INSPIRATION: Viola Davis

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.

BEAUTY INSPIRATION
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.
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 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.
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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.
 
CAREER INSPIRATION
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!
 
SPIRITUAL INSPIRATION
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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN/HERITAGE: Nigeria, United Kingdom
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.”

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

iAm 

Girl 
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
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PHYSICAL FEATURES?
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.”


 

WHAT NON-PHYSICAL TRAITS DO YOU MOST LOVE ABOUT YOURSELF?
My spirit.
WHAT PHYSICAL AND NON-PHYSICAL TRAITS HAVE YOU MOST STRUGGLED TO ACCEPT? HAVE YOU OVERCOME THAT STRUGGLE?   HOW?
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
HOW HAS YOUR FATHER INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU SEE YOURSELF?
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. 
WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST FEARS?
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. “


 

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST JOYS?
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. 
WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS?
I don’t feel accomplished yet.
Oreka Godis
WHEN DO YOU FEEL MOST BEAUTIFUL?
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
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR OWN VERSION OF “BEAUTIFUL”?
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.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO STAY BEAUTIFUL, AS YOU’VE DEFINED IT?
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. 
WHICH “BEAUTIFUL” WOMEN INSPIRE YOU MOST?
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:
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/Rhecks 
Instagram: OrekaGodis
Twitter: @Rhecks
Website: www.orekagodis.com 

 

Marriage, Jealousy & Competition

Lately, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about married couples who happen to work in the same industry, or even in the same company within the same industry, and how that works out.

How does it feel to be a talented actor married to another talented actor, for instance, when only one of you seems to be getting all the roles and recognition, while the other is barely cast from one audition to the next?

What does it look like to be genuinely supportive, proud of, and happy for your spouse when you are also chasing the same things they are chasing, but you feel like you are being left behind?
What is it like to be tempted to be envious and jealous of this person, who really is your other half now, and whose victory really should be yours, too?

I think it’s an incredibly interesting dynamic that requires 2 people who are not just extremely committed to each other, but also extremely mature in their self-awareness. Because at the end of the day, we all need to realize that we are not more or less valuable, worthy, or successful, because of the accolades we do or don’t receive.
I’m learning that the more you know who you are and what your own value is in God’s eyes, as an individual, you’ll spend far less time envying the person next to you – even if that is the person who signed up to be next to you for the rest of your life.

 

What’s your take on this?
Are you and your spouse in the same industry? If you are, have you ever needed to work through the temptations of jealousy and over-competition? Let’s share!

 

#30istheNew30: Ogechi Akinola

#30isthenew30 is a celebration of women of African descent in their 30s. In the current global cultural climate that prioritizes extreme youth, #30isthenew30 was created to celebrate the wisdom and beauty of getting older, starting with the 30s. The 30s are important years, because so many women attest to an escalation of self-awareness and confidence in their lives, and the understanding of their own beauty in a completely new and amazing way. [Read more on my perspective here.]
If you are a woman of African descent in your 30s interested in being included in this feature, please e-mail me at chioma [dot] onyewuchi [at] hotmail [dot] com, with subject, “Loving my 30s”.

Name: Ogechi Akinola
Age: 34
Location: United Kingdom
Country of African Heritage: Nigeria
What You Do: Founder/Lifestyle Consultant for Bump n Chic

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How did you feel when you turned 30?
When I turned 30, I unconsciously felt that NEW maturity set in: the ‘I-now-feel-all-grown-up’ type [of] maturity.   I felt like I was ready to explore another side of life. I didn’t know what to expect, but at that point, I knew that there was more to life that I needed to experience.
I was excited, but also scared. My goals and aspirations started to narrow down, and became more specific.  I had a lot I wanted to achieve in my 30s, even though I wasn’t sure how it was all going to materialize.
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What new habits have you formed in your 30s? What old habits did you leave behind?
I would honestly say that the most important habit I’ve formed is consciously embracing the love of God for me. That consciousness is now reflected in everything I do – taking care of this vessel called me (through nutrition, exercise and staying chic), unconditionally loving my husband, children, family and others, and having a devoted heart for service.

