Category Archives: News

15Mar/19
Anthony Trucks

Former NFL Player Anthony Trucks Explains How Self-Love Affects Your Service

Anthony TrucksAnthony Trucks is currently one of the few football players to complete an American Ninja Warrior gauntlet. At 225lbs he really wasn’t expected to complete the gauntlet because the people that are normally able to complete these obstacles are around 160lbs. He approached the obstacles at the event like he approaches life, looking to only to do his best and nothing more. Taji Mag was able to talk to the competitor and former NFL athlete about the importance of self-love, life shifts, and overcoming obstacles as a current self-help coach, influencer, and inspirational speaker.

“Sometimes it takes years to really grasp what has happened to your life.” – Wilma Rudolph

Dapper Dr. Feel (DDF): What is an Identity Shift?

Anthony Trucks (AT): “We have a lot of things that vastly change in life, things like relationships, income, family, and self-image. Along with that is what we desire to change and that change comes from not only our mindset and habits but our identity as well. When our identity becomes dialed into where you want it to be, the mindset and habits will fall into place smoothly. I believe that when you have identity anchors in place, life becomes easier and smooth.

We as individuals want more. More love, more freedom, more time, etc. But we want these things without changing our routines or schedule. Life doesn’t work that way. I think the desire for change came through the desire to want.

I’m always looking back at my life to evaluate my desire for that certain period and time. At that point I was thinking about why I wanted to close my gym, why I didn’t do anymore consulting or guest speaking. Well, about two years ago I decided that the last thing I want to be on my deathbed is the person I could’ve been.

DDF:  What gave you the strength you needed during your childhood?

AT: Being a kid, you know no other option. For me, I started to grow into my conscious mind as a young fostered child. I knew no better nor examined the difference between my self and other kids until I was exposed to more things. It is then I began to question “Why don’t I have new clothes or why are there holes in my shoes?” I was lucky enough to have a caring foster family to get me through difficult times in my life. The other thing that helped was that I had people outside of my family who helped facilitate me into programs and spoke positivity into me.

“Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.” -Muhammad Ali

DDF: What allowed you to move into your calling and current position after your career ending injury?

AT: The change from my NFL life was one of the big identity teachers for me, I think it’s a good teacher for anybody. I think what we do is what we become, much like if a person at a young age swings a bat every day, often times they become a baseball player. This happens to athletes and some people in the military. When you are an athlete, you base your sense of self-worth and guidance on this thing you do, but when the thing you do (career or activity)  is no more, you don’t know who you are.

I was smart enough to know that there may be an asterisk on the future of my football career, so I took care of my academics and made sure I graduated. When I came home, I started to figure out who I was because my life went from everyone wanting to talk to me and have me sign stuff to not even knowing my name because I didn’t play anymore due to my injury. That is definitely a difficult transition.

Anthony Trucks

I had to find a way to re-direct my energy into finding that new thing that made me feel as if I mattered. It helps me more when I find things that will help other people.

“We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.” – Maya Angelou

DDF: Where did this re-directing of energy take you?

AT: I decided that I wanted to use my kinesiology degree to open a gym. There was a drawback, however. I became hyper-focused on the gym. At the same time, I had a family – wife and kids – but I neglected them all with my focus being to maintain and build this gym. Thinking that if I had this thriving business then it would be best for my kids but all they wanted was quality time with me, money or not.

DDF: How do you use self-love to be the best version of yourself?

AD: The reason that I am able to serve at a high level is that I love me. When you love someone, you not only tell them that you love them but you love them with action. You don’t want to let that person that you love down, no matter who it is. Yet, we don’t take this same perspective and reflect it internally.

We eat a crappy meal during a diet, we miss a workout, we don’t make phone calls to people to help ourselves, or we don’t chase a dream. It is during these times that you are not doing actions of love to the person you need to do it for the most and therefore you don’t show up. That makes you feel like you are not deserving and when you feel that way, you don’t put things out into the world. Self-love affects your service for sure.

DDF: You have a wonderful family and of course you are full of good advice. What advice do you give your children?

AT: It’s a daily conversation with my kids. As children get into their teens, they seek freedom, they seek autonomy. Freedom is like value. It’s like giving a kid $20 million dollars, if you don’t have experience then you will burn through it.

In regards to adults, freedom is you get to make the choices you want to make but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about responsible decisions.

I teach my kids how to be responsible and, with that, explain how this approach will allow them to attain any goal.

Anthony Trucks

Check Anthony Trucks via social media and follow up on his TV appearances on American Ninja Warrior and more here!

21Feb/19
Growing Up Immigrant

Series, Growing Up Immigrant, Explores the Dynamics of a First-Gen Ghanaian-American

Growing Up Immigrant is a 6-episode cultural comedy and web series that explores the dynamics of first-generation, Ghanaian-American millennial, Nicholas Aajayi, as he navigates his career and romantic life while adjusting to living with his more “traditional” aunty. This series travels through so many cultural stigmas, most that people are silent about or choose to turn a blind eye towards.

Growing Up ImmigrantGrowing Up Immigrant’s creator, writer, co-director, and lead actor, Nathaniel Kweku, is American born but grew up going to Ghana every few years and recognized some strong cultural misunderstandings between Africans and African-Americans. As a first-generation Ghanaian-American, he understood the dynamics of both sides and became passionate about helping to spread cultural healing. Inspired by legendary African leaders and activists such as Kwame Nkrumah, Fela Kuti, Jomo Kenyatta, and Steven Biko, Nathaniel believes that more holistic African stories are needed to heal the wounds of colonialism and slavery.

The series takes a comedic approach, in the beginning, joking about who makes better Jollof between Ghana and Nigeria but eventually leads us straight into the unjustified murders of unarmed Black men in America. Along the journey, we experience what it’s like to be an undocumented immigrant, an elder African woman who is interested in dating but fears she is no longer desired, a millennial African woman who can’t find a man (particularly not an African one) to match her success who isn’t loving a white woman (Sidebar: she needs some restitution in a spin-off series), a Black man with a record from crimes he didn’t commit who cannot find a decent job due to said criminal record, dating a white partner who doesn’t understand… well… anything, and so much more. Watch it for yourself and let us know what you think in the comments.

