Sit tight — it’s about to get real.

Do you think you have a bikini body?

Not tomorrow. Not 2 months from now. Not 5 months from now. But NOW?

Have you looked in the mirror lately and said “YASSSS! I can’t wait to put on this two-piece!?” If not, sis, it may be time for a talk. Now a little disclaimer: No one HAS to wear a bikini. If you don’t want to, cool. If you’ve never had any desire to wear one — you do you boo! However, if you’ve always wanted to wear one, but never quite felt, “ready,” THIS IS FOR YOU.

When I was younger, all I wanted to wear was a bikini (a red string bikini to be exact, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves). Disregarding the fact that bikinis weren’t always seen as “modest” enough, especially when the Lord decided to bless you abundantly up top, I never really felt I could wear a bikini.

Now the desire to wear one wasn’t just because young girls my age or grown women who I admired wore them; it was simply because I wanted to! For some reason or another, bikinis represented a certain level of freedom I never quite seemed to be able to attain. I loved the idea of not having a one-piece stick to my body, and I loved the sensation of feeling the water or the sun freshly hit my skin.

But alas, I was overweight.

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No, not just in my head. According to all the doctors visits,  the numbers on the scale, the visuals in the media and members of my family, I was overweight. And at least from what I can recall, I rarely ever saw anyone who looked like me wearing bikini freely — without ridicule or judgement.

Especially not a red string bikini.

As I got older, I’d slowly see the number of curvier women living their best life in a two-piece rise. Though they often had the “perfect” coke bottle shaped figure, it made me happy to at least see progress. A few years ago, I finally found the courage to buy a multicolored high waisted bikini from ASOS (which is still heavily in my rotation today).

I was terrified. And reluctant. And FREE. Before sheepishly throwing my mesh cover-up back on, I felt momentary freedom.

Yes, I know this sounds dramatic. (No, I don’t care.)

Fast forward to a month or so ago, I was filled with joy when I saw that one of my favorite models, Denise Mercedes, was collaborating with Rebdolls (a size-inclusive brand that I truly adore) on a collection that included a red string bikini — which was also quite reasonably priced I might add. Although funny enough most others at the launch party tried to convince me to buy the “mimosa” bikini, I knew deep down I was not leaving that store without the red one.

So yesterday, June 19, 2018, I finally wore that red string bikini. And let me tell you — it was terrifying.

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Terr-i-f-y-ing.

I’m not kidding when I say I was 2 seconds from having a panic attack several times throughout the day.

I worried about how I’d look. I worried about all of my cellulite. I worried about all of the jiggle. I worried about what others would think (let the record show: nobody cared). I definitely worried about how I’d look on camera. I could probably list another 20 things I worried about — but you get the point.

But guess what? I survived.

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I put a red string bikini on and the world kept turning. Life went on. (Go figure, right?) And through my utter discomfort, I discovered a new level of freedom: The freedom to exist as you are and enjoy life in the present.

Yes, I could have waited for my belly to get flatter, my rolls to disappear and my body to become more toned. But here’s the thing: I could have also died tomorrow.

As drastic as that may sound, tomorrow is literally not promised. We have no idea what the future holds! So why waste any second of it worrying? Why not just do things that help us taste freedom? Why not just LIVE the life we desire NOW, rather than wait until we’re “ready?” Why not just wear the bikini?

Honestly, “ready” is overrated anyway. And it’s more like a mirage than reality in my opinion. Sometimes we need a push, a “JUST DO IT!” from your tribe, or simply a deep yearning down in your soul to live life more abundantly.

In the past year or so, I’ve made it my mission to consistently do the things that scare me — and life has never been more fulfilling! I urge you this week to do the same. Even if it’s a “small” thing. Because those small things turn into bigger things, and before you know it, freedom becomes more than just a habit — it becomes a lifestyle. And maybe, just maybe, wearing bikinis will become a part of your lifestyle.

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Even when you’re bloated. Even when you’re self- conscious. Even when you’re jiggly. Even when you’ve just eaten Popeyes.

Always, simply because you feel like it. 

I hope that sharing a small snippet of my life helps you or someone else today. I hope it serves as some encouragement for a young girl or a well-seasoned woman to own their own unique bikini body. I hope it reminds someone that you can simultaneously work on your own particular body goals (mine is strength!) as well as love it through the changes. Oh, and I hope it also serves as a PSA that me and my curves, dark skin and afro out are now, have always been, and will always be beautiful.

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Light & love,

WhitMcWrites😘  #WhitsWisdom 

So can we talk about the huge elephant in the room? Mental health is not a particularly popular topic to talk about in the church. Usually it starts with, “don’t let the enemy have your mind!” and ends right there. The moment you even think about having a conversation about how to address having a sound mind aside from prayer, it is often insinuated (or flat out said) that you are of little faith and need to go back into the Word.