 

“When I turned 30, I knew that there was more to life that I needed to experience. My goals and aspirations started to narrow down, and became more specific.  I had a lot I wanted to achieve in my 30s, even though I wasn’t sure how it was all going to materialize.”

 


 

My 20s, looking back now, were filled with confusion and maybe selfishness.
My thought pattern about the affairs of life has changed. I began at 30 to think about things that I would love to achieve in my life and as I progressed.
My relationship with God evolved and became more real.  My life gradually started to have some structure to it. I felt like I was beginning to see a path made for me. I started to evolve.
I embraced me. This new love for God boosted my confidence. I prayed a lot more. My ministry as a worship leader meant a lot more to me at that point. I felt like I had more understanding of what my service to God should be through worship. In my 20s, the challenges of life took a dig at me and it was a hard knock on my confidence. I struggled to stay afloat but God was so merciful to me and sustained me until I realised I couldn’t move any further without HIM.
Interestingly, I asked my husband what new habits I have formed since we got married and what old ones have I gotten rid of or am still working on. And he said, in his words, “You don’t argue so much anymore; you listen a lot more now.”

 

How has the way you think of yourself and how you move through the world changed in your 30s?
I am a wife, a mother of two and an entrepreneur. To be able to accomplish my tasks and fulfill all my responsibilities, I have to take care of myself. Who says a woman can’t have it all? If you make the right choices and stay on course, you can look CHIC, [be] FAB and SOAR…
It’s also very important to me to look after myself mentally and emotionally. I have moments when I just STOP and breathe; take stock before I launch out again. I make out time to play around with my husband and the girls, and they, in turn, also make out time to take care of mummy. Many times, I just switch off from all the hustle and bustle and focus on the things that matter – FAMILY.
I exercise with my husband and we have our date nights on Fridays. Most times, we stay home and make lovely dishes, watch movies and cooking channels.  It’s ‘us’ time away from the girls. It keeps our relationship fresh and exciting, and these take care of our emotional and mental health.
I surround myself with family and friends who are supportive of my vision and purpose in life – those who help me to pursue my goals and calling. These people keep me grounded.

“At 30, my relationship with God evolved and became more real.  My life gradually started to have some structure to it. I felt like I was beginning to see a path made for me. I started to evolve. I embraced me.”

 


 

I am also a part of a ministry called Weather Proof Marriage and the goal of the ministry is to inspire everyone we have the privilege of meeting either personally, or through the website, to have the best marriage possible (www.weatherproofmarriage.com).  It’s a platform where we (alongside the founders of the ministry and other team members) share life experiences and encourage one another and others to be better husbands, wives, fathers, mothers and leaders in their home. My husband and I are very passionate about marriage and for couples to enjoy marriage and not endure marriage. We preach the message of hope that it is possible to have an excellent marriage if we all take out time to invest in our marriage. I love everything about marriage and I am privileged to be a part of this ministry. I learn everyday on the best ways to fulfill my roles and duties as a wife, mother and a help meet within my family setting. My husband and I work as a team, and we invest in our marriage to enjoy it to the fullest as God intended it to be.
In all of the above listed, the most important thing to me is my spirituality. I involve God in everything I do. I spend time to grow in my walk and relationship with God. It’s so important to me that this aspect of my life is well attended to. Without God, I really cannot do anything. My relationship with God empowers me to do the things that I do. God is involved in my exercise, in my healthy lifestyle, in my marriage, in my relationship with my children, in my business, in everything.  As a born again Christian and a lover of God, it’s most important to me to stay on course with God’s plans for my life, so I invest time into my spiritual life and growth.
Over time, I have come to understand and appreciate the importance of investing time into myself.  For me, it has been a journey worth my while that has greatly influenced how I see myself and how I do things.
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How has your style evolved?
I would say my style hasn’t actually changed that much.  I have maintained quite a structured and chic look.  I try to wear clothes that suit my body frame and accentuate my best features.  I have quite a small frame, not so much a petite frame , so I LOVE my heels.
However, with pregnancy comes the challenge of trying not to lose one’s self –  your personality, your style and your confidence. With my first pregnancy, I went through a lot of changes. It was my first experience; so, everything was new to me. I put in so much effort and time in getting ready whenever I had to go out with my husband or by myself. I still wanted to keep Oge and her style intact, and I think I did a good job of staying on course.  I didn’t fancy maternity wear; so, I still wore clothing that suited my frame but went four sizes up, especially for my lower body.
As a wife, mother and an entrepreneur (Lifestyle Consultant & Stylist), I like to move in and out of my style preference(s). I don’t follow fashion trends as such. I like to be my own individual in my sense of style, and I also reflect that in the way I dress my little princesses.

