How to Quit Your Day Job to Live Your Mission: Day 1

I am so excited to let you all know that WBAI Pacifica radio has commissioned me to do a 3 part radio show series on “How to Quit Your Day Job to Live Your Mission“.  On Wednesday, June 29th,  I completed Day 1 of the series.

WBAI

During the series, I will discuss my own experience in quitting my job as a corporate attorney to become a full-time author, storyteller, educator, and training facilitator through my publishing and education consulting firm, Milestales (www.milestales.com).

The first show featured Tara Mohr who is an author, thought leader, and training facilitator.  She is the author of Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead She is also the founder of the Playing Big Facilitators Training.  Tara Mohr gave me and listeners phenomenal advice about being honest with ourselves about our passions, devoting even a short amount of time to cultivating our passion, re-evaluating what safety and stability are, and silencing our inner critic in order to PLAY BIG.

Magician, Ran D. Shine, was my second feature. Ran D. Shine shared his own experience with respect to leaving a graduate program in public health in order to become a magician.  It was not an easy road.  Relatives thought that he was suffering from mental illness, clients were suspicious, and sometimes he had to take odd jobs to make ends meet.  But he persevered and has found great success.  He performed at President Barack Obama’s 44th Presidential Inauguration Banquet and Ball in 2009.

Please listen to the archived show by going to http://www.wbai.org/archive.php.  The show is listed under Positive Mind, June 29, 2016.

Please listen to WBAI Pacifica 99.5 FM next Wednesday, July 6th from 1 p.m.  to 2 p.m. for the second show in the series. It will tackle how to budget while preparing to quit your day job and will feature Tiffany, “The Budgetnista”, Aliche.  If you don’t live in the NY area you can always listen via Internet at http://www.wbai.org/ and more directly, http://www.wbai.org/playernew.html.

Love you all,

Ama

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5 Spiritual Secrets to Extraordinary Success As Told by 5 African Women

Women’s History Month is ending, but your journey to achieving greatness is not ending. For most of us, it is just the beginning. These five African diaspora women used spiritual secrets to catapult them into the lives of their dreams and we can do so too!

Secret 1 – Viola Davis tells us to DREAM BIG 

If you are not living a life bigger than yourself, then you’re not living a life at all.” -Viola Davis

Viola Davis was born in a one room sharecropper’s home in South Carolina that had no toilet or running water. Her family then moved to Rhode Island where she lived in abject poverty and dysfunction. Her alcoholic father beat her mother every day. A group of schoolboys would chase her and throw bricks and rocks at her while shouting,“We want to kill you, you ugly, black nigger.” Yet, she was able to overcome that background in order to become one of the greatest actors in the world. She became the first black woman to win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. When asked how she did it – she replies “If you are not living a life bigger than yourself, then you’re not living a life at all.”

You must dream big and have amazing and extraordinary goals for yourself and your life. You must not look at what is, but imagine what could and shall be!

87th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals
HOLLYWOOD, CA – FEBRUARY 22: Actress attends the 87th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 22, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

Secret 2 – Octavia Butler shows us that you must PUT YOUR BIG DREAMS IN WRITING

Octavia Butler was born as the only child of her mother who was a maid and her father who was a shoeshine man. Her father died when she was only seven so she was raised by her mother and grandmother. She consistently saw the horror of white supremacy as she would witness the wicked ways in which employers would treat her mother. As a child, she was shy and socially awkward and struggled with dyslexia. She thought of herself as “ugly and stupid, clumsy, and socially hopeless”. However, she would rise from such humble beginnings to become a best-selling science fiction writer and multiple recipient of both the Hugo and Nebula awards and also received the MacArthur Fellowship which is also known as “The Genius Grant”. How did she do it?

Of course she worked very hard! But she also dreamed big and put those dreams in writing. See her notes below. She wrote her life into existence. You can too!

Octavia Butler's Journal 

Secret 3 – Michaela DePrince shows us that we must VIVIDLY IMAGINE OUR DREAMS

Born as Mabinty Bangura in Sierra Leone, she was brought to an orphanage by her uncle. According to the orphanage, Michaela DePrince’s father was shot by rebels during the civil war and her mother starved to death. In the orphanage, peers teased her incessantly by calling her “the devil’s child” because of the white patches on her skin due to her vitiligo. How on earth could someone in that position become a wildly successful dancer for the Dutch National Ballet?

Of course she has spent countless hours honing her craft. But from a spiritual perspective, she vividly imagined her big dream of becoming a ballerina. While at the orphanage, she fixated on an image of a ballerina who looked soo happy and then vividly imagined herself becoming one. She kept the image. Later, she would be adopted by a family in NJ and she showed her adoptive mother the ballerina image. Her adoptive mother put her in ballet class and the rest is history. Are you vividly imagining your big dreams?

