OITNB’s Danielle Brooks Pens Inspirational Letter to Her 15-Year-Old Self

Orange is the New Black’s Danielle Brooks writes a powerful letter to her 15-year-old self with some pretty great life lessons learned!

I’m really in love with Orange is the New Black‘s Danielle Brooks (who plays Taystee on the show). From the first time I saw her, I immediately connected to her. One, she was dark chocolate and cornbread fed like me, and seemed so confident in herself and what she had to offer. That inspired me to do the same. Two, she’s so incredibly talented, not only as an actress but a singer too! Three, she stands up for various causes, and encourages other women to love themselves.

But Danielle, like all of us, didn’t always have it so together. We all went through our rough teen years, and would go back and tell our younger selves so much if we could! Danielle penned a letter to her 15-year-old self for Refinery 29, explaining some of the things she wish she knew back then.

Check out some highlights from the letter below!

Why Danielle wished she had journaled throughout her life:

“You don’t know this yet, but one day you will write a book. The writing will be so much easier because you took a little extra time out of your day to journal. And when you get older, you’ll laugh at how boy-crazy you were and how many times you threatened to run away from home.

Danielle Brooks
Danielle Brooks / Refinery 29

On doing what you want to do regardless of other people’s opinions:

You really quit cheerleading because of how you felt you looked in your skirt? Okay! Never quit anything again because you’re scared of what others might think of you — unless you become a stripper, only exception. But even then, quit because you want to.

To never shy away from who you are:

“You are different, Danielle. You are not an ordinary 15 year old, and that is okay. That doesn’t make you better or less than anyone. But what you must not do is dim your light. You have a lot of love to give and believe it or not, it is not as easily accessible for others to give the same. People have a lot of hang ups that will make them guarded, but continue to operate out of love. It will always win.”

To cherish your family while you still can:

Keep up with your family. Pick up the phone as much as you can. Reach out as much as you can. They will be the only people that will consistently love you and be there through the good and the bad. Never stop praying for them.

Danielle ends the letter with one final good piece of advice. “One last thing, follow this mantra until your final year: Stay fearless and keep swimming,” she wrote.
I needed to read some of this right NOW!

Words of Wisdom: “Failure is the Mother of All Success”-Pitbull

Pitbull shares powerful words of wisdom on how failure ultimately leads to success!

Pitbull, Mr. Worldwide himself, had some very wise words regarding failure. In the short motivational video below,  he shared how failure truly is the mother of all success, citing popular figures like Michael Jordan and Walt Disney, who saw heartbreaking failure before becoming who they are known as today. He even spoke on his own experience as an artist, being told that he didn’t have hit records. Look at him now!

I watched this video and it definitely helped to push me through some recent rejection of my own. I really used to fear failure and rejection. So much so, that I wouldn’t even risk going after new things or networking with people to grow my career. Nobody likes failure, but failure is necessary in life. We might hate to hear it, but it’s true. Failure shows you where you still have room for improvement. Failure, if you have the right mindset, pushes you to keep going until you succeed. Failure ultimately gives you a greater appreciation for the wins that come later!

Check out Pitbull’s powerful words below!

How Monica The Medium Helped Me Cope in Seasons of Loss

I finally saw Monica Ten-Kate (Monica the Medium) live, and she’s the real deal! Here’s how she’s helped me cope in my seasons of loss…

This post specifically is one of comfort for me as I still mourn losing loved ones. I hope it is for others who may have lost loved ones and are going through the grieving process. 

I remember once seeing a psychic/medium at a food and wine festival with my best friend. I kind of wanted to check the woman out, but my bestie absolutely refused. I got it; it’s not for everybody. Though I’ve never sat down and personally had a reading, that sort of thing never scared me, really. I find comfort in believing that those I’ve lost are in heaven watching over me. Crazy as it may sound, I believe that there are spirits all around us. I just choose to focus on the good ones.

Spirit medium Monica Ten-Kate does too, and shares her gift of spirit to help others whose loved ones have passed over. She even had a show on Freeform called Monica the Medium, which was sadly canceled late last year after just two seasons (for that dumb show featuring those twins from The Bachelor, which I heard was terrible BTW. Good job Freeform). But anyway, on the show, Monica would hear Spirit calling and give random readings to people who needed to hear from their loved ones the most, all while still trying to focus on school, her friends, and dating.

I thought the show was AMAZING, and it actually came at an emotional but perfect time for me. When the first season premiered in August 2015, I had just lost my Nana a few months before. By the time season 2 came out in April the next year, I had lost my Aunt Carissa too that January. Hearing Monica give her “messages from above,” to others, even through the TV, helped me to not only grieve, but gave me a strong sense of comfort and peace, knowing my loved ones were still around in spirit. I laughed, cried, and reflected on memories all while watching this show. Yes, a TV show was played a part of in my healing process. I’ll forever be grateful for that.

Others may think that, “This show was probably scripted. She’s just an actress and this is all fake,” or whatever, but I knew better. I had seen other mediums on TV, and didn’t feel they were genuine or truly caring, even if they did have this gift. Monica was different. She was always very warm and kind with her readings, and gives these great “hugs from heaven” afterward. Where others have been quite generic, Monica was very specific, pointing out things that no one could really know about other people’s families unless they actually knew this people beforehand. I picked up on good vibes, so I rocked with her from the get go.

But it was a TV show, so I told myself I needed to see her do her thing live. Seeing her in action for myself just last night confirmed that Monica’s the real deal. Though Monica lives in San Diego now, she’s actually from Northern Virginia, which isn’t too far from me. So I went to see her when she stopped in town on tour! She gave other people legitimate messages that gave them some closure, comfort and confirmation of the signs they were seeing around them that their loved ones were watching over them. So I wanted to share my experience with y’all.

I didn’t want to tell anyone really that I was going because I figured that they wouldn’t get it. With me being a Christian, often “mediums” and “psychics” are portrayed in the overall faith as some kind of crazy witchcraft and wizardry or something. I pick up on vibes well, and personally never got a bad feeling from Monica. I think she has a special gift that she uses to help others going through rough times in their seasons of loss. I don’t see anything evil or wrong in that at all.

I don’t want to get too in depth about other people’s readings, because I don’t think that’s not my right, but Monica was VERY specific and detailed about what was coming through from Spirit. She knew names, appearances, and other details about these people and their loved ones that she couldn’t have possibly known beforehand. I was tearing up and crying so much, I have a headache even now as I write this.  I literally had goosebumps as I watched her interact with people in the audience. Spirits sometimes overlapped each other at times, trying to get through to their loved ones, and Monica gave readings to two different sets of people simultaneously a few times throughout the night. There was even a special reading at the end with two couples who had both lost little girls, one of which Monica sees often in her day to day! These two little girls came together to speak to their parents, and I was in shock. It was super crazy and emotional, but wonderful at the same time.

monica the medium tweet

Even though I didn’t personally get a reading (which I was perfectly fine with), there were tiny things that Monica picked up on and said in other people’s readings that didn’t directly apply to them at that moment THAT APPLIED TO DIRECTLY TO MY AUNT I LOST. No lie. Monica had told us beforehand that spirits sometimes battle it out to get their messages through, and sometimes messages would be delivered that other people would connect to. That was me last night.

There was this one instance of two sisters getting a reading about a relative who had passed, where Monica asked if they knew someone named Anna. They didn’t. I do. My little cousin was named Anna at birth, but my aunt changed her name to BreAnna later. Later, another person had a father or brother who passed, and Monica saw her sign for a problem in the lungs. The man had passed from lung cancer but first had pneumonia before that. Shortly before she passed away, Aunt Carissa had had pneumonia herself, and ultimately developed blood clots in her lungs shortly after. The last little connection was during that last reading with the parents and the little girls I talked about. Monica mentioned something asking if one set of parents had a Christmas gift still wrapped for their little girl, who passed away from cancer almost a year ago. They said no. What’s crazy is that I have a Christmas gift for my aunt still wrapped that I keep near me! She had been admitted into the hospital for her blood clots shortly after Thanksgiving 2015. I was expecting her to get better, so I got her that gift to give her when she was discharged. Sadly, she never was, and passed on January 7, 2016.

Aunt Carissa and Nana
My Aunt Carissa and Nana

It was really small things like that, which may seem silly or generic to some, but too connected for me to ignore. Though I kind of wanted either my aunt or Nana to come through themselves, this made me feel like my aunt specifically was around. Before this, both my sister and I have had other spiritual and unexplained moments regarding both my aunt and Nana. My sister has seen what looks to be spirits or angels above her head a few times at night. I’ve smelled both my aunt and Nana’s perfumes in some instances at random. At times that I’ve been sad and emotional about losing my aunt specifically as suddenly as I did, a song from her favorite singer, Jennifer Hudson, will pop up on shuffle on my iPhone. I’ve had butterflies randomly fly around me quite a few times at their grave sites, and every month I’ve gone to visit since my Nana passed away, there’s always been this big gust of wind that hits me out of nowhere as I talk to them. Most of these signs, Monica admitted to the audience, are ways of loved ones trying to show us that they’re there! I got the chance also to actually meet Monica after the event, and she was so sweet. I definitely will be seeing her when she comes back again!

So I share all of this to say, for those like me who have lost people near and dear to your heart, they’re still around in spirit form. I believed that before, but I REALLY believe it now. Though life is not the same, and never will be, last night brought me great comfort and peace knowing that I’m not going crazy, that my aunt, Nana, and other people I’ve had to say goodbye to are really watching over me. We say that, and it’s become real cliché, but it’s true. So look out for the signs of your loved ones. You’re not losing your mind! Remember that they are there for you through it all, even though you can’t see them physically. Losing someone is something that you never really get over; it just becomes a little bearable as time goes on. Allow yourself to grieve, but find joy and comfort in the good times that you had with those you said goodbye to. 