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How has your approach to self-care changed?
I wasn’t so much of a foodie, but I enjoyed junk food a lot. I wasn’t overweight, neither was I undernourished. But I loved junk food in my 20s.
Coming into my 30s, this changed. My husband is a promoter of healthy lifestyle. When we met, I noticed he was really into taking care of himself, and looking good and presentable. He is a very good chef; so, during our dating days, he always made us very healthy meals. He was also really into exercising, which I never was interested in.
After we got married and I got pregnant and had my first child, I started to look at myself differently. I put on so much weight,  obviously as a result of pregnancy and child birth, but also most importantly, as a result of all the junk I ate during pregnancy.

 

“If you make the right choices and stay on course, you can look CHIC, [be] FAB and SOAR. I have moments when I just STOP and breathe; take stock before I launch out again. I surround myself with family and friends who are supportive of my vision and purpose in life – those who help me to pursue my goals and calling. These people keep me grounded.”

 


 

Now, for me, self-care became a priority on my to-do list because I didn’t like the way I felt or looked at the time. I tried all sorts of things to get my body to the right shape and form. But I learnt that the basics had primarily to do with food and engaging in some form of physical activities. and once this is put in place, everything else falls into place. I then made a decision to take responsibility in making daily choices about my lifestyle in eating healthy and choosing to exercise. I cook a lot more now, I experiment and make healthy meals. (You may check out my website – www.bumpnchic/recipes for some of my meal ideas.)
I feed my husband and children with the right healthy meals. I believe in eating and enjoying food that you like – but in the right portions – and also choosing healthy alternatives to replace unhealthy ingredients.
Eating healthy and exercising helps me stay in shape and stay fit. I am able to move my body; and with my two little bosses, I need a lot of energy to have a good time with them as well as clean up after them. I have become a strong advocate for adopting a healthy lifestyle and staying fit. This keeps me away from the doctors. (Check out www.bumpnchic.com and see the services we offer and how we can support you through a healthy lifestyle journey.)

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What have you learned about yourself in your 30s that you wish you knew in your 20s?
When one strives to progress in life diligently, he/she matures. This has been my case. This is a passion that has grown into the service that I now render to women.
I have come to appreciate the Scripture which says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. This Bible verse has come alive in my everyday life, because I have realized that to be a wife, a mother, an entrepreneur and to be able to fulfill all the responsibilities and tasks on my plate, I need God’s strength, grace, wisdom and understanding to succeed.
It has not been by my might nor strength that I am where I am today. God has been so gracious to me.

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30 is the new 30 because … if you make the right choices and stay on course, 30 is CHIC, FAB and BEAUTIFUL.  30 is my stepping stone for moving from good to great..

Stay updated on Ogechi and her lifestyle business, Bump n Chic, by following her here:
Website: www.bumpnchic.com
Facebook Page: Bumpnchic
Twitter:@bumpnchic
Instagram: bumpnchic

#30istheNew30: Dorcia Carrillo

#30isthenew30 is a celebration of women of African descent in their 30s. In the current global cultural climate that prioritizes extreme youth, #30isthenew30 was created to celebrate the wisdom and beauty of getting older, starting with the 30s. The 30s are important years, because so many women attest to an escalation of self-awareness and confidence in their lives, and the understanding of their own beauty in a completely new and amazing way. [Read more on my perspective here.]
If you are a woman of African descent in your 30s interested in being included in this feature, please e-mail me at chioma [dot] onyewuchi [at] hotmail [dot] com, with subject, “Loving my 30s”.