19Feb/19
High-End Black Designer

50+ High-End Black Designer Brands Across the Diaspora to Support Instead of…

High-end Black designer brands have existed for decades, yet we often look to the colonizers to flex our style. No more. Here are some extremely amazing brands with high-quality products to fill your closet listed in alphabetical order. Let us know your favs!

High-End Black Designer

Adele Dejak | AdeleDejak.com | @AdeleDejak
Adele Dejak The Brand is home to luxurious African inspired jewelry handcrafted in the heart of Kenya. Everything comes from materials that different African tribes would use to make their ornaments and trinkets. We have contemporary, artistic and wearable bags, necklaces, earrings, rings and bracelets not forgetting some exclusive home decor items. If you consider yourself sophisticated, edgy, trendy and fashionable, Adele Dejak is the brand for you.

High-End Black Designer

Adoni MMVII | AdoniNYC.com | @AdoniNYC
Signature products, apparel, and accessories.

High-End Black Designer Brands

Ainsley & Troupe | AinsleyAndTroupe.com | @AinsleyAndTroupe
Ainsley & Troupe believes there aren’t many things in life (aside from a strong spiritual foundation) that gives a man confidence and a sense of purpose quite like being well-dressed does. Their aim is to equip men with the sartorial tools they need to exude confidence and remain purpose-filled throughout their everyday lives.

High-End Black Designer

Andrea IyamahAndreaIyamah.com | @AndreaIyamah 
Andrea Iyamah, owned by Nigerian fashion designer Dumebi Iyamah, is a clothing line strongly inspired by color and ethnic cultures. Although Andrea Iyamah is popularly recognized for its eccentric and unique take on swimwear, using vibrant colors and cuts inspired by an array of African cultures, the brand also specializes in ready-to-wear and custom made special event dresses.

High-End Black Designer

Armando Cabral | Armando-Cabral.com | @armando_cabral
Founded in 2008 by Portuguese model and designer Armando Cabral, Armando Cabral was established to offer premium footwear and accessories that reflect and support modern living. Inspired by timeless design, easy elegance and luxurious comfort, the brand merges minimalism with intricate details and innovative technical construction. From loafers and derby shoes, to boots and sneakers, each style is crafted from premium leather and made by Italy’s finest artisans, creating new classics designed for every occasion.

High-End Black Designer

ASHYA | Ashya.Co | @Ashya.Co
ASHYA is a Brooklyn-based design label featuring exclusively belt bags and travel-friendly accessories made for the modern day explorer. The brand aims to unify function and style through its purposeful designs. The contemporary design label reinvents a staple style by offering an unconventional and reimagined look on luxury belt bags. The brand emerged as an “ode to exploration” and pays homage to effortless movement. The thoughtfully crafted accessories are designed to fill the gap in the traveler of today’s arsenal of timeless pieces.

High-End Black Designer

Brother Vellies | BrotherVellies.com | @BrotherVellies
Brother Vellies was founded by Aurora James with the goal of introducing the rest of the world to her favorite traditional African footwear, while also creating and sustaining artisanal jobs within Africa. Handmade in South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya and Morocco, Brother Vellies creates boots, shoes, and sandals in styles that maintain the spirit and durability of their ancestral counterparts.

High-End Black Designer

Christie Brown | ChristieBrownOnline.com | @ChristieBrown 
Luxury Ghanian fashion brand.

High-End Black Designer

Claude Lavie Kameni | LavieByCK.com | @LavieByCK
The Life of Fashion and Beauty. Celebrity Designer, originally from Cameroon, currently based in the D(M)V and Los Angeles.

High-End Black Designer

CUSHNIE | Cushnie.com | @Cushnie
CUSHNIE is a luxury women’s ready-to-wear and accessories brand designed by Carly Cushnie. At the helm of her namesake label as CEO and Creative Director, Carly Cushnie sets forth with a mission to empower women, and to celebrate diversity and inclusion in all aspects of the business.

High-End Black Designer

Dleak Leather Bowties | DleakLeatherBowties.com | @dleakbowties
Dleak Leather Bow-ties is a NewYork-based brand with a collection of handmade leather bow-ties and accessories. Each bow-tie is customized for each individual.

High-End Black Designer

Fe Noel | FeNoel.com | @FeNoel
“Eat well, travel often, and dress to inspire!”…In other words, make life beautiful. This is the philosophy behind the Brooklyn based, womenswear brand Fe Noel. The label’s founder, Felisha “Fe” Noel, is deeply influenced by her Grenadian heritage and has mastered the ability to bottle up culture and glamour infused with sensibility and sensuality.

High-End Black Designer

FEAR OF GODfearofgod.com | @fearofgod.com
American Luxury.

High-End Black Designer

Felix Asuquo | @Fai_World
Bespoke fashion brand based in Lagos.

High-End Black Designer

FemiHandbags | FemiHandbags.com | @FemiHandBags
Colourful. Eclectic. These are the trademarks of FemiHandbags, an African handbags and accessories brand that embodies the exuberant approach to life of its founder, Femi Olayebi.

High-End Black Designer

FRÈRE | FrereNY.com | @MusikaFrere
FRÈRE is the new voice of modern fashion. With an obsessive focus on fit and fabrication, the FRÈRE brand elevates classic silhouettes with extensive experience in bespoke suiting. FRÈRE brings the expertise forward to express a continuation of this vision of an expansion into a fashion house with the offerings of ready-to-wear collections and accessories with a global presence. All of FRÈRE’s garments are hand-made by the finest artisans in the world using the most luxurious materials.

High-End Black Designer

Hanifa | Hanifa.co | @HanifaOfficial
Hanifa is a Ready-to-Wear (RTW) designer line which features contemporary apparel for women. Feminine with chic simplicity, Hanifa features an array of styles, colors, textures, and exclusive patterns that cater to a woman’s body. Hanifa targets your everyday hardworking, bold and beautiful woman who embodies class and a subtle edge.

High-End Black Designer Brands

Haus of Falenci’ago | HausofFalenciago.schedulista.com | @HausOfFalenciago
Specializing in Red Carpet Fashion.

High-End Black Designer

Hideoki Bespoke | HideokiBespoke.com
Born of traditional craftsmanship, infused with an innovative style, and personalized to express the client’s individuality, a Hideoki Bespoke garment enhances every client’s lifestyle.

