9 In Health + Wellness/ Personal Development

Speak Up: How To Live A Life Of Self-Care And Love

Valentine’s Day was a month ago, and whether you love the holiday or go into hiding every time it comes around, you know that February is a month of love. But what happens when March 1st hits and you’re sitting there with wilted flowers and an empty box (or two) of chocolate? How do we keep that same love for others, and ourselves, going every day of the year? In the past year, I’ve learned the importance of self-care and why you should always take every opportunity you can to #TreatYoSelf. But self-care isn’t always easy—sometimes it makes us feel selfish or as if we’re not working to our potential. That’s why I reached out to five amazing women to share their thoughts on what they love about their lives and how they make time for self-care.


GG Renee

Photo credit: dfinneyphoto.co

The Voice: GG Renee

The Career: Author & Coach

The Brand: http://www.allthemanylayers.com/

What’s the number one thing you love about the type of work you do?

After so many years of doing work that felt forced, it feels amazing to do work that comes naturally to me.  I used to think I wasn’t creative, smart enough, assertive enough, but now I know I just wasn’t inspired.  I was working hard, but there was no love or passion driving it, just survival.   I feel like I’m offering something of value to the world now, and hopefully, inspiring other women who feel stifled like me [to know] that their voices do matter.

What do you do for your self-care?

Number one is writing.  Writing is my prayer, my therapy, my meditation, all of that.  With three kidsI have to set firm boundaries to protect my writing time and my family has adjusted to that.  I also love to make my own hair and beauty products, and I’m always exploring new ingredients and recipes.  I recently discovered a turmeric, Manuka honey, and baking soda mask that is doing more for my acne and dark marks than any over-the-counter product has ever done. Oh my goodness, don’t get me started.  I could talk about natural products, essential oils, and stuff like that all day.  I also love yoga, dance, and power naps. 

Who are other women entrepreneurs or creatives you admire? What do you love about their brand?

There are so, so many!  Too many to name without leaving someone out. I just love that so many women these days are getting paid to be themselves.  Taking what they love, what they already do, what they’re good at, what they’re curious and passionate about, and finding a way to build a platform and business model around it.  That is so empowering, resourceful, and endlessly inspiring to me.  I’m loving the sisterhood and the ripple effect that is becoming more and more undeniable, especially among Black women.  

Some of my biggest inspirations as a writer are women who started their brand with a blogging platform and evolved from there.  I used to think that to be a writer, I had to be a journalist or a novelist.  The ceiling is totally blown off now, and I love to see women who are building unique writing careers for themselves. 

What books, shows, or songs are you loving right now? What do you like about them?

I’m currently reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, and it’s been so inspiring—like I’m having a conversation with someone who fully understands how my heart works and how it feels to manage all the ideas and desires and doubts that come with fully committing to having a creative career.  I’m also reading Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur and Bone by Yrsa Daley-Ward, to name a few.

I love to watch reality shows where people are following their dreams and doing something creative, so I love shows like The Voice, So You Think You Can Dance, and Project Runway.  My favorite song right now?  Hands down, “Formation” by Beyonce.  

What’s one thing you didn’t love about yourself in the past, but now you do? How’d you overcome this?

I’m a quiet, sensitive person, and I always thought this was something I needed to overcome in order to be happy and successful.  It wasn’t until I started embracing myself as I am that my life started to change. Leading a fulfilling life is about loving who you naturally are and finding unique ways to express who you are.  Your voice doesn’t have to be loud to be significant.  I learned to embrace my struggles, find meaning in them, and together with my love of writing, I found a way to partner who I am with what I love to do.  

GG Renee

Michi Moore of Pretty and ProfeshThe Voice: Michi Moore

The Career: Life & Business Stylist

The Brandhttp://www.prettyandprofesh.com/

What’s the number one thing you love about the type of work you do?

Just one? Haha, I love all of it—the fabulous ladies I get to work with, the opportunities that have appeared, and the results I’ve been able to get for my clients. But if I had to only pick one thing, it would be the freedom it allows. I’m not location dependent, and the only thing I really need is my Mac and Wi-Fi. And that is amazing.

What do you do for your self-care?

