Belize Me

The best little gem in Central America!

Anyways!!! So, my family wanted to do a group trip. I did some research on places we haven’t all been and found this little gem on one of my many Facebook travel groups. We booked it! I booked everything through Expedia. 

Belize sits on the northeast corner of Central America, bordered by Mexico and Guatemala. It was once owned by the British, and gained their independence in the 1980s. Because of its unique location and history, there’s a huge variety of diversity in the area. 

Our journey began in Charlotte first thing in the morning. FYI, there are not many flights that go to Belize, so please keep that in mind when booking. We boarded our flight, super excited. But that quickly came to an end when they announced that our plane needed maintenance. Keep in mind that we had a connection in Miami. We missed it. 

Once we finally made it to Miami, we had to spend the night, as there were no more flights out that day. Thankfully, we were able to switch our flight to the next day at no charge. I am not naming the airline because they are my favorite and it was not their fault, necessarily. Plus, they took care of the situation. Also, Expedia was able to fix our hotel situation. We decided to stay an extra day in Belize, since we lost a day.  The next morning, we were able to catch a flight to Belize.

Before coming, there are a few things you’ll need to do. You do not have to worry about converting their money. They take US dollars; it’s a 2 to 1 rate. Meaning, if something costs 2 Belize dollars, you only pay 1 US dollar. Make sure to either have your vaccination card or get a covid test within 3 days of coming. You must book at a gold star resort. All that means is, your hotel must be on their approved list. It’s available at travelbelize.org. Belize does currently have a curfew, due to the pandemic. You must be back at your resort by 9pm. On the resort itself, you can roam around any time you want.

We landed in Belize City at Philip S W Goldson International Airport, on the mainland. But that wasn’t our final destination. Our final destination was San Pedro. San Pedro is an island in Belize. To get there, you will need to take a ferry from the mainland. Outside the airport, there are several taxis, so don’t worry about booking in advance. It’s only $25 from the airport to the Ocean Ferry. A roundtrip ticket for the ferry to and from your island is $34. The other option is buying a $75 flight on a small plane. The ferry runs every two hours. Also, inside, they have snacks, drinks, souvenirs, and places to sit. You’re not just chilling outside. 

We loaded the boat and headed to our island. Once there, we were greeted by our resort driver. If you’re not staying at a resort, you can either get a taxi or walk. However, check the distance before walking. Our resort was not within walking distance. The area near the ferry is like a downtown area. There are bars and restaurants. Cute shops. Also, many instagram worthy photo ops. 

We stayed at Mahogany Bay. This resort is absolutely gorgeous. It does kind of give off plantation vibes, but it’s definitely luxurious. The check in area is literally called “The Great House”. But, it’s all good. The cost is very affordable. The only negative thing is, it’s not all inclusive. So, you’ll end up charging all of the food, drinks, and activities to your room. Which means you pay for it at check out. I booked it with a credit card, to avoid random charges and to earn points. The food is pretty affordable, though. The rooms are all separated into small cottages. It’s like having your own little house. Pictures and videos are better than any description I could give.

Great qualities about our resort. So, you’ll definitely need a golf cart to get around the resort and off the resort. On the island, there are very few cars. Everyone drives golf carts. If you rent from the resort, you can either pay $55 for 8 hours or $80 for 24 hours. I’d advise renting it from the resort as opposed to in town because you’ll get free gas and insurance. In the city, it’s cheaper, but you’ll have to cover gas and insurance yourself. It adds up. Also, make sure that when you’re driving, you keep your license on you. The police will definitely check at random points in the city. If you rent a cart, make sure to check out Secret Beach and the bars located on the frontage road (it’s a sketchy looking dirt road, but it’s super fun). My favorite bar was Losers. They had a DJ and you can get in the water at the back of the restaurant, to jet ski! 

The resort offers a ton of things for you to do, other than eating and drinking at the plethora of restaurants. Excursions are available upon request. Excursions include snorkeling, visiting the Mayan Ruins, and fishing. You can do fitness classes like yoga. There’s a huge pool. You can get a massage, either at the studio or they’ll come to your room. And, you can get your hair and nails done. Our resort also has a private beach. The boat takes you to a private island complimentary; it runs once per hour. On the island, you can rent an over-water cabana. There are complimentary paddle boards and kayaks to play on. Food and drinks are available for a small fee. Everything on the island is billed to the room, so you don’t have to carry cash around. Lastly, a covid test is offered on site. So, you don’t have to worry about scheduling it for your return.