High-End Black Designer

Ites International | ItesInternational.com | @ItesInt
Caribbean-born, but raised in New York, Sequoia’s journey to Jamaica and her exposure to Reggae, Rastafari, and the African culture inspired her to launch the ITES INTERNATIONAL label.

High-End Black Designer

John Ashford Shoes | AuthenticByJohnAshford.com | @JohnAshfordShoes
John Ashford is a New York Shoe designer and published visual artist and photographer who hand makes his shoes.

High-End Black Designer

LaQuan Smith | LaQuanSmith.com | @LaQuanSmith
LaQuan Smith, born in Queens, New York, has cultivated an equally dynamic private order clientele which spans the globe from Lagos to London. Smith’s unapologetically glamorous aesthetic has also been tapped by world­ recognized brands.

High-End Black Designer

Laurence Basse | LaurenceBasse.com | @laurencebasse
Project Runway Finalist with an excellent aesthetic.

High-End Black Designer

lemlemlemlem.com | @lemlemofficial
lemlem is an artisan-driven collection of women’s, men’s, children’s and home goods made entirely in Africa. Supermodel Liya Kebede was inspired to launch the brand following a trip to her native Ethiopia where she met a group of traditional weavers who no longer had a market for their craft.

High-End Black Designer

Made Leather Co. | MadeLeatherCo.com
A leather goods brand that inspired the avid traveler and stylish business person to create a brand for the same. Handcrafted bags for any occasion or no occasion at all.

High-End Black Designer

Mantsho | Mantsho.co | @PalesaMokubung
Mantsho” is a Sesotho name meaning “A Beautiful Complexion” a clothing label that was established by Palesa Mokubung in 2004. Palesa zooms in on African materials and cleverly transforms them into modern and edgy designs incorporating fine silks and woven fabrics to end up with a 100% Mantsho garment.

High-End Black Designer

Mifland | Mifland.com | @MiflandBrand
Mifland Leather Goods is an American based mixed accessory goods company with a modern utilitarian approach. The collections are defined by Mifland’s signature architectural inspired bold design and attention to detail, with an emphasis on durability and unique use of colors and heavyweight leather.

Milano Di Rouge | MilanoDiRouge.com | @MilanoDiRouge
Milano Di Rouge, LLC is an apparel brand that focuses on providing luxury to the fashion enthusiast. Owned, operated and founded by Milan Rouge, the message the brand promotes is Making Dreams Reality.

High-End Black Designer

MWR Collection | MWRCollection.com | @MWRCollection
MWR Collection is a luxury lifestyle brand that is bold, distinctive, and connected. The masterful hands of our Creative Director, Mia Wright-Ross, and our experienced artisans work to massage a true connection of design, creation, and human kinship within each customizable work. The brand seeks to bring back a sense of human nature and character to each individual product.

High-End Black Designer

Negash | Negash83.com | @Negash83
The name Negash is of African Amharic and Tigrinya origin. The meaning of Negash is “in line to be king”. Negash is generally used as a boy’s name. It consists of 6 letters and 2 syllables and is pronounced Ne-gash.

High-End Black Designer

Nene-YayaNene-Yaya.afrikrea.com/en | @neneyayahb
Stylish Clothing, Accessories, and Home Decor from Senegal

High-End Black Designer

No Tribe Clothing | NoTribeClothing.com | @notribeclothing 
LA Based, print-inspired brand.

High-End Black Designer

Nubian SkinNubianSkin.com | @NubianSkin
A nude bra and skin tone hosiery are the basics of every woman’s wardrobe, at least in theory. For many women of colour, finding suitable skin-tone hosiery and lingerie has not been an option. Frustrated by the lack of skin-tone choices to go with her ever-expanding wardrobe, Nubian Skin founder, Ade Hassan, decided it was time for ‘a different kind of nude’.

High-End Black Designer

Off-WhiteOff—White.com | @off____white
This luxury streetwear label was founded by Abloh in 2012. The range of items includes markers, leather goods, shoes, purses, belts, and pants.

High-End Black Designer

Olori | BeOlori.com | @beolori
Olori means “Queen” in the Yoruba language, which symbolizes every girl’s inherent worth and power. We make handbags that make women feel strong, confident, and secure. We work with artisans and women-owned businesses to help preserve unique craftsmanship and regain influence in a woman-driven industry. Every product sold provides tuition fees for an underprivileged girl.

High-End Black Designer

Orijin Culture | OrijinStore.com | @orijinculture
Orijinal’ Design, Culturally inspired. A brand creating a unique culture lifestyle through African inspired fashion. Although Orijin is Afro-centric in nature, our themes are universal. An Eclectic brand fusing creative, modern, ambitious and “orijinality”.

High-End Black Designer

Oudyk | Oudyk.com | @oudyk_
Offers a garment that is an extension of your personality. Cuts minimalist and sophisticated outfits that will enhance you. Garments made in Mali.

High-End Black Designer

Ozwald Boateng | OzwaldBoateng.co.uk | @Ozwald_Boateng
Ozwald Boateng’s design evokes the essence of a man’s spirituality and character through the enhancement of the physical being. The acknowledgment that style is an extension of one’s self culminates in the wearer having their own voice. The quintessential cut. A thought, a revolution, detail, concentration, pushing the craft of bespoke tailoring further. Crisp and structured, exquisite artistry, innovative classicism. Our secret, uniquely Boateng.

High-End Black Designer

Paul Elle | PaulElle.com | @paulelle
Celebrating African Craft. Shoes, Bags,
Dakar – Paris -Montreal – Worldwide Shipping

High-End Black Designer

Pyer Moss | PyerMoss.com | @PyerMoss
Pyer Moss was founded in 2013 by Kerby Jean-Raymond. Jean-Raymond describes the brand as an “art project” or “a timely social experiment” at times. Pyer Moss aims to use its voice and platform to challenge social narratives and evoke dialogue. Pyer Moss continues to redefine itself every season with collections and runways that combine storytelling, activism, debate, theatre, and social commentary; all while using collaboration with artists and brands as a medium to further the dialogue around seasonal themes.

High-End Black Designer

Romeo Hunte | RomeoHunte.com | @RomeoHunte
Romeo Hunte New York is a definitive lifestyle brand created for all women who appreciate intricate details. Designed in New York City, the line embodies an aesthetic that is cool, conservative and intricate with a balance of feminine and masculine. The brand emphasizes on impeccable outerwear that is practical such as the signature cashmere shearling hood shawl that is one of the core elements of Romeo Hunte the brand.

