Building Your Influence: Books and Tools To Help You Grow

I’m constantly wanting to become bigger and better so here will be a list of books I recommend you read. I’ll come back and update with each new read!

First up is Influencer by Brittany Hennessy

I heard so much about this book from different groups online and they weren’t wrong. I worked through the book and made tweaks here and there and I’ve seen some growth in my online social media presence. As of 9/16/18, I was offered my first Instagram Takeover and I’m so excited!

Do The Work: 5 Steps to Healing After Trauma

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“Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.”  -Hippocrates

 One thing I’ve learned in my 27 years of living is that LIFE HAPPENS. We don’t get to choose our families, therefore we don’t know exactly what we’re being born into BUT what I do know is we have to do the work to heal ourselves. We have the power to change!

No matter what your struggles are there are events that can change your life forever. It may seem small to others but it’s monumental to you. I have endured experience after experience and wondered why it happened to me. I questioned everything about myself. I attempted to find understanding in places that I shouldn’t have. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not perfect, never have been, and probably never will be BUT I’m working hard every day to become a better version of myself.

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In the black community, we are taught to be “be quiet”, we move on without healing. What does that do for us in the end? How does that help us become the best versions of ourselves if we’re constantly sweeping everything under the rug? I’ve been determined not to be quiet. I refuse to be silent! Why should I be? Why not let my voice be heard and my story be told in hopes it will help someone else.

I remember watching my mother deal with problems growing up. She cried, prayed, and gave it to God. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for that…I truly am. Sometimes it’s just easier said than done.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7 NLT

By the age of 18, I had mastered the art of not dealing with my feelings. By 19, I had allowed myself to be battered and abused because I didn’t believe that I was deserving of true love. By 20, I almost married someone I didn’t love just to run away from the abuse. I was NUMB actually DEAD on the inside. My faith was gone, I was extremely overweight and unhappy I couldn’t see light at the end of the tunnel. And because I believed all of the foul mess he spat at me and trusted the forever broken promise to "never beat me again", at 21, I found myself, again, pregnant by my abuser. The words “your family doesn’t love you…why would they allow… to happen to you” played over and over in my head. As crazy as it sounds...somedays I would wish that he would hit me instead of speaking so negatively to me. Words kill! It's like a tape recorder on repeat in mind. One day the lightbulb went off in my head and I decided I didn’t want to die. I knew that if I stayed in that situation it would be the end for me. I left…disappeared into thin air leaving nearly everything behind.

And you would have thought that’s when the healing would have started. Oh no my friend, I did what I knew best swept it under the rug. I dried my tears and handled my business.  Fast-forward to 25 when it all started to click. I was an emotional train wreck! I realized I NEEDED HELP! I needed to deal with my mess. I needed to own the parts I played in my own downfall. I had to FORGIVE! I kept carrying that dead weight within me and didn’t understand that one day it would explode. That’s what usually happens…all of a sudden one event that shouldn’t send you over the edge does and you have nowhere to go. Then everyone really thinks you’re crazy!

Healing starts with YOU!

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Below I’ll share with you my 5 steps to healing!

1.       Acknowledge the problem

Sometimes the best way to fight a demon is to stare it straight in the face.

This step will take some time. I had to personally sit down with pen and paper and write down everything that hurt me. Then I read the list back to myself while looking in the mirror and accepted every emotion that came with it.

2.       Understand YOUR Role

In most situations, we had some hand in the way things were handled. I’m not speaking about sexual trauma or things beyond your control but what about that man/woman that you knew wasn’t right for you. All of those red flags you avoided just to say you had someone.

3.       Forgive

Forgiveness is for YOU…it has nothing to do with the other person. You will stay bitter for years because “Joe cheated on me” or “Sally left me.” Whatever and I do mean whatever was done its okay. Their actions were not but you’re still living and breathing. TAKE BACK YOUR POWER. Forgiveness frees you. That doesn’t mean you and that person can be friends or even like each other but you’ll feel better once you truly allow it to be released from your heart.

4.       Seek Help

 Often times we are afraid to seek out help from a professional because of what others will say. No one has to know you’re in therapy. Do it for yourself. Find your purpose and start living again. If you can’t afford a therapist try researching free services through your employer or find support groups. You’re going to need someone to help you unpack your mess.