Michaela-DePrince-main

Secret 4 – Adenah Bayoh tells us that YOU ALWAYS HAVE SOME CONTROL 

I learned that becoming a victim in difficult circumstances is a choice and that it was not going to be my choice.”

Adenah Bayoh was only eight years old when she had to move to a refugee camp because of the civil war in her homeland of Liberia. She would immigrate to the United States at the age of 13. However in a little over a decade, she went from struggling refugee to wealthy entrepreneur. Adenah is the founder and CEO of Adenah Bayoh and Companies, which is the parent corporation that owns IHOP franchises in Paterson and Irvington, New Jersey and a real estate development portfolio with over $225 million in urban redevelopment projects. Because of the success of her flagship IHOP in Irvington, she is the second largest employer in the Township. Next year, Adenah will launch Cornbread, her signature line of fast casual, farm-to-table, soul food restaurants. How on earth did she do it?

Of course she studied! Of course she worked hard! Of course she sacrificed! But from a spiritual vantage point she credits her success with her ability to never cede control. She says, “I learned that becoming a victim in difficult circumstances is a choice and that it was not going to be my choice.” In life, it is easy to play victim. It is harder and more rewarding to play victor and to recognize that you always have some control. Regardless of what happens you always have control of something. You always control your attitude, at the very least.

adenah-bio

Secret 5 – Oprah Winfrey tells us to CALM DOWN BECAUSE IT ALWAYS WORKS FOR THE GOOD

There are no mistakes” – Oprah Winfrey

On your journey towards your most amazing and extraordinary life. There will be hiccups. There will be tough times and sometimes you will think to yourself, “I really messed up big time”. But Mama Oprah will tell you that there is no need to beat yourself up because there are many roads to greatness. There are no mistakes or accidents. It all works for the good. It all leads to the same path or supreme destiny.  Oprah would know. She grew up in poverty and her grandmother used to advise her to pay attention when the grandmother was washing clothes because the grandmother believed that Oprah would also become a maid. Oprah experienced sexual abuse, teenage pregnancy, and other trauma. However she rose to become one of the wealthiest and most influential human beings on the planet!!! Don’t get flustered in the day to day. You will be okay! Hear it directly from Mama Oprah below!

Please follow this blog for more inspiration!

By: Ama Karikari-Yawson Esq., Author of Sunne’s Gift and Founder of Milestales Publishing and Education Consulting. Purchase Sunne’s Gift at http://www.amazon.com/Sunnes-Gift-Overcame-Bullying-Reclaim/dp/0991480805/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8.

Please follow us at https://milestales2013.wordpress.com and feel free to invite me to your school, university, or company to speak. My phone number is 347-886-2026 and my email address is milestalespublishing@gmail.com.

20 Quotes to Conquer Fear in the New Year

Are you ready to become the person that you were born to be? It is 2016 and I’m sure that you have your list of resolutions. You may be interested in losing weight, starting a business, expanding a business, switching careers, leaving an abusive spouse, having/adopting a child, or moving to a new city. You believe that 2016 will be the year that you “just do it”. But will fear get the best of you again? Will fear prevent you from fulfilling your ambitions?

Three months ago, I left my six figure salary job as a corporate attorney for a major financial institution in order to answer a calling of empowering others through storytelling. I wrote about it here.

I became a full-time author,storyteller, speaker, trainer, and workshop provider. As a New York married mother of two preschool-aged boys, I was fearful. In the months leading up to the decision, I could not sleep. Demons of fear surrounded me as I lay, whispering the following questions. Am I good enough? Would we lose our house? Would we wind up in a shelter? Would we starve? Am I crazy? Those fears still affect me. The road has not been easy and I’m experiencing financial challenges. But I have faith that I made the right decision and that I am becoming the woman that the universe is calling me to be. The following 20 quotes continue to help me conquer fear. I hope that they will help you too. Contact me at milestalespublishing@gmail.com if you have any questions loved ones

1. “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” – Jack Canfield

Think about it loved ones. That new job is on the other side of fear. That new business is on the other side of fear. That new relationship is on the other side of fear. Most people with new jobs, new businesses, and new romantic relationships went after it. They submitted applications, called potential clients, and they asked others out on dates. If you want the breakthrough, you have to want the breakthrough more than you fear the breakthrough.

Everything You Want Is On The Other Side of Fear

2. “I did not ask permission, I gave notice.” – Lisa Nichols

Motivational speaker and best-selling author Lisa Nichols discusses the experience of being a mother of an infant son without money for diapers for two days. That was her rock bottom and then she decided to radically transform her life. She attended the same conference 42 times in order to raise over $500,000 for her motivational speaking business. She overcame fears by becoming committed to the result that she wanted. She made the decision to be great – without apology. See her short and emotional testimony below.

 

3. “Just be yourself, everyone is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde

Do you feel as if you are living someone else’s life? Do you feel as if you are living someone else’s dream for yourself. There is only one you on the face of this earth. It is time to be you without fearing the repercussions.

