One time for the birthday chick! Whew, 28 years on this planet. Another trip around the sun. Another 365 days. Another chapter…

My life is becoming barely recognizable! 10 years ago I was contemplating suicide and today I’m flourishing and living my best life. I’m extremely proud of the accomplishments I’ve had over the past 10 years.

I’m not here to brag — those who know me know that it’s not my style at all — but I can’t help but highlight just how transformative life has been as I approach my birthday celebration.

I’ve done things like create the Mocha Girls Pit Stop blog, an international movement dedicated to empowering women of color to become their best selves. I’ve worked with CoolSpeak as a national motivational speaker. I started my own business where I teach women who struggle with tech to leverage social media and personal branding, to grow their audience and impact. And I’ve secured jobs in the tech industry, as I’ve worked for both Facebook and Asana.

But most important of all… I’ve come to love myself, flaws and all. I’ve come to forgive myself and appreciate my past. I’ve come to a point where I am full and free and I’m excited about what that means for the world I’m creating around me.

Gratitude is so important to me. Not only can this practice change your mindset (I call gratitude a practice because it happens moment by moment, day by day) but it can really change your life. There are lots of studies out there about this, but I encourage you to see for yourself!

Furthermore, no one is self made, no matter how much their Instagram feeds or Facebook timelines seem to say otherwise. Over the course of my journey there have been plenty of friends, family members, strangers, and colleagues that inspired me, and I want to highlight them. I hope that you read this with all the love that I wrote it with.

One Time for The Birthday Chick: 28 Thank Yous for 28 Years

1. Mom- I often talk about the dark times but there were good times too. I remember when you would come up to my school and take me and friends out to lunch. You instilled priceless values in me that continue to stick with me to this day. I appreciate the fact that you had the courage to acknowledge the pain you caused in my life and change your behavior to be a better mom to my siblings. This is all I could ever ask for and you’re doing a great job using your parenting tools to be a better mom for them. Thank you for also making a concerted effort to be more patient, understanding, and gracious to my siblings. Thank you for bringing me into this world and teaching me all the valuable lessons you continue to teach.

2. Dad- Thank you for always showering me with love, attention, and compliments. I never felt the need to find love in men. I’ve always felt whole and never craved masculine attention because of the impact you had on my life. Thank you for being there and keeping it real with me even when I didn’t want to hear the truth. Nothing will ever change our relationship.

3. Daddy Marcus- Thank you for taking me in as your own daughter and loving my mom unconditionally. You loved me like your own and passed on so many qualities to me. I can’t believe you’ve been gone for 10 years. We miss you dearly!

4. My maternal grandparents- Thank you for stepping up as parents in my parent’s absence. I appreciate the wisdom you instilled in me. Thank you for my allowance in college that enabled me to pay my bills and survive. Thank you Mommom for believing in me and helping me get to the Sandy Cove writer’s conference when I was 18. That experience was life changing! Thank you Poppop for being the boisterous person you were, along with the wisdom I gleaned from you, you taught me extreme patience and how to deal with difficult people.

5. Papa Art- Thank you for instilling in me the value of new experiences and making me feel loved. When I was about 12 years old, you made me and my brother sit and watch a tennis match with you, you also made us look up any words we didn’t know in the dictionary. I hated the experience at the time but I thank you for the tough love. Your spirit lives with me to this day.

6. Amina- Thank you bestie for being my free therapist since we were 12 and being a listening ear throughout this crazy life of mine. I appreciate you keeping my secrets, keeping it real, and being there for me. You’ve always been in my corner and I’m so grateful to have someone so kind, logical, and supportive as you.

7. My husband- Thank you for believing in us when I didn’t and for loving me unconditionally like my fathers do. I’m thankful that you’re man enough to support me wholeheartedly. It takes a special man to genuinely support his woman and advocate for her becoming her best self. You so dope Mr. Burden. Thank you for teaching me that black love is possible and teaching me to be a better communicator. Love you to the moon and back!

8. My siblings- Thank you to all 7 of my siblings for saving my life and giving me a reason to live when I couldn’t motivate myself. I will forever be indebted to y’all. You’ve given me a lot of practice for mommy-hood and I know I get on your nerves but I simply want you to be better than me because I believe in you and I know you can.

9. Mr Sam- Thank you for holding it down and being an awesome dad. Thank you for taking me to buy my second car and being a light for my siblings. We love you!

10. Pastor Keith and Dr. Collins- Sitting under your tutelage gave me an opportunity to learn valuable life lessons, leadership experiences, and gave me a place to do my work and practice my craft, speaking. Thank you for pushing me, giving me a stipend in college, and believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself. Thank you for being committed to the work!

11. Mrs. Renee- Thank you for the advice you’ve given me over the years and for keeping it real. One lesson that has always stuck with me is the importance of being a woman of my word. Thank you for the tough love.

12. Aunt Tiffany- Thank you for your continued support. You’ve been rooting for me since I was born.

13. Ms. Erica- Thank you for creating a space for young women to learn, be themselves, and have new experiences. Daughters of Destiny taught me so much about life, womanhood, and purpose. I’ve always admired you and your hustle.

14. Mrs. Gloria- Thank you for giving me a loan when I couldn’t get one elsewhere and selling me one of my favorite cars that didn’t break down on me like my other hoopties. I’ll forever be grateful for your presence in me and my family’s life.

15. Ms. Tonya- Thank you for empowering me as a teenager and encouraging me to walk in my greatness.

16. Ms. Gloria Welburn- Thank you for teaching me how to be a lady, exposing me to the millionaire lifestyle when you let me clean homes and mansions with you, and teaching me the importance of gratitude and handwritten thank you notes. I still write handwritten notes to this day.

17. Mama Retta- Thank you for accepting me into the family, doing for my siblings and spoiling me. You have been such a blessing to me.

18. Dr. Nieves- Act 101 was an incredible program that kept me on track in college and the 1:1s with you kept me accountable and inspired. Thank you for the boatload of recommendation letters. At this point, I’ve written numerous recommendation letters for colleagues, friends, students, and family. I’m paying it forward Dr. Nieves.

19. Carlos Ojeda Jr.- Thank you for believing in me when I didn’t believe in my public speaking capabilities and being an active mentor. I appreciate the opportunity you’ve given me to represent your company and allowing me to create an additional stream of Income for my family. You’ve impacted so many people around the globe and continue to give your time and talents. I appreciate you and your family!

20. Ernesto Mejia- Thank you for keeping it real and always being down for a quick pep talk when self-doubt sets in. You are an incredible mentor! I appreciate the empowerment calls, text messages, advice, and your dedication to paying it forward.

21. Joey Negron- Thank you for offering feedback in a way that doesn’t hurt my little sensitive self. I appreciate your advice, guidance, and insight.

22. Thank you to that stranger in church who told me that I was going to be great. You told me that you saw something special in me and you seemed so sure of my success and I believed you. I don’t know who you are but you spoke something over me and I clung to this during my dark moments.

23. Mrs. Debra Johnson- Thank you for your insight. You are a great influence for the book I’m writing! You changed my life when we chatted at the Sandy Cove conference when you advised me to “figure out how I overcame, so I could help others.”

24. CADR professor- Thank you for letting me use Mocha Girls Pit Stop and my nontraditional vision for my graduate school practicum. This kept me accountable and enabled me to start a brand that has impacted women on every continent.

25. Dr. Kym Harris- Thank you for investing your time and expertise in me when I was a broke grad student. You didn’t have to spend time with me but you did and it boosted my confidence drastically!

26. Pastors Yah and Kevin Hughes- Thank you for the premarital counseling! You taught my husband and I lessons we still reference today.

27. Thank you to the ambitious, inspiring, and supportive Mocha Girls Pit Stop community. I appreciate you rocking with this little black girl from Philly as I traveled this along this unpredictable blogging journey. Your encouraging messages, comments, and emails have kept me going during this 5 year journey.

28. And finally, thank you young Terri for not giving up and not letting those dark nights when you cried yourself to sleep, get the best of you. Thank you for having the grit to take the time to do the hard work. Thank you for looking in the mirror again and again to recite positive affirmations, even when all you saw was an ugly mistake looking back at you. Thank you for failing hundreds of times and getting back up again. Thank you for valuing humility and being committed to empowering others. Thank you for honoring the promise you made to God, that if he brought you through the turmoil, you’d empower others to do the same. Thank you for finally liking you and sharing your true self with the world!

Did you feel it? All of that love and all of those memories and all of that power that has come from the people in my life and propelled me to right here. Right now. Celebrating yet another trip around the sun as a woman who is free and full of goodness.

Who are you grateful for? Be sure to reach out and let them know.

I’m grateful for every obstacle and every experience because it made me who i am…

  • Thank you so much for sharing, Chelsea! Keep on speaking and embrace the journey, sis. It gets better. 🙂 <3

  • Chelsea

    Lovely write-up… #28 hit me hard because I am currently in that state of speaking good things over my life and loving myself like God loves me. Thank you for being obedient to Gods calling!!! Happy Birthday + Thanksgiving!!!