Mocha Girl of the Week: Shadé Adu

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Shadé Yaa-Birago Adu is a Mocha Girl on a Mission…

because she is an international educator, world traveler, and motivational speaker destined to inspire others, and live life on purpose. Shadé is the founder and Chief Savvy Officer at Savvy Solutions Consulting, LLC and shadeyadu.com. Shadé is a Mocha Girl on a Mission because her enthusiasm for life is the relentless driving force that meets all challenges and obstacles head on and with a friendly smile.

Obstacles…

My mother’s side of the family were sharecroppers in Wood, North Carolina and my father is an immigrant from Ghana West, Africa and growing up in Irvington, NJ with my six siblings, my family didn’t make a lot of money. What we lacked in finances was compensated with love and encouragement to excel in school. A combination of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation allowed me to triumph in school. I always knew that I wanted to go to college but I knew that my family couldn’t afford it. I saw the sacrifices that my parents had to make. My mother wore the same shoes everyday and my father worked multiple jobs just to put me through private school. I made a vow to my parents that they wouldn’t have to pay for my education. During my senior year of college I applied to over 30 scholarships and I was blessed to be 1 of 1000 high school seniors chosen across the nation to be a prestigious Bill and Melinda Gates Scholar with up to ten years of academic funding. I later attended and graduated from Morgan State University with a Bachelor of Art in History.

During graduate school I was afforded the opportunity to be an inaugural member of international teachers as the Nazarbayev Intellectual School in Astana, Kazakhstan. When I first heard about this opportunity I laughed if off and didn’t take it seriously. I said to myself “Where? Who? Why? Black people don’t do that.” I was extremely terrified. The thought of leaving my family and all that I knew didn’t sit well with me. After careful consideration and prayer, I took a leap of faith and a plane to the Republic of Kazakhstan on August 7, 2011 and never looked back. During my tenure in KZ, I was instrumental in curriculum development, teacher training, and minority recruitment. I faced my fears, turned stereotypes of black women upside down, and traveled around the world.

Accomplishments…

My greatest accomplishment was keeping that vow to my parents and alleviating them of the burden of paying my college tuition. Being a Bill and Melinda Gate Scholar and Ambassador has truly transformed my live and the life of my family. Dreams do come true and higher education is tangible. The Gates Scholarship has opened doors for me and is allowing me to further my education and begin doctoral study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I will be pursuing a Ph.D in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Multicultural Education this Fall.

Overcoming my fear and moving to Kazakhstan was one of my greatest accomplishments. I was the first and the youngest African American woman hired by my company. I met some wonderful people and had the opportunity of a lifetime to travel to over two dozen countries. Although, it was difficult being away from my family for three years, I knew that God had a purpose for me and wanted me to not only impact the lives of children in America but all around the world. I am writing a book about my experiences in Kazakhstan that should be out in 2015.

Most of my greatest accomplishments would not have been possible if it wasn’t for my team of mentors, and extended family who I also happen to call my sorority sisters, the regal and sophisticated women of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated. Being inducted into this magnificent sisterhood in the Fall of 2008 truly has changed my life. Members of this illustrious organization encouraged me to apply for multiple scholarships in high school and  to move to Kazakhstan. My Sorority Sisters have supported all of my endeavors and always motivate me to strive for the best because excellence is possible.

Keep in touch with Shadé on social media!

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Were you inspired by Ms. Adu’s inspiring story? Share your feedback below!

4 Tips to Help You Maintain During An Uncomfortable Transition

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“Transition is the natural process of disorientation and reorientation that marks the turning points in the path of growth…transitions are key times in the natural process of self-renewal.” -William Bridges

About 2 months ago I decided to quit my (very secure and well paying) job because I was downright miserable. I wasn’t passionate about the work I was doing and I desperately needed a way out. Work began to dictate my life in and out of the office.  I needed a change that would allow me to spend more time focusing on what I love; speaking to youth about overcoming adversity and helping women become their best selves.

Long story short, my fiance and I packed up my things and I moved from New York back to Maryland. During my transition one of my mentors offered me the opportunity to work with him when he had upcoming projects. In the meantime, ya girl was searching for a day job that could pay the bills as I grew my business.

Being officially jobless left me with a lot of downtime. Over these past two months I’ve been able to reflect on my life and what’s important to me. Sitting at home with 2 degrees, a list of credentials and an impactful blog with barely enough money to pay the bills, is pretty damn depressing. But, it’s also extremely humbling. It allowed me to see life a little bit clearer. There were some days when I questioned my worth. I didn’t leave the house or post too much online because I didn’t want people to know what position I was in. In my heart I felt that I made the right decision but the light at the end of the tunnel was barely visibly. I felt like a failure. I’m the girl who always has a plan. I always have life mapped out 5 steps ahead of where I am but recently I found myself questioning everything. Am I on the right path? Should I have waited to move? What if I don’t find a job? and the questions went on and on.

Once I reconnected with some friends in the area I realized how to make the most of my unique transition. Hopefully some of the tips below can help you as you transition on your path in life.

 1. Get Out That House! 

If you’re anything like me, it’s habit for you to cut yourself off from the world when things aren’t rosy. You may stop posting on social media or stay cooped up in the house wallowing in your predicament. If this is you… stop it! I’m an introvert and I enjoy solitude but I’ve found that depression thrives on isolation. Get out the house and enjoy some free activities in your area. Visit a coffee shop and take advantage of the free Wi-Fi. Take a walk and admire the beauty that nature holds. Curl up in a corner at a local book store and get some free inspiration from the self-help section. Even better, volunteer your time at a non profit or a soup kitchen. I’m telling you, once you get out and start mingling with others, your spirit will be renewed.

2. Find a Support System and Touch Base Often

My family moved around a lot when I was younger. I guess I caught the travel bug because I’ve lived in 5 different cities over the past 7 years. Moving around a lot has it’s pros and cons. I’ve been able to gain more confidence in myself and a greater sense of independence with my frequent moving, but I’ve also struggled to find “my place” in the new communities that I’ve relocated to. Keeping in touch with my support system, whether it be via FaceTime, phone or social media, has played a tremendous role in my successful transition into new territory. Touching base with your support system can give you the extra boost that you need as you transition. If you need to find a support system see number 3 for ideas!

3. Find a Source of Consistent Inspiration and Restore Often

I was raised in the church. My family and I went every Sunday and occasionally we stopped in for Wednesday Bible Studies. When I started graduate school I fell off and stopped attending church as frequently. Funny thing is,  I noticed a significant shift in  my life. I wasn’t my usual self. Something was missing. I had cut off a significant source of motivation and hope for myself and this change affected my moods, my mental state and my outlook on life. Recently I’ve made a conscious decision to start attending church regularly and it does wonders for my soul. Church is my thing. The fellowship, the sermons, the praise and worship, it really does something for my spirit. Church may not be your thing and I respect that. There are other great sources of inspiration that can be explored. Just to name a few, there are support groups, clubs (Toastmasters is one of my favorites), local meet ups, online support communities and a host of other motivational  resources. Google is my best friend. Look up a source that fits your needs!

4. Remember that Your Current Situation Doesn’t Define You

I’m a huge fan of quotes. I just love them. They inspire me. They excite me. And sometimes a simple quote can give me the boost of motivation that I need when I’m feeling low. A new quote that has been inducted into my list of “favorites” is, ” Don’t confuse who you are, with where you are on your journey.” BAM, no explanation needed.

So, whether you’re finishing up school and it’s taking a bit longer than you expected, or you’re in the market for work but can’t seem to find the right opportunity. Keep in mind that people often fail to remember those who started the race, they remember those who finish. If you’re still pressing and you haven’t given up yet, you are still in the running to achieve your dreams and goals. Hang in there. It took Thomas Edison over 1000 tries to invent the light bulb ;)

Share Your Wisdom. Comment Below!

Did this post inspire you? If so, what message resonated with you the most? What resources or helpful mantras get you through uncomfortable transitions?

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Mocha Girl of the Week: Thais Francis

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I am a Mocha Girl on a Mission because…

There is no mountain big enough, and even if that mountain is too big, I will chip away at it with faith and a toothpick. . As an artist, I have decided not to wait for permission to create; rather I carve out stubborn and non-existent opportunities to showcase my talent. Whenever I create, it is my hope to leave audiences affected, changed, different and inspired. I merge reality, with the experimentalism of my imagination through writing, singing, acting and dancing. Whether I am dancing at the ballet barre, writing a scene for a movie, or performing before thousands- my pulse still beats with the same desire to use my artistic capabilities to see and be seen. Since I was a little girl living in Trinidad and Tobago, I have been performing and I have not nor do I intend to ever stop. For the past six years, I have lived and created in the fast paced and relentless city that never sleeps- New York. The saying “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere” really does ring true. In this oversaturated and competitive market, it is easy to forget, more appealing to conform, and quite enticing to pursue a road widely trodden. However, my drive and determination fuels my passion to create, and keeps me focused on the goal at hand, and that is to share my talents with the world.

Obstacles…

Making my short film Late Expectations was challenging, I was not familiar with the film industry and encountered many obstacles and people who were not interested in working with me. My background is in theater, I have a team and network there, but film is entirely different. My emails, phone calls and meeting proposals were ignored. I was told that film is too big of a goal, I was also told that I did not have enough of a budget to make a film. However, 1 and a half years later, I have completed the film, with a great team, and we are currently in post production. I am now in the final stages of getting the movie seen, which is why I need your support. In order to see this amazing short film, please visit our indiegogo page here.

Accomplishments…

In the past, I have given speeches for the staff of the White House, I have been awarded by the Congressional Black Caucus, a featured speaker and writer at different universities, performed internationally before thousands, and I have written, starred in and produced a play OUTCRY whic has seen at theaters, schools, a University in multiple states. However, my greatest, and perhaps most daunting endeavor, is writing a film. For months, I sat in the library for hours, watched movies and read books about writing screen plays. I started with an idea, followed through at the library and taught myself how to write a film. I didn’t go to school for this, I took the initiative and weathered the dejection. I have made a movie, and that is my biggest accomplishment to date.

Keep in touch with Thais and check out her work!

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Mocha Girl of the Week: Toni Brown

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I am a Mocha Girl on a Mission because…

After buying a home and quitting my job in lieu of a job that’s closer to my new home, I found myself without a job in my new home. Instead of letting fear and doubt settle in, I’ve been pushing my design and branding business to its limits. Although some days I don’t want to get out of bed, I motivate myself to turn my growing venture into a business that will help other image conscious creatives and boutique businesses stop struggling and live the life they truly deserve on their own terms. I’m on a mission to live a life on my own terms while raising a teenage daughter to live by spirit, truth and hard work.

Obstacles…

I’m overcoming obstacles everyday. Being able to support my family through my business is a challenge, but I’ve been able to do so for almost 6 months. I’m looking for sustainability in supporting myself for 6 years! My field is very competitive so getting over my own self is a struggle. I have to pray and stay focused on my own grass and not worry about how someone else’s may be greener. Although I still struggle, I can truly say I’m happy.

Accomplishments…

Five years ago, I started a business without having the skills or connections to make it. My business is growing and I’m becoming the go-to person among my audience for all things design, business and motivation.

Keep in touch with Toni and check out her work!

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Love Your Sister, She is a Gift

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This is a guest post by Lanira Postell, a Social Marketer for a Non-profit in Georgia. Please comment below and support Lanira’s post.

Today the woman has surpassed the male as the competitor. His strength and testosterone are not enough to outshine the woman’s need to be seen, admired and known. In the story of Adam and Eve, God presented Eve to Adam as his gift. She was made perfect for him because she came from him. When he woke up she was there before him and he knew her instantly. This moment when their eyes met for the first time puts all romance novels and movies to absolute shame. It was love at first sight, the first time two humans loved one another. Adam named all the creatures in the land but he was not satisfied until he saw Eve. God put in Eve a gift. The gift that He gave her was unique to her. She had her own style and shape and she moved with her own grace and elegance. She was flawless.

We know the story. The enemy who was kicked out of Heaven sought to deceive Eve and he succeeded. Then she suggested that Adam eat of the fruit as well and that began the fall of man. The death and resurrection of Jesus allows us to be forgiven from our sins and to have a relationship with God and to live forever with Him in Heaven. The error of woman culture is our seemingly inability to praise the gifts inside one another, we in turn compete with one another. The need that we feel to compete with one another stems from our dissatisfaction with ourselves. When we truly love and appreciate ourselves flaws and all, then we can love and appreciate the same in others.

My dark skin sista’s, please do not reject your skin tone. Your skin is a testament of the fiery kiss of Heaven and its beauty shines when you smile.

To my fairer sista’s there is nothing wrong with your pigment nor is there anything missing from your hue. Your self worth is wrapped in how He and you see you and not what others think when they look at you.

To those that sing, I do not covet your voice, I indeed found my own and He loves it.

For those that dance, I greatly enjoy your moves and you inspire me twist when I see fit. I celebrate you! I thank God for the gift that He gave you and that you are willing to share it with the world. You better work!

 There is no competition. Eve came from ONE man. There is ONE man that God has for you. He might choose many women before he finds you. You might choose many men before you are found. But there is only ONE. Therefore, why compete? You are the gift so be the gift and start by realizing that your heart is worthy of eternal love and not abuse. We need to come to a place where we tune out the opinions, ideas and expectations of others and look within. We need to look at what God has given us and embrace it. If we still find things that we do not like about ourselves then we can work to change them. If you want to lose weight, do it! But don’t compete with anyone. If you want to learn to play an instrument, go for it! But don’t compete with anyone. Be at peace with you and realize that you are a gift just as God made you.

A culture has been created in which our men have the game of intimacy MADE. There are so many women fighting for one man and all he has to do is choose. Our standards have been lowered because of our desire for his intimacy. Instead of us encouraging each other to be a light and to not settle, we end up settling for whatever man comes our way and he is not Adam, we are not his Eve. A day may come when women themselves wake up and realize their worth. When that happens, men will have no choice but to step up to the plate. They will have to assume their God given positions as the hunter and competitor. But if we don’t make it a requirement, it will never happen. Woman, in your womb is a legacy, what you see when you look in the mirror affects the nations. Delight in your gift.

Have you experienced the competitive nature of another woman in a setting where competition wasn’t necessary? If so, how did you deal with it? What do you think causes some women to compete against their counterparts? 

Share Your Wisdom! Comment Below.

Lanira Postell

Lanira Postell graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Georgia State University. She now resides in middle Georgia and works as a Social Marketer for a non profit victim resource center. Her passions include self expression through the arts and seeing people being freed from oppression.