High-End Black Designer

Southern Gents | S-Gents.com | @S_Gents
We strongly believe the characteristics of a true Gent, Southern or otherwise, include but also expand beyond the execution of style and eloquence alone. Through the delivery of a wide array of enlightening information, contemporary yet classic style accessories, along with hosting of dynamic & inspiring events, an ambition to unite Gents around the world regardless of age, ethnicity, religion or disability has begun. The intent of such efforts consists of bringing about the re-emergence of strong positive community leaders, responsible for administering the common good in all aspects of life.

High-End Black Designer

T-Michael | T-Michael.com | @tmichael_bergen
T-MICHAEL is a bespoke tailor/ designer /artist with a conceptual approach to men’s tailoring inspired by his love of sartorial traditions and his passionate quest for a different narrative within tailoring, design and creativity, to celebrate stylistic and cultural diversities present in today’s zeitgeist. He is known for his meticulous attention to detail and for his garments’ impeccable construction.

High-End Black Designer

Talley & Twine | TalleyAndTwine.com | @TalleAndTwine 
Talley & Twine was created after realizing that most watch companies just emulated the most popular brands. Their goal was to create a quality, detailed, attention-grabbing timepiece. They like to operate outside of the “norms” and away from the long-standing gatekeepers of the watch industry.

High-End Black Designer

Tsemaye Binitie | TsemayeBinitie.com@TsemayeBinitie
Tsemaye Binitie is a contemporary fashion label characterized by exquisite clothing encapsulating a love of luxury and innovative design, specialising in cutting edge advanced contemporary ladies-wear that combines functionality with high design content. Meticulous cut, indulgent fabrics and sartorial construction permeate the delivery of sharp, refined and timeless pieces. The pieces will feature dynamic, draped and body conscious silhouettes with a deep desire to communicate a new sense of elegance and modern glamour.

High-End Black Designer

Undra CelesteUndraCelesteNY.com | @Love_UCNY
Contemporary Clothing for the Modern Woman.

High-End Black Designer

Uniquelywiredm | Uniquelywiredm.com | @Uniquelywiredm
Uniquely Wired M. jewelry is essential to every King and Queen’s trove of fine pieces. From rings to bracelets, crowns to vests, everything is designed to revitalize and re-imagine the feeling of individual strength and style.

High-End Black Designer

Wales Bonner | WalesBonner.net
Informed by broad research that encompasses critical theory, composition, literature, and historical sources, WALES BONNER explores a distinctive notion of luxury via a hybrid of European and African approaches.

High-End Black Designer

Waraire BoswellWaraireBoswell.com | @WaraireBoswell
The WARAIRE BOSWELL brand has been synonymous with attention to detail, proper fit, style, taste level, and innovation.

High-End Black Designer

Vitae London | VitaeLondon.com | @VitaeLondon
Vitae London is a watch brand based in London, England. Vitae combines classic and beautiful design with social justice. Pairing minimalist concepts with stylish modernity, their watches are subtle, yet slim, sophisticated timepieces suited to everyone.

High-End Black Designer

Yvonne Jewnell New York | YvonneJewnellDesigns.com | @YvonneJewnellNY
Yvonne Jewnell New York is an award-winning women’s wear company that creates clothing that promotes women empowerment and celebrates culture from across the globe. Owned by a mother-daughter team, YJNY creates garments with an ethnically inspired message of overcoming obstacles and revitalizing strength.

High-End Black Designer

ZAAF® | ZaafCollection.com | @ZaafCollection
ZAAF is a collection of premium leather goods and accessories handcrafted by artisans in Ethiopia. ZAAF is a word that means “tree” in the ancient and noble Amharic language. We offer a broad range of fashion accessories for women and men including handbags, weekend and travel accessories, scarves, leather jackets and more.

Post others in the comments and we’ll add them! Many thanks to @NewVisionAfro for making us aware of most of these brands!

15Feb/19

Mercy Baez Embraces Women Empowerment This Black History Month

Mercy Baez is a women’s advocate for domestic violence and, through her artistry of performing and motivational speaking, she tells her stories of woman empowerment and survival. She’s a freestyle dancer, spoken word artist, actress, and model. Creating her own concepts for her projects allows Mercy to help uplift and motivate women.
Photo: Royal | Mercy Baez @Lordda_mercy; Photographer | @ukayhip_photography;
MUA | @Iamlee__; Styling | @Eldiorsodeckdesign
Mercy Baez Mercy Baez Mercy Baez Mercy Baez Mercy Baez Mercy Baez
09Feb/19
Etymology of Self-Love

The Etymology of Self-Love

Etymology of Self-LoveLove. Throughout the ages, sages, philosophers, and religious teachers have proclaimed it as the greatest of virtues. In 1 Corinthians, we learn that faith, hope, and love are to be extolled, but love supersedes all. Surah 14 commands us to fill the hearts of man with love. In the Madhurashtakam, Lord Krishna urges us to do everything with “love, compassion, humility, and devotion” in our hearts. Countless axioms prompt us to love our fellow man; but what do they say of loving ourselves? Must we love and value ourselves to best be a servant and light to the world? Are we not called to love our neighbors, as we love ourselves? The wisdom of the ancient world tells us it is equally as important to be good to ourselves as it is to do well by others. Today, this philosophy has a name: self-love. The American Heritage Dictionary defines self-love as “the instinct or desire to promote one’s own well-being” or “regard for or one’s self.” This, of course, is simply a connotation. But what is the origin of “self-love”? Who was the first to espouse its tenants and give it a name? Has the quest for self-love always been a journey to securing our own happiness? Through etymology, one can dig deep to answer these questions and gain more insight into self-love.

One might be surprised to learn that “self-love” was originally synonymous with selfishness and vanity, as noted in the first Americanized edition of Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases (1965). But this idea goes back much further. Greek philosopher Plato said to avoid the “excesses of self-love”, while Roman statesman Cicero considered self-love or sui amantes sine rivali to be a great sin and a sure path to doom and folly. Francis Bacon builds on Cicero’s 1 perspective in his essay “Of Wisdom for a Man’s Self” when he says “it is the nature of extreme self-lovers, as they will set a house on fire, and it was but to roast their eggs.” With this notion, self-love could easily be viewed as a precursor to narcissism.