However, I believe it is quite irresponsible as believers not to address this topic more deeply. Because at the end of the day, mental health is real, mental illness is real, and  God is real. But so is treatment!

Recently, social media strategist and writer Lenora Houseworth-Weston published an article on curlynikki.com entitled, “Dear Black Women, We Can’t Pray Mental Illness Away.” I was honored to be featured alongside licensed psychotherapist and mental health consultant Jessmina “Minaa B” Archbold, as we shared our thoughts on self-care as it pertains to mental health and spirituality, particularly in the Black community.

After reading some of the comments on the article, I thought it would be quite beneficial to share my full interview responses as well! The article was definitely an amazing way to get this very necessary conversation started on mental health and spirituality. I hope my following responses to Lenora’s questions help continue the conversation even further and encourage other ministry leaders/believers to do the same.

1. Most media inundates us talking about self-care from the sense of lighting a candle and meditating. How do you define self-care?

“It is sooo much more than that! Yes, those are a couple practices, but to me, self-care means any action or strategy that is demonstrating a love for yourself and is helping you do better and free yourself in mind, body, & spirit (& even finances). It means you don’t just care for your body, but then neglect your mental health. Or nourish your mind and neglect your spirit. To me, genuine self-care encompasses all 3, daily.”

2. Why is self-care and mental health practices so important for black women in particular?

“Of course it’s important for everyone, but black women in particular because we have and continue to go through so much! We endure a lot as a double minority, in both gender and skin color. In addition, I think a lot of us have been raised with the caretaker mindset, responsibility or expectation in one way or another, as well as the assumption that since we are black women we must automatically be “strong.” And I believe to many, strength implies no “weakness.” Now I’d never call us weak, but at the end of the day, we all have “weak” moments— we are HUMAN. And humans, whether men or women need REST, good nutritional/wellness practices and spiritual fulfillment.

The truth is, when you’re so used to being “strong” and taking care of others all of the time, it can be so easy to forget to care for yourself— let alone prioritize it! Especially as a woman raised by a Caribbean mother, I know that sharing and embracing being vulnerable hasn’t always been seen as a positive. But it is necessary! Our humanity isn’t a weakness; it is a part of us we need to embrace and care for as much as we do the divine parts of us. In addition, so many of us have experienced so much trauma that has never been appropriately dealt with, worked through or even talked about because it has become so normalized to the point where it’s almost expected and consequently dismissed. And none of that is okay!

Sooner or later, we’re going to need to recognize and understand that part of being strong means being strong enough to practice self-care DAILY— not just when it’s convenient, easy or as an afterthought. We must prioritize our self- care because if we don’t, then who will? We must be able to see ourselves as a priority and worth the self-investment because we are all so deserving of living whole, healthy and fulfilling lives. And besides, the better we take care of ourselves, the better we can serve others and work in our purpose.”

3. What are your thoughts on black women thinking spirituality and church can help with their mental distress?

“I think that it’s great when we think that, because it’s so true! I believe spirituality and mental health go hand in hand. Spirituality and church are great for finding strength and healing— but only if we are willing to do the WORK as well. I love God and consider myself a woman of great faith. But I truly do believe that faith without works is dead. Period. We can’t just show up to church religiously every Sunday and think that our problems will just disappear without us putting in any effort. Just like we wouldn’t get hit by a car and head straight to church with broken bones instead of the ER, we shouldn’t just be struggling mentally and not seek out professional help/therapy.

I don’t think treatment and spirituality are mutually exclusive. In fact, I believe the best healing comes when you join the two together. We have to meet God halfway. If we truly believe the verse “I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me,” we cannot ignore the action word, “do.” It is our duty to take part in our own lives and our own healing (whether mental, physical etc) as well, with the guiding help/strength of the Lord.”

4. In your opinion, when is self-care alone not enough?

“Never! I say that only because the way I see it, receiving treatment and learning strategies to heal ARE a part of self-care. I know people mention lighting candles and meditating sometimes like it’s silly or just for fun, but it’s actually a great way to cope with anxiety— if that’s what works for you! And that is only just ONE strategy that should be used in addition to other treatment options. That is why it is so important to seek therapy or professional help if you are struggling with your mental health.”

5. What are some signs that we need professional help that we should look for and why do we ignore them?

“Well first and foremost, if you’ve went through any sort of trauma, you should seek professional help. Period. Especially if this trauma is violence or abuse related in any way (& yes, that includes physical, sexual, emotional and verbal abuse). However, I do think one reason this sign is often ignored is because a lot of the time, we don’t even realize that much of what we’ve been through qualifies as trauma— and should not be the norm!

Other signs of needing professional help would be prolonged and intense feelings of sadness, helplessness or rage and engaging in self-harm in any way (i.e being in unsafe/toxic relationships, cutting, forced purging/vomiting, substance abuse, self-medicating, drastic loss/gain of weight in short amount of time etc). Again, these are things we don’t really like to talk about and often see, only to dismiss or leave unaddressed due to the stigma around it.”