Dorcia_30isthenew30

Name: Dorcia Carrillo
Age: 30
Location: Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
What You Do: Attorney | Everything, but I get paid to work in international trade compliance

How did you feel when you turned 30?
Physically, the same. But I was very happy to turn 30 and begin a new stage of my life.
What new habits have you formed in your 30s? What old habits did you leave behind?
I never weight trained before, but now I am into it. When I was younger, being thin was my goal, but now I want to build muscle and stay healthy.
How has the way you think of yourself and how you move through the world changed in your 30s?
I try to be much more mindful of how I affect the world. I think of myself less in terms of a consumer and more as a producer.Though I have the means, I don’t find as much pleasure in buying something new as I do in creating something.
How has your beauty routine or approach to beauty changed in your 30s?
My night time routine changed. I used to scrub my face in the morning and just wipe it with a makeup remover at night. I had a facial for my thirtieth birthday and the esthetician explained the importance of deep cleaning my face at the end of the day, which makes perfect sense.

 

“I try to be much more mindful of how I affect the world. I think of myself less in terms of a consumer and more as a producer.Though I have the means, I don’t find as much pleasure in buying something new as I do in creating something.”


 

How has your style evolved?
I feel more confident to forgo trends now, but I am also more open to incorporating different looks into my repertoire. For example, I recently wore African print pants to my corporate job. I think that would have been too daring for the younger me.
How has your approach to self-care changed?
I am eating better now. I make conscious decisions about what I put in my body.
What have you learned about yourself in your 30s that you wish you knew in your 20s?
I have learned that I am self-sufficient and capable of success.
30 is the new 30 because … the other  two decades were just practice.

Love Your Husband Less than He Loves You & Other Bits of Marriage Advice

As a young girl growing into a young woman in Nigeria, I was privy to several conversations about marriage from the female perspective. From family members and friends to strangers, both married and single, these women shared their perspectives on marriage, and what they believed about it. Sharing tips and long-held beliefs, it made some for some very memorable conversations.
Here are a few takeaways.

Make sure your husband loves you more than you love him. How many of you ever heard this advice eagerly and confidently shared? I definitely did, and I actually remember that I thought it made sense when I was a young girl. I mean, of course, everyone knows that women love harder than men, and the only way to make sure that we aren’t taken advantage of is to make sure a man loves us more than we love him. Right?
Actually, this advice is very fundamentally flawed, for the simple reason that levels of love and affection are never measurable. Who’s really to say who loves whom more? Plus, the reality is that, in marriage, the love meter is really never stable. One week, one-half of the unit might put in 70% of the effort, while the other puts in only 30%. The next week, the roles might be completely reversed. It’s a constant dance that continually changes and evolves.
The only things you really have in your marriage are your children. This particular advice is sad, but understandable. It is often shared by women who have been hurt deeply, often even betrayed and physically abused by their husbands. They learned the hard way that marriages can turn sour, be destructive and devastating, and sources of deep pain. And they are right! Domestic violence and total disrespect are downright despicable!
However, to go into marriage, for the sole purpose of having and nurturing children can be problematic. Apart from losing out on the joy that the sweetness (and challenges) of marriage can bring, children reared in environments devoid of love, partnership, and true friendship are certainly not getting the ideal arrangement. No one should ever get married with such low expectations that they expect that their children will be the only solace they have.
All men cheat! This one has been said by women of all cultures everywhere at all times in history. LOL. Of course, it’s not true. Do a lot of men cheat? Absolutely! However, do all men cheat? Absolutely not! Expecting the man you marry to cheat on you, and taking a “boys will be boys” approach to things is definitely not my cup of tea.
What say you? What bits of marriage advice have you heard, that you hear often but just don’t agree with? 

The Perfect Pre-Valentine’s Day Project: Why I Chose You

We’re right in the thick of Valentine‘s season: full of teddy bears, syrupy-sweet chocolate-covered strawberries, cards, and gifts galore. Oh, let’s not forget the flowers, of course – that’s just not done. ;)
In the midst of all the inevitable buying and “guilting” and endless anticipation, let’s not forget that this day is supposed to be a reminder of real love. Rather than a love that is insanely commercialized and overtly superficial, it should be a reminder of a love that flows deeply, and has roots & an anchor.

The reality is that truly loving someone can be tough, and when that love becomes a commitment to forever via marriage, it can be even tougher. That’s because life is tough: we have ups and downs, tons of never-ending responsibilities, pride and egos, differences in opinion, and just plain fatigue at the end of most days. It’s easy to get dissatisfied and forget why you ended up with this person next to you, in the first place. Why can’t he just be this way? Why can’t she just do that? Sometimes, we just need to take some time to remember ….
Remember those dating & courtship moments when you just knew this was the one for you?
Remember why you singled him out, among all the other options you had?
Remember when you looked at him, and knew that you would never regret saying, “I do” and “I will” – forever – to this person?
Maybe you do. Maybe you don’t. However, there’s no better time to stop and reflect on that.

Take some time this week to think about why you chose this person. Sometimes, our thoughts towards are spouses are so negative and full of resentment that we downplay the remarkable things about them that drew us like a moth to a flame – traits that are still there and have never changed.
If you want to take some time to simply reflect on those things each day this week, or write them down in your journal, it will be the perfect way to get your love right, during this season.
Doing this might even help in your quest for the perfect gift, or maybe you can make this the gift. A heartfelt “Why I Chose” you letter (or 3 or more) is sure to make your spouse’s heart shine, and be a reminder that you remember and that you still care.
Happy Valentine’s Season, Lovers. Here’s to a love that’s real, solid, and rooted. :)

 

{Image via s2smagazine}

MUST-WATCH: Nicole Ari Parker, Boris Kodjoe, and Mara & Salim Akil Get REALLY Candid about Marriage

For a while now, I’ve been thinking about how to write about loving marriages authentically on Love. ‘n words. I’ve been thinking about how to do away with the fluff, and get down into the substance of what great marriages look like. Great marriages don’t just happen – and, of course, they are never perfect. Like any great thing in life, they require consistent work and nurturing: a life-changing plant that will most certainly wither if it isn’t watered, pruned, and treated as something valuable. Just like our own lives as individuals are amazing, constantly evolving journeys that require attention and care, marriages are just like that. They are full of two individuals making a commitment to become a single unit – a decision that is, unavoidably, sometimes rife with friction, disagreements, and compromise.

I came across this truly INCREDIBLE and very, very transparent video, featuring husband and wife duos, Boris Kodjoe & Nicole Ari Parker, and Salim & Mara Akil. In a 2013 event organized by BET called BET Experience: Couples Revealed, the couples talk extremely honestly about what it takes to make their marriages work, issues they are working on and those they’ve overcome, and the journeys they’ve taken to get to where they are today.

Among other things, Boris & Nicole (who’ve been married since 2005) talked about the need to go to therapy individually before the official start of their relationship, because they were determined not to bring past baggage into a relationship they knew was very very special. They also shared the realities of raising a child with special needs (Their 9-year-old daughter, Sophie, was born with a neural tube defect called spina bifida.) Additionally, they talked about how their backgrounds created baggage in their lives, and how they worked to move past them.

 

Salim & Mara Akil were just as open and transparent. If you don’t know this very inspiring couple, I guarantee that you know their work. The couple, married since 1999, are the owners of Akil Productions (formerly Happy Camper Productions), and are behind some of the biggest small & big screen hits. Mara is the creator of the defunct Girlfriends, the former CW-turned-BET favorite, The Game, and the BET runaway-hit drama series, Being Mary Jane, starring Gabrielle Union. They are also the writer-director team behind the Whitney Houston-executive produced Sparkle, and Salim was the director of romantic comedy, Jumping the Broom, among other things. As black showrunners in Hollywood, they are paving the way for so many.