In my opinion, this is a great vacation for couples. I’m not sure how things were pre-pandemic, but it was pretty chill while I was here. If you’d like to get details like these from my Jamaica trip, tell me in the comments!

Detachment

Usually, I have all the answers. Well, sometimes. But today, I was floored. My mom made a few simple statements. She said, “ I don’t think you can truly handle a challenge.” She also said, “You seem like you’re running from something or towards something.” The conversation really got my wheels turning.

So, my parents are older. Periodically, I go down (a few cities away) to have lunch with my dad. My mom usually tags along. I will pause to explain their weird relationship. This was brought up at lunch today. My parents were married back in the mid-70s. They had all of us (4 kids) in New York, then moved to South Carolina. Once we got down there, they divorced. But that’s the weird part. They still love each other. The divorce was simple with no custody issues and no child support. They still visited each other for coffee and often talked on the phone. Even Though they both dated and married other people, they were never mean to each other. The point of this is, she was there for my monthly lunch with my dad. So, she rode down from the city with me to see him; which is when this talk took place.

She said that I had lived a spoiled life and she was concerned that if I ever faced a serious challenge, I couldn’t handle it. To which I replied, “I’ve been through multiple things and yet, here I am.” She made sure to say by God’s grace. Which, I’m not sure if she feels that I have a disconnect because of my lifestyle, or not.

By lifestyle, I mean parties, travel, etc. I think she believes I’m spoiled because I had a full ride to college, got married, had 2 beautiful children, and have a career. What she doesn’t see is the behind the scenes. Romantic relationships are stressful. Education (teacher/ assistant principal) is stressful. Motherhood is stressful. Also, fighting the urge to run away is stressful. I got the runaway gene from my mom. We moved a million times growing up. Yet, she acts surprised that I feel like the main character in ‘Chocolat’. 

Here’s where the detachment comes into play. Because of all the stress I face daily, I’ve become somewhat numb to feelings. I constantly get yelled at by irate parents. I get teacher/admin complaints. I cook meals that no one eats. I drive to 50 million places to get 50 million things done. And, I constantly monitor my exercise and eating regime to fight the good fight against obesity. Because of all this, I’m usually numb to intense emotions. At least I thought I was. At lunch today, my dad brought up my sister, who passed away nearly 20 years ago. The table fell silent as he began to cry. I tried to use my detachment strategy for the sake of my kids. I don’t like to cry in front of them, not sure why. I usually detach because I don’t want to feel emotions and think about all the things I’ve been through. But, I often wonder if that is a bad example for my kids. They should learn the array of emotions and how to feel. No one is happy all the time, which is probably what they think because of what I display.

So, after I got home, and dropped everyone off, I went for a drive. I needed a drive to think about all of the conversations and to cry. I thought about where I am emotionally. I thought about why I don’t get jealous or upset. I thought about why I feel like I have many friends, but I don’t feel a deep connection. I thought about what my life will be like after my kids graduate and move out. I am still trying to grasp what I really want out of life. What I want seems to change frequently.

So, good people of the Shelf, how did you figure out what you wanted out of life?

Tennessee Whiskey

As you know, I am somewhat known as the Queen of Charlotte. However, a few other cities have piqued my interest in my travels. I love Miami! And Philly. But over the past few years, another city creeped into my heart. I began my love affair with Nashville several years ago. 

Before I became an assistant principal, I taught. I frequently attended conferences or professional development conventions to continually improve my craft. After a while, I began presenting at conferences. I discussed topics such as metacognition and the power of positive energy. I attended conferences in Orlando, Baltimore and New Orleans. But this particular year, 2016, I attended a conference in Nashville. It was my first time visiting the city. And, OMG, I fell in love with it. You always hear about future brides coming here for their bachelorette weekends, and now I know why.

I flew into BNA from Charlotte on a quick 50 minute flight. A seamless transition. I was able to rent a car at the airport relatively easily. I was able to navigate the city pretty easily as well. For this conference, we stayed at Opryland. OMG! Gorgeous! This resort has everything you need for a vacation. Restaurants, shows, shopping! There was a boat ride that goes through the resort. The food was superb! The alcohol is strong. By the way, no matter where you go in Nashville, the alcohol is strong. So, be careful. At the end of the night, there was a cute little water and light show in the center of the resort. Being that the conference was at the hotel, I only ventured out once. I simply stayed on site for the duration, but I knew I wanted to go back.

About a year or so later, I did just that. I came back and stayed downtown near Broadway. The city is so beautiful. In the morning, I got up and went for a run across the bridge. The view from up top is so dope. You can see the Titans stadium and the river. Around the city, I saw several others who were running, as well.

John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge

After my run, I showered and went to brunch at Sambuca’s. Y’all, they have freaking live music in the morning. I ate my brunch in a cute little booth listening to music with the perfect ambiance. This was the first time I was introduced to the song, ‘Tennessee Whiskey’ by Chris Stapelton. When the music first began, I thought they were about to play Etta James. I adore her music. So, I was apprehensive at the change, but then I fell in love with the song. I immediately downloaded it on my phone.

Sambuca

I took a mural tour after brunch. There is artwork everywhere. My favorite was the butterfly wings. For dinner, I went to BB Kings. I don’t need to elaborate. It was dope! Not only was the food great, but they also had a live band performing. At pretty much every restaurant, there’s live music. Because, this is freaking Nashville!

Fast forward to now, I had another opportunity to visit. For the past year and a half, everywhere was practically closed down and most conferences were virtual. Until now, conferences and workshops have resumed. And, I am so happy they did. I had another opportunity to visit Nashville for business. YASSSS….

While here, I decided to visit the newly opened National Museum of African American Music. Each decade from before slavery to present was on display. The fashion, the music, and the social changes. The museum is completely interactive, with opportunities to mix your own beats, watch performances from artists past and present, and listening booths to explore music through the ages. The gift shop is a dream with books, clothing, and cute souvenirs that highlight well known artists. I made sure to pick up a RUN DMC shirt. I became famished after spending hours in the museum, so I asked a security guard about any good restaurants close by. She directed me to the slew of eateries behind the museum. Places like Cava, Hattie B’s, etc. But what stood out was Slim and Husky’s. I had heard about them online for years. So, that was my next stop!

https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMdpxVEBn/

At Slim and Husky’s, the food choices are insane. It’s pizza like you’ve never had it before. You get to choose between a slim or husky. Being that I cannot eat much, I went with slim. I ordered a PREAM. It had mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, bacon, and cheese. OMG!!! The crust had like a garlicy flair to it. And, y’all, they have alcohol!!!! I got the Moscow Mule. Make sure to get a cup of water because that drink was strong AF. After that meal, I had no choice but to go back to my room and lay down. I couldn’t function after that.

Slim and Husky’s

I was so sad that my trip was coming to an end. On my way to my gate for my flight, I became even more sad. At a restaurant I was passing, a live musician began playing ‘Tennessee Whiskey’. I had to fight back the tears. I sat at my gate listening to the tail end of the song and reminiscing about all of my adventures here.

I won’t be too sad though because I am certain that I will be back.

Best Destinations for Girls’ Trips

For us ladies, friendships are important. For me, travel is super important. Sometimes, I like to combine both of my passions and take my ladies on a nice field trip! We’ve become stronger friends from the cool experiences we’ve had together. Over the course of the past 4 years, I’ve experienced places and things that I will remember for the rest of my life.

  1. Aruba

My girls and I ventured down to Aruba for the Soul Beach Music Festival. Not only were we able to see comedy shows and live concerts, but we were also able to tour the island. We toured with Offroad Evolution Rental & Tours Aruba, with the owner Ian De Swart. We rode around the island on ATVs and visited the natural pool, California Lighthouse, Alto Vista Chapel, Bushiribana Gold Mills Ruins, Andicuri Beach, and Black Stone Beach. If you decide to go, make sure to pack water shoes and a bandanna for your hair.

2. New Orleans

We originally went down to New Orleans, Louisiana for the Essence Festival. Like the adventurous person I am, I also wanted to explore the city. New Orleans and the surrounding areas have so much to offer. From Bourbon Street and alligator tours to the Joseph Plantation. You will never get board. We ate some of the best beignets and seafood in the French Quarter. For us joggers, take a run down Canal Street in the early morning; otherwise it is entirely too hot outside.

3. Memphis in May

If you ever want to choose the best time to take a girls’ trip to Memphis, Tennessee, definitely go in May. The Memphis in May International Festival is a month long celebration ranging from music performances to BBQ showcases. Make sure to pack rain boot because it does pour down. However, a little shower won’t stop the show. As a bonus, take a stroll down Beale Street. There are street performers, cool shops, and tasty food options. If you’re into the nightlife, they have live outdoor parties! And great photo ops! For a more educational opportunity, be sure to visit the Memphis Civil Rights Museum, where the Lorraine Motel showcases the civil rights movement and the final days of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

4. Cartagena, Colombia

For an out of this world experience, you have to go to Cartagena. The weather is perfect, the views are phenomenal, and the people are so hospitable. The best way to experience the city is to set up a tour with the Experience The Real Cartagena tour company. You will get to not only see the city, but the beaches and the small villages outside of the city. Also, food is included…yummy. Take pictures on the graffiti tour or with the beautiful fruit ladies. The night life is off the hook with roof top parties and top DJs. Make sure to pack dresses, tanks and shorts because it is hot!

5. Carnival

Whether you choose to stay here in the US or go abroad for Carnival, it is always a great option. Try Caribana in Toronto or Carnival in Atlanta, Miami, or Las Vegas. Either way, you could never go wrong. Between parties in the city or Jouvert, you will never get rest. So don’t count on it. The community comes together strong for the biggest party in the streets you’ve ever seen. The costumes glisten in the sun and the fiercely decorated floats are sure to dazzle you.

I look forward to many more trips with my friends. Where did you guys go? Leave your trip in the comments and be sure to share with your friends!

Free Yourself

As a fad diet, wanna-be healthy person, I hear the word detoxify a ton! We often detoxify our bodies by drinking green smoothies or making those crazy teas. We try to sweat it out. We even stop drinking alcohol. I haven’t managed that one yet. I probably need to because of my belly size, but that’s a topic for another blog. We work really hard to fix the way we look on the outside, but have we worked on detoxifying the inside?

What do I mean? Well, some of us are in toxic situations or relationships. We have friendships that should have ended a long time ago because it’s damaging to our psyche. However, we cannot let go. Your friends pop up in your life, cause drama, then leave for a bit. That’s not healthy. It messes up your train of thought and your energy. I did a presentation a few years ago on energy vampires based on the book, “Energy Bus”. Although it was a presentation for others, I was also preaching to myself. 

I have a bad habit of getting wrapped up into things. I get easily attached. The bonus of my personality, however, is just as easily as I get attached, I can detach. But, there are some large gaps in time where I’m still super attached. When I meet people or friends, I only see the good things. I mentally block out the red flags because I enjoy the fun stuff. I enjoy the exchange of memes and the good morning texts. I enjoy the new activities we do together. But then, after weeks of the fun stuff, the red flags start blazing. 

I see that you’re on social media, but you haven’t responded to my text. I see how the mood and frequency of your texts change. I see that you aren’t as present as you used to be. But why? If you want to be a friend, why change?

With ladies, we see this happen so frequently. I’m in a group online where women are there to make friends. We plan outings and trips, then slowly but surely the number of people starts to decline. Why bother trying to hang out if you plan to disappear? In the words of Fantasia, “if you don’t want me, then don’t talk to me. Go ahead and free yourself.”

So, because of this, I keep my friendship circle small. I rarely invite people in. It hurts me when I feel that we are friends, but then you diss me. This week, I looked at my mood. My mood has been in a state of agitation lately and I think it’s because I need to detoxify my life. I analyzed some of my friendships and I decided that it’s time to let it go. Take my heart out of it. I’ll still be cordial and get work done, but I will focus my energy on things that serve me. Things that will improve my mood, my health, my mind, my soul, and my future. I cannot take your negative energy with me. 

As much as I love my people, I sometimes have to let them go. In the words of a bad breakup, “It’s not you, it’s me.” And, it really is.

Lost in My DMs

Social media is a funny thing. It’s good because you can market yourself to the world. Entrepreneurs thrive on social media. DMs can be used for direct sales and advertising. Sometimes, we get offers for endorsements, networking, and promotions. Some people have even found love on social media. However, there’s a dark side. 

Many people slide into DMs for nefarious reasons. Some people try to get you to sign up for inappropriate links. Sometimes there is spam for false promotions. Those false promoters have fake views and fake followers. Or, they tell you to DM their main profile. Ma’am, why didn’t you message me from your main page if you want to endorse me? Also, I’m not paying for a product you want me to promote. That’s dumb. Don’t fall for that trick. Or, you get the bitcoin or cash app people who claim you won a grant from the government.

Then, of course you have the creeps. I hate the creepy people who send messages like, “hey beautiful,” or “I love you.” Sir, how can you love me when you don’t even know me? My thing is, your account doesn’t even look real. The first picture was posted two weeks ago and it looks like it was stolen from someone else’s page. Your English is all broken and you say crap that doesn’t add up to our level of non-friendship. 

Typically, I delete dms from people who look suspicious. I’m not trying to end up on one of those locked up abroad or love the other way shows. I only use my dms for networking with other authors, by offering free promotion. So, if you get a weird dm from me, please know that it’s a hack and alert me immediately.

15 Reasons Why Your 30s are DOPE!

I am currently thirty five and I feel that I am in a much better place than I was in my twenties. The biggest reason is because I have officially given up. Not given up on life, but given up on trying to live up to the expectations of others. I choose to live my life the way I want to. I choose to give myself the luxuries I was never afforded as a person who grew up in poverty. I didn’t realize I deserved this until I entered my thirties. At first, some of my peers made fun of my experiences. Now, that they see the joy I have in my life, they want to be a part of it. Well, I decided to let all of you in on my secrets!

  1. Finances

When I began teaching, I could barely afford my apartment. It was awful. I lived off of hotdogs and breakfast as dinner. So, I decided to go to grad school to earn a masters. The hope was to increase my salary. I did get a higher salary, but I also gained more student loan debt. I also traded in my car every few years. It created a ton of negative equity in each car I bought. But something happened. A few years ago, I had to file bankruptcy. It only cleared the debt relating to my business, but I still had to pay off my own personal debt. After hitting thirty, I noticed I was much closer to retirement (in EDU you can retire after 28 years, I’m in year 13). I became a little nervous and uncomfortable. So, I made a conscious effort to begin paying down debt. I followed the Dave Ramsey method. I’ve begun living off of a percentage of my income. I sent a percentage to savings each month. I pay down my credit cards little by little. So far, I have paid off two in the last year. Now, I’m also looking into stocks and rental investment properties to help me move into retirement more smoothly.

  1. Hair Stylist

I have locs, so I haven’t needed a hair stylist in years. However, since turning thirty, I have begun to need certain services. I started seeing greys! So, I periodically visit my hair stylist to get my hair dyed. I do not recommend doing this at home, by yourself. Allow professionals to handle chemicals.

  1. Skincare

I had a ton of acne growing up and my skin is sensitive. If I pick at a bump, it turns black. Now, since visiting my esthetician and getting facials, my skin glows. Peers from back in the day asked if I bleached my skin. I try to get facials every month or so. At home, I use a facial scrub twice a week to decrease new acne. I also use tea tree oil to moisturize my skin. I also use my exfoliator on my entire body once per week. It makes my body feel super soft.

  1. Get Checked

A few months ago, I had a health scare. I hadn’t been to the doctor in years. The only reason I went was because I had a UTI. After getting checked, I had early warning signs of cancer. I am so glad they caught that. I had to have minor surgery to get it removed. The scary part is that if I hadn’t had an issue, I probably would not have caught it soon enough. Don’t take your health lightly. Diabetes and high blood pressure plague our community. Get checked. For everything!

  1. Wax/ Vajacial

The older I get, the more hair I seem to have. After a while, I was tired of shaving. The hair grows back more coarse and more often. So, I decided it was time to make a change. Waxing was the best thing I could have ever done. I only have to go once every 6 weeks. The hair stays gone longer and grows in silkier. The vajacial helps your skin stay smooth and makes the color more even. It’s beautiful!

  1. Glasses

I began having headaches when I turned thirty. I thought it was high blood pressure or something. Then, one day I began typing my symptoms into Google. I made an appointment to get my eyes checked. Yup, I couldn’t see. I got my first pair of glasses and my whole world changed. I could see shapes and colors I couldn’t see before. I have astigmatism. The world isn’t supposed to jump…lol

  1. Social Media

Just like Marie Kondo tells you to remove things that do not bring you joy, you need to remove people or pages on your social media that doesn’t bring you joy. If you’re not vibing with someone or something is posted that offends you, delete it. Remove it from your life. That disconnect helps you clear out the negative energy.

  1. Friendships

Similarly to social media, you need to review your friend circle to see if anyone needs to be removed. Everyone in your circle is not rooting for you. If the conversation gets dry when you’re telling them something you’ve achieved, let them go. Also, your friends should be motivating you to grow. If they are doing the same things they were doing years ago, they’re stagnant. Get new friends

  1. Massages

This year, I put a lot of strain on my body from working out. It got so bad that I was limping. Epsom salt baths were not doing it for me anymore. I began researching the best masseuses in the city. I found one in University and it has been the best thing. I get a 2 hour massage once a month. It has helped me relax and deal with my stress. Best investment I’ve made in a long time.

  1. Travel

Like I mentioned in one of my previous posts, travel is paramount to my survival. My first international trip was to the UK in college. The bug bit me and I haven’t been able to shake it since. Travel gives me something to look forward to. I try to take mini trips once per month, like a road trip or weekend getaway. Then, like twice a year, I try to take big trips. International. Festivals. Either alone or with friends.

  1. Style

As a little girl, I watched a ton of movies and read a ton of magazines. I always wanted to dress like Robin Givens on Boomerang. So, when I became a professional, I began to find clothes to complete that look. I still follow fashion blogs and social media accounts for inspiration. What I have found is you feel better when you love how you look. If you don’t like how you look in your clothes, exercise. I work out at least 3 days per week. This keeps my self-esteem high!

  1. Homes

Find a home that feels good to you. Don’t live above your means. Make your home feel good to you. Decorate for your personal style. I prefer a home that feels lived in. I use warm colors that hide spills. I have two kids and pets! If you prefer fancy, though, go with it. I also chose to buy a home that costs way less than I can afford because I want to use my money to help me feel good. I’m barely home during the week, so I didn’t want a home that took all my money out of my pocket.

  1. Workshops/ Conferences

Always look for ways to improve yourself. Whether it’s work related or personal, do something that helps you grow. You’ll feel better. Plus, you’ll see the world through a new lens. You may also develop new skills that could profit you in the future.

14. Family!

Spend time with them. You never know when they will no longer be here with you. You begin to realize that in your 30s.

15. Toys

Whether it’s outdoors or indoors, find something you can enjoy. Outdoors, I enjoy my paddleboard and bike. Inside, you can play with something that makes you warm 🙂 Don’t feel ashamed to enjoy yourself, whether it’s with someone or alone.

What’s something you learned after 30? Like, Comment, Share 🙂

I Am My Own Soulmate

I heard a song a few weeks ago that really spoke to me. The song is “Soulmate” by Lizzo. After listening to the lyrics, I realized something. We need to change our definition of soulmate. 

According to the online dictionary, a soulmate is, “a person ideally suited to another as a close friend or romantic partner.” But why? Why do we need someone else? Why can’t we be complete by ourselves?

What if we are our own soulmate? Lizzo’s lyrics goes as follows:

“Cause I’m my own soulmate (Yeah, yeah)

I know how to love me (Love me)

I know that I’m always gonna hold me down

Yeah, I’m my own soulmate (Yeah, yeah)

No, I’m never lonely (Lonely)

I know I’m a queen but I don’t need no crown

Look up in the mirror like damn she the one”

I agree with Lizzo. I think I’m my own soulmate. I figured this out a few years before this song came out. A few years ago, I was so bombarded with life: A husband, children, grad school, and work. But, I wasn’t happy; I was losing my mind. 

Then, I did something that changed the course of my life. I found myself. I decided to take myself out on a date. I left everyone. I didn’t call any of my friends. I didn’t have any romantic partners. It was just me.

I had to decide what I wanted for myself. This alone time gave me the space to learn myself and love myself.

I rented a hotel room. I went to a book signing. I ate chinese food in bed. I sat and figured out what goals I wanted to accomplish. This was the best thing I could have ever thought of.

I learned a few lessons:

  1. Love who you want. This doesn’t only apply to sexual relationships, but it could. Build relationships with friends, lovers, etc. 
  2. Forgive yourself. Every situation teaches you something. Don’t regret your choices.
  3. Love yourself. Despite anything you’ve done, love yourself and your decisions. You’re the one who will be with you for the rest of your life. You shouldn’t be the one hating yourself.
  4. Go solo. Sometimes you don’t have friends who want to attend certain events with you. Who cares? Go. Enjoy yourself.
  5. Set goals! Reach your goals. Live the life that you want.

You only have one life to live. Love yourself and enjoy!

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Self

Published


For many of us, publishing the traditional route is not an easy option. Some choose to send their manuscripts to publishers or participate in #pitmad on Twitter to see if a literary agent requests a manuscript. For those of us, like me, who are impatient, eager, and sometimes frugal, there are other ways to publish and get your work to the masses without breaking the bank. 

A friend of mine said that if a publisher asks you to pay for them to publish your book, you may want to investigate. When I initially wanted to publish my first book, I researched local Charlotte publishers. I met with this “publisher” who wanted to charge me $3000 to publish my book. When I turned down the offer, he blocked me on all social media sites. Weird right?!?! Why bother doing business with a person like that? So, I decided to go the Indie route. I spoke with other authors and followed people vigorously on social media. Because of this, I was able to chart my path and learn a few things along the way.

What to write?

First, you need to decide whether you want your story to be fiction or nonfiction. Then, you’ll need to decide the genre/ age group. Either way, your story must incorporate a problem and solution. 

A great story has a problem that needs a solution. Some stories may have more than one problem. This is the first thing I think of when creating a story. Depending on the genre, the problem can be anything. Some of the problems of the recent projects I’ve been working include remembering, loss, and relationships. I tend to write in the genres of romance and suspense. Other problems can include dominating a culture (king, queen, etc), finding someone, trouble at work or overcoming obstacles. Whatever you decide, it cannot be a straight path solution. There should be twists and turns.

Characters

The next thing I like to do is name my characters. Or, if you’re writing nonfiction, you’ll need to research your subjects/people. I begin with my main characters. I name sub-characters once I actually begin writing the story. The names just come to me. I feel like they match the character’s actions and motives. Some people create this list ahead of time. I don’t have that type of foresight. I have to see how the name feels in a situation. Make sure to write down traits of the characters and keep the list close by. It would suck to write the wrong name or get your characters mixed up throughout the story.

Writer’s Block

Have you ever had this great idea and boom, you’re stuck. Yes, most writers have. I preach about this on my Twitter and IG page all the time. Whenever I hit a wall, I have to do something exciting. I’ve gone to retreats, paddle boarding, vacations, riding ATVs, tubing down rivers, etc. I have to spice it up. Stepping outside of the norm opens you up to new experiences. It helps you write through new eyes!

Steps to Self-Publish

Cover design, editing, and formatting: I would find someone on Fiverr. Some people on social media are fine, but some will just take you money and run. To have a safety net, I prefer to do business through a trusted site. On the site, you can see samples of their work and you are not charged until you see the product and approve it.

Copyright: To avoid anyone stealing your work, you definitely want to copyright it. You can do this before or after you publish. You can do it yourself on the website. Do not waste money paying someone to do it for you. Make sure to include a copyright page in your book with your information before publishing. For sample pages visit here. To copyright your work, simply create an account on copyright.gov and plug your information in. The fee varies depending on your final product, but starts at $65.

Self-publish: There are several websites where you can self publish. The most popular are Amazon (KDP), Lulu, Ingram Sparks, or Barnes and Noble. The cost varies from different sites. I chose KDP because you only pay for your printed copies and your book is available within a few days online or print. Author copies typically cost under $5. With Ingram, the package costs more. Also, with KDP you do not have to purchase your own ISBN. They will assign one for you. Even Though I published with KDP, my book is available on Barnes and Noble, Walmart, and Indie bookseller websites.

I’m published, now what?!?!

The first thing you need to do before publishing is develop an audience. You’ll need to create pages on different social media platforms and tease your audience about your pending project. Make memes, give inspiration, show artwork. Anything that can entice your friends to want to buy your book. If you’re doing a children’s book, post unfinished drawings. 

After you publish, shout it from the rooftop! Post it everywhere. Tell everyone. You can even run ads on social media sites. If you don’t have a large budget, it’s fine. You can run ads as low as $1 on Facebook/Instagram. I believe it’s a minimum of $50 on Twitter. If you publish through Amazon, you can run ads on there too. One thing I highly recommend you NOT do, is pay some random on Instagram to promote your page. Many of them are scammers and know how to make it look like their page has high engagement. Stick to something where you can see the metrics. Make sure you learn your target audience, so you’re not wasting money on uninterested people.

Happy Publishing!!!