It's another year, and I guess I can officially say, after doing my third, that this is officially an annual thing we got going on here. I work so much, do so much, and rarely take a moment to reflect. But, I make it an absolute point to stop and look back, at least this once, at the end of every year, and breathe it all in, while purging it all out before the New Year. In no particular order.
THEME: Every year presents to me a new overarching theme. Not one that is looked for, but one (usually difficult) that is revealed to me over the 12 months. 2016's theme was rejection. Every year, especially as an entrepreneur, comes with nos. Lots of them. The trick is to stay at it, and as enthusiastic about it through the nos as you do to the yeses. This year I felt rejection in ways I'd never had before in my life, and it was the hard lesson of my year.
1. Airis 2. Tiffany Aliche 3. Adrian 4. Caesar 5. Brittney 6. Sarafina 7. Dad 8. Enovia 9. Danielle Young 10. Vaughn 11. Glenda 12. Ashley S.
5. What I Know For Sure By: Oprah Winfrey
1. The Big Short
3. Southside With You
5. Birth of a Nation
6. Before The Flood
1. Under Control - The Internet
2. Days Like This - Shaun Escoffery (Spinna and Ticklah Club Mix)
3. Friends Are Wasted - Snakeships Ft. Tinashe and Chance The Rapper
4. 6 8 - Gabriel Garzon- Montano
5. Consideration - Rihanna & SZA
6. All Night Long - Beyonce
1. Silicon Valley - San Francisco, CA 2. Newark, New Jersey 3. Megyer, Hungary
4. Santorini, Greece 5. Bocas Del Toro, Panama
1. Jason telling me Max was born
2. Tiffany Aliche, 1st phone conversation after I'd moved to Newark
3. Airis, nearly daily. Laughing so hard I could pee.
4. Caesar, laundry room at 2am. When keeping it directly real, just had to happen.
5. Vaughn...many while I was in Los Angeles. Most poignant was you helping me realize, and confirming that I'm writing my memoir for my Mom.
6. Elizabeth Gilbert giving me memoir writing advice in front of over 1000 people at Orpheum Theater in LA.
7. Red..or Green Carpet, at The Root 100. #BlackgirlMagic moment I had with Danielle Young.
8. My first date with Max. But even more intoxicating, the conversation after dancing all night at The Plaza Hotel for the Harlem School of the Arts Masquerade Gala. You are unlike any human being I've ever come across.
9. Chip Connelly hugging me, giving me a kiss on the cheek, and hitting me with the 'I know who you are' after introducing myself to him at Airbnb Open in LA. Mind. Blown.
10. A dear friend's revelation that she was in a domestic abusive relationship no one knew about. I don't know if I've ever cried that hard at someone else's pain.
11. Peter Kovac and I talking entrepreneurship in Hungary.
12. Getting the message from Siobhan to look up a newspaper article about Poughkeepsie, and finding out a percentage of people you knew in middle school and high school were going to prison.
13. Being in bed with Age, and us identifying and talking about our best friends.
14. The first run in, post break up, with Age at one of our favorite parties. One of the most emotionally conflicted conversations of my life.
15. Sarafina and I during Thanksgiving, reflecting on family.
16. Kellee and I at #NMDN Conference. Both, in tears, knowing we are walking in our purpose. I love everyone in this photo by the way.
17. PIX11 Anchor Sukanya telling me how proud she is of me and all I'm doing with Nomadness, after we went live for our....I think 4th Live television travel segment.
18. Ardonna in Bocas Del Toro, Panama.
19. My speech at the last dinner in Bocas Del Toro, Panama. Being ready.
20 & 21. Danny Simmons and I at Art For Life.
"Danny, I need a favor." - Me
"Who?" - Danny
"Soledad O'Brian" - Me
"Ok find her table. I'll do the introduction when I get back from the bathroom." - Danny
Words actually CANNOT express how much Danny means to me. Like, seriously.
Fast forward one week later.
Phone rings. Look at phone to see who it is. 'Soledad O'Brian'. Boom.
22. Erin in Rio, New Year Eve night, in front of the Chinese food spot. She got me. She got my 'why', and in that moment I felt like I had a sister.
23. All the conversations I had with myself at Collision Conference in New Orleans, listening to the speakers talk about the crucial nature of the right team.
24. Caesar, the conversation that proved to me that no matter how close we were, there were still fundamental parts of me that you missed/or didn't believe existed. Masculinity & femininity. Public & Private. My gut tells me in the last four months, your views might have changed. I told you this conversation really pissed me off before, but I thank you so much for it. You made me define femininity, for myself, with a level of precision I hadn't prior. You are of such value in my life. Thank you.