I didn’t always love and appreciate myself, but as an adult, I realized that even though I’m not a perfect person, I’m perfect. We all are. So I take me days, me breaks, or a me treat—mani/pedi, working out, Starbucks, shopping massages, bubble baths, whatever it takes. Anytime I’m not feeling in my flow, I stop and do something to show me some love and get my vibration back up.

Who are other women entrepreneurs or creatives you admire?

I adore Nisha Moodley, Danielle Laporte, and Gabby Bernstein, just to name a few. They all own their femininity and power. They have all impacted my life when I wasn’t so good to myself, and I aspire to be able to do the same for other ladies.

What books, shows, or songs are you loving right now?

I’m probably the most random person when it comes to shows. I’m netflixin’ it up watching Spartacus until Scandal and The Walking Dead start back up. I’m totally obsessed with Sia’s new album especially the song “Unstoppable.” I’ve read so many books within the last year, but all the Abraham-Hicks books have me absolutely over the moon. They all get me charged up and in my happy zone so I can stay creative and keep moving Pretty and Profesh forward. I always tell the ladies to work 3 steps ahead of where we are now, at any given point. And everything from the books to Spartacus keeps my vibration high enough to do so.

What’s one thing you didn’t love about yourself in the past, but now you do?

At one point in time, I didn’t have one thing I did like. It took a lot of inner work. The biggest part was the way my body looked. I was teased and picked on for everything, but what I couldn’t get is how people could pick on me for being both too fat and too skinny. I have an extremely mixed heritage, mostly stemming from my mother’s side. I had to talk better to myself. I knew I had to love me first. Plus, I couldn’t afford any kind of major plastic surgery. So for the most part, I was stuck.

After I put a new mindset in place, that I am beautiful and have an amazing body, I was able to focus on that and all the outside (and inside) noise went away. I make it a habit to say, “I’m so pretty” when I look in the mirror now, which was the last thing I thought before.

Michi Moore

Ka'lyn Banks

The Voice: Ka’Lyn Banks

The Career: Digital Media Consultant & Writer

The Brandhttp://www.kalynbanks.com/

What’s the number one thing you love about the type of work you do?

I love the variety. I get to work with a range of different people from different backgrounds, and it’s really fulfilling because I learn so much about different folk. I also love that I can impact people in different ways and make their day-to-day lives a little easier.

What do you do for your self-care?

Self-love, for me, is an everyday process. It takes patience, kindness, and just being gentle with myself. When it comes to self-care, it can range from actual material things to just taking a nap. Sometimes I meditate or listen to my favorite song. As long as I am doing something that makes me happy and keeps me in a safe space mentally, that is self-care for me.

Who are other women entrepreneurs or creatives you admire? What do you love about their work/brand?

I love Melissa Kimble because she is literally who I am working to become in my own way. She has taken My Creative Connection and has made it larger than life. I love the #blkcreatives chat and how she can bring people together for an hour on social media to talk about things that we can all relate to.

What books, shows, or songs are you loving right now? What do you like about them?

I REALLY love “Formation” by Beyonce right now, and it’s not because I am a member of the Beyhive. I love the message and I love how confident it makes me feel. I also love the entire Malibu album by Anderson Paak. It’s so smooth and makes me feel like I am back in California with my fiancé, just cruising through San Fran.

What’s one thing you didn’t love about yourself in the past, but now you do? How’d you overcome this?

I hated how sensitive I am. I used to pretend that things didn’t bother me because I didn’t want to seem like I was overreacting. The funny thing is everyone around me knew I was sensitive all along and here I was faking the funk. Going to therapy and writing helped a lot. Also, being vocal and advocating for myself made it much easier for me to love that part of me.

Ka'Lyn Banks


Paige Hamilton of Chic with The Voice: Paige Hamilton

The Career: Content Creator & Digital Media Marketer

The Brandhttps://chicwithkinks.com/

What’s the number one thing you love about the type of work you do?

My work is very multi-faceted. I work in the capacity of blogger, content creator, and PR at Chic with Kinks. In addition, I am also an entrepreneur, owning my brand of haircare and beauty products at tlcnaturalsonline.com. I love every single aspect of my job, especially the freedom it gives me to openly express myself and to showcase the various interests that enrich or inspire me. I love creating—whether it is in the form of writing and passing on information; in the art forms of photography, video or, fashion; or in the form of creating beauty products that help provide real solutions to real beauty problems. Self-expression through creation is definitely a big benefit of my work, but most importantly, through my creations, I am able to add some form of input, value, knowledge, and inspiration to someone else’s life.