I believe my best days are not behind me, but ahead of me, and I’m living and moving accordingly

It’s Monday, and I’m actually in a pretty good mood this morning! Tired as ever, but I’m good. Hope y’all are too! If not, here’s some #MondayMotivation to help shake off those blues a little bit! 

This was a major one for me, because I’ve been just going through the motions over the past few years. Every day is pretty much the same, especially when it comes to my 9-5. Because of all I have going on, I get tired REAL quick and shut myself in the house to decompress. I’ve spent more time with Netflix and Hulu rather than some of my actual friends, sad to say. Don’t get me wrong. I need that time alone to re-energize. I believe we all do. But often we get so caught up in our regular routines that we forget to actually enjoy the lives we have!

In 2017, I was determined that, for me, that would end. I would make more time to spend with family and friends, or do simple things for myself. I decided that I would get out of my house more and away from typing behind a computer screen, and make the most out of each day! I went to LA earlier in the year, and have quite a few more travel plans this year, and more events to go to. I’ve been picking up new skills. I’ve been trying to meet and connect with more people, and it’s all to get out of this “same old, same old” routine. It’s truly a choice to make the rest of your life great. I believe my best days are not behind me, but ahead of me, and I’m living and moving accordingly. I hope you do the same!

Your Delay Is Not a Denial

Finally learning to trust in the timing of life!

“Everything that you’re going through is preparing you for what you asked for.”

Today marks five years since I graduated from Loyola University Maryland. Facebook had all the pictures and videos waiting for me in “On This Day.” Definitely one of the proudest moments of my life. However, my high expectations that day in regards to my career and life were no where near what I got.

A part of what I’ve been through during these past five years, and am still going through, are seasons of delay. I mean, SERIOUS delays, or at least, I think so. There are so many things I want to accomplish and have been working at for quite a while, personally and professionally. After I graduated, I was unemployed for almost a year. When I got a job, it had nothing to do with media. It was literally taken out of desperation. The fact that I’m not writing full time yet still bothers me. I’m grateful for my accomplishments so far, but I still have a ways to go, and would be lying if I said I didn’t get discouraged. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t compare myself to people I went to school with, the opportunities they’ve received versus my own (Sidenote: comparison is the devil ugh. That’s another post coming soon). These periods of delay have had me questioning a lot, like if I’m truly meant to be a writer, or if I’m supposed to have and do other things.

You might be experiencing this too. You don’t understand why your blog hasn’t blown up, or why you haven’t been able to snag another job that fits what you’re passionate about. You might still be living at home while you see people buying houses and all that jazz (serious

So what’s probably the reason behind all these delays? You’re not ready.  That might be a hard pill to swallow, but it’s true. That’s what I’ve found. Case in point, my freelance writing. I’m blessed to at least have writing as a side hustle now, with quite a few websites under my belt.  But that’s now at 26. There’s no way I would’ve been able to manage all that I do at 21 when I first left Loyola. Why? I wasn’t disciplined enough. I wasn’t productive enough. I wasn’t hungry enough. I thought I was, but, looking back, mentally I wasn’t ready. I would’ve let stuff fall to the wayside. It wasn’t until I went without writing jobs for a while and couldn’t find other good opportunities, that I went for my goal even harder. Now that I have other opportunities, I make sure I work my tail off to keep them!

me 21
Me in my dorm about to go out for my 21st birthday…before selfie sticks

Another delay? My starting Imperfectly B. See, I tried my hand at this on the side when I was younger, while I was running my entertainment site, The Spotlight. I called myself attempting to give life lessons, but I hadn’t truly experienced life (good and bad) yet. I wasn’t disciplined and consistent enough with posting. I still had to become a stronger writer and more confident in my voice. If I had started this site instead of Spotlight when I was 18 or even 21, I KNOW I would’ve failed at it. Well, let me not be so negative. I don’t think I would’ve done as well. In fact, I tried my hand at writing a few personal blog posts for my portfolio website, and had to say, “Brittany girl, let’s not.” I wasn’t ready.

Let’s be real. For those who’ve experienced successes or new chances, whether it be at work, in love, or whatever, can you say that you would have done well at it a few years back? Were you ready then? Are you really ready now for all that you want? A lot of times, these delays are to help you grow and learn some hard lessons. That way when you do receive what you’re asking for, you’re actually ready to handle it! That way, you maybe even appreciate it more!

I know that now. I have learned to truly trust in the timing of my life. Your delay is not a denial. Your current circumstance is not your forever circumstance. Not if you don’t make it so with your own negativity! So, until the time comes for your purpose to be fulfilled, be comforted and stand strong in the fact, that all that you’re going through is simply to prepare you for what you wanted in the first place. Keep grinding!



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