4. “If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there’s shouting after you, keep going. Don’t ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.” – Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman says that she freed over a thousand slaves and she could have freed a thousand more if they had only known that they were slaves. What does it take to face the threat of capture, torture, and death in the quest for freedom? It clearly takes a spirit that refuses to quit. It takes a spirit that will “keep going”. You can have that spirit.

5. “What would you attempt to do If you knew that you could not fail?” – Unknown

There is only one you and you have only one life, so live it fully. Life is supposed to be fun, exciting, and exhilarating. Stop allowing the fear of failure to paralyze you. Failure is simply a sign to tweak your course of action.

6. “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Are you judging yourself by an inappropriate standard? Conquering fear is about developing confidence regarding your greatness. You develop that confidence by creating your own standard and by refusing to be judged by foreign standards.

7. “What is the purpose of my life? What am I going to do?” Narayanan Krishnan 

After seeing a homeless man eating his own human excrement out of hunger, Narayanan Krishnan quit his job as a chef at a fancy hotel in order to feed the homeless and mentally ill in his hometown in India. His job as a chef at a fancy hotel did not seem meaningful or fulfilling given the crushing poverty in his community. Are you having such a moment? Narayanan Krishnan felt called to feed the homeless and he did not allow fear of poverty, social stigma, or danger to stop him. Are you answering your call?

8. “If you want to have a life that is worth living, a life that expresses your deepest feelings and emotions and cares and dreams, you have to fight or it.” – Alice Walker

Mediocrity is fairly easy. Society is set up for you to just be average. It is set up for you to have the average education of people in your class, to get an average job, eat average food, and die of average causes. But if there is something inside of you which is yearning to do more, be more, and live more of an exceptional life – you have to get over your fears and fight for that life.

9. “Whatever you can do, or dream you can begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” – Goethe

Are you ready to experience the magic, power,and genius of boldness? The boldness is a result of conquering your fears.

10. “Find your gift. You were entrusted with special talents that no one else on earth has. You must devote yourself to finding and cultivating those gifts. You also have to develop the confidence to share them, otherwise they will be lost forever and the world will be harmed as a result.” – Ama Karikari-Yawson

Please watch me discuss this very point a presentation for college students below.

11. “Be bold-and mighty forces will come to your aid.” – Basil King

I have been pleasantly shocked by the angels who have come to my aid since I quit. Two friends set up a DC school speaking tour for me. One bookstore owner invited me to Chicago to be interviewed by BBC with her, fed me, and housed me. An educator set up two private home Kwanzaa speaking engagements for me in which I sold over 40 copies of my first book, Sunne’s Gift. The list goes on. Do you have trust in the universe to support you?

12. “You can’t just sit there and wait for people to give you that golden dream, you’ve got to get out there and make it happen for yourself.” – Diana Ross

What are you waiting for? You have so much work to do in making your dreams come true.

13. “The true desire in the heart for anything good, is God’s proof to you, sent beforehand, to indicate that it is your’s already” – Denzel Washington

You already have it. You have your manifested dreams. Claim it! Create incremental goals for it! Work for it! Be disciplined about it! Be consistent about it!

14.  “Self-sabotage is knowing exactly what you need to do to improve but not doing it. It’s procrastinating doing the very things that you know will make you happier. It’s waiting till things are 100% perfect till you do them, but that of course never happens. It’s remaining in the comfort zone because of the fear of failure or uneasiness of change. It’s a mindset that you may be completely unaware of until you really think about it. So think about it. Are you a prisoner of your own thoughts? If you are, take responsibility and acknowledge you put yourself into that prison. But know that you have the power to free yourself.” – Caitlin Japa

Powerful right?

15. “The worse feeling that anyone can live with is regret.” -Professor Natalie Nixon

I had the pleasure of meeting Professor Natalie Nixon in person when we both did a George School TEDx event. Her words about regret really resonated with me. How would you feel at the end of your life if you never found the courage to pursue your dreams?

16. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”Jeremiah 29:11New International Version (NIV)

Even the atheists among us can appreciate the power of this quote. This quote represents the powerful belief that an omnipresent and omnipotent creator or creative force intends for us to prosper. We just have to do our part with respect to having the faith to enable the greater plan to unfold.

17. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure… We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson

18. “Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto“, or “I am human, and nothing of that which is human is alien to me.”-Terence

If you embrace your full humanity you will recognize that you are a human being and therefore capable of the same greatness of other human beings such as Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Einstein, Malcolm X, Harriet Tubman, John Brown, Kwame Nkrumah, and Yaa Asantewaa. They answered their callings. Will you?  

19. “If you want to be successful, you have to jump.” -Steve Harvey

Steve Harvey discusses the need to jump towards your greatness.  He describes the desire to be great as being on the edge of a cliff with a parachute.  You must jump in order for your parachute to open. You can stay on the edge and be safe, but you will never fly. Are you ready to take a risk and jump towards your destiny?

20. “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.” -Thomas Alva Edison

Get to work loved ones. It’s 2016!

 

Why I’m Sometimes Against Interracial Dating

What bigoted moron could ever be against interracial dating? Finding someone who will love you despite your physical “flaws”, idiosyncrasies and emotional wounds is hard enough without imposing limitations based on arbitrary race categories! That is how I thought, until last Thanksgiving.

That wonderful time of year had come and I decided to host the festivities. I was so busy setting and clearing the table, directing guests and caring for my two toddler boys that I hardly listened to the dinner conversation. But the next day, a guest called me to tell me about my teenage nephew’s views on dating. I was appalled.

Apparently, my nephew, Richard, declared that there was not a single attractive black girl at his college with hundreds of black girls. His schoolmate then added that the only girls Richard finds attractive have long blonde hair and blue eyes. Richard, who is black himself, did not deny it. In that case, I was not shocked that Richard did not find any black girls “attractive” because I too have never met a black girl with natural long blonde hair and blue eyes. That same evening, Richard laughed heartily as he told the joke that black women died on the Titanic because they refused to get on emergency rafts. They were screaming “I’m not getting on. I don’t want to get my weave wet” (insert Shanaynay voice). As if it could not get any worse, when a question came up about a man’s ethnic background, because the dark-skinned and balding man could arguably pass for either African or South-Asian, Richard retorted that the man was “black as sh**”.

The guest’s retelling of Richard’s Thanksgiving behavior created a terrifying image of my handsome, brilliant and talented nephew, whom I deeply love. It painted an image of a black boy who, but for our familiarity and lineage, would not love me back or see beauty in me because I’m a black woman. It is not difficult to find videos of black men demeaning black women’s physical characteristics. These men promote a standard of beauty that dark-hued kinky haired black women can’t biologically attain, while mocking us in our attempts to halfway meet that standard through long straight-haired weaves and wigs. But I never imagined that such hate speech would be present in my own home, at a table purchased and decorated by black women and filled to the brim with food lovingly cooked and served by black women. If such lunacy could infect my nephew, then the rest of the black boys that I loved were not safe from such white supremacist indoctrination.

I could not sleep that night. I lay awake in my bed, surrounded by black manhood. My three year-old son was sucking his thumb with one hand and tugging at my sisterlocks with the other. My 13-month old son was nursing while sleeping. I played footsy with my husband. Sadly, the words of controversial Egyptian-Sudanese-American novelist Kola Boof, during her twitter fight with Nigerian-American rapper, Wale, echoed in my mind. “Our …….enemy …has turned out to be our own … self-hating sons….who …[want]..to escape …[their]… own people….”  Please don’t let her words be true, I thought to myself.

The next day, a Saturday, I called Richard’s mom at 9:00 a.m.

I told her that I was deeply disturbed by certain comments that Richard had made. She did not need to hear much more. She said “it takes a village” and handed the phone to Richard.

I told Richard that I didn’t care that he finds blonde women attractive, but I was very concerned that he does not find black women attractive. He was filled with teenage bravado and defensiveness.

When I confronted him about saying that there was not a single attractive black girl at his college, he argued that he did not say that there were no attractive black girls. He said that he had not seen any attractive black girls in his 1.5 years in college. This distinction without a difference troubled me and I pleaded with him to look closer. I told him that his mother and sister were beautiful (they look like the model Oluchi Onweagba) and that he should look for their beauty, which is not uncommon in the African Diaspora, in the women on his campus.

Next, I expressed that the weave joke was inappropriate, especially given the fact that out of the eleven adult black women at Thanksgiving dinner, eight donned hair that did not grow from their scalps. Hair is an accessory used by women of multiple races. Richard argued that he told the joke to my forty-year old male cousin, who happened to be married to a white woman at the time, and my cousin did not say anything and therefore the joke must have been fine. I responded that it is often challenging to speak up in such situations and my cousin’s silence did not necessarily mean approval.

When I asked him to refrain from using the phrase “black as sh**”, Richard replied that he did not mean it that way. I responded that it was still offensive.

I said “I love you” and reminded him that he was the most beautiful boy in his childhood. Although I was 14 when he was born, people would sometimes ask if I was his mother when I babysat him. “Yes”, I would reply. The pride of being perceived as the mother of such an adorable boy outweighed the stigma of teenage pregnancy. I told him that I take it as a compliment when people say that my sons resemble him and that at the very least he should be open to marrying a black woman and to having a child that resembles him in hue and hair texture. Seeing beauty in a black woman is seeing beauty in himself. If he falls in love with a non-black woman, great. I will support him completely! But his interracial relationships should be based on genuine love, and not lack of appreciation of his own physical features as reflected in black women.