26. Airbnb HQ Crew, over drinks, in Silicon Valley. Valerie and Jeff, man. Thank you. Just, thank you.
27. Kelis & Vaughn at her food truck. Quick chat on tech and travel. Realizing she's much of what you imagined she'd be since you've followed her in Middle School.
28. Emotional conversation with my agent about writing my memoir. Swallowing all the pride, and rejection of sort. Starting again of my own accord.
29. Talking about motherhood and relationships with Kimberley.
30. Calling Kali to talk about the realities of our friendship.
31. Building with Danielle James at Neuhaus.
32. Ashley S. and I while painting my office... her in her underwear. Hilarious. And vibing off our Ginger Grits.
33. My Step Father on Christmas Day
34. Meeting Jasmine and hearing her story about her son H's rare form of cancer and me just thinking sometimes life isn't fair. Also us sneaking off the meditation retreat for snacks.
35. Asking Rebecca if she sees herself as beautifully as other do...and the reaction to that.
36. Brittney...about the role happiness plays in our work.
37. Dec. 31. 2016. Glenda's house. Literally, ushering in 2017 with pure emotional rawness. Not just mine, but the freedom in sharing of others. There were maybe twelve of us in her apartment, and we are all dynamic. Answering the two questions posed, "What is your truth? How does your work reflect your truth?" I cried the good cry. The cry that's been coming up in therapy. The cry of feelings of loss and rejection...and sisterhood. I think I finally realized how loved I am, in a room with my best friend and strangers who became brothers and sisters last night. I don't recognize the love that IS shown often enough. When I feel love has been taken from me, it cuts at the bone. Words kind of don't suffice for last night's sharing, and openings, as we bring in 2017. I am so grateful. So so grateful.
1. Listen.... 2. Bruh 3. Right. 4. Resonate 5. Energy
1. Self-care and accepting love are not restricted to just the big actions (going to therapy, retreats, etc...) but in the everyday micro actions. The calling a friend and saying, 'I'm sad. I need you today.' And letting people show up for you.
2. In wanting people to treat you as human, be human. Don't go from feeling to process in the same sentence. It doesn't allow entry for help. State the feeling, take a beat.
3. I need to start identifying and filling up on love, even if it isn't the type of love that I'm desiring or that I feel I'm deserving of from a specific place/person....because I am loved.
4. I want my compliment in a relationship, not my copy.
5. I signed up for all that comes up with entrepreneurship and relentless dedication to my dream...my team did not necessarily. Take heed that your process, and time frame, may shift your team. And that is absolutely fine. It's beautiful, actually.
6. The Universe is delivering the exact type of new energy and blood into my business that I've asked for. Transitions are tough, but necessary and beautiful. I'm excited.
7. I'm aware of the work and reaping that are here for 2017. It both invigorates, and scares the shit out of me.
8. I've become a faster dater. No letting men linger in my life unnecessarily.
9. I'm a lot for people. Regardless of gender. I require emotional intelligence and evolution on a level most people haven't touched yet on their own, let alone in a relationship. This is one of the problems that I believe in attracting my life partner. However, I don't ask for anything unreasonable, and it lets me know that the man who gets it, is truly THE ONE for me. As I have also been built FOR HIM. (thanks Chris)
10. When single, I need to have sex once every three months or else it clouds my judgment and I get very touchy and impatient. It actually clears my head, and I relax. So, if you are called upon for that specific purpose, please be consistent in just that. Nothing more. Just that.
11. I'm really really really ready to move onto events for Nomadness.
12. On their own, people are seeing and orating the urban travel sector with 360 degree glasses. They see us, why we are different, and great. That feels good. Reaching a place where I don't have to explain. Doing my job. Thank you.
13. I don't believe in 5 year plans. I actually don't believe in any plans past 2 years. It's too elusive after that time for me, and creates an easy space for people to become complacent. I can make actionable items today, for something 2 years from now, and it still feel connected. My sweet spot is 4-12 months out. I need to feel connected to the goal, and too much time away kills that connection for me.
14. Moving into my new loft changed way more than where I lived. It changed my mindset. It changed my network. It changed my friendships. It changed my hustle. It changed Zorro. It changed me. The last 4 months condensed has actually been the biggest life transition I've had personally in years. It's been jarring and beautiful.
15. Two best friends should avoid going through a break up at the same time, by all costs. It's very difficult, especially for an empath, to be a great supportive friend to someone in a breakup, while they themselves are in a space of fragility while going through their own.
16. I talk to your soul, or nothing. This is how I prefer to communicate.
17. My love language in intimate relationships switches from Quality Time, to Acts of Service in friendships. Crazy once I realized how intensely they can switch. I believe this is also an insight into how some can misunderstand how I show love.