However, Aristotle, a student of Plato, rejected this notion. In Nicomachean Ethics, he notes that while self-love can represent selfishness, it can also be the love of ourselves in striving for “moral nobility”. That is, the best kind of self-love is that which comes from our ability to love others. This is akin to the message in Leviticus 9:17, where Moses wrote that we should “love thy neighbor as we love ourselves”. Key to this directive is loving and honoring ourselves — not in selfishness, but in seeking the greater good for man.

Today, most understand self-love to be an affirming of one’s own happiness, thanks in part to the works of German psychologist Erich Fromm. In The Art of Loving, Fromm reminds us that if an individual is able to love productively, he loves himself too; if he can love only others, he cannot love at all” (1956, 55-56). Not only does he reject the notion that self-love is selfishness, but then goes to say that they are opposites. This seems to jive with what the ancients taught — it seems as if Fromm is reminding us that it is both good and necessary to value ourselves. This is not vanity, but rather a tool of survival. Particularly in a world in which we are encouraged to meet standards of beauty and success that are far-removed from ourselves. True success is the love of self rivaling the love of others happiness; and happiness can only come from self-love. With this as our foundation, we can then go out and heal through the power of lovem — both others and ourselves.

Etymology of Self-Love

Author, Brittany Selah Lee-Bey

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Works Cited
Aristotle (340 BC). Nicomachean Ethics (H.Rackham, Trans). Hertfordshire: Wordworths
Books Limited
Fromm, E. (1989). The art of loving. New York: Perennial Library.
Mayor, Joseph B. (2016). A Sketch of Ancient Philosophy: From Thales to Cicer. Cambridge
University Press.
Rogetm Peter Mark (1965) [1852], Dutch, Robert A. ed., The Original Roget’s Thesaurus of
English Words and Phrases (Americanized ed.), New York: St. Martin’s Press
Self-love. (n.d.) In American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Retrieved from
https://ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=self-love&submit.x=0&submit.y=0

07Feb/19
Santia Beck

Olympian Hopeful, Santia Deck, Says Self-Love is Self Care

It was Florence Griffith Joyner (U.S. track and field Olympian) who said, “When anyone tells me I can’t do anything, I’m just not listening anymore.” These are the same words that echo in the mind of athlete, author, and fitness influencer, Santia Deck, as she leaves her opponents, both male and female, in the dust. She jukes them with Barry Sanders-like finesse during flag football and rugby games. As she runs past her opponents on the field and gives it her all during workouts, her vision is set on her biggest goal: the Olympics. Taji Mag was able to chat with Santia to discuss health, self-love, and her journey to Japan 2020.

Self-Love is How You Treat Yourself

Santia Deck

Santia Deck is a motivational speaker, author, trainer, and social media fitness influencer. She also appeared on shows like Steve Austin Broken Skull Ranch TV show.

Dapper Dr. Feel (DDF): How important is fitness to self-love?

Santia Deck (SA): I would put the two in the same category because how you treat yourself correlates to how you value yourself. If you are someone that doesn’t care about working out, eating healthy, and making sure that you are putting the proper nutrition in your body, it shows that there are some deep rooted issues within yourself. I personally think taking time for health and nutrition, is taking time out for self-care.

DDF: You are in great shape, what made you choose to be a vegan and what changes did you experience once you made the change?

SD:  Well, I was vegan about nine months ago and I just recently decided to go back. My life changed physically, emotionally, and mentally. My skin cleared up, my energy level skyrocketed (I felt like I was a kid again with unlimited energy), I slept better, I had a healthy bladder and intestines, and I felt like I was in tip-top shape. I was competing on a higher level than some of the pro athletes I was training with.

I would eat avocados and mangoes for breakfast before training, then after the workout, I would still feel pretty good but the NFL athletes would be on the ground dying. I realized then that what you put in your body does matter. People think that you have to have all this meat and carbs to gain muscle mass but there are a lot of vegan athletes who are doing well in their respective sports.

Santia Deck

Santia in action on the field.

DDF: What are men’s reactions when they see you on the field and/or guard you?

SA: I usually get questions like “Who are you?” “What are you?” “What kind of girl are you?” and “Why are you like this?” Of course, you have those people that are mad and/or those guys that claim they weren’t giving 100%. I get a lot of different reactions.

It’s funny, people think just because I am a girl that I am not supposed to be super athletic and compete on the same level as a man. Of course, I am not saying that I can go on the football field and be one of the guys, but I do think that my footwork and moves are pretty good for any athlete.

Santia Deck

The first African American woman to win a gold medal Alice Coachman.

“I always believed that I could do whatever I set my mind to do.” – Alice Coachman

DDF: Who taught you about sports and how did they encourage you?

SA: Definitely, my older brother because I grew up with boys. I have three brothers and one sister, one of my brothers is actually my twin. So when I was younger I was always competing with my twin and my older brother would make us compete in various activities. He created that competitive spirit and the reason I am able to do the things I can do now athletically. I was doing footwork drills and running routes when I was five years old. I was never the girl that played with dolls, I was always outside doing something athletic. I was a tomboy doing everything my brothers were doing.

Mind, Body, and Soul 

DDF: What made you practice celibacy?

SA: I was in an abusive relationship and had stayed in the relationship longer than I needed to. I think it’s because I had sex with this person, which created an attachment, and I am very spiritual, so I believe in soul ties. I felt like I had a major soul tie with this person that was created through sexual intimacy.

Then there was a point when I thought that I wasn’t going to be here anymore because of the abuse and I remember praying to God that if He were to get me out of this situation, then I would make a promise to be celibate. Never have sex with someone that doesn’t deserve me. After God got me through that situation, that is when I decided to commit to being celibate.

There are a lot of spiritual demons when you have sex with people and I felt that was something going on with me. Honestly, I just want to have a blessed marriage, I want my children to grow up in a two-parent home, and just do what I feel is the right way.

DDF: Are there some difficulties being celibate?  

Santia Deck

Santia Deck aka Track Baby. FYI: Santia wears mismatched socks in honor of Flo Jo.

SA: It’s been tough while I’ve been dating. I have only had one person that respected me enough not to explore dating with me because of my decision, but a lot of men have tried to act like they can hold out and eventually try their hand anyway.

It is tough trying to find someone when you decide to be celibate but I have avoided so much drama and people I didn’t need to date because they are scratched off my list once I tell them about my decision.