Salim & Mara talk about the power of communication in their relationship, and the realization that they had to decide what worked for their own marriage, instead of comparing it to others’ or taking in outside expectations. (I thought this was a particularly powerful assertion.)
Boris & Salim also talked candidly about the work they had to do individually, as men who grew up without fathers, that prepared them to take on marriage and fatherhood successfully.

There’s SO much substance in this video, that I know it’ll be a gem, whether you’re single or married.

Sadly, I’ve had so much trouble embedding this video. It just won’t work for some reason. So, I’ve inserted the direct link to the video below. Please watch, enjoy, and come back and leave some comments.
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day and its (often) over-celebration of commercialism and fluff, let’s dig a little deeper and learn how to work on a love that is solid and lasting. <3

Direct Link: 

http://www.bet.com/video/betawards/2013/bet-experience/exclusives/bet-revealed-couples-revealed.share.html

The Journey to Beautiful Series: Glory Edozien

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.


Glory Edozien

NAME: Glory Edozien
AGE: 33

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN/HERITAGE: Nigeria
LOCATION: Lagos, Nigeria 
WHY YOU HAVE TO KNOW HER: Glory Edozien is what you’d call a walking, talking breath of fresh air. In the current climate of the pursuit of superficiality and trivial things, Glory has made it her life’s mission to empower and inspire women. Through her show, The Inspire Series by Glory Edozien, her goal is to “empower women to love, live, pray, and be inspired.” Featuring guests that make you listen, think, and believe, as well as original articles, she’s certainly on course to fulfill her mission.

Glory’s openness in sharing the challenges she faces, while living with severe psoriasis (a skin condition), especially in a country with Nigeria, are just as inspiring as she is.

As if that weren’t enough, she’s also a superhero in her day job. As a Project Coordinator for Enviro Africa, she is part of a team of individuals at the forefront of the fight against climate change – working on environmental sustainability and emissions reductions.

Glory Edozien is the Real Deal!


Glory Edozien

WHO DO YOU SAY YOU ARE? 

I am Glory. Compassionate, complicated, disorganized and completely in love with love. God chaser, who too often falls short; daddy and mummy’s baby; day dreamer, and dream chaser. I want to know God’s purpose for me and fulfill that purpose. I am a woman constantly on a journey of self-discovery and self-love. Both sad and happy movies make me cry; and I am a complete foodie.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PHYSICAL FEATURES?

I guess my lips and hips. Sometimes, my eyes and teeth.

WHAT NON-PHYSICAL TRAITS DO YOU MOST LOVE ABOUT YOURSELF?

My heart. I think it is my strongest feature and my strongest flaw. It is so emotive, quick to anger, quick to love and quick to forgive. It is resilient and, at the same time, tender. It is the driver of all I am.

WHAT PHYSICAL AND NON-PHYSICAL TRAITS HAVE YOU MOST STRUGGLED TO ACCEPT? HAVE YOU OVERCOME THAT STRUGGLE?   HOW?

My weight and skin is a constant battle. I think the reason behind that is my constant need for external validation. Being overweight with dark blemishes on your skin is definitely not the #flawless look you want to see in the mirror, or that you want others to see of you. Some days, I think I have overcome the struggle; on other days, I fail completely. But more recently, I have been redefining what beauty means to me. It hasn’t been easy, but I have had to look inwards to redefine my perception of self and stop waiting for others to tell me who I am. That means if I say I am beautiful, then no one’s opinion on the matter [counts]. It is a constant pull-and-tug between the need for external acceptance and internal validation. But I think the struggle will be worth it.

As regards non-physical traits, I wish I was better organized and not too much of a procrastinator. I wish I was able to be less judgmental of people and focus on the good in them, because, sometimes, it’s all too easy to see people’s flaws instead of yours. What I do now is anytime I am tempted to be judgmental about someone, I remember how imperfect I am.

