iconic stage play, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, by gifted playwright Wole Oguntokun, as the Lady in Yellow.
As a gifted actress on the large and small screens, she has starred in movies, including this year’s When Love Happens, and Dear Avalon; short films, like the upcoming Timothy; and series and mini-series, including T.A.B.L.O.I.D., and Dowry
Originally introduced to audiences as an On-Air Personality for 99.9 The Beat FM’s weekday radio show, The Morning Rush, she may now be found on EbonyLifeTV’s nightly show, The Love Lounge, talking all things love, sex, and relationships.
Not one to be put in a box, Oreka has also taken on such feats, as interviewing the Nigerian President, producing a documentary on ongoing restoration work in Nigeria’s Bayelsa State, and hosting MTV Base’s pro-voting campaign via their program, Choose or Lose.
Whether she’s interviewing the President or Chiwetel Ejiofor, talking politics or relationships, producing documentaries or starring in productions, Oreka is committed to one thing: “being a Storyteller, using any medium necessary.”

Well, that’s a loaded question! I can answer that in part with the an extract from a larger free write of mine:


Lost, not found.  
Unclaimed emotions in unsafe territory.  
I am open wounds made raw, fairytales turned nightmare. 
I am disillusioned naive beliefs… 
I am hopeful, 
I am fear. 
I am complications made messy by my unacceptable approximations of my own uniqueness 
I am fragments of disappointed moments made whole 
I am joblessness found solitude in anxiety 
I am poverty, 
I am Peter 
I am Paul. 
I am ambition, unexplored, creativity hindered 
I am colour blind with eyes open to prejudice 
I am all ears full of hurt, disappointed moments, tugging 
I am consciousness, unsteady  
I am all mouth, all hunger, all nerves 
I am stock. Unseasoned, rushed, flavourless, all liquid no punch. 
I am ashore, washed up, passed over.   I am youth, I am age, I am backtracking retrospect full of introspect 
I am Black British, devoured, Nigerian Girl. 
I am hobo chic, Nigerian Girl, descendant of the Otaro and Ekarobome lineage of Ogori, a small village (of) people who for centuries have followed the beat of their own drum.  
I am a voice 
I am Oreka Godis 
Oreka Godis
My skin. It doesn’t always love me back: I’m covered in spots and scars, but I love my skin.
Sometimes, I catch my reflection in the mirror – just the lower part of my face – and marvel at how God blessed me with lips that look like they belong on someone far more worthy. My top lip is quite dark and my bottom lip quite pink in comparison.
I’ve always been obsessed with my hair. It used to be the only physical feature I liked about me, but now I see more things about me that I love – like my nose, the stretch marks on my buttocks, my fingers and the nails that adorn them. My nails grow with a natural French tip, no matter what diet I am on or supplements I take. I used to get teased about that; people have pointed at my nails as being an indication of all kinds of deficiencies. But since the day I cottoned on to the fact that this is a part of me that I cannot change, and also that some people pay good money to have theirs look like mine at nail bars, I have come to see it as one of my beautiful defining features.

“Sometimes, I catch my reflection in the mirror – just the lower part of my face – and marvel at how God blessed me with lips that look like they belong on someone far more worthy.”


My spirit.
Definitely my arms and no, the battle rages on. Not keen on my legs either, mostly because I am very prone to getting ingrown hairs whether I keep the hair on or off. I always feel like a walking, talking, dimply, plucked bird. I’ve tried treatments, scrubs and home made remedies, but the turkey legs refuse to smoothen out.  
Oreka Godis
My mother’s been far more influential in the way I see myself. As regards to my father, though, from him, I’ve learnt the need for sacrifice and the importance of keeping your family and loved ones close. 
It used to be failure, but I let that go. I can’t think of anything that scares me now. Besides snakes. Does that count? 
Oreka Godis

“I feel most beautiful during that one day or two where your hormones and body hit homeostatic perfection – your stomach is not bloated, your skin is glowing, you are having an excellent hair day, your confidence level is through the roof and you are so comfortable and happy to be in your own skin that, for once, you look in the mirror and think makeup would do a disservice to what God’s already perfected. “


Clean face (not a lick of makeup), clean hair (head wrap optional), comfortable sofa, a glass of anything (water/Simply Green Juice/tea/alcoholic beverage), a full stomach and a mouth full of conversations and laughter with friends and family. 
I don’t feel accomplished yet.
Oreka Godis
At the end of a good wash day, when I’ve also had a thorough body wash. When my skin and hair just look kissed by God, especially if it falls in that lucky window between Aunt Flo’s departure and ovulation time. You know, that one day or two where your hormones and body hit homeostatic perfection – your stomach is not bloated, your skin is glowing, you are having an excellent hair day, your confidence level is through the roof and you are so comfortable and happy to be in your own skin that, for once, you look in the mirror and think makeup would do a disservice to what God’s already perfected. 
Oreka Godis
I am very laissez-faire with the way I look in comparison to the “Lagos Big Girl” standard, but then again, that’s not my aesthetic. I’m such a hobo and that, to me, is beautiful – just being happy to go about my business however I see fit.
By caring about what I put into and on my body, by working on maintaining a healthy state of mind and staying connected to my spirit. 
My mother. My grandmother. My sister.
Jessica Alba – especially for her great job with The Honest Company.
Oreka Godis

Stay updated with everything Oreka by following her here:
Instagram: OrekaGodis
Twitter: @Rhecks



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