5.       Take time for yourself

Start discovering who you really are. Who your family wants you to be not who your friends think you are but take time to find out about yourself. What makes you happy? What feels good to you and go from there.

There is no set time on the recovery process. Trust me, I wish there was. It’s taken me nearly 3 years to fully recover and that’s okay. I had to make some hard choices. I had to learn to stand up for myself and decide what I wanted my life to look like. My life isn’t anywhere near what I want it to be but every day I’m one step closer. I believe that you can do the same. What’s stopping you?

Bonus Tip: 

Here are some great books to help you get started on your journey! 

Dresses for Days

I'm a true girly girl at heart but every now and then I wear something that's a little different! Check out my summer favs so far! 

*This post does contain affiliate links. This cost you nothing - it just helps to keep my blog afloat.*

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This black and white number gives me all the feels. It's cute and flirty! It also has a snap in the front so if you dare show off the girls! Get yours here

 Denise Benson Photography 

Denise Benson Photography 

 Denise Benson Photography 

Denise Benson Photography 

I am usually not a fan of white because it gets dirty so fast but this dress is SEXY and SOPHISTICATED what more could a girl ask for? I can throw on a hat and wear it to church or I can enjoy a nice dinner date and have heads turning!  It also comes in navy blue. See the dress here! 

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 Photo by: Aneris Photography 

Photo by: Aneris Photography 

Every woman LOVES  a comfy maxi dress. I'm 5'6 and this dress hits me right at my ankles. So if you're shorter, you might enjoy it. I did wish it was a little bit longer but I have enjoyed that it doesn't hang on the ground. Get yours here

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I have this dress on standby to wear again. It's so beautiful in person. It gives me all types of Southern vibes. This is one that you'll want to have! Check it out here.

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And finally, my favorite dress is on sale NOW!!! 

Summertime Fashion

A few weekends ago, I was able to create some #blackgirlmagic with my girl Denise Benson of Denise Benson Photography and we captured some awesome looks that I can't wait to share with you. So let's hop straight into it. Everything listed will be under $30 - I'm a budget shopper and I love to catch a good sale! Most of the pieces I purchase are staple pieces. I believe that if I'm going to wear an item I want it to last and be worn for more than one year/season!

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*This post does contain affiliate links - this means that if you purchase through my link I will receive a small portion at no cost to you! This keeps my little blog running. TIA!*

I apologize now because some of these items are no longer available because I waited too long to capture them. Sorry but I promise to find you a great dupe!

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I originally saw this skirt on one of my favorite plus size bloggers and knew I had to have it and it was from my favorite store so that couldn't be better. This skirt is lightweight with a stretchy band. It does have a high slit in the front but I feel that's what makes this skirt! It's playful and sexy! The top is apart of my swimsuit. It's truly transitional as you could wear it as a top! 

Rainbow Skirt - Exact (Out of Stock), Dupe 1, Dupe 2 

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I haven't worn a 2-piece in years due to my fear of not having a flat stomach BUT WHO CARES!!! This swimsuit provides a little comfort because it's high wasted and the strappy details of the top make it trendy! 

Swimsuit -  Exact, Dupe 1, Dupe 2

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I've been holding on to this cover up for a while! I saw it online and knew I had to have it. I couldn't wait to wear it but when I got it, I was sooooo confused! How in the world do I put this thing on? It came as a sheet and I had to figure it out but I got it together and I'm pleased with the results! 

Swimsuit Cover up - Exact (Out of Stock), Dupe 1, Dupe 2

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Earrings: Exact - $12.99 , Dupe 1, Dupe 2

 

All Deets Below - Happy Shopping!

Swimsuit Cover up - Exact (Out of Stock), Dupe 1, Dupe 2

Swimsuit -  Exact, Dupe 1, Dupe 2

Hat - Exact, Dupe 1, Dupe 2

Rainbow Skirt - Exact (Out of Stock), Dupe 1, Dupe 2 

Earrings: Exact - $12.99 , Dupe 1, Dupe 2

What do I write about now?

Writing can come naturally to you or you may need to work on it quite a bit. However, I think we all need a little inspiration from time to time. At the end of last year, I was writing down my goal list as most people do before they enter a new year and created my "2018 Blog Post Ideas." I choose topics that I felt resonated with me and here we are in the second quarter of the month and I've only completed 5 of those posts, lol!

Surprisingly, that's not bad. When I'm not feeling inspired I can always pull out that list and pick a topic. So don't limit yourself! Your creative juices can stop...we are not always oozing with ideas and for those of you that are...kudos my friend!

Here you'll find my blog topics for 2018! Download your copy now and let me know what you plan to write about!

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Blog Better | Weekly Planner Guide

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We've all been there...lost and confused on how to plan out our blog. I know I've been there and kinda still am but recently, I said I will no longer be all over the place. Stress FREE blogging is what I'm all about. So I created this weekly planner to help me stay on top of things!

Everyday, you will focus on a different task dedicating 2-3 hours to each. My goal is 1 blog post per week and 2 if I'm lucky. My assigned days are Mondays and Wednesdays. I do not want to feel required to post more than that.  Blogging should be fun - don't make it harder than it has to be. 

*Blogger tip: Always keep a notebook and pen handy in case you get inspired!

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Monday: Pinterest

We ALL know that Pinterest is where it's at if you want to increase your blog traffic. What I like to do is design my pins for my upcoming post. I create at least 3-4 pins follow up with pins that I have saved to my boards schedule pins on Tailwind. I'm not a major fan of Tailwind because of the tribes and cost. Also, if you're apart of group boards make sure you're pinning others post. To create my pins I use Spark Adobe and I love it. I purchased Adobe's Creative Cloud a few months ago and it has been a game changer! Also, if you're an affiliate remember you can add those links into your pins as well! But be sure to state it is an affiliate link.

Get 10 FREE Adobe Stock Photos for a limited time only!!!

Tuesday: Instagram

Do it for the gram!  How well Instagram drives traffic to your blog is up to you. Do you have your website in your bio? Are you engaging with followers? Do you post stories? Instagram can be a beast until I gave into Planoly I kept hearing people talk about it and I wasn't sure that it would be useful for me. Oh boy, was I wrong. Planoly allows you to create the Instagram of your dreams. Bloggers always want the perfect aesthetic and that's possible with seeing your post ahead of time. Plus you can AUTO POST and not be in violation because Planoly and Instagram have partnered. This gives you more time to enjoy life without being worried about what and when you should post. I also like that I can it tells me the number of likes and comments I have and even the best times to post and if you have a big following this can give you more time to engage with your followers as they comment on new post!   You can sign up here. 

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I schedule my post a week in advance and leave myself wiggle room in case I want to add pictures on the fly BUT remember that's what you have Insta Stories for. You can always share the photos there and save them in your highlights. 

 

Wednesday: Blog Post

Sometimes, I write in my journal and need to type the post out. This allows me time to do so, also batch working helps. You should have at least two weeks worth on content scheduled that way you're not overwhelmed. Strictly spend this time editing or writing new post. Also choose your photos, what's a good post without photos, right? Save what you have and keep going. Don't spend too much time focusing on editing right now, you will have time later in the week to go back to this.

Thursday: Facebook

Some of you may run groups on Facebook but for the most part you have your blog's Fan Page. See mine here, I mainly share my blog post to it and try to say something here and there. I would like for this to be a more active platform for me but currently it's not. Facebook also has an awesome scheduling option! Use that to your advantage especially for Holidays!

Friday: Free Day

Work on whatever you like, that can be other social media platforms, writing reviews, taking photos, recording videos. This depends on your blogs needs at the time. You know your schedule best, do what works for you!

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Saturday: Schedule Content

Revisit those drafts, update your newsletter, prepare for the week! This will be the easy part, most people live for the weekend and you should be able to enjoy it. Get up or early or do this late and night and you're ready to have a successful week!

Sunday: REST

No working on Sundays. I find it best that you take your mind off of your side hustle for a moment. Being a content creator can be a very challenging thing to do but it's necessary to avoid burn out! 

I hope this was helpful to you! Click here for my Planner Guide Freebie!

 

Top 10 Questions to Ask When Getting to Know Someone

Dating is never easy, especially when you've been out of the game for a while. You feel like you know what you want but the other person may not. So I came up with a list of questions to get you started.

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I personally, have asked a lot of these questions on a first date. My time is valuable and I refuse to waste it. 

  1. What was your childhood like? (Family, friends, background)  
  2. Who is one person you admire and why?
  3. If there was something you could change about yourself what would it be?
  4. Are you married/divorced/separated?
  5. How many children do you have? (Biologically or adopted)
  6. What do you do for a living?
  7. Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
  8. What is your stance on religion? Are you spiritual or religious?
  9. What is something you do well and not so well?
  10. What did your last relationship teach you?

*Disclaimer: I am not a relationship expert but I feel these are questions that you need to ask. They can be great conversation starters. If you're dating for fun- great these questions may not be used but if you want something a little more permanent and you would like to weed out the bull crap. Give them a try and let me know what you think! 

Also, if you have other questions that you feel should be added to the list let me know! 

 

Stepping Into Color

Stepping into Spring 

Who else is guilty of having a closet full of black? Black is my go to color, it's safe and sexy. When I think of black, I think of all things powerful, so I will ALWAYS keep a smoking hot black number in my wardrobe. (I just ordered 2 new black dresses!)

If you've been following me on Instagram you know that I've been playing with color lately and below are my favorites from my new additions. Let me know what you think. What are you go to colors for Spring? 

I will include links to the outfits! 

 Coral Blazer - Belk , Jeans - Areopostale (Super Stretchy), White Tank - Walmart    Blazer - No longer available  Jeans- No longer available 

Coral Blazer - Belk , Jeans - Areopostale (Super Stretchy), White Tank - Walmart  

Blazer - No longer available

Jeans- No longer available 

 Dress from  New York and Company    I love the fit of this dress! It hides my belly and it flows you can even dress it down with flats! Also comes in Navy Blue! 

Dress from New York and Company

I love the fit of this dress! It hides my belly and it flows you can even dress it down with flats! Also comes in Navy Blue! 

 I added the red scarf for a pop of color! 

I added the red scarf for a pop of color! 

 This dress is from New York and Company but its no longer available. I found another option that I would totally wear  here ! 

This dress is from New York and Company but its no longer available. I found another option that I would totally wear here

 My newest addition - this cute yellow/mustard color dress from BooHoo!    Boohoo  - You will have to wait a few weeks to get it but its worth it. Style: Plus Amy Off The Shoulder    Amazon  has a very similar option.   Sunglasses:  Amazon 

My newest addition - this cute yellow/mustard color dress from BooHoo! 

Boohoo - You will have to wait a few weeks to get it but its worth it. Style: Plus Amy Off The Shoulder 

Amazon has a very similar option.

Sunglasses: Amazon 

 Cute and affordable Amazon find! It has a great stretch to hide the midsection. If you have wide hips this would be PERFECT for you!   Find the dress  here !

Cute and affordable Amazon find! It has a great stretch to hide the midsection. If you have wide hips this would be PERFECT for you! 

Find the dress here!

I'm Back!!!

 I took some time away to think about what I wanted for my brand. Now, I feel I’m more focused than ever and ready to tackle this baby. Freely Nat is almost 1. EEK! Can you believe it?

I have always wanted to share my life’s story with other people because there’s a lesson in everything. I can’t believe that this is where I am right now. I started with under 200 followers and I’m close to 500 (Instagram). It’s not much but it’s a start.

For those of you who keep rocking with me, thank you! We’re on the way!!!

Starting Over

It’s back to reality for me starting tomorrow. I’m a little excited and nervous at the same time. Our summer break was rough!!! My role at work has changed so I’m ready to find some balance…

I’m freeing my mind to all of the new possibilities that are coming my way. The goal is to get back on my health kick ASAP. My mind and body NEED it. So, we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

Xoxo,

Nat

New Bae or Nah?

What’s up guys? I know it’s been forever and a day but this topic has been burning a hole in my brain. Can you heal yourself with someone? My answer is no. I’ve had this debate quite a few times but I feel that in order to better yourself you need to heal alone. Take time to find yourself. ESPECIALLY, after getting out of a relationship. Some people believe the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else. That may work for some but it’s not always a good practice.

A few years ago, I experienced my first heartbreak, well adult heartbreak…it was rough. One thing I realized was that I didn’t love myself as much as I should have. I started dating maybe 5 months afterwards and I quickly realized that was not a good idea. I was NOT ready. I still had more growing to do…more selflove to learn.

So, if you’re anything like me, take the time to heal. Become a better you, fall in love with yourself and when the right one comes along you’ll be ready.

What are your thoughts on healing after a breakup?