What do you do for your self-care?

Self-care isn’t just important, but it is necessary, as one cannot pour from an empty cup. I practice self-care by fostering only healthy relationships and friendships, focusing on my emotional needs, and taking time out, as necessary, to do things that bring me joy or keep me inspired. This can involve baking and cooking, reading, a little bit of travel, losing myself in music, treating me, or even just having a very long lie in.

Who are other women entrepreneurs or creatives you admire? What do you love about their work/brand?

There are so many women entrepreneurs that I admire.  Some of them are creative and some of them are not. I’m such a fan of Michaela DePrince. Having experienced a rather horrific early childhood, she is now flying high as one of the world’s most prestigious and sought-after ballerinas.  They say we are a product of our childhood, and her traumatic experiences could have easily left her scarred for life.  However, she radiates so much light and grace, and there is an incredible amount of beauty in her work and her dancing that it belies the very ugly things that she went through as a child. Michaela inspires me to always create beauty, even from ashes.

Another woman that I admire is J.K. Rowling, the British novelist and writer behind the Harry Potter books, which are on path to become modern classics. Rowling went through a traumatic period which included the loss of her mom, divorce, and poverty as a single mother.  Several elements of her Harry Potter books were inspired by events in her life, including her early childhood. She used her harsh life experiences to create stories that stimulate the imagination and inspiration of children and adults worldwide, bringing beauty and wonder to their lives.  Despite her huge financial success and global reputation, she remains the down-to-earth, humble introvert she always was.

What books, shows, or songs are you loving right now? What do you like about them?

I was recently sent a children’s book titled Love Thy Fro by Casey Elisha. Casey is a London-based writer and Love Thy Fro is her first book.  The book encourages positive representation, especially for young black kids.  It is well-written and peppered with lovely illustrations. The overall message to its readers, especially children, is positive, optimistic and progressive.

What’s one thing you didn’t love about yourself in the past, but now you do? How’d you overcome this?

My inability to say no is the one thing I didn’t love about myself.  I used to feel terribly guilty saying no to people. It wasn’t so much a desperate need to please people and make everyone happy. It was more out of intense guilt of letting anyone down. As a result, I overextended myself, I allowed shady characters to access parts of my life—parts of myself—that I never should have, and my health, as well as the quality of my work, suffered.  I gave and gave and gave until I had nothing more to give anyone, not even myself. 

Learning to develop healthy boundaries was a major step in helping me overcome this. I went on a major purge—disconnecting from anything and anyone unhealthy to me and my well-being. I stopped saying yes to everything and everyone.  I had to school myself. I am not here to fix everything and everyone. I am here to just be, to just live my life. Hopefully, it will provide some useful input or inspiration to someone else’s life.

Paige Hamilton

Jheanell Adams of Belle JheanellThe Voice: Jhéanell Adams

The Career: Momtrepreneur & Influencer

The Brand: http://bellejheanell.com/

What’s the number one thing you love about the type of work you do?

I love inspiring people to live their most authentic lives. I feel like deep down in our hearts, we all know what we want, but often times, we don’t allow ourselves to actually want those things. People feel like the things they want are so out of reach that they automatically lower the bar for their life based on what they feel is realistic. They then find themselves in jobs they don’t actually like, and I’m like, “…but you’re good at ______, and here’s how you can make money doing that online.” 

With the internet, it’s so easy to monetize your passions and purpose. However, it’s so new that people aren’t really sure how to go about it. I love that I can provide the tools and guidance to assist women with how to design lives they love every day while making a good living. 

What do you do for your self-care?

To be completely honest, incorporating self-care is something that I’m working on in 2016. As a wife, mom, and entrepreneur, I do struggle with putting myself on the list. However, when I do feel myself getting burned out, I love to do weekend staycations at a luxury hotel. I get to unwind, be fancy, and my husband never allows me to take my laptop with me. I love it! 

Who are other women entrepreneurs or creatives you admire? What do you love about their work/brand?

Most people know I’m a total Myleik Teele stan. Not just because I see her on Instagram doing her thing, but I met her in Miami at a meet-up she hosted when curlBOX was only two months old. She was so transparent and her energy was captivating. It was so dope to see this Black woman, from Inglewood with braids, building a brand while wholeheartedly being herself. At that point, in 2012, I’d never seen anyone do that in business. Meeting her made me feel like I could be successful at just being myself. I didn’t have to be super polished and put on a front in order to get where I wanted to be. To see where her brand was then and seeing where it is now, my mind is totally blown. I am so inspired. I recently got to partner with curlBOX for their November 2015 curlBOX Body with my company Jolie Bloom, and sales have never been more consistent. I’m definitely grateful for that opportunity. 

I also love Karen Civil, Gabi Fresh, and Mattie James of Mattieologie, just to name a few. 

What books, shows, or songs are you loving right now? What do you like about them?

I LOVE to read! I just finished up Think And Grow Rich, for the second time. I’m now rotating between The Science of Getting Rich and Abundance Now by Lisa Nichols. The Power of Broke by Daymond John is up next. My television game is weak right now because I’m either reading, working on business, or spending time with my family. My favorite show, however, is New Girl—it’s light and funny. And almost every night, we watch The Secret on Netflix before going to bed, to make sure we’re in the right state of mind the following morning. 

Music-wise, I’m a total Hip Hop head. I still listen to DMX’s first album almost every day, and I still listen to my old Jay-Z albums. I listen to a lot of 90’s and early 2000’s rap. However, I’m also REALLY into Wale and J. Cole. 50 Cent’s “I’m the Man” is one of my current favorites—so is A$AP Ferg’s “New Level” and Remy Ma’s “All The Way Up.” I’m down for anything by Bryson Tiller and Beyonce’s “Formation,” of course. 

What’s one thing you didn’t love about yourself in the past, but now you do? How’d you overcome this?

There was a time in my mid-twenties when I hated being a creative and entrepreneur. I was struggling to find “my thing,” which made me feel like I was behind in life. I was comparing myself to my friends and everyone around me who was successfully climbing the corporate ladder, and I would just wonder, “Why can’t I be happy doing that?” I would try, only to find myself quitting six months later because I just hated it. I would try a business, things wouldn’t pick up as quickly as I imagined they would, I’d panic due to finances, and then go back to work—only to quit. It was a cycle that I was stuck in for awhile. 

However, when I spent more time with God and allowed Him to show me His vision for me, I realized that I had to surrender and embrace the desires that have been placed in my heart since childhood. I got real with myself, and now I see things coming together in a way they never have before. I pray often, keep a gratitude journal, and read and listen to affirmations on Youtube every night while I sleep.  It’s taken a lot of mindset work, but I’m more confident, optimistic, and purposeful than ever.

Jheanell Adams

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  • Vanessa this was AMAZING. I’ve never heard of these woman but I am so happy that I did through your post. It’s always motivating and inspiring finding beautiful and amazing woman doing their thing. Thanks for this.

    Kia / KTS

    • Thanks for reading, Kia. 🙂

      I also love reading the stories of inspirational women. I plan on sharing more stories in the coming months.

  • Phoenicia

    These women are truly inspirational. They have pushed on despite the challenges. They have overcome their insecurities to the extent of being willing to share them with readers.

    • Agreed. There’s so much power in sharing our struggles and successes with each other. Realistic and relatable views of success are lacking right now, in my opinion. Thanks for reading, Phoenicia!

  • This is awesome and great to see so much focus on this issue. We’ll be discussing at my Dear Love Brunch tomorrow! Good Stuff!

    • Thanks for reading, Ashley. I don’t think we talk about topics like this enough. I hope your brunch went well!

  • Loved this post. What an inspiring group of women! It is always interesting to read different journeys and there is a diversity and a common bond here among these creatives that is so refreshing. Thanks.

    • Hey Darice,

      Love that you mentioned the diversity and common bond among these women. That’s one of the reasons why I started these features–so women can see that even though we’re different, we’re similar in many ways. There are always people out there who can relate to how you feel. Thanks for reading!