6. What are some of your practices for taking care of yourself mentally?

“Writing! Writing! Writing! Whether it is journaling, writing down quotes/scriptures that inspire me, or writing poetry, it always helps me unpack my thoughts and feelings, release my fears and joys, and even encourage myself. It’s also an awesome way to track my progress, as well as any patterns in my anxiety and triggers. In addition, praying helps me immensely mentally, as it is a great way to release and be filled back up, whether I am speaking my prayers aloud or writing them down.

Reading is also another self-care practice I like to engage in daily. Whether it is poetry, self-help/elevation, the Bible or a novel, reading helps me stay calm, distract my mind from itself or simply fill my brain with positivity. Lastly, dancing and singing are two of my favorite self-care practices. Even though they involve my body, it consistently helps me free myself from anxiety and depression. Singing and dancing especially help free my mind because while I am singing and dancing, I am no longer focused on what’s going on in my mind. Instead, I am simply being present in the song or dance and am too busy catching on to the choreography/movements or paying attention to the words/notes of a song.”

I hope you enjoyed this post! As a Christian woman and ministry leader — who also has a Master’s Degree in General/Experimental Psychology, as well as training in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) — this topic is so dear to my heart! I fully believe that God still can, will and does heal mental illness, but I also believe that just as treatment is sought out & accepted as the norm for physical ailments, additional treatment should be sought out & accepted for mental illness as well.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic! Please feel free to share or comment below!

Love & light,

 WhitMcWrites😘

#WhitsWisdom

LIFE-CHANGING.”

That was the word most commonly used to describe my very first #WorshipWithWhit liturgical dance workshop held in Washington, D.C.

It’s been a whole 3 days since hosting that event, and I am still in awe of how amazing God is.

A few months ago, I felt it in my spirit to host an event out in D.C. However, my faith wasn’t great enough to do so yet. I spent days and weeks wondering how I would get there, who would even come, and if it was the right time. I was overcome with doubt, so I changed my original idea and decided I should just host another REAWAKEN workshop like I did back in October in Los Angeles. After all, that was successful so it should work itself out again right?

WRONG.

Because here’s the thing about alignment: it can’t be faked or forced. 

My personal motto is “if it doesn’t flow, let it go,” and let me tell you the “flow” and peace we’re simply not there. So finally, after several weeks of going back and forth between faith & doubt, encouragement from friends, and tons of prayers, I decided to suck it up and trust the vision. Thus, #WorshipWithWhit DC was birthed.

On March 24th, in Studio 3 of Dance Loft 14 chains were broken. Fears & shame clung to so tightly for years was released. Comfort zones were challenged and lots of hugs were shared.

If I were to write it all out, you’d be here for days reading, so I figured why not just record a recap instead! If you want the scoop on what actually happened during this transformative dance workshop, watch my latest video up on my YouTube page soon! (P.S. Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE!)

But if you just can’t wait to hear about it, here’s a sneak peek at the routine I taught, to the song, “Craving” by Tye Tribbett.

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To my six ladies who dared to share this space with me: I love you, I thank you and I am so proud of you. Our lives will never be the same.

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Light + love,

WhitMcWrites😘

#WhitsWisdom

I know, skin can be such a sensitive topic. Especially with all the time a lot of us spend on social media, it can be difficult not to look at others seemingly perfect skin and wish ours could glow like that as well.

But here’s the thing: we ALL can have radiant skin, and NO ONE has perfect skin all of the time. (Plus, there’s tons of filters, photoshop and facetune to hide or edit out imperfections that many people in these IG streets use, but I digress.)

If I’ve learned anything in my skincare & self-love journey so far, it would be that we are all unique and not everything is for everyone. We all have to do what is best for US as an individual, and not just buy into the hype. That may takes tons of trial and error, but it’s so worth it once you find what works for you!

For years, I struggled with acne and dark spots, leaving me insecure and anxious to leave the house without makeup. However, in the past couple of years, I have learned to love my skin— as it is and as it clears up! Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of compliments about my skin looking radiant (both with and without makeup on). Personally, I’ve always been a fan of simple, so here’s 7 simple tips for radiant skin that works for me

1. Keep a consistent routine

 

In general, consistency is necessary in order to see real results and lasting changes. I believe the same is true with our skin. If we switch up our routine every day, it will be pretty difficult to determine what is or isn’t working. So choose one routine and stick with it! My skin is in no way perfect, but I have become much more intentional about how I care for it. Everyday, I always make sure to wash my face in the morning & night (I NEVER sleep in my makeup), moisturize, and treat with a mask weekly (or when I need some extra self-care!) For more information on the products I generally use and alternate between, see tip #5!