Knowing that he has been called horrific racist names by white people in his suburban town, I told him that his beauty and humanity are self-evident, even if certain individuals and media images deny that. Last, I told him that his current perspective serves as a curse upon his teenage sister who will soon navigate the dating world.

Richard did not seem swayed in those moments. He is still a teenager who, like most teenagers, is discovering himself. But I’m confident that at some point, he will wrestle with my words.

Please don’t misinterpret me. I firmly believe that we all are spiritual beings having human experiences. As spiritual beings, we should find love and companionship with others, regardless of race, national origin etc. I deeply care for my former and present white sister-in-laws. I even used to own a dating site that encouraged black women to open their minds to men of all races. The interracial dating bloggers behind BeyondBlackandWhite.com and SwirlingandMarriage.com are my friends and colleagues. Heck, I’m an interracial dating advocate!

But that does not mean that I advocate racism. Racism not only manifests when whites with felony convictions fare as well, or better, in the job market than black applicants with clean backgrounds. 

Racism is not just present in the prejudices of police officers who kill and brutalize unarmed black citizens such as Michael Brown, John Crawford, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Abner Louima and Marlene Pinnock. Racism can be internalized. It can be present in the hearts and minds of black people and it impacts how we value ourselves and each other. The lack of appreciation of blackness and the desire to escape blackness through inter-marriage, as depicted in the famous painting Redencao de Cam, is one of the lingering psychological effects of slavery, colonization and white domination on people of African descent. For those reasons, I take issue with the race-based self-loathing that sometimes fuels interracial dating.

Redenção

For example, an African-American male friend of mine in high school once said that he loved his kids too much to have them come out with “nappy” hair like his own. He later married a Mexican woman.

Additionally, there are reports of a Ghanaian man, Augustine N.K. Boateng, promoting a service called Half-caste World which allows women and couples in Ghana to purchase foreign sperm for the sole purpose of having mixed-race children, without actually knowing or ever meeting someone of a different race.  I hope that this pathological thinking is rare, but it certainly exists.

We all represent God’s handiwork with our different skin tones and hair textures. My inspirational children’s book, Sunne’s Gift: How Sunne Overcame Bullying to Reclaim God’s Gifthighlights the beauty, power and necessity of our diversity. That said, all our relationships should be fueled by love, and not tainted by self-loathing, of any kind.

Sunne Cover

Sunne’s Gift

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make Room Santa Claus, Kwanzaa Nana Is Coming to Town

New York, United States, December 9, 2015 (Newswire) –​​​​​​​​Make room Santa – An African-American author, Ama KarikariYawson Esq., has created a new character for Kwanzaa called Kwanzaa Nana. She introduced the character in her latest book Kwanzaa Nana is Coming to Town: Visit 1.

Ms. KarikariYawson was inspired to create the story and the character because of her experience as a mother. Last year, her then four-year-old son had started a new school in a predominantly white neighborhood.  He started saying some disturbing things about skin color soon after beginning the new school. For example, he told her that he could not swim because he had dark skin. Ms. KarikariYawson was shocked. Both she and her husband are of Ghanaian heritage and her husband’s family is from the coast of Ghana where many men are fisherman. That said, both parents knew that dark skin does not prohibit stellar swimming and were horrified that their child could even have such a thought. Around that same time, her four-year-old also made a point of stating that Santa Clause was white.

“I could not disagree with the idea that Santa is white. My four-year-old son had asked me why we had dark skin and I told him that we are from a warm tropical place and that people with paler skin are from cold places. Santa Claus is from a cold place so Santa could be white. But, I wanted my sons  to have a benevolent folkloric figure with skin like their own. I did some research and learned that the idea of Santa was popularized by the poem “A Visit From Saint Nicholas”, which you may remember starts with the line “Twas the night before Christmas”. I wanted Kwanzaa to have a similar character, but there was no such poem or book for Kwanzaa that I knew of. I then thought of this Toni Morrison quote -“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” I had to write it.” says Ms. KarikariYawson

The first book in the Kwanzaa Nana series, Kwanzaa Nana is Coming to Town: Visit 1, is currently available on Amazon and Smashwords in ebook form. The lovely story incorporates all of the principles of Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa Nana shows up in children’s lives in order to give them the inspiration and the supplies needed to resolve issues in their own communities and lives.

kwanzaa kinara

 

Ms. KarikariYawson is currently running an illustration contest for students to create the concept art for the story. That art will be used to illustrate the book and the students will receive credit on the printed version which will be available in 2016. The term “Nana” in the Akan languages of West Africa can mean grandmother, grandfather, king or queen, so even the gender of Kwanzaa Nana is unknown and will be decided communally through the contest. The students with the winning concept art will receive free art supplies.

She hopes that the character and the stories will provide positive imagery of people of African descent while aiding in the proliferation of Kwanzaa celebrations worldwide. She also hopes that it will provide inspiration to people of all cultures all over the world.