18. I've matured a lot in business. Mainly because I know our uniqueness and my ideas are gifts given to me to manifest, in my style. I cannot be touched. I'm the secret sauce.
19. Dreams absolutely come true. Even far fetched ones. Even last minute ones. Thank you #SXSL!
20. I'm an alchemist.
21. Taken from Elizabeth Gilbert's 'Big Magic'...talk to your ideas. Literally talk to them, like a person. They float around, landing on humans to bring them to life. If you aren't in the place to do so, recommend someone else for it to land on. But talk directly to them.
22. When I'm in a relationship, and vocalize a non-negotiable...and you ignore it, I have to leave the relationship. This year I got the closest to cheating on someone that I've ever been in my life. I don't want to feel that again.
23. Rejection comes in many forms. It's all painful.
24. America's people and systems are even more lost than I realized.
25. It is ok to excel, even past those you know. You are deserving of nice things when you've busted your ass for years...every single day... to get them. You are worthy of letting go of the label 'starving artist' and it doesn't mean you are selling out. Life is too dope to be struggling all the time.
26. Your network will and SHOULD change as you rise. Gaining new folks doesn't equate to discarding old folks. However, you will notice that where you spend more of your time, who you talk to, who you build with, and who you naturally gravitate towards will absolutely change.
27. You want a brand to come after you, give them a reason. Getting Zipcar Ambassadorship over Snapchat and Twitter was one of the quickest and dopest manifestations of 2016 to me.
28. This year was the most adulting I've done in a year in my life thus far....like, fuck!
29. Raised my credit score 130 points in 8 months. Tiffany 'The Budgetnista' Aliche is the truth.
30. Moving was therapy for me. Painting and creating my own space from scratch was even more therapy for me. I fucking LOVE where I live. I'm finally in not just a loft, but a neighborhood that is indicative of my growth as Evita.
31. Paypal business loans are the business.
32. This year I got more into crystal healing. I'm still a newbie, but I will say the yoni egg has been the biggest learning curve, and has opened my emotions up in the rawest form I've had in awhile. Don't 'play' with crystals. If you don't respect them, don't touch them.
33. Soak Alkaline braiding hair in apple cidar vinegar overnight before getting your hair braided.
34. People show up for what is important to them, not you.
35. I am a culture creator.
36. Language is integral in communication, particularly of emotions. If you are seemingly being misunderstood, take a beat and ask the person 'what are you hearing?'
1. Meeting Adrian's family for the first time on Mother's Day, and immediately falling more in love with him, and them.
2. Ringing in 2016 on Copacabana beach in Rio.
3. Nomadness' day at Melisha School in Zanzibar volunteering.
4. Being on the cover of Griot's Republic.
5. Starting the year on Oxygen Channel.
6. Getting contacted by Facebook HQ to be a feature during Women's History Month, for their Facebook Stories with 7 women for 'The Atlas of Beauty'. One of only seven women IN THE WORLD to be featured, interviewed, and shot by renowned photographer Mihaela Noroc. Her project is amazing. Check it out here
7. Getting my Ancestry DNA results to find out someone lied to my mother. LMAO!In all seriousness, it was enlightening. I hit to some capacity everywhere except Central and South America. Tops were Benin/Togo and Ireland.
8. Culture Coop Dinner to reveal the new Humanly book on Generation Y. Sitting with Facebook, Buzzfeed, Zagat, and Google.
10. Shooting the dopest video that the greater world will probably never see, for a project with GoPro. The CEO knows me and Nomadness, and it's forged the great beginning to a relationship.
11. Enovia. Girl, our conversations are everything. However, the first time we got on the phone with the NYC Airbnb team, and I listened to us flow like water and close the business deal....yes. Just yes.
12. All the PIX11 features and becoming thaZeir travel expert (something that was on last year's goals) in 2017. Love that team. Veronica, Suki I love you both!
13. Prince Passing.
14. Mohammad Ali passing.
15. Not just receiving the Brother Durning Rising Star Award, but also having it created for you because the other awards didn't qualify, by my Alma Mater, Iona College.
16. Getting gifted my 1st ticket to a Beyonce concert ever by Jasmine, and getting MY ENTIRE LIFE in that floor seat. Lawd! She's the best overall performer of my generation, in my opinion.
17. Attending Black Girls Rock with my girls and my sister.
18. Getting interviewed and shot for a Japanese Magazine
19. Speaking on a panel for Black Girls Rock's Summer Camp!
20. Jessie Williams' speech at the BET Awards
21. Opening up my new home for 'A Traveler's Holiday' bridging friends and Tribe members who didn't want to celebrate alone for the holidays.