2. Stress less!

Stress can not only have an impact on our mind but on our bodies as well. One way I can always tell I’m overwhelmed or stressing too much is by my skin and hair. My hair gets very dry, more difficult to manage and sometimes starts falling out. My skin on the other hand starts to develop way more breakouts than usual and also gets very dry as well. One way I combat stress in order to maintain glowing skin is by meditating often. Even if it is just taking a couple minutes to stop and pray or breathe mindfully, meditating more often has definitely helped decrease the feeling of overwhelm and ultimately keep clearer skin. For a short poem/mindful breathing audio, feel free to listen to one of my latest YouTube videos, here.

3. Stay hydrated

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This water bottle by Saved By Grace, Co. is just the daily inspiration I need to remember that everything, including radiant skin is a process!

Stop being so thirsty! No, but really, quench that thirst honey! Water has so many amazing benefits and can do wonders for our skin. Now I’m not promising you a magical difference in your skin overnight, but I will say it can make quite a difference. Once I began drinking a gallon of water a day (or pretty close to that daily), I saw a significant decrease in breakouts, dryness and dark circles. In addition, my skin began to look (& feel) smoother with more of a natural glow to it, even before using a moisturizer! I also love to add lemon or grapefruit to my water sometimes, especially when I’m in need of a good detox. (*Note: I tend to increase my water intake during my menstrual period as well and have seen a noticeable difference in my skin.) 

4. Eat more mindfully

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I never used to think I’d like green smoothies, but I actually LOVE them now. Be sure to try my Green Smoothie Recipe!

The moment I started to be more mindful of what I put in my body, the more I started to realize how much of a role our diet plays in our overall well-being. Eating foods high in sodium, caffeine, oil and sugar too often always shows up first on my face. Once I started incorporating less meat, more greens and tea into my diet daily, I started to see a significant decrease in the amount breakouts I had. Remember: what goes inside matters just as much as what goes on the outside!

5. Use simpler products

 

I have really been learning to live with a “less is more” mindset lately. This too, applies to my skincare routine. Not only do I try to incorporate fewer products into my daily routine, but I also have been trying (key word: trying)  to use beauty products with less ingredients (and chemicals!) overall. The following is what I typically use/alternate between:

Cleanser: Luminance Skincare Delicate Facial Cleanser and L’OCCITANE Precious Cleansing Foam

Toner/Setting Spray: Luminance Skincare Rosewater Facial Toner, Mario Badescu Skincare Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs & Rosewater, and LIMEGREEN Lavandula Multi-spray (*can also be used as a body spray & linen refresher)

Moisturizer: Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, RADIATE by BASE BUTTER (also can use as a primer), Luminance Skincare Deep Hydration Moisturizer and SHINE by BASE BUTTER (*I use moreso on my neck & collarbone)

Highlighter: GLOW by BASE BUTTER

Lip Balm: Burt’s Bees Lip Balm (with Vitamin E & Peppermint) and Lip Balm by MOOR UNLIMITED LLC (contains: Shea butter, beeswax, rose petals, agave, peppermint, vanilla, rosemary, & coconut oil)

Sheet Mask: Warm Honey Nectar Face Sheet Mask

6. Properly nourish your mind, body & soul

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Just as what goes on the inside matters, what’s going on on the inside matters as well! When our mind, body and soul are working in alignment, chances are it will show evidently on the outside. All three need to be well nourished daily in order to reap the best results in life, and I believe the same applies to our skin as well. Call me silly if you want, but in addition to what I put into and on my body, I attribute a lot of my newfound glow to true joy & Jesus.🤷🏾‍♀️ However, if you are in need of a more specific checklist to help you stay accountable with your mind, body, & soul wellness, be sure to check out one of my previous posts: “How you doing? A Self-Care Check-in.” 

7. Be patient— ISSA PROCESS!

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Life is all about trial & error. Sometimes it will feel like we fail, but that is okay! “Failure” is a part of life, so we might as well embrace it. Watch now: “Get Comfortable With Failing!”

Clearer, radiant skin (like everything else) isn’t a race, it’s a process. At the end of the day, you have to find out what works best for YOU. It may take time to start seeing the lasting changes you desire, but that is okay. Remember, we are trying to stress less. So don’t give yourself one more thing to worry about while giving your skin a strict time frame to clear/brighten up.

BONUS: Go to sleeeeeep! 

If you are anything like me, your sleep pattern is constantly all over the place. I truly struggle with going to bed early and resting in general. But that always shows up on my face as well as other areas in my life. Our bodies were designed to heal and rejuvenate itself, but that cannot happen if we refuse to give it a break to do so. Do yourself a favor and get some REST!

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Do you have any tips of your own? Feel free to share in the comments below! Let me know if this was helpful at all and if you have any favorite products/brands that have helped you in your journey to clearer, radiant skin!

Love + light,

WhitMcWrites😘

#WhitsWisdom

So Valentine’s Day is officially over, which means we will probably see a large decrease in talk about love soon. Boxes of chocolate will go on sale, and things will go back to the way they were before this holiday, right?

Wrong! While the spirit of love still lingers in the air, let’s talk about love for just a little while longer. If you read my weekly #WhitsWisdomWednesday newsletter yesterday, you would know that for me, this Valentine’s Day was all about dwelling in a space of self-love. I have had such a beautiful week so far, and here is why: I was in such a deep space of self-love that I intentionally made self-care a priority. 

To me, self-care means any action or strategy that is demonstrating a love for yourself while helping you do better and free yourself in mind, body, & spirit (& even finances). It means you don’t just care for your body, but then neglect your mental health. Or nourish your mind and neglect your spirit. To me, genuine self-care encompasses all 3, daily.

This may seem obvious to some, but foreign or even radical to many others, because I think most of us were not raised to make self-care in mind, body and spirit a priority. A lot of us were made to believe that physical health was more important than spiritual health, or even that spiritual health was more important than mental health. However, the older I get, the more I come to realize that tending to all 3 is what leads to living a more free and abundant life.

So this week, I did many things to intentionally engage in radical self-care. Can you figure out which category each action tends to? Here are just a few:

1. I brought home white roses

You ever just laugh at how God even answers the smallest of prayers? I had originally planned on buying myself some roses for VDay, but I lowkey didn’t want to pay for them. I knew I wanted to receive roses (white or pink to be more specific) by I surely didn’t expect or plan on waiting for someone to give them to me. Surprisingly enough, on Saturday, I attended a Self Love Workshop, put together by Nikkie Price. Her workshop was beautiful and funny enough, she left us all with a couple of white roses. Since there were so many extras, I ended up leaving  the event with a full bouquet of roses!

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2. I took my first heels class

I have been wanting to take a heels class for so long now, but always found an excuse to chicken out. Whether it was money or not having comfortable shoes, I kept telling myself I wasn’t able to attend yet, when the truth is I wasn’t’ fearless enough to attend yet. However, this week I was determined to fight that fear and attend Shirlene Quigley’s Street Stilettos class at Alvin Ailey (for basic beginners) and I am so glad that I did! Although I am aware that I am not a beginner when it comes to dance, I am definitely a beginner when it comes to dancing in heels. Going to class with my sis Catherine showed me that not only could I dance in heels and not get hurt, but I could do it well.

3. I rented a studio and danced with my bestie

As you may have noticed, I love taking photos and dancing. That is something my sis, Catherine, and I try to do weekly or at least biweekly. This week we decided to rent a studio and record a few videos. The pictures we took were stunning and we had the best time just vibing out to the music we played. We even choreographed a short piece in heels in about 5-10 minutes! Not only did we have a great time, but it also boosted our confidence to dance in heels right before taking class.

4. I drank lots of water

Right behind Jesus, water is probably my best friend! For the past few months I have been trying to stay consistent with drinking about a gallon a day of water. At first, it felt a little like a chore to keep up with, but now it has become   a part of my daily routine. I don’t drink much juice or soda (except ginger ale sometimes) but I fell off a little and have been drinking coffee more frequently so I wanted to make sure I was still getting as much water as possible. My hair and my skin definitely thank me!

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5. I got a mani-pedi

On Tuesday evening I went to Town Nails in Scarsdale and decided to get the Green Tea Spa Treatment pedicure, and a regular manicure. Initially I wasn’t going to go to the nail salon anymore since I had broken a nail and consequently had to cut all of my nails short, but then I decided that I still needed that time to be pampered. I am so glad I did! The Green Tea treatment was amazing and included a 10 min reflexology foot massage, half leg mud mask, callous treatment, oil treatment and hot stone massage. By the end, I left feeling like a whole new person!

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6. I gave myself a mini facial

This past summer, I began a new skincare routine. As a I had becoming more aware/intentional of what I put in my body, I realized it was just as important to do so with what I put on my body as well. So Monday night I decided to set aside 30 minutes to give myself a mini facial. For more details on my new skincare routine for radiant skin, be sure to stay tuned for my next blog post!

7. I went out to dinner with my mother

Spending dinner out with my mother is always refreshing. I love spending time with her outside of the house and we both love eating good food. We had such an amazing time at Yard House in Ridge Hill! I originally was hesitant to go there because I wasn’t too impressed the last time, but that was years ago, so I figured I’d give it another shot and I’m so glad that I did!

8. I read my Bible

Taking the time to read my Bible always makes my day or night better. It helps me re-center, stay aligned and get a fresh perspective on whatever I’m going through (good or bad). It also helps me prepare for teaching dance as well as prepar the weekly #WhitsWisdomWednesday newsletter. In addition, it is a great place to find inspiration and confirmation for the affirmations I like to say to myself daily.

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9. I bought a new pair of headphones

This one may sound silly but for me, music is LIFE! I was getting grouchy because my current headphones had broken in one ear and I felt like I couldn’t truly appreciate the music I had been listening to or fully zone out without distractions. So although they were just a cheap pair of pink headphones from 7-11, they helped me feel so much better and so much more like myself this week until I purchase a new, better pair.

10. I slept in

Okay so just a disclaimer: I probably have THE worst sleep schedule. I’m a creative person, and as life would have it, allllll of my creative energy decides to surface between the hours of 12am and 5am. I know, I know, I’m working on it. It is generally a struggle to wake up earlier and I have been doing much better at it. However, this Sunday I was so extremely exhausted, I decided to just sleep in and not feel bad about it. Yes, I missed out on church, but it felt good to listen to my body. In addition, it served as a great incentive to really work to improve my sleep schedule so I won’t have to miss out again.

I hope this list encourages you to engage in more radical self-care this weekend! If you’re not even sure where to begin, consider going through this Self-Care Check-in to see what you are in need of right now in mind, body and spirit.

I never thought this would be my life. I never envisioned myself to be that person who would wake up and decide to drink a green smoothie!  I love sweet things just as much as I hate things that do not look or smell amazing, inviting or appetizing.

So believe me, I’m just as surprised as you that this is now my life! I know, I know, I sound super dramatic but I love to celebrate small victories. And to me, deciding to eat healthier DAILY is a small victory! I decided that I wanted more out of life. I’ve been on a wellness journey for awhile now, but it’s really been during the last couple of months that I became excited about it. And that excitement is probably why I have been seeing such amazing results lately (i.e. clearer skin, more energy, slimming down of my belly etc.).

Something finally clicked when it sunk into my soul that wellness is best looked at and managed holistically— incorporating mind, body and spirit. When I began to see the benefits of all 3 working together, I became convinced that this is the life I desired and was worthy of working for.

Something wellness consultant, Monica Bundy  said really stuck with me: “I deserve the self-loving act of caring for my health.” I deserve to be in good health. Not only do I deserve to be in good health, but I deserve to literally live my best life— and the best way to do that is to care for my body just as much as I do my mind or my spirit.

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In the past couple of years I have become very intentional about what I allow into my mind and my spirit, so why not do the same for my body? Though I may not ever become a vegan or vegetarian, I do intend on incorporating a lot more fruits and veggies into my diet— especially greens. One easy way to do this is with smoothies! Green smoothies in particular have been a quick, easy, and filling option, that is surprisingly more tasty than I thought.

One of our mottos at MindfullyMOTIV8 is to “Start Where You Are.” So here’s a quick recipe of the green smoothie I made with what I had readily available in my house (and that works with my current diet). Feel free to modify to our own dietary restrictions or personal preferences.

2 handfuls of organic baby spinach

2 tablespoons of pineapple chunks

1/4 cup of fresh mango chunks

1/3 cup of frozen papaya chunks

1 organic banana

1/3 cup green tea

1/3 cup of whole milk

1 vanilla yogurt cup

1/2 strawberry-banana yogurt cup

dash of ground ginger

*These measurements are estimates. I usually just do what feels right and toss it in the blender🤷🏾‍♀️

Blend half of the green tea, 1 handful of spinach and the remaining ingredients together. Once the mixture is smooth enough for you, add in the 2nd handful of spinach and remaining green tea. Enjoy!

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I love drinking my smoothies out of a wine glass! Somehow, it helps makes choosing healthier options more enjoyable!

Light + love,

Whit😘

#WhitsWisdom

2017 was definitely a year of transformation! It was a year full of shifting, experiencing and accepting. It was by far my most daring and liberating year yet! I cried sooooo much this year, but often they were tears of joy & gratitude. My faith was tested in more ways than I could have imagined, and strengthened in more ways than I can express. Although this year was filled with so many amazing memories, I wanted to share 23 of some of the most memorable and magical moments that pushed me way out of my comfort zone and filled me with joy! Thank you to all who shared this beautiful year with me. You have truly enriched my life.

1. Modeled activewear for one of my favorite brands, Fashion to Figure, & had the opportunity to shoot with one of my dream photographers, Bruna Lacerda

 

 


2.  Shared poetry & some #WhitsWisdom at award-wining author, Nigeria Lockley’s, Passion Party in NYC

 

 


3. Had a successful book re-launch of Awakenings 

 

 


4. Took my 1st solo trip to San Diego & Los Angeles, California 

 

 


5. Started teaching Dance Therapy Fusion (dance fitness classes) with Lisa Anakwenze 

 

 


6. Facilitated The Empower Hour workshop at St.John’s University with Sinai’s Radiant Liturgical Dance Ministry & Alpha Kappa Psi- Beta Sigma Chapter

 

 


7. Designed a t-shirt & sweatshirt based on my book of poetry, Awakenings 

 

 


8. Left my teaching job of 2 1/2 years to pursue my purpose full- time (Now available for bookings!)

 

 


9. Booked my 1st out of state event in North Carolina; joined PTMSpeaks ministry 

 

 


10. Successfully hosted my 1st out of state event in Los Angeles, CA (REAWAKEN LA) 

 

 


11. Founded #WorshipWithWhit liturgical dance class in NYC 

 

 


12. Began modeling for Gwynnie Bee First Fit reviews program 

 

 


13. Took an aerial yoga class for the 1st time at Trilogy Sanctuary in San Diego

 

 


14. Had a liberating & intimate photoshoot on the beach with Amanda Clare (The divulge project) 

 

 


15. Confidently & unapologetically wore bikinis all year long 💪🏾🤷🏾‍♀️🔥

 

 


16. Became a brand ambassador for BASE BUTTER natural skincare line

 

 


17. Assisted Victoria Sallie in launching Mindfully Motiv8 brand, as Creative director & Blog Editor in Chief 

 

 


18. Started Paint, Poetry & Prosecco events with Jackie Goneze of ONEPublic NYC 

 

 


19. Attended The Potter’s House at One LA twice!

 

 


20. Took burlesque, soca clash, Afro fusion, afrobeats, hip-hop & yoga classes 

 

 


21. Danced along the beach at night in San Diego 

 

 


22. My godson Jesiah was baptized ❤️

 

 


23. Hosted book reading & signing of Awakenings at my home church, Eastchester Presbyterian Church in the Bronx 

 

 

 

Thank you again so much for rocking with me all year! I am so grateful for all of the love, support, prayers and divine connections made/strengthened this year! I cannot wait to do it even bigger and better next year! If you have any favorite moments, feel free to share with me! If you’d like to work with me in 2018, be sure to book me here.

Light + love,

WhitMcWrites😘

#WhitsWisdom

I am crazy.

After watching this short video by Gospel artist Travis Greene, I became even more convinced of this fact.

If we’re being honest, we have to be pretty crazy to believe in God. To believe in a God that can move mountains, cast out demons, and heal the sick. We must be crazy to believe in an Almighty, all powerful being who can turn water into wine, part the Red Sea and make food that’s just enough for 5, be more than enough to feed thousands. We must be crazy to think that He can multiply to exceedingly and abundantly more than we can even imagine. That He can provide such an overflow it extends to all of those in connection with us.

Quite honestly, we must  be at least a little insane to think that He would create a life, for the sole purpose of saving and redeeming the rest of ours. We have to be crazy to believe He truly is a way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper and light in the darkness like we sing in worship. Especially when everything says that’s impossible; When all of the logical/rational parts of us and the world say it can’t be so. We must be crazy to believe in Him anyway.

And so if we are crazy enough to believe God can do all of those things, how can we not believe that He can do the smaller things? Like cancel out debt? Or provide us with our dream jobs? Or unite us with our soulmate/purpose mate? Or heal our marriages? How can we have so little faith and imagination that we cannot believe God can drive out sickness and heal our bodies?

And if we can believe He can heal our bodies, how can we not be crazy enough to believe He can heal our minds? How can we not be crazy enough to believe God is greater than our depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts? Meanwhile, we claim to believe He was  great enough to raise the dead (Jesus), after 3 days— after being crucified in public— just like He promised He would! How can we not be crazy enough to believe that He can fix our finances and pull us out of the seemingly blackhole we’re in? And yet, we can believe He can raise up Joseph out of the pit and the prison, into the palace after being overlooked, unbelieved, disregarded, forgotten, wrongly accused, and mistreated— solely for being who he was called to be?

Listen, I don’t know about you, but if I’m gonna be crazy, I might as well be filled with the absolute most crazy faith. I might as well be insane enough to believe my breakthrough is coming, my victory is inevitable and the favor & restoration over my life is real. I might as well have enough faith to truly believe that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord, and are called according to His purpose (see Romans 8:28). I might as well be crazy enough to believe that God is still in the business of working miracles. Yes, I might as well be crazy enough to let go, let God and say/sing: “not by might, not by power, by your Spirit God.” (See Zechariah 4:6)

-WhitMcWrites😘

#WhitsWisdom

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To Caretaker, With Love

Late nights.

Early mornings.

Medications.

Slow assisted walks.

Less meals.

A laundry list of things to do.

These are just a few of the things that first come to mind when I think of being a caretaker.

If you watch my Instagram stories or have spoken with me lately, you’d know that someone I love ended up in the hospital unexpectedly on Tuesday night. As terrifying as it was, it was also a sense of relief and gratitude knowing that she was alive and able to return home. However, a few days later, I realized myself sinking deeper and deeper into a funk. Physically, my body was exhausted, mentally, I felt burnt out, and spiritually I felt drained. I didn’t want to eat, all I wanted to do was sleep and work felt like an impossible task. I knew I had to do something, but something just felt too hard.

