Be Bold

She was bold and did something out of her ordinary. What happens is not necessarily the outcome that I wanted, but I’m still glad that I got out of my comfort zone and tried something new. Who knows. Maybe I will run into Albuquerque again some day (insert shrug).

Keep the Door Closed

Photo by the one and only  Alina Mamlyuk

Photo by the one and only Alina Mamlyuk

I have learned many lessons in my life, especially in the last year. They were all completely necessary and vital to the success of my purpose. Perhaps the most powerful fact that I gained this season is to be thankful for the closed doors.

After I resigned from my job, I mourned the closed door for 3 solid months. I stood there looking at it hoping that in some way the door would crack open, the uncomfortable comfort would seep out and I would be who I thought I was supposed to be again. There came a moment when the grief was exhausting and I took a baby step away, then another and another. The door slowly but surely faded into the background of the beautiful hallway that I was traveling down. I failed to see it because I was too busy looking at a rickety, old, dilapidated door that was doing nothing for me and hadn’t served me for years even when I was inside of it.

That closed door introduced me to a gorgeous life. Without it, I would never have seen the beauty of the current day. I am so incredibly thankful for it. As a matter of fact when a door is closing, I slam that bad boy shut, seal it with nails and block myself from ever walking into that exit again. Some would call it cut throat. I call it clear direction. Closed doors create intentional forward movement because the only option you should make, is to walk away from them.

But of course as humans, not only do we stand there and look at the door, we also do everything in our power to pry it open. We will literally harm ourselves to get a glimpse of what God no longer wants us to see. About an hour ago, God closed a door for me. In the past I would have lunged at the knob and used all of my might to keep it open but instead I thanked God for His decision and wished the door well. I bid it adieu and kept it moving.

I can’t tell you how good it feels to know that I am walking towards the doors God wants me to walk through instead of entertaining the ones that are departed.

There are literally people (I was one of them) that reside in dead doorways. We fear whats on the other side of them so much, that we stay stagnant. We incarcerate our purpose in a memory.

I say all that to say this: don’t be that person.

There is no time to delay. Start following the map that God has literally laid out for you with every single closed door. While they don’t always make sense, they are concluded to create movement. Thank them for the experience and move onward my friend.

Change Cadet Live

Click the pic for all of the details about Change Cadet Live!

Click the pic for all of the details about Change Cadet Live!

I have been MIA and there is a good reason for that…GROWTH. We will be talking about it. Trust me. Speaking about talking about growth…

My dear friend Dr. Akilah Cadet (below in all of her glory) is remarkable. According to herself, Akilah is a coach, consultant and the Olivia Pope of diversity in the workplace. I would give you a complete download of her amazingness but I want you to visit her site to see for yourself. Go ahead. Click HERE beautiful.

Why am I telling you about this gorgeous force of nature? Because Akilah is launching a podcast that will change lives and I am honored to be the first guest. In true Akilah form, the podcast will be introduced LIVE on July 20th via a chic modern tea party. I am uber excited to dress up but even more pumped to talk about things that we all need to hear. Akilah’s podcast is going to be about sharing stories of change and transformation and let me tell you hunni, I am right smack in the middle of mine. Guess what? You are too.

I seriously can’t wait! Not only am I excited about being the first guest on The Change Cadet Podcast, I am also excited to meet all of you! The first 65 people get something special but personally, I am getting the greatest gift, spending the afternoon with you!

For all of the details, click HERE. Also, make sure to follow Dr. Akilah Cadet @ChangeCadet and The Change Cadet Podcast @changecadetpodcast. See you on the 20th!

Click the pic for all of the details about Change Cadet Live!

Click the pic for all of the details about Change Cadet Live!

Full Circle

Graduation season is in full swing and recently I had the absolute honor to be the commencement speaker for my Alma Maters Black Graduation. It was a full circle moment for so many reasons. At University of the Pacific, I found my voice. It was where I discovered my confidence and realized that being Black was a privilege. I could explain it further but I thought there was no better way to show my sheer amazement for the day but to post my actual speech. 

I am incredibly grateful for Marshea Pratt and her entire staff for asking me to speak and congratulations to the 2019 University of the Pacific Black Graduates!