DDF: Have your followers given you a lot of praise for being such an inspiration?

SA: I get a lot of messages about how I have influenced people to workout, chase their dreams.

DF: How do you feel about all the support that you get from your followers?

SA: I am grateful and thankful to have a platform to give people daily motivation. To be an inspiration to the kids that they can do whatever they want to do. Reminding them that there is no limit except the limit you put on yourself. I’m just grateful to God.

Big Goals and Small Worries 

DDF: How do you react to some of the negative people and comments?

SA: I have thick skin and people are going to feel the way they feel and have negative things to say. To me, it’s just ignorance and I don’t care because I love myself the way that I am. I look the way I look because that is the way I am supposed to be… a professional athlete. It’s like the thing that Serena Williams goes through, you can talk about her but she’s a millionaire.

Santia Deck

Tennis player Serena Williams.

“Think of all the girls who could become top athletes but quit sports because they’re afraid of having too many defined muscles and being made fun of or called unattractive.” – Serena Williams

DDF: What is your biggest goal right now?

SA: My biggest goal right now is the Olympics because it’s right around the corner. Of course, I want to have success in all aspects of my life but the biggest goal is definitely the Olympics, Japan 2020.

Santia Deck

Victoria Folay Team USA rugby athlete.

DDF: What are your next steps to get there?

SA: It’s a process to make it to the Olympics. I just need to be seen by a USA coach and that is accomplished by going to camps, games, etc. I’ve been doing those things now and just waiting to get a tryout but I will keep grinding until I do.

As many of us watch Santia make countless plays on the field via social media, we may see her alongside current players for the women’s USA rugby team like Victoria Folay. Better yet, we see her being like her biggest Olympic inspiration, Flo Jo, and standing with a gold medal around her neck, mismatched socks and all. Follow Santia on Instagram.

Santia Deck

Florence Griffith Joyner (Flo Jo), U.S. track and field Olympian.

All photos of Santia are taken by Enka Lawson and Jeffery Mustache.

04Feb/19
the safe place

I am Black, I Have Mental Health Issues, and This is How it Feels for Me | The Safe Place

the safe placeJasmin Pierre is an activist, author, mental health advocate and creator of The Safe Place app. It’s an app made for people in the African Community to learn more about mental health and serve as a resource for those who need help getting the information that they need. Taji Mag was able to catch up with Jasmin to hear about her creation that can help educate people and, in some cases, save lives.

Dapper Dr.Feel (DDF): What inspired you to develop this app?

Jasmin Pierre (JP): I deal with mental issues myself. I was diagnosed with clinical depression at the age of 20. So, I’ve been comfortable talking about mental health for a long time because of the stigma it got from the Black community when it comes to mental health. We often hear we are supposed to be strong, Black women are supposed to be strong and just pray about it.

After finally dealing with my mental health and coming out about it, I realized there are many other people out there like me. I want to see those people talk about their mental health and get treatment if they need it.

“We need to accept that mental illness is a disease — and like any other disease, it needs stronger research, early screening, and treatment, especially for young people,” – NFL Reciever Brandon Marshall

DDF:  What is your biggest hurdle dealing with mental health?

JP: Some of us in the Black community have been told: “What happens in this house stays in this house.” It was really hard opening up to a stranger about my mental health issues. To admit, yes this going on with me, yes I need to talk about it and can you help me. That was the biggest problem for me.

FYI: Stigma and judgment prevent Black/African Americans from seeking treatment for their mental illnesses. Research indicates that Black/African Americans believe that mild depression or anxiety would be considered “crazy” in their social circles. Furthermore, many believe that discussions about mental illness would not be appropriate even among family. – Williams, M. T. (2011)

DDF: What are the key steps for getting help?

JP: My step wasn’t the best one because when I finally realized I needed help, it was because of a suicide attempt. I don’t want people to get to that point. That is the reason I made the app in the first place, I want people to get help before they even think about suicide.

the safe place

DDF: How important is mental health to self-love, in your opinion? Do you think people separate the two?

I think it is really important. I see it as self-care. If we don’t take care of ourselves and we are constantly pouring into people and we have an empty cup, its just going to hinder us in the future. So I feel like we should have our cup full first before we pour into others.

DDF: Explain more about your #HowBlackDoesItFeel hashtag?

JP: I am a person of faith and I pray but I’ve also been dealing with mental health for over a decade. I feel like I’m in recovery now so far as my mental health issues but recovery doesn’t mean you are cured.  If I can still go through depressed stages and now I know I can take something for it, I still pray through all of that. God gave us resources for a reason and the Bible even says work without faith is dead. So why are we only telling people to pray about mental health issues, when the bible says you have to take steps forward to getting what you asked for?

We don’t do that with any physical illness. I mean if you have cancer, of course, the church is going to pray for you but they still expect you to see the doctor.

DDF: Explain self-care during police brutality. What made you approach this perspective?

I think that racial trauma is linked to mental health issues. Every time we see an unarmed Black man gunned down by the police, that is affecting our mental health issues. I remember seeing Alton Sterling being gunned down in Baton Rogue, LA. I live in New Orleans, that’s not too far from me. I felt anxious, sad, depressed and worried, and a lot of people felt the same way. I can’t imagine the people who are victims that survived police brutality, just imagine what they are going through mentally. I felt it was important to put that in there because I want people to realize that when this happens that it affects our mental health and we have to think of ourselves when it happens.

On July 5, 2016, Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, was shot dead at close range by two white Baton Rouge Police Department officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

JP: I wanted people in the Black community to express how Black does it feel to have mental health issues in America. Not only do we have to deal with racial trauma and all these other issues as Black people but also, within our own community, we are downplaying mental health.

We are saying mental issues are not serious and therapy is just for white people. I wanted to take time to say I am Black, I have mental health issues, and this is how it feels for me.

FYI: Per Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, while implementation of the Affordable Care Act has helped to close the gap in uninsured individuals, 15.9 percent of Black/African Americans, versus 11.1 percent of whites Americans were still uninsured in 2014.

DDF: You have free classes offered on your website, what should people expect from it?

JP: Readers should expect to be more informed about mental health, that specifically deals with the Black community and how to erase the stigma in the Black community. The classes are to also spread awareness in the psychology and therapy community. A lot of people don’t understand that those books are westernized, a lot of those issues don’t cover too much on Black culture. We need more minority-based resources out there and that’s is what I aim to teach in my classes.

FYI: Per the American Psychological Association, because less than 2 percent of American Psychological Association members are Black/African American, some may worry that mental health care practitioners are not culturally competent enough to treat their specific issues.

Terry Crews the safe place

Actor Terry Crews shared a story about being sexually assaulted by a Hollywood Executive last year.

DDF: How do you feel about Terry Crews coming out about his sexual assault story, how difficult do think that was for him and his mental health? 

JP: I can relate the whole Terry Crews to the R. Kelly situation. These women aren’t being believed that they were sexually assaulted by R. Kelly.  I feel it was just as bad for Terry because his people believe that just because he is a Black man, that he is just supposed to take that and be strong about it. People think “Oh, why didn’t he just fight him?” I feel like more stigma was put on him because he was a man and he decides to speak about this.

DDF: Out of the many people that reach out to you, what majority reach out to you most, men or women?

JP: Women tend to reach out more to me but there is a good percentage of men too and I am happy that they feel like they can. I just wish there were more. I feel like women are ok with speaking about their issues and receiving feedback. As we mentioned before though, men are expected to be strong all the time and suppress their emotion. They are not even expected to cry. It may be a while before we see more Black men opening up, but it needs to happen.

DDF: What advice would you give to anyone afraid to reach out?

JP: Do not be ashamed that this is happening to you, it’s nothing you have to be embarrassed about. Even if someone in your family or friends tell you that you shouldn’t get the help and support that you need, don’t believe them. You do deserve the help, the support, and therapy if you need to.  

Jasmin Piere hopes to develop more partnerships and keep spreading the word about Black mental health awareness as a black mental health advocate. You can download her app here for android or apple.  Check out her personal page.

the safe place

the safe place

Jasmin’s book ” A Fight Worth Finishing”

Some of the facts and stats were provided by Mental Health of America.

03Feb/19
Self-Love

Self-Love Is Not a New Concept, Self-Care Just Happens to Be Trending

It’s weird that self-love is trending at a time when most of the Black women I know are struggling so acutely. On the flip side, some of the most toxic people on my timeline are boasting about their ability to cut out people who don’t “spark joy”. It feels like Black women aren’t allowed to be depressed or vulnerable. There’s so much filler out there, but how can we truly practice self-care and self-love with the weight of the world on our shoulders.

Here are 5 tips for self-care. These self-care tips are broken down into the physical projection, spiritual healing, intellectual release, mental deflating, and aromatherapy. These are small, actionable steps that can lead to a much healthier disposition.

1. Self-LoveHit something: There is so much going on. And for those of us in the corporate space, we have to code switch so many times a day, it can literally make us sick. Between juggling a career, a family, and a dream, there are so many instances where we want to slap someone but have to repress the urge. That energy doesn’t just disappear though. Instead of letting it fester, just hit something. Kickboxing is an excellent way to let that stress go. This sort of physical projection can be really fun too. You can even tape a phrase (or face) to a punching bag and hit it. Maybe it helps you to growl out your racist supervisor’s name with your tennis racket hits the ball. Regardless of what it actually represents, I encourage you to hit something. Hit it hard and hit it often.

2. Self-LoveSay “AH”: When I lived in DC, singer Tamika Love Jones taught a toddler class for Black children in Anacostia Park. One thing she said to me years ago when my son was in her class was this: “Just about every spiritual practice says “ah”. That ‘ah’ sound is in every God’s name I can think of. Allah, God, Buddha, Jah, Ra. Chanting the sound can bring you to a place of peace. Let it serve as an anchor.” Sometimes the world’s insanity is raining down and hitting you harder than a hail storm. It may take everything in you not to break. In those moments, sometimes you call on your God, your ancestors, the universe, and whatever centers you by just saying “AH”. Allow yourself the room to meditate on the sound. Whether you do it for 30 seconds or 30 minutes, you owe it to yourself to say “ah.”

3. Write it out: You know on Insecure when Issa gets in that mirror and pumps herself up or has one-sided rap battles in the bathroom? Well, you too can stretch out those tired latent gangster muscles with a verse, prose, poem, song, or limerick—yes, I said limerick. I’m a nerd. It doesn’t stop there though. Journaling is an excellent way to practice self-care. Doing it before you sleep can help ease anxiety. Dr. Joy of the Black Girl Therapy podcast even has a breakup journal! If you write it out, you’re one step closer to working it out. Continue reading

02Feb/19

5 Do’s and Don’ts when Taking the Leap to Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is trendy right now. You may be feeling the need to “create multiple streams of income” and “become your own boss.” To many, that sounds like a dream come true. Entrepreneurship will show you who you are and challenge you in ways you’ve never imagined. However, many entrepreneurs become frustrated with a lack of quick success, and many customers become frustrated with a lack of quality products or service. The following five tips will help your transition into entrepreneurship, whether part-time or full-time, be as smooth as possible.

Do: Focus on the right product or service

This is particularly important if your business will rely solely on you, at least starting out. To make sure you are providing a quality product or service, you must focus on something for which you possess sufficient talent and that you enjoy. Think about it: if you absolutely love playing the piano, but the extent of your skills is Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, then you should not become a piano teacher. Conversely, if you hate playing the piano but are an exceptional player, could you really be an effective teacher? Find something that you can do every day and do well.

Don’t: Reinvent the wheel

Once you figure out your product or service, focus on making sure the core of your business is exceptional. It may be tempting to want to make your business that takes a standard product and shares it in a way that the world has never seen before. Don’t. Yes, there may be twenty other cake designers in town, but you already have one thing that none of the others have–you! You will be different from everyone else. You have your own network. You have your own style. You have your own experiences. Lean on those, and your business will naturally stand out.

Do: Be consistent

Consistency is the key to achieving anything you want in life, including being a successful entrepreneur. If you want to grow, develop business, and make money, it is going to take more than a couple of hours per week in your spare time. You are going to have to commit to making the time to work on your business, and some things may have to take a backseat to your business. A few options for encouraging and tracking consistency are setting a schedule, writing a list of weekly goals, and having some progress benchmarks. Whatever you want to accomplish with your business, you will not get there without consistency.

