Today I get to celebrate four decades of being alive on this amazing planet! I am so grateful for all the people who have been a part of my journey (you know who you are!) and everything that helps me live with a greater understanding and respect for life.
So for my birthday this year I want to share with you 40 lessons I have learned in 40 years of life 🎂 It’s a list worth growing into… still working on that;)
My heart is full! So grateful for all who’ve allowed me to show up with more lightness, authenticity, and freedom.
I am looking forward to this new chapter of my life where I get to use all that I’ve acquired these past 40 years. I’m surrounding myself with more people who push me to be a more courageous explorer; a more inspired mother; a more present friend; a more supportive partner… to KEEP LIVING and KEEP LOVING.
👇🏻👇🏻👇🏻 Now it’s your turn. What is the lesson you’ve learned you want to share?
Dare to believe.
Dare to believe in something hopeful. Dare to believe in something worth feeling so intensely, something that fuels your purpose, your passion. Dare to believe in something that lights up your world and illuminates your path with its powerful flame.
Dare to believe in the priceless value of your life experiences. Appreciate every single one of them. Dare to kiss your battle scars, your scratches, and your stretch marks.
Dare to care. Dare to be kind to yourself even when others are not. Dare to share your heart even when it’s been through hurt. Dare to shout your love from the rooftops. Dare to take up space even when you’re not sure that you belong.
Dare to breathe. Dare to do. Dare to be.
Here’s a brilliant message about being happy. It’s a loose English translation of “Palco de vida” attributed to the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) not Pope Francis as some online posts claim. I hope it inspires you and helps you find the renewal of HOPE, HEALTH, and LOVE. Happy Easter 🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿
You can have flaws, be anxious, and even be angry, but do not forget that your life is the greatest enterprise in the world. Only you can stop it from going bust. Many appreciate you, admire you, and love you.
Remember that to be happy is not to have a sky without storms, roads without peril, work without fatigue, relationships without disappointments.
Being happy is finding strength in forgiveness, hope in battles, security in fear, love in disagreements.
It is not only appreciating the smile but reflecting on the sadness.
It is not only celebrating successes but learning lessons from failures.
It is not only having joy in applause but finding it in anonymity.
Being happy is recognizing that life is worth living, despite all the challenges, misunderstandings, and periods of crisis. It is not a fatality of destiny, but an achievement for those who can travel within themselves.
To be happy is to stop feeling like a victim and become your destiny’s author.
It is to cross deserts, yet be able to find an oasis in the depths of our soul.
It is to thank God for every morning, for the miracle of life.
To be happy is to be unafraid of your own feelings.
It is to be able to talk about you.
It is having the courage to hear “no”.
It is confidence in the face of criticism, even sometimes when unjustified.
It is to kiss your children, pamper your parents, to live poetic moments with friends.
To be happy is to let live the creature that lives in each of us, free, joyful, and simple.
It is to have the maturity to be able to say: “I made mistakes”.
It is to have the courage to say “I am sorry”.
It is to have the sensitivity to say, “I need you”.
It is to have the ability to say “I love you”.
It is to have the humility of receptivity.
May your life become a garden of opportunities for happiness …
That in spring may it be a lover of joy. In winter a lover of wisdom.
And when you make a mistake, start all over again.
For only then will you be in love with life.
You will find that to be happy is not to have a perfect life.
Use the tears to irrigate tolerance.
Use your losses to train patience.
Use your mistakes to sculptor serenity.
Use pain to plaster pleasure.
Use obstacles to open windows of intelligence.
Never give up hope …
Never give up on the people you love.
Never give up on happiness, because life is spectacular, even if it gives you dozens of reasons to demonstrate the contrary.
For life is an incredible show.
Birth is absolutely beautiful.
It’s often a magical moment that comes right after tremendous pain. It’s a moving powerful mix of possibility, agony, and tenderness.
So is rebirth.
Now is a moment to reflect and review what we truly want for ourselves, our community, and our planet. What new insights has this unsettling time brought you? What are your priorities? What principles and beliefs are guiding you?
Feeling overwhelmed with family, conflicts, financial responsibilities, uncertainty, or fear that your security is crumbling? Embrace the disarray because another kind of birth is taking place.
Remember: Growth can be extremely messy. It’s never going to be linear because life is not perfect. Trust your journey. Be gentle with yourself. Everything about you is priceless. Be proud of everything you’ve gone through and what you’re doing to become who you’re meant to be.
Let love reign.
Each of us needs to be aware of what kind of energy we are sending out into the world. We can birth something beautiful.
If you needed this little reminder today, let’s connect on IG. Leave a 🤍 in the comments.
Keep going. Keep growing 🌻
Conflict is inevitable.
No matter how hard we try to avoid it, we all become entangled by conflict in our personal and professional lives.
In the workplace, clashes with coworkers might erupt because of disagreement on strategy, interpersonal friction, mishandled responsibilities, etc.
Even with family and friends, conflicts will arise from time to time. It doesn’t matter how different or similar we think we are.
Typical reactions to conflict include ignoring it, complaining to others, and reacting without thinking. I’ve learned firsthand that none of these produce effective results.
Instead, we want to master the practice of feeling and finding CALM.
So, how can we do that when caught in the heated emotions of conflict?
First, we want to become aware that we’ve been provoked. Instead of lashing out reactively, we want to pause long enough to notice how we feel and have the willingness to experience it. If we ignore or suppress the feeling, it will intensify. What we resist persists.
In that moment of pause, we can turn our attention to our breath, and take a few soothing inhales and exhales. This will help re-establish a feeling of clarity.
We can acknowledge the feeling of hurt then recognize that we are the creators of our emotions and choose to respond with purpose versus reacting out of fear. Choosing to take responsibility puts us at the affect of our lives rather than at the effect of our circumstances.
With our breath, we have a moment to restore psychological calm. Instead of feeding into intense emotions and escalating the situation, we’re able to think, listen, and handle things with a level head.
Now we’re ready to take a CALM approach:
When we sincerely listen before weighing in, we extend respect to the other side. This helps dissolve heated emotions. We create an opportunity for dialogue, where everyone involved can calmly share how they feel, ask questions of each other, and find a resolution. Everyone wins when conflicts are resolved conflicts in a cooperative and respectful manner.
When we face conflict mindfully, periodic scrapes don’t descend into chronic wounds. So do your best to approach discord with mindful awareness. Mastering the practice of feeling and finding calm offers a chance for anger to soften, clarity to surface, and resolutions to emerge.
Have you seen The Social Dilemma? I just did. It’s a Netflix documentary that uncovers how social platforms manipulate our attention purely to maximize their own profit. Of course, as a digital marketer, I’ve known this for a while. But when it’s told from that perspective, it makes you think 🤔
In the wake of the pandemic and the racial reckoning that’s followed George Floyd’s murder, trust and relationships have been top of mind.
Trust in social media platforms eroded significantly, particularly over the last year.
We’ve had cultural landmark moments and heard concerns about how social platforms are scaling harm with AI and Machine learning algorithms that don’t take into account diverse communities. We’ve had major boycotts of Facebook ads by some pretty large multinational brands, based on how the social network moderates content. The #DeleteFacebook Movement also continues to reappear from time to time in the wake of the latest data privacy scandal. And the list just goes on.
Many people ask if the backlash against social media has real weight behind it.
I genuinely don’t think social media is in the long-term decline.
Social networks revealed our global humanity when they first launched a little over a decade ago. And they still hold us by those relationship tentacles today. We are social creatures and when our physical connections were unexpectedly curtailed earlier this year, we turned to each other online. Even as things slowly turn to whatever the new normal will be, we’ll still be seeking each other out whether we’re close by or worlds apart.
We love to share with our friends and family. We want to connect, build community and create tribes around our passions and interests. We want to express ourselves.
A generation has grown up in this space. While people are concerned about danger on the digital front, it’s hard to go back. But as you use these platforms that have become so ubiquitous in our lives, it’s important to pause and ask yourself, who has your data? Every time we quickly accept the terms of service, we don’t realize just how much we’re giving away.
That’s why I go back to trust. I think if social platforms (and brands!) can build a relationship of trust with us we are more open to having our data being used, particularly if we believe it’s useful for us.
With more transparency and the ability to see how our data is tokenized, we can shape what we are comfortable with. We’ll need to have basic qualifications about who we’re sharing our data with. Ultimately that calls all companies to higher ethics and principles.
It’s time to forgive yourself for accepting less than you deserved.
For the ones who made you feel like you were not worthy of being loved the way you loved others.
It’s time to forgive yourself for the people you fought for that you should have fought off. It’s time to forgive yourself for not knowing how to set better boundaries upfront, for believing you could never love in halves.
Forgive yourself for the way in which you trusted, the way you let them leave fingerprints along your spine and messy imprints in your soul. Forgive yourself for unhinging your ribcage, and letting them leave more than memories in your heart.
It’s time to forgive yourself for letting them take so much of you.
It’s time to forgive yourself for letting them walk all over you so they wouldn’t walk away. Understand that you couldn’t have loved them any more, or less, or bent them into who they were not… and that’s ok. They are perfectly imperfect as they are. They were in your life for a season, for a reason.
It’s time to forgive yourself for hoping or thinking that the power of love would prevail over logic. It’s time to forgive yourself for trying, for wanting to believe that “I love you” meant “I’ll be there for you.”
Trust me when I say that there is love out there for you… a love that will treasure every inch of you. It won’t fumble with the depth of you, or take you for granted. There’s a love for you that will mold into every crooked crevice of you and fit like a glove.
Don’t settle for seconds or scapes. Don’t fall back into the arms of those who broke you. Don’t let your scars convince you that your heart holds no value.
Hold out for the love you know you deserve… love that breathes life into you, holds you tight and makes your heart melt into so much more. It will come. ✨
I’ve been having a lot of conversations about racism.
It’s not something we talk about because it’s incredibly uncomfortable and for a black woman in tech who already feels marginalized it can be tough to say what’s on my mind. Yet in some sense, I can empathize with the executives I’ve spoken to who frequently acknowledge how difficult it is to have these conversations because they don’t want to mess up. So because we don’t know what to say, we say nothing.
As disruptive leaders who are intent on making big change happen, we have to be able to have these conversations. If we want to come together in a better place, we can’t be complacent. We have to tackle this head-on. So where do we start? Here are 4 steps:
Dedicate time, be present, and acknowledge the situation. Recognize that many of your colleagues are going through and thinking about this. You could start by reinforcing one common, simple idea that we are here for each other. Acknowledge the pain, express your support for black employees, and show you are aware. You may not have specifics to address what’s going on with racism. Creating space allows for solutions to come forth from your own organization. In the very beginning, the purpose is to learn. Seek to understand where people are coming from, and create a space of respect and empathy.
From personal relationships to corporate conversations, it’s important to have clarity as you approach the conversation. In my conversations with people who are trying to figure out how to address racist attitudes, I’ve heard questions like: How do I have a conversation with my parents to let them know they’re saying things that make me feel really uncomfortable? How can I tell a co-worker that they come across as prejudiced? Remember, they may not even be aware of it. Some of these people may be talking about others in a stereotype in order to try and connect with you, but unjust, thoughtless or racist bias can create injury. Figure out a way to make it clear where you stand.
For companies, actions speak louder. People want authentic change and compelling action that shows specifically how you are actively being anti-racist.
Embrace the fact that you don’t know how to have these conversations and that it’s going to be uncomfortable. It’s helpful to have some rules in place, ahead of time. Have them written down or posted in the Zoom Room, for example. This would include things like:
Figure out ways of using safe language when someone expresses an opinion you don’t necessarily agree with. When expressing thoughts, it’s very important that people use “I” statements such as I am feeling, my experiences, etc. Avoid “you” statements and projecting onto other people.
All members in a dialogue must assume that there’ll be some sort of offense but it’s not intentional. As we get into these conversations we may say things that hurt or offend each other. Have a mutual commitment that, because of the relationship, we will work through it. The fact that there are many different opinions in our workplaces, families, and communities doesn’t mean that we can’t have these conversations. We should actively listen and be open to different perspectives so that we can learn from one another and become stronger together.
It’s great to have a conversation starter a question at the very beginning that encourages people to share from personal experience. It can be helpful to start the conversation with very simple questions to break the ice so that people get to know each other a little bit. These conversation starters are a way for people to ease into difficult dialogue. It will help them feel like they can express themselves. They will also be able to hear from other people and begin to listen to their lived experiences before you deepen the conversations. Conversation starters can be questions like:
Once the dialogue has started you can ask questions that take on racism head-on.
Acknowledge the existence of white privilege in order to be effectively anti-racist.
“I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group” – Peggy McIntosh in White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
It’s important to explore questions like:
Saying these things can be incredibly uncomfortable. However, not having these difficult conversations erodes relationships because when things are left unsaid, they’re left hanging in the air, murking the relationship. If handled the right way, hard conversations reinforce relationships. When you come from a place of understanding, learning and respect, difficult dialogue successfully cements that there’s a commitment to continue doing things together. This applies whether we are in the workplace, a family bound by blood, or people coming together as a community in the neighborhood and places like church. Remember what’s bringing you together.
Many leaders and executives acknowledge they don’t know how to say the right things. In fact, they say they are pretty sure they are going to say the wrong things. If we frame the conversation in the context of other work that we do, day in, day out, such as performance reviews, budget negotiations, leading teams in an organization, etc. we’ll acknowledge that we have everything it to do what needs to be done in order to move forward.
Initiating the conversation is a step in the right direction. Acknowledging that injustice exists and needs to be fixed is crucial. We must dig deeper to make real change. The next (and most important!) step requires that we take meaningful action.
Both coronavirus and the pandemic of racism have shown how we are inextricably connected through our shared vulnerability. As the world watched the blatant murder of a black man in broad daylight, hearts stopped simultaneously.
After a difficult and painful year dealing with personal battles of racial injustice, my initial thought was here goes another horrific situation that no one will speak about – the politicians will pander, the BLM movement will clammer, and everyone will go back to their daily business as if nothing had happened.
Then suddenly something magical materialized. All around America people started to rise up. Outraged at the injustice, they stood united against this chronic disease of American society. The streets were packed, the signs were powerful and clear: Black Lives Matter, Silence is violence, and If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention…
Slowly I felt life seep back into me. With the growing swell of people in every city in the nation and the world, I felt hope. Years of hurt started to melt away. And when I stumbled into protestors right here in my white suburban neighborhood of Sunnyvale, I broke into tears.
As a black woman living in that intersectionality in a workplace that’s predominantly white and male, I’ve found it incredibly difficult to raise my voice when I’m already feeling fairly marginalized. Often when I did speak out, I faced severe retaliation. After a while, I chose to flee the fight and focus on other areas that I felt I could impact.
I’ve found that my way back is to create a safe space to have genuine conversations. Some of my black friends are vehemently unable to engage in these dialogues because their pain runs deeper than mine. I recognize that my own experiences here as an immigrant, while immensely jarring and scaring, are mild compared to what my African American kin have been through – not just for decades but for centuries.
When we have these tough conversations we create resilience in ourselves and our organizations.
If we structure the conversations on race in the right way, we create connections that go beyond skin color, gender, sexuality, or religion to our shared humanity. In my conversations, it’s clear that for many, racism is not a lived experience. And yet at this moment, multitudes finally get what a part of what our communities are going through.
I found my voice in their outpouring love. And with all this, I found my heart again. I finally found I could engage in difficult conversations honestly, authentically, and compassionately.
If we can find it in our hearts to accept each other, even as we push each other to grow to infinite limits, we can unlock limitless possibilities for humanity.
Social distancing may be lonely, but you’re not alone.
Emotions are in upheaval for all of us, but this hard moment isn’t how you’ll feel forever.
You are a well of creative ingenuity and even if it doesn’t always feel like it, you were made for a time such as this. You are a warrior ❤ The answers are within you.
Breath deep. Calm down. And don’t be so hard on yourself.
You have what it takes to survive this.
Here are some self-care ideas to get you started:
Here are some self-care support resources that could come in handy:
Many of us are dealing with more than we’ve ever had to handle. Mental health is so vital and yet often unheeded. If you are struggling to cope with everything coming at you, be kind to yourself. Self-growth is tender. It may not always be fun, but it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment. Accept yourself, love yourself, and keep moving forward.
Stressed, depressed, overwhelmed, or lonely? Here’s guidance from Half of Us.
If you, a friend or loved one is at the end of the line, here are some crisis hotlines and local resources:
If you or someone you know is in danger, consider calling 911.
Stay safe, wear a mask, and see the good.