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Good evening! How is everyone doing today? Greetings friends, faculty, staff, alumni and the illustrious class of 2019! Yes, you better make some noise for yourself! You did that!

My name is Alicia Jay. I received my Bachelors in broadcasting in 2002 and my Masters in Public Relations in 2003 right here at Pacific. I see you sitting there trying to do the math and let me just do it for you...I am 38 years old and looking great I might add. Now the burning question, did I play a sport at Pacific? Yes. I was the captain of the soccer team. The tallest goalie Pacific has ever had. Y’all actually believed me?

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Really, I played basketball for 5 years because I redshirted for a season. For those of you who don’t know what that is, I was granted an extra year of eligibility because I needed to get stronger. When I walked on this campus I was a very skinny girl, with absolutely no muscle, who didn’t know who she was, with zero confidence. I came all the way down from Beaverton, Oregon where I was one of a few black kids in the school district. Not the school...the entire district. I would walk home from elementary school with my little brother and someone would yell nigger out the window. I had a teacher that would bring me up in front of the class on a regular basis and tell everyone how poor my spelling scores were and what a terrible student I was. Later when I began my career in basketball, my Father pulled me off of the court during a game because he could see that I was visibly shaken due to the other teams racial remarks against me. On top of that, I was bullied on a regular basis for being exceptionally tall. Now, I know that they were making fun of me because they wanted my gift and couldn’t have it but at the time every comment felt like a knife to my side. So by the time I arrived at UOP, I was depleted. I was low. I was suicidal.

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During the first week, my teammate and I got a knock on our door and when we opened it, we were greeted by every black person on campus. The entire black student union came to make sure that we knew that they were there and more importantly that they had our back. After they left, my roommate and teammate who was from Oakland (shout out to Ahshalic) was shocked that the group were ALL of the black people in the student union, but for me, I was juiced! I finally had MY community with me. The 15 people at my door made me feel seen. They are my best friends to this day. They are the people who brought me back from hating who I was and more importantly taught me what a privilege it is to be black. They are my Sorors who I crossed with in 2001 when we reinitiated Delta Sigma Theta Sorority incorporated right here on this campus. They are my community that reminds me every day that I do in fact belong in the rooms that I am in and have the strength of every single black person who paved the way before me.

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Look around you right now. No matter where you go, you will always have a thread of being in this graduating class with each other. This moment is the starting point to the rest of your lives. Now, I’m gonna take it church. I need you to greet your graduating class right now. Hug your neighbor to the left and the right. Congratulate them. Really. Do it right now. Don’t make me come down there and hug each and every one of you because I will...

Now, why am I up here? Sure. I have accomplished some things. I could talk about how after graduating from Pacific, I commenced a 13 year career in corporate America with the Golden State Warriors in Game operations and marketing. I won awards, produced championship games, I was in parades and I have three rings which of course I am wearing tonight because I earned these bad boys and paid the taxes on them so please believe I wear them whenever I get the chance.

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I could talk about creating a successful lifestyle platform called TallSWAG that helps people to stand tall every day, in every way, that has brought me to many stages just like this one, enabled me to change lives and even star in a number one hit television show on TLC that was watched by millions of viewers. BTW I’m @TallSWAG on all social channels.

Click the photo for more about why I decided to go on a show with the word GIANT in the title.

Click the photo for more about why I decided to go on a show with the word GIANT in the title.

I could also talk about meeting Michelle Obama. I have proof y’all. Look. She is hugging me like I’m family. That’s not photoshopped. I still can’t believe that.

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But I am not going to talk about any of those things. Today, I am going to talk about painting your own picture.

The other day, I went to one of those paint and sip classes for the first time. If you haven’t been, it’s a class that teaches you how to paint the template of a picture while you sip the drink of your choice.
This was the one that we were going to paint.

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So, I get there. Find my easel. And I see the outline that is drawn. I make sure all of the colors are there and I am ready to paint it exactly how they told me too and something just clicked...why? There’s nothing wrong with it but I don’t put flowers in my hair and these colors don’t really go with my apartment...why did I have to stay in these lines? The answer is...you don’t.

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As you walk into the rest of your lives there are many people that are going to try and box you in and up. They will put parameters around you and give you parameters to stick to.

They will tell you your hair is too natural,
that you can’t deviate from the plan,
that you are intimidating,
that you don’t deserve the promotion, a seat at the table or can create your own table.

That is their version of the painting. Those are their lines. Don’t let those lies incarcerate your truth. You are bold. You are dynamic. You are a game changer and a history maker. You are everything that many people don’t want you to be

and they will do things to make you believe that their version is better. Do not let them.

8 months ago I listened to myself say this and walked away from a guided portrait to pursue my own work of art. I am now a full time entrepreneur. It has been challenging, it is taking prayer, patience and persistence but any great feat does. In your path you will encounter many lessons and it is your job to live through them, learn from them and pass them on, so today that is what I am going to do for you. These are lessons I learned for someone in this room today and you better appreciate them because they were not pleasant but like all lessons completely necessary...

Starting over is essential. You will do it many times throughout your life. They will all be scary. They will all be worth it. You arrive at every new start with the necessary lessons for that level of your life. Nothing is wasted. Use the levels, don’t let the levels use you.

You belong in the room. Whether it be a room that you created or one that you are helping to create, you deserve to be there. Your path led you to this place.

God makes no mistakes. Embrace it and thrive in it.

You are the only one with your gifts. No two people are the same. We are created to accomplish things that only we can do. Stop comparing your gifts to someone else’s. There is no comparison. Create your lane and thrive in your purpose.

Congratulate and Collaborate. We are here to build with our community. We achieve together. Our gifts are to be shared and celebrated. Contribute to and gain from your community.

Hard work always pays off. You must move your feet or someone else will. Purpose cannot be achieved without movement.

Never stand at closed doors. Closed doors are a blessing. They carve our path just like open ones do. Do not stare at them. They are there to create movement. Thank them for the experience and move forward.

The bear is scared of you. Your gifts will scare people into forming weapons against you. They will not prosper. Move past their noise and towards the achievement of your goals.

Ignore the clock. Shed the worlds timeline of success. Work hard. Follow your path and let your purpose unfold in the way that it was meant to. Don’t rush your story. Live it.

Get out of your own way. Your feelings will stop you from doing what it takes to accomplish your purpose. Choose faith over feelings always.

Leave it here. You will never see a U-Haul behind a hearse. You are here to leave a positive mark on the world. Get out there and use your gifts to do it. Use your influence to the fullest.

Now, these are very important points but really it all comes down to this very moment. You have accomplished something amazing and I am very proud of you but if you don’t do anything with it, you just paid a lot of money for a cap and gown. Use your gifts, your black privilege and the knowledge that you have gained right here at UOP to change the world in the most humble way possible. There is nobody that can do it in the way that you can except for you.

It has truly been an honor. Thank you for having me and congratulations to OUR new class of 2019!

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Congratulations to the 2019 University of the Pacific Black graduating class!

Congratulations to the 2019 University of the Pacific Black graduating class!

Sweat Equity

We have all been there. You are straight chillin on the couch, when your friend calls last minute with something fun that you just can’t pass up. You only have moments to get ready and are currently in sweat mode. What to do? Remix those sweats boo!

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You can add some very small things that will make a big impact on a chic athleisure look. In this case, I added a simple faux leather jacket, hoops and some nude pumps. Seriously, thats it. I guarantee you already have accessories that you can add. No purchase necessary. Just go in that closet and mix it up.

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ASOS DESIGN Tall Hoodie & Jogger Set (shown in size L) /Faux Leather Jacket - ASOS  (similar here) /Glasses and Hoops - Forever 21/Pumps - Calvin Klein (shown in size 12)  Photos by  Alina Mamlyuk

ASOS DESIGN Tall Hoodie & Jogger Set (shown in size L)/Faux Leather Jacket - ASOS (similar here)/Glasses and Hoops - Forever 21/Pumps - Calvin Klein (shown in size 12)

Photos by Alina Mamlyuk

If you are looking for sweats, I highly recommend the ASOS loungewear line but if you already have them, there are simple, easy and free ways to pump them up 20 notches. Try some things out. The worst thing that can happen is you have to buy a new pair of sweats and the best is unlocking new looks you didn’t even know you had in your closet. That doesn’t sound like much of a risk to me. Besides, you need that emergency look on hand for that one last minute friend that we all have, know and love. Stay ready so you wont have to get ready. Period.