22. Being honored on one of six lists that I actually care about. 2016's #87 of The Root 100 most influential African-Americans of the year. Let's go!
23. Art For Life everything....again. Love you Danny!
24. Attending the Rush Arts Luncheon with Kali
25. My entire housewarming. The people who flew in, drove in, shared, cried, networked, and shared amazing stories of how we came into one another's lives.
26. My 32nd birthday Bowl Off......that may be the move for 33. But, same teams. Same teams. Mom surprising me there was dope.
27. Repping for Bernie Sanders hard
28. Being alone in the voting both, and pressing the button for Jill Stein
29. Explaining and reexplaining to social media how a vote for Jill Stein in a guaranteed blue state made no overall difference because of the electoral college. Yet, how it would help a 3rd party get to the needed 5% of the vote to at least be given a chance to join the debate and get funding. Subsequently realizing that people, in some cases very influential people, simply didn't understand how the process worked. That scared me.
30. Getting super drunk in the middle of the day at Alexis' welcome back brunch in the meatpacking district, and making out on the sidewalk with Genesis.
31. TED Office visit to build with the genius mind that is Reggie Black, and surprising the brilliant mind that is Liz Jackson.
32. My breakup.
33. Nomadness videos going legit viral this year.
34. All the Facebook Lives at Essence Magazine and The Root
35. Two breakdowns I had with Brittney and Vanessa at the Tribe BBQ about showing up to another event single, that I would have put money on that my boyfriend would have been at with me. I think my breakup earlier that month hit the hardest at these events.
36. Moving, and dealing with a breakup through the therapy of creativity in creating my space from scratch.
37. Legit dropping online classes. I am so proud of NMDNBlackBox and FaceYourBrand.com
38. Getting off this kick that I had to be in a relationship to go to Santorini, Greece and finally just going by myself. It's a dream trip I had since college. The best move I could have made.
39. Shooting for TruTV! Coming in January
40. Shooting for Hyatt/Skift
41. Homemade Dinner our nights in Megyer, Hungary
42. Dad surprising Sarafina and I walking into #NMDN ALTERnative Travel Conference like a boss. One of the dopest moments ever!!!
43. Final trip speech in Bocas Del Toro, Panama ....back where we had our first trip over five years ago...to an amazing trip group for Nomadness.
44. Issa Rae looking as amazing as ever at her Urbanworld premiere of Insecure, and shouting Nomadness out during the Q&A. I cannot begin to explain how proud I am of this woman and her work. Thank you so much!
45. Asking a family member to come to therapy with me in the New Year.
46. Taking mental health in my community so seriously that I'm willing to turn myself into the billboard for it. It's time to break the stigma, and the taboo conversations. First shirt coming soon. Here's a peek:
47. I don't believe too tough in the idea of 'once in a lifetime' things. I have too many dreams come true and too many manifestations happen to know that many things people regard as once in a lifetime, are only because they put that barrier up in their own mind. However, if I had to shave my year down...and even my life down, I believe thus far this is the only qualifying factor of potentially once in my lifetime. It seemed like such a far fetched dream to make it to the White House under the Obama Administration. Last year or second term. It's a wrap. Then, three months before it was to be all over, the call out for South By South Lawn applications came out. Worldwide call for innovators, leaders, thought provokers, change agents to come INTO the White House to be not just among one another in energy, but the President of the United States, Barack Obama. Listen....This photo says it all, even though I have a million.
Over 20000 applied. 2000 were accepted. Brittney worked her social media magic as my 'campaign manager', Tribe flooded the applications, and I set my intentions then tried to forget about it. Listen.....
When you get an email from the White House.......shit. When you get a 'Please RSVP' email from the White House...........SHIT! That entire day was what 'once in a lifetime' SHOULD feel like. Dopest part being I was able to share it with other friends and entrepreneurs I respect the hell out of who also were invited to come. Listen.....words can't explain.
By biggest takeaway from attending South by South Lawn is this, EVERYTHING is tangible. Touching the White House (and Trump being elected, if I'm being all the way real) let me know I could be the President of the United States. Feel me. Hear me, on this. I've touched these walls. I've walked and twerked on this grass. I've cried here. I've spoken to everyday people doing otherworldly shit on this lawn. I AM ONE OF THESE PEOPLE. It's tangible. I've decided to not post the normal 'Goals for 2017' section to this blog this year, because they are becoming ever more precious and personal to me. I'm keeping my goals close. But one I will share, is that I have it on my life list to be appointed a UN Goodwill Ambassador. I've wanted it for years, and I know my greater work with Nomadness is leading me there. My let's go, biggest lesson learned, year in a nutshell, image of 2016 is: