What’s New?

Hey, hey, hey!

This ya girl, Forever Trina. 

Sooo…I just read a post on IG that said, 

“If you don’t come out of this quarantine with, a new skill, your side hustle started or more knowledge…you never lacked time, you lacked discipline”.

Ouch, right?!?! 

We often complain about how we don’t have time for this or that but we seriously don’t even have that excuse right now. 

While it’s so easy to binge-watch that new show on Netflix or spend hours scrolling on IG instead of creating, growing and learning — let’s be the women to come out of this with new healthy habits and consistency in all areas of our life.  

That said, I’m going to start with my blog.  Writing is my gift and encouraging, inspiring and empowering women to be their best selves is my passion.  I can’t sit on this anymore and treat it as a hobby.  It’s part of my purpose. 

What about you? What can you be doing in this season of quarantine? 

  • Get going on that book idea? 
  • Finish a business plan? 
  • Pursue a degree or certification in your career field?
  • Read those books gathering dust on the bookshelf?
  • And maybe something ‘simple’ as cleaning out a junk draw or organizing your closet.  

Whatever it is, just do it!  No more waiting, no more excuses, just do it!

I’m looking forward to hearing all the positive COVID-19 stories to come!

Loving. Living. Growing.


~ Forever Trina

Lupita is Redefining Beauty

Recognize her???

She played the starring role in ‘Black Panther’ as well as won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in ’12 Years a Slave’. 

She’s been killing the game for a while but just recently began being recognized for her work.  PEOPLE’s magazine recognized her as the World’s Most Beautiful Woman although growing up she was taught otherwise. It is not until just recently she has learned of her beauty.   

How could this beauty not know she was beautiful?

Because,

“European standards of beauty are something that plague the entire world – the idea that darker skin is not beautiful, [and] that light skin is the key to success and love.”

Lupita Nyong’o

Also due to interactions such as this, 

“When I was in second grade, one of my teachers said, ‘Where are you going to find a husband? How are you going to find someone darker than you?’ I was mortified,” she continues. “I remember seeing a commercial where a woman goes for an interview and doesn’t get the job. Then she puts a cream on her face to lighten her skin, and she gets the job! This is the message: that dark skin is unacceptable.”

Lupita Nyong’o

Very unfortunate but thankfully as an adult, she is in a position to change this perception and redefine the standard of beauty.  

Very encouraging and empowering to women like me.  I didn’t experience these specific scenarios, but the feeling was the same and I had to learn that I was beautiful.  Not being affirmed as a child and being bullied has a way of sticking with you.  The views of yourself are through the eyes of people versus your Creator.  God declared you were “fearfully and wonderfully made” or in another translation, “wonderfully complex” but I think we often forget with all the images we’re bombarded with on a daily basis. 

But beauty is wonderfully complex and has no boundaries.  Beauty is how you choose to see it and that’s the beauty of beauty.  

I was in Kenya on a missions trip last year and I was given the name, Akinyi, which means “Born in the Morning”, by one of the staff members that worked at the camp we stayed at.  This individual was always dropping knowledge about the Kenyan culture and mentioned that Akinyi was a Luo name and Lupita is Luo.  Also, her father is the Governor of Kisum where Obama was born.  Though this may seem like a super random fact, it put a smile on my face. It felt good to know that in some small way, our stories intertwined.

Help me celebrate this queen for re-defining beauty for herself and ultimately the world. 

Loving. Living. Growing. 

~ Forever Trina

THE One and Only, Grace Jones

Do you remember this queen? She starred in the movie, ‘Boomerang’ alongside Eddie Murphy and Halle Berry.  Ms. Jones played an interesting yet comical role in the movie and killed it! I’m smiling just thinking about her shenanigans, but I digress. 

So one thing I didn’t realize at the time was she wasn’t just making a splash on-screen but off-screen too, as a runway model.  She signed on as a model in New York, but it was Paris where her career took off as the Parisian scene was more receptive to her unusual, androgynous, bold, dark-skinned appearance.

Ms. Jones quickly advanced her career doing runway modeling work for Yves St. Laurent, Claude Montana and Kenzo Takada and also appeared on the covers of Elle, Vogue and Stern. 

Hats off to this queen, another beautiful black woman in history!

Loving. Living. Growing. 

~ Forever Trina


https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_Jones

Becoming The Mrs.

I am not married so what I say may be an idealistic view of marriage and completely impractical.  So married ladies, feel free to “set me straight” as this is an open forum to share thoughts and opinions and ultimately to learn and grow from each other.

So here goes.  I’ve been single for quite some time…39 years to be exact.  Its been an up and down journey that I wish I did not have to take but at the same time, learned so much from.  I’ve grown in ways I could never have imagined and am grateful for the hurt, pain, and scars endured along the way.  Without them, I wouldn’t be the woman who stands before you today.  A woman, I’m personally, really proud of.  Now let’s not get it twisted, sister girlfriend is far from perfect, but I embrace my imperfections with style and grace, unashamed and unapologetic.  

That said, in my journey in desiring to become a wife, I’ve learned that wife isn’t just a title, its a mindset.   Its a perspective shift from me to we with actions that follow.  

I always thought I was ready to be a wife but I was confusing it with being a girlfriend.  Being a girlfriend is easy, it’s noncommittal and is not too demanding on you and even less demanding on the man.  I can still come and go as I please with little to no consequences.  Me and I are still very much at the beginning or included in every sentence.  It’s about my wants, my needs, and my likes and I was cool with that.  The guy would eventually concede to defeat or just opt-out.  We’d go our separate ways to only continue this cycle with another person with very little self-reflection on either part.  Repeating this self-destructive behavior and none the wiser. 

So how do you break this cycle?  Well, first you have to realize it is a cycle and then do the work to love you and know you.  I truly feel that is the key to a lot of things in life.  We are so quick to say, I want this or I want that but do you really? Why? What are your skills, talents, passions, and gifts? Does what you say you want even align?  I feel that if we took more time to explore these questions before jumping into things we would make better decisions, specifically in the area of relationships.  This will, for sure, reduce the men in rotation because there will be some that you wouldn’t even entertain which inevitably will reduce the cycle.  Dating would become more about fact-finding versus wife’ing someone up.  You’d gather the necessary data about your likes and dislikes, your tolerance and intolerance levels and make more informed decisions when the opportunity arises.  Now, this may just be the project manager in me.  Applying a very strategic plan and approach to becoming the Mrs. but…why not?

Bottom line, if you don’t know yourself, you’re not ready to be a wife.  No judgment, I was there (not too far removed) and didn’t even know it.  But as I’m approaching 40 and have truly come into my own, accepting and embracing the good and the bad of who I am and loving every part of me, I am now growing closer to becoming the Mrs…a wife instead of a girlfriend. 

Loving.  Living.  Growing. 

~ Forever Trina

America’s First Black Model ~ Helen Williams

This month is about celebrating black excellence, starting with Ms. Helen Williams, one of America’s first black models. Hats off to this queen for paving the way for other young and upcoming aspiring black models.

Born in New Jersey in 1937, tall and beautiful with gorgeous dark brown skin, Helen Williams was one of the first African American Models during the 1950s-1960s. While working in a photography studio at the age of 17, she was recognized by Sammy Davis Jr. and Lena Horne, who soon took her under their wing and turned her into a beautiful glamorous model.

Other black models preceded her, but Miss Williams was like no other. Her smile, long neck and stunning posture, was more graceful and elegant than anyone can imagine for a woman of color who had never really been given the opportunity to shine.

At a very young age, Helen Williams loved fashion and would never go out in public without looking as if she were already a model. Helen Williams was the first model to work with Ophelia DeVore, who opened up the first African American Modeling Agency, ‘Grace DeMarco Modeling Agency’.

Miss Williams was put through rigorous hours of modeling, stage presence, posture, grace and etiquette training. She soon masters all of the necessary skills and was sent out into the world of fashion modeling.

She began working for African American Fashion and lifestyle magazines, Jet and Ebony. Having dark skin, she faced discrimination, while trying to extend her career with other companies and modeling houses. So, Miss Williams decided to move to France in 1960. She heard Paris was a bit more opened-minded to skin color, as long as you were beautiful and could do the job correctly, they would welcome you in.

Helen Williams had much better success in Paris, France and began working for Christian Dior as well as other high fashion designer houses. Becoming home-sick, Miss Williams soon moved back to the U.S.

Upon returning she realized nothing had changed and decided to take her fight head-on. With the strong, ignorant racism happening in the modeling industry, she had no choice but to become a force to be reckoned with, and did not back down.

She used the press as her ammunition to announce to the world what was actually happening in the fashion industry. She made it very clear that no matter how beautiful you were and how talented and skilled you were for the job, dark-skinned women were being denied time after time, because of the color of her skin.

Being black was one thing, but being dark and ‘a real black’ was another. Dark black skinned women during those times, had been denied jobs all over the country. Having lighter skin, gave women a much better chance at success, especially in the modeling world. The ‘lighter-the whiter’, and Miss Williams was neither.

Helen Williams had to put a stop to the ignorant and hurtful discrimination, and finally opened up the eyes of America. She no longer wanted it to be perceived that ‘dark was ugly’.

With lots of hard work and long hours and years of campaigning, Miss Williams found a career modeling in magazine Ad campaigns for Budweiser and Sears, Kent cigarettes, and many additional print Ads.

Helen Williams had finally broken the color-barrier after a four-year struggle. Beautiful, talented and inspirational, we gracefully and honorably, salute Helen Williams!  

   – Stalletto ( http://www.stalletto.com/helen-williams )

Loving. Living. Growing.

~ Forever Trina

Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

The Art of Still Rising

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Loving. Living. Growing.

~ Forever Trina

New Year, New View!

Happy New Year!

We’re a little over a week into the New Year but I think it’s still acceptable to lead off with this greeting, right? Especially for those you haven’t chatted with since last year…which would be you!

 So again, Happy New Year and I hope it’s off to a great start! As for me, it’s not bad so far. Overall, things are great. But life, of course, wouldn’t be life if the frustrations from 2019 didn’t follow us into 2020. 

Good thing the New Year is all about reinvention. Starting over, starting fresh, second chances…or third or fourth, a clean slate. That’s why you hear a lot of us declaring, New Year, New You! But is it, is it really? 

The reality of the matter is, You the same You! Same attitude, same thought patterns, same frustrations. So how about this year, instead of denouncing the You, you still are, let’s embrace it and declare, New Year, New View! Let’s change the narrative and change our perspective. 

That said, in 2020, I’m declaring 20/20 vision in all areas of my life. My pastor, in his last sermon of the year, stated that a lot of the battles we fought last year, weren’t meant for us.  But me, in all my infinite wisdom, dipped my toe in things, situations and people that weren’t meant for me and then asked God for the strength to fight the battles I created. Extending energy on people and situations that didn’t deserve it and then wondering why I’m so drained. Which, by the way, is the perfect opportunity for the enemy because we’re too tired to focus our view and vision on what has eternal value. So this year is about perspective shifts. Seeing and making decisions with my spirit versus my senses.

Join me! It’s going to be an amazing year.  There will be trials, triumphs and lessons learned. And I’m looking forward to sharing it all with you!

Happy New Year and New View!

Loving. Living. Growing. 

~ Forever Trina

Why did I do that???

www.elizabethashleyco.com

Well, when you get stuck, you get stupid.

You date guys you normally wouldn’t
You entertain nonsense you never thought you would
You accept jobs that don’t align with where you’re going
You compromise on a whole other level
You get desperate
You get thirsty
You want change, so…
You get stupid

Now what?

Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer but I know who does
However, that will require you to consistently seek Him
…and consistency hasn’t really been my thing in this season.

So what now?

I honor where I am now versus condemning it.  
I walk in self-discovery instead of self-pity.
I sit in the grace of God and the strength outside of myself.

It’s normal to get stagnant when we get stuck but you gotta keep moving.
Yes, you may fall, trip, fail but you’re moving
Trust that in the movement, God will guide and direct your steps
In the stumbling there is purpose and you will eventually find your way.
You will learn, you will grow , you will find stable ground again.
In honoring the process, God will honor you, the process and His promises. 

Loving. Living. Growing.

~ Forever Trina

Questions…

Growing up, most of us were taught not to question God — in the black culture anyway.  So for years, I didn’t and it’s only been just recently that I broke my silence and asked God, “Why”?

Now, before you go start judging a sista, my questioning was from a place of discovery, revelation, and clarity, not lack of faith or in an attempt to disprove faith. But then again, maybe there was a bit of disbelief behind what brought me to this place of questioning. 

You see, if you live long enough, you’ll find that life has a way of leading you to question what you believed wholeheartedly your whole life. But…

  • Was I secretly questioning all along and afraid to share my questions with others for fear of how I would be viewed?
  • Had I finally gotten to the point where the silence of “the church” on topics that I deemed important to my faith-walk got to be too much?
  • Could this be the very reason that the church is viewed as a religious ritual that most would rather forsake?
  • Why those who once believed and likely still do, no longer want to fellowship with the quiet, unspoken, secrets of the saints?
  • The “I’m better than you”, perception of perfection, never doubting, always full of faith [or full of something] having saints.

But is doubt really the opposite of faith?

“The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely…”

Anne Lamott

I desire to deepen my faith. If I were to say, I never doubted God, I’d be lying. I may not have ever verbally doubted God before now, but I definitely displayed doubt through my action or inaction. And I guess that was the problem, I was tired of being half in and half out. I needed something deeper, something I could only get by reaching within instead of without. I needed someone to speak to my heart and then my mind. And who better to do this than the one who created me.

Now…there is a caveat…you must be prepared for the answer. The response may not be what you expected, how you expected or when you expected but guarantee it will always be what you needed. Be open to the response being a perspective shift or something fruitful like love, joy, patience, goodness, etc. Don’t reject the response because it’s not the one you would have chosen. When you boldly ask “why”, you must also boldly be ready for the answer, whatever it may be. Or don’t ask…

And this is not me being a jerk about it or being judgy but it’s me being real and transparent. Trust me, there are some questions I don’t ask because I’m not ready and committed to the path it may lead me down. 

And that, my dear, is a step towards wisdom and deeper faith. 

There’s a lot I still don’t know and may never know but despite it all, God is still God and that’s what I’ll rest in. The assurance of his deity, his plan and not mine solidifies my faith and my freedom to ask why. 

Loving. Living. Growing. 

~ Forever Trina

Issa Lifestyle

Salvation is a lifestyle…one I fail at pretty much every day.

I was redeemed by the blood of Christ but often forget or refuse to walk in that power. Instead, I choose to reject the very thing that has been and is my lifeline.

So grateful for grace!

One thing I’ve learned over the years is, Salvation is not a one and done type of thing… from the “I’ve arrived” perspective, anyway. Salvation is like a diet. It’s not always easy, especially once you pass 30 years of age…metabolism is not what it use to be, but if you stick to it, that hot girl summer body will be worth it. Right, ladies?


*Disclaimer*
Please don’t get lost in this analogy. My goal is not to cheapen what Salvation is but more to explain it in a practical, applicable and conceptional way so try not to get stuck here, the concepts are the same.


So basically what I’m trying to say is, the same can be applied when it comes to Salvation. It’s something you have to work at and sometimes even fight for…consistently, AND get this, be an active participant in….whaaat??? Yes, gone are the days where I can just open up the Bible and the page just so happens to land on the very scripture I needed in that moment….with the revelation to follow. Nowadays, I have to dig, study and meditate to receive the fullness of its benefits. Yeah…the benefits like, peace, joy, and love, they don’t just fall in my lap like they use to. I have to reach for and claim them, remembering that these are not only benefits but promises. 

So join me in choosing to live in the redemptive power of Christ. It’s not always easy, it’s not always comfortable and it’s not always convenient. But on the other side…or even in the middle of what it’s not…is what it is, worth it.

Loving. Living. Growing.

~Forever Trina