‘”Kwanzaa Nana represents that loving, caring, and supportive grandparent that all children should have. Kwanzaa Nana is the grandparent that loves you unconditionally, sees you as perfect at all times, understands that you are capable of greatness, and supports you on your journey towards fulfilling the highest manifestation of yourself. In a world in which we are constantly told that we are not good enough based on our skin, hair, height, weight, learning difference, mobility difference, ethnicity, economic situation, and much more, Kwanzaa Nana tells us that we are amazing.” says Ms. KarikariYawson.

Kwanzaa Nana Is Coming to Town: Visit 1, is not Ms. KarikariYawson’s first children’s book. In May of 2014 she published Sunne’s Gift, a creation fable that uses afro-textured hair to teach a lesson about the beauty and power of difference. The Harvard-trained attorney felt so strongly about the book and her calling to spread empowering messages that she quit her job making a six-figure salary as a corporate lawyer for a major financial institution.   She writes about the courage it took to quit in this blogpost. https://milestales2013.wordpress.com/2015/08/26/5-steps-to-quitting-your-day-job-in-60-days/

Sunne Cover

Sunne’s Gift

She founded Milestales Publishing and Education Consulting and she currently travels the country performing Sunne’s Gift and other stories and poems in her assemblies, workshops, and training sessions surrounding issues of bullying, diversity, culture, sexual assault, and much more. She speaks, lectures, and trains at elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, colleges, corporations, organizations, and institutes. Please contact milestalespublishing@gmail.com or call 347-886-2026 for booking.

Here is an excerpt of Kwanzaa Nana Is Coming to Town: Visit 1

Kwanzaa Nana Is Coming To Town: Visit 1

‘Twas the week before Kwanzaa, and all through the town, School kids were joyful, sun-up to sun-down.

They learned art, science, music, and math.
It was clear that they were on a prosperous path.

Then all of a sudden, while kids were home in their beds. A monster came to town causing sadness and dread.

The monster destroyed the town’s school.
All the children wondered how he could be so cruel.

Without school, how would they learn and grow? How would they acquire information to know?

One student, Imani Faith, is what they called her, was especially saddened by the tragedy and horror.

In her grief, she visited her sacred place,
where she was able to reflect and dream in a private space.

While sitting and thinking there, Kwanzaa Nana appeared!

Kwanzaa Nana  is older, like a grandma or grandpa, and has a face and body that are filled with laughter.

Kwanzaa Nana’s skin is the deepest and darkest of browns, because Kwanzaa Nana is from an equatorial African town.

Kwanzaa Nana wears an outfit of red, black and green.
The clothing was the most beautiful thing Imani had ever seen.

Kwanzaa Nana’s beautiful big eyes sparkle like stars, While Kwanzaa Nana’s spirit of love is always ours.

Kwanzaa Nana told Imani that there was nothing to fear. “Everything you need for an amazing future is already here.

You are the most beautiful and brilliant child of the Most High. No monster can destroy your ability to fly.

Just ask for what you need, and the universe will supply it. You are and will be great. No one can deny it!”

What did Imani Fatih do after Kwanzaa Nana’s visit? Read the rest by purchasing here, http://www.amazon.com/Kwanzaa-Nana-Coming-Town-Visit-ebook/dp/B0160333F4/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8,  

Participate in the illustration contest here, https://www.facebook.com/kwanzaanana/app/244041225639079/

You can also visit http://www.milestales.com/.

Are you Affirming Your Black Child In These Five Ways?

I hear the same stories from parents of black children day after day. Their daughters are

expressing the desire to have hair like long straight-haired April in their kindergarten class. These

same girls are fawning over the white skin and long flowing hair on Barbie or Elsa from Frozen.

Boys who look like young Gary Coleman are asking why they don’t look like and have hair like

Jake from from Jake and the Neverland Pirates or Justin from Justin Time. The parents that I

speak to tell me that that they try their best to affirm their children with compliments on their

appearance, but their children are still interested in looking like someone else or being someone

else. I think that teaching our children to love and embrace themselves, their skin, hair, unique

personality, etc. is THE most important lesson to teach. Please watch my

TEDx talk on this topic to understand why.

That said, are you doing the following five things to affirm your black child?

1. Are you leading by example?

Children listen to what you say, but they also observe what you do. If you have naturally kinky or

curly hair that you frequently and consistently straighten with heat/chemical relaxers or that you

cover with straight hair extensions, your children are noticing. They see that you value straight hair

rather than curly or kinky hair and they will do the same. Please consider leading by example by

revealing your beautiful kinks or curls often and celebrating them with your children.

Similarly, around the world, black women are bleaching their skin with harmful hydroquinone

and yet they are shocked when their dark skinned daughters feel ugly. In all cases, we must lead

by example.

South African pop star Mshoza before and after altering her skin.

South African pop star Mshoza before and after altering her skin.

2. Are you complimenting dark skinned and kinky haired children?

Children learn language through you. I know a few African Americans who grew up in Southern

areas where the term “pretty” was almost universally used to describe people with lighter skin and

looser curls. These African Americans can’t bring themselves to call someone with dark skin

and tight kinks “pretty”, regardless of how beautiful that person is, because of the definition that

they learned. As a parent, if you consistently refer to your child’s skin and hair as pretty and

you compliment black children of all shades and textures, your child will learn that black is

beautiful in every shade and texture.

3. Have you purchased black kinky and curly haired dolls for your children?

Dolls are powerful because they are physical representations of human beings. According to

doll collector Debra Britt, slave masters knew the power of dolls and forbade enslaved African

American children from playing with black dolls.  A topsy turvy doll with one white head and one

black head was invented so that the enslaved children could play with white dolls in public, but then

admire their own reflections by playing with the black doll sides when they were no longer under the

slave master’s watchful eyes.

Topsy Turvy Doll

Topsy Turvy Doll

Additionally, the historic “doll test” by Kenneth and Mamie Clark and the reenactments of it done

by Kiri Davis and CNN also demonstrate the importance of affirming our children through dolls.

These tests demonstrate that children overwhelmingly have been taught to associate negative traits

with darker skin tones.

Thankfully there are a number of dolls out there with kinky and curly hair. One such doll pioneer is

the company Healthy Roots.  Healthy Roots recently completed a successful kickstarter  campaign

for their line of natural hair dolls. These dolls even come with books that teach natural hair care!!!!

You can still  preorder at http://healthyrootsdolls.com.   Other sources of natural hair dolls include

Madame  Alexander (http://www.madamealexander.com/) and Natural Girls United

http://www.naturalgirlsunited.com/.  I have purchased several black male action figures of the WWF

variety.  I am still looking for emerging companies with a variety of black male action figures.

4. Do you show your children animated series with black kinky and curly haired main

characters?

As much as I and other parents would like to cut down on screen time, the convenience of

having kids quietly watching a show while parents can attend to pressing work or household

matters is just so so appealing. But, an Indiana University Study shows that television exposure

makes all children except white boys, feel worse about themselves. The researchers believe this is

the case because of the dearth of affirming non white male characters on television.

That said, is important to show children affirming and empowering images.  I try to make sure that

when my kids watch TV on weekends, they are watching cartoons like

Little Bill and Bino and Fino, in addition movies like Garrett’s Gift.

5. Do you purchase and read books with kinky and curly haired lead characters for your

children?

As the author of Sunne’s Gift, a children’s book and fable

that honors afro-textured hair while promoting the lesson that there is beauty and power

in difference, I am passionate about affirming children’s books. Finding diverse

animation is tough, but finding diverse books is relatively easier. Sunne’s Gift

is a great start. Other books with inspiring message about hair

and appearance to consider include, I Love My Hair by

Natasha Anastasia Tarpley, I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont, Bippity Bop Barbershop

by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley. Jamie Loves Her Natural Hair by Ariane Roberts is a

good book for girls who wear their hair in both kinky/curly and straight styles because it

discusses what happens when a straight style gets wet.

Sunne's Gift

Sunne’s Gift

I hope that this list was helpful to you. If you want to chat about this topic or you would like me

to speak at a school, church, conference, or other venue, please email me at

milestalespublishing@gmail.com.  You can also call me at 347-886-2026. Also subscribe to

https://milestales2013.wordpress.com/ to get more stories that will help you and your loved

ones grow the distance!

5 Steps to Quitting Your Day Job in 60 Days

Are you hungry for more out of life?  Do you have a deeply engrained passion which you have expressed through a side business that is completely unrelated to the job that you do from 9 a.m. to  5 p.m. or later five days per week?  Is your desire to pursue that business or passion project growing stronger each day, but you do not believe that you can quit your job because of the financial obligations that you have to yourself, your spouse, and or your children?

I hear you.   About three weeks ago I gave notice to my supervisor that I would be leaving my six figure salary job as a corporate lawyer to become a full time author, publisher, entrepreneur, and educator.  I wanted to answer my calling to write more books, promote my inspirational children’s book Sunne’s Giftand facilitate bullying prevention workshops and professional development training for schools, corporations, and other organizations through my education consulting firm Milestales.  The decision was definitely challenging emotionally, physically and financially.  Although my salary looked good on paper, I have never felt “rich” due to the high burdens of child care and student loans.  These are the five steps that I took before handing in my resignation letter.  You too can use them to quit!

My TEDx Talk on “The Most Important Lesson To Teach Children”

1. Get “There” Mentally
I believe that in order to truly explore the idea of quitting your day job to pursue your business and passion project  full time, you must get “there” mentally.  You must get to a point in which you want to realize your dream more than you fear realizing your dream. Every fiber of your being should be crying out to live with passion and purpose.  You  should feel as if you can’t breathe unless you become the highest manifestation of yourself as a human being and that if you can’t live life on your own terms, you do not want to live anymore. Are you mentally “there” yet?

2. Cut Financial Fat

If you are mentally there, but you feel financially trapped, it is time to cut the fat.  It is time to figure out how to decrease your expenses drastically.  This might mean moving or at least being willing to move to a cheaper living space or cheaper town.

By decreasing your expenses drastically, you will feel more financial room to build your business.  I encourage you to read this blog post about a couple that left all of their material possessions to explore the simple life.  It inspired me to re-engineer my life for financial savings.

Even though my salary looked great on paper.  I really felt like I was just working to work.  I started my career as a securities lawyer at a law firm in which I worked very demanding hours.  There were times that I had conference calls at midnight.  Moreover, it was not uncommon for junior attorneys to spend the night in the office and take showers in the building.  Because I got married and had my first child in law school, I had to  contend with the high costs of childcare and student loans during my entire corporate law career.  I paid for babysitters and then when my children were two and I felt that they needed to socialize and learn more, I sent them to part-time preschool.  Pre-school and babysitting cost me about $4,000 a month.  Additionally, I had student loan bills from Harvard undergrad, Wharton’s MBA program, and The University of Pennsylvania Law School that totaled nearly $2,000 a month.  Paying for food, dry cleaning, transportation, and a few bills like electricity and water, left me with absolutely nothing at all.  I was working to work. Thankfully, I have a husband who pays other major household bills.  That said, “cutting the fat” may not be feasible for single parents and others.

For me, I had to figure out how to decrease my grocery bills, child care bills, and student loan bills.  I went to uglier and cheaper supermarkets, let go of my babysitter and put my kids in a home-based full-time extended day care. When necessary, I woke up at 4 a.m. to get work done because I would have to leave work early to pick up my kids.  I begged relatives to pick up and take care of my kids for free when I could not make it to their day care on-time.  I also refinanced my student loan bills.

3. Refinance Your Debt If Possible

We are currently in a low interest rate environment.  As part of “cutting the fat”, explore refinancing opportunities.  I cut my student loan obligations by almost half by refinancing with CommonBond.  I’m so happy with experience that I actually would like to be a spokesperson for the company.  If you refinance, using this link, let me know and I’ll send you a FREE copy of my inspirational and motivational children’s book, Sunne’s Gift.  It will make a great gift to the children in your life so “don’t leave it on the table”.  I also refinanced a home loan. Refinancing should not take more than two months.

4. Know Your Number

So now, you have made the necessary sacrifices with respect to changing your lifestyle.  What is the new amount of money that you need to make per month?  Would you be able to make that amount of money freelancing, substitute teaching, contract lawyering, virtually assisting or doing something else part-time that would allow you to spend the vast majority of your time pursuing your passion and building your business?  If so, congrats!  It is time to quit.  If not, it is time to save save save.  Figure out an amount that would make you feel comfortable.  That amount may be 6, 12 or 24 months of your living expenses. No one can make that decision but you.  I came up with a savings number and worked towards that goal.

5.  Just Do It!

Conditions will never be perfect for taking a chance.  If you are seeking absolute perfection and absolute certainty you are sabotaging your own dream.  If you have completed the above four steps, there is nothing left but to do it.  Are you willing to choose significance over status, clarity over clutter, passion over prestige, and courage over convenience? Are you willing to choose yourself?

If you want to chat about this or you would like me to speak at a school, church, conference, or other venue, please email me at milestalespublishing@gmail.com.  You can also call me at 347-886-2026. Also subscribe to this blog to get more empowering info about living the life you were called to live.

Sunne's Gift

Sunne’s Gift

Pleas purchase the book at this link http://www.milestales.com/store/c1/Featured_Products.html or this link http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0991480805/ref=sr_1_1_twi_har_1_olp?ie=UTF8&qid=1440789800&sr=8-1&keywords=sunne%27s+gift

The Three Ways You May Be Training Your Child for Mediocrity

We all want our children to succeed in life.  But what if the rules have changed?
What if the old model of just being obedient to all of society’s social norms and trying to fit in will no longer guarantee success, or even a decent livelihood?
Did you say no the last time that your daughter asked to cut her hair short so that she would not have to deal with the pain of combing it?
Are you making sure that your sons don’t play with dolls or toy kitchens and make sure that your girls wear pink and purple?
Do you restrict their clothing choices so that they never look different or weird?
In this passionate TEDx talk, I describe why such training may be very dangerous during this time of rapid cultural and technological change.  The video is short. Please watch and tell me your thoughts by emailing me at milestalespublishing@gmail.com or call me at 347-886-2026. I would love to speak at your school, church or organization.  

sunne's gift, milestales, afro-textured hair, the gift