Don’t: Get discouraged

You spend months doing market research, writing a business plan, developing your product, building a website, and finally launch your business. Then nothing. Or worse, someone buys your cake or hires you to decorate their home and are dissatisfied. You get a bad review. Maybe one of your clients can’t pay you. Maybe you miscalculated your expenses, and can’t pay your expenses for the month. Do not be discouraged! Every business, including yours, is going to face challenges. Instead of looking at challenges as setbacks, focus on how you can use those experiences to create systems to solve problems in the future. What can you learn? How can you move forward? The more challenges you face, the better you will get at bouncing back, and in the end, you’ll be a better entrepreneur because of it.

Do: Rely on your network for support

Your friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, and social media acquaintances will be essential to the success of your business. From the research stage to selling your product or service, make sure you keep them involved and aware. They will be your first customers. They will provide your first referrals. They will encourage you when you face challenges, and cheer you on when you succeed. Do not passively include your network in your business, be strategic and intentional. Know when and how to reach out to each person. Your parents may not receive information or have the same needs as your coworkers. Throughout your entrepreneurship journey, your network will grow as your business does.

Making the decision to become an entrepreneur is a major commitment. Whatever your product or service, whatever your goals, these five do’s and don’ts will start your business off right.

With the right network, success is always possible.

31Jan/19
Ashley McDonough

Ashley McDonough, Howard Grad & Journalist Behind Articles of Self Love and Media | Self Love Series

Ashley McDonoughMartin Luther King once said “Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve.” Which is true, all of us can be great by giving back and being the best version of ourselves.

Ashley McDonough is one of many examples of this as a Howard University grad, producer, journalist, media professional, and modern-day renaissance woman.  She has utilized all of her talents to inform, celebrate and entertain. Taji Mag was able to talk to her about self-love in the many aspects of life.

Dapper Dr. Feel (DDF): What is self-love to you and how can people better practice it?

Ashley McDonough (AM): Self-love is an appreciation of yourself, you have to know who you are and what you deserve. Self-love is appreciating the promise you made to yourself. Living your life accordingly to the promise that you made. 

DDF: How do you practice self-love?

AM: It is a day-to-day basis of being kind to yourself. I, myself, am a very busy person and I have a lot on my plate. I can be hard on myself with completing things in a timely manner. To me, it’s truly about being patient with yourself. Just take time out to talk to yourself in a positive, uplifting way.

Relationships & Self Love 

“You’ve got to learn to leave the table when love’s no longer being served.”- Nina Simone 

DDF: You have some great articles about dating. Advocates say you should love yourself first before entering a relationship but when do you know you are ready?

AM: It’s just a matter of self-healing. When you are healed enough and your mental health is in order, then I think that is the right time to date. A lot of times I think that relationships don’t work because everyone’s walking around with these traumas and insecurities that they haven’t healed from.

Once you have healed fully, know what you want out of a partner and you know what you deserve out of that partner and know what you are willing to give that partner in return, I think it’s a healthy ground to go out there and see what the dating world has to offer you.

DDF: Let’s say you are in a relationship, how do you maintain that self-love? 

Ashley McDonough

AM: I’ve definitely been in that situation before. You can really get caught up in the idea of love but you have to understand that you can’t love someone if don’t love yourself.

Understanding that you deserve a certain type of love, your partner should understand and be respectful of that. Also, you have to understand what you want out of life, its a beautiful gift from God. You are whole by yourself, I don’t believe in that whole “you complete me” thing. I really think you need to be complete before you get into relationships.

DDF: Can situation-ships be included in self-love?

AM: If that works for you then ok. I think every person is different, I’m not going to say that this is the ideal relationship because sometimes that freedom is a form of self-love. It depends on the person, some people are looking for long term commitment and other people just want to have fun, be free, have options. Society can put these ideas/beliefs on people and that can cause relationships not to work a lot of times.

Work to Live, Not Live to Work

“Even if it makes others uncomfortable, I will love who I am.” – Janelle Monae

DDF: You have an article about the importance of setting boundaries, how important is that to self-love?

AM: You can get caught up in everyday life sometimes and you need to set boundaries in order to keep your sanity. You don’t want to spread yourself too thin, sometimes we treat ourselves like superheroes… we are not. Setting boundaries in every aspect of your life is important for your sanity and overall mental health.

DDF: Pursuing your passion or desired career is also a version of self-love, agreed? Why do so many struggle with it and what did you do to keep moving forward?

AM Definitely because it’s safe. It’s scary to follow your dreams. It’s not something for everyone. Everyone can’t do it and everyone is not in that space to do it. You have to have a strong sense of faith, you have to believe in yourself.

I was born and raised in New York but I took a leap of faith and moved to L.A. because I felt it in my heart to do it.  You really have to believe in yourself, work hard and know that God is going to take care of you.

Articles of Self Love and Media

“You are your best thing.” – Toni Morrison

DDF: You have written some great pieces about people embracing the beauty in themselves, what inspires you to write pieces like these?

AM: What inspires my writing? Well, even before I went to college, I knew I wanted to produce and create content that I thought the world needed to hear. I really like doing the backstories of the people that are seen as the overnight successes because I feel like those stories are important and need to be heard by everyone.

Social media has changed the mind state of success and the hustle and the grind. To hear those stories change perspectives.

DDF: Out of the articles you have written, which is your favorite?

Ashley McDonoughAM: One of my favorite stories was about Jessie Woo, she is a comedian and singer. She’s amazing! Her story is so inspiring because of her journey to success. Everyone on social media was seeing her as an overnight success but in reality, it took her some time to get in her position.

She told the story about her start in New York, becoming unemployed within the first two months and not having enough funds to buy a plane ticket home but through it all she made it. Jessie’s story encourages people to follow their own dreams, whatever path may be for them.

DDF: How much of an influence do you think the media has on self-love?

Ashley McDonough

Ashley in her Howard grad cap and gown.

AM: Howard gives you a sense of self, I don’t think many of the students have. It’s the overall experience because you are surrounded by such Black excellence and you are being taught by the most amazing professors with extensive careers.

They are teaching you to love yourself and appreciate your history. A lot this stuff you don’t get see growing up. I grew up in Queens, NY so I grew up in a very diverse area and went to public school my whole life, we learned the basics of Black history.

That changed when I went to Howard University because we learned everything, the good and the bad. The experience taught me how amazing my people are!

See more from Ashley via her website!