I also try to keep a to-do list but, sometimes, it gets lost!

Glory Edozien

 

 

HOW HAS YOUR FATHER INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU SEE YOURSELF?

I am the poster child for the original daddy’s girl. My dad is one of my best friends and quite literally my hero. When I see myself through my father’s eyes I see a girl with big ambitions and dreams who is capable of achieving them. I see a headstrong, intelligent, and passionate person. My father’s belief in me is like a catapult. It makes me feel invincible but also quite humble. It’s like someone somewhere knows you like no one else and they are on the sidelines of your life, shouting your name and praying for you. It makes you super grateful and determined not to let them down.

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST FEARS?

Being 80 and having regrets of not living my life my way. Dying and realizing I didn’t do any of the things God wanted me to. My parents dying before I get married and have a child; that might really kill me.

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST JOYS?

My parents are the greatest gems in my life: the best ornaments and the perfect symbols of unconditional love.
My extended family: my cousins are like my sisters and best friends. They are my most trusted confidants and are ALWAYS there for me. Spending time with them gives me immeasurable joy.
The Inspire Series: I look at it and I am in awe that little ole Glory Edozien could step out and accomplish a dream. It makes me feel like I can live any dream I have.

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS?

I’d say my quest to find myself and knowing who I am is my greatest accomplishment. Recently, I learnt through one of the guests on my show how to redefine success. It isn’t about how many people notice what you are doing or how much money you make: it is setting out to do something and achieving it your way. This means your sense of validation comes from within. It isn’t about the external pomp and pageantry. This for me is such a great life lesson. Understanding what makes me happy and being able to pursue that relentlessly is the best accomplishment anyone can have.

Glory Edozien

 

 

WHEN DO YOU FEEL MOST BEAUTIFUL?

Ok, I will be honest here. I feel beautiful mostly when I have make up on and [am] dressed up. I also feel beautiful when I feel confident about myself and what I am saying. Recently, I have been trying to wear less make up and to concentrate on the non physical aspects of how I look and feel…but Rome was not built in a day.

Generally though, I feel beautiful when I smile. Especially when that smile is completely genuine.

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR OWN VERSION OF “BEAUTIFUL”?

A woman is beautiful when she knows who she is and doesn’t need anyone to validate her. I believe a true sense of beauty comes from within. Beauty is about innate qualities like compassion, kindness, strength and passion. It is when these internal qualities shine through that a woman’s beauty is truly visible.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO STAY BEAUTIFUL, AS YOU’VE DEFINED IT?

For me, 80% of beauty, if not more, is internal. That also means beauty can be personal and individual. I am constantly on a journey of self-discovery. Understanding who I am and what makes me happy and fulfilled. This helps me become confident, less judgmental, compassionate and accepting of others. It makes me set limits, boundaries and goals that are personal to me and evaluated by me alone. The more I can improve who I am inside and the better my internal qualities, the more beautiful my external.

WHICH “BEAUTIFUL” WOMEN INSPIRE YOU MOST?

I love Oprah’s authenticity, Lydia Sobogun’s spiritual maturity, my mother’s determination, Beyonce’s drive for perfection, Elaine Shobanjo’s kindness, Uche Pedro’s ability to bring out the best in the people who work for and with her…..the list is endless.

Glory Edozien 2

 


 

Watch Glory featured as the subject of her best friend (previous The Journey to Beautiful feature) Wana Uddobang‘s amazing documentary, Sensitive Skin, on living with severe psoriasis in Nigeria. 

 

Also, watch some of Glory’s amazing The Inspire Series webisodes. You’ll truly be inspired:

 

 


 

 

Stay updated with everything Glory & The Inspire Series. Follow her here:

 

Facebook: The Inspire Series by Glory Edozien

Instagram: inspiredbyglory

Twitter: @inspiredbyglory

Website: www.inspiredbyglory.com 

 

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