Then someone asked me if I did yoga that day. Initially, it felt like a really silly question, but then I found myself laughing. I realized I hadn’t done yoga or danced since Monday, before leaving San Diego. After being reminded that both were where I find my peace, joy and freedom, I realized that in the midst of taking care of someone else, I stopped taking care of myself. As hard as it may be to understand, when being a caretaker, you MUST put your self-care first—period. That doesn’t mean you won’t be uncomfortable or make sacrifices, but it does mean you will make your well-being a priority as well.

Though it may sound selfish to you at first, it might just be  one of the most selfless things you can do for your loved one. The way I see it, the better I take care of myself, the better care I can provide. So to help you stay a strong caretaker, here’s a list of 8 tips I’ve compiled and wish someone told me more, especially 8 years ago while my dad was still in his fight with cancer (may he Rest In Peace).

1. Cry. You are allowed to cry. Of course you don’t have to do it all the time, but you may need to do it sometime. That release is good and healthy. As someone who has dealt heavily with depression and emotional numbness, it is a blessing to be able to feel so deeply and release those feelings. Crying doesn’t make you weak, it allows you to be strong.

2. Eat regularly. I definitely get how easy it is to get caught up in the day to day chaos, or numerous tasks to remember. But I promise, you’re more likely to be at your best when you’re not hangry, lightheaded or even physically weak. If you know you’re going to be out & about a lot, especially at doctors visits/hospitals, pack healthy, energizing snacks that you can munch on until your next meal (& meal prep if possible!)

3. Drink lots of water. If you’re busy constantly moving about, I understand how easy it is to forget to drink water. But with all of the stress, the last thing you need to do is get dehydrated. Aim for your gallon of water a day, infuse it with fruit if you need to (especially lemon, which is great for detoxing) but stay hydrated! Especially if you find yourself drinking even more cups of coffee a day to stay awake, it’s probably a good idea to drink more water.  Besides, your hair and skin will thank you!

4. Wash your hair. It may sound silly, but my hair is the first to show me how I’m really doing. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, it gets dry and even starts falling out (especially when I haven’t been drinking as much water!) Doing my hair sometimes seems like such a small thing, but once it’s detangled, freshly washed and smells good, I suddenly feel a little lighter, less frustrated and can think more clearly.

5. Say “NO.” No is not a bad word! Especially when you’re busy taking care of someone else, it’s easy to start feeling bad about missing out on things/events. However, sometimes you simply can’t make it, can’t afford it or really just need to REST. (*This actually applies to everyone, not just caretakers.) But true friends & family, will indeed understand and get over it. Remember, self-care must come first. Listen to your mind, body, and spirit.

6. Ask for help. Quite possibly the most important one on the list! As a caretaker, especially the primary one, it is super easy to become overwhelmed and feel like all of the responsibility falls on you. But it’s okay to ask for help! A lot of the time, people do actually want to help, but don’t know how. So be vocal about your needs and what the person you’re caring for needs. If you need a break/a nap, money, food, someone to cook, transportation, a hug, prayer, or simply someone to listen— speak up. Let someone know because you don’t have to do it all alone, even if you are superman/superwoman.

7. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep! You must sleep, and not just 2 minute naps (although those can come in real clutch sometimes!) Sleep isn’t just for our bodies, it’s for our minds to rest and reset so that all of the worries & responsibilities of the day can take a break. That way we can wake up rejuvenated, with clarity and more energy to take on the way.

8. Engage in small “rebellious” but necessary acts of self-love. Dance, sing, run, do yoga, meditate, use a face mask, do your nails, change your sheets, make a new playlist, talk on the phone, go for a walk, leave the house, journal, light a candle, eat something really yummy, read something new, watch something new (YouTube/Netflix/ sermon/TV), listen to a podcast, pray, etc. These all may seem small at first, but together they can make such a difference. So switch it up if you had to, but sprinkling these acts of self-care throughout the day help make for a happier, healthier caretaker, which will ultimately make for a happier, better cared for loved one.

I hope this helps! Any more tips? Feel free to comment below and add on to this list! Did you find this helpful? Let me know! Should I go LIVE to chat about it? If you have any questions, feel free to drop them below! If this was helpful for you, or you think it could help someone you know, please share!

WhitMcWrites😘

#WhitsWisdom

 

So I am single.

Super single.

It’s been this way for awhile, because a few years ago, I decided that I no longer wanted to share any piece of myself with anyone who isn’t worthy of me. I decided that no longer would I let just anyone have access to me or my body. As easy as that may sound to some, I found it extremely hard for awhile. I hadn’t realized how easily I had allowed people who’s only intention was to take from me, seep into my daily life. I hadn’t realized how easily and often I had let others rename me and define who I was and what I was deserving of. But that’s the thing: when you spend so long dwelling in a space of toxicity, toxic people, situations, behaviors and environments become your (expected & accepted) norm.

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I recently just finished the audio book, Don’t Settle for Safe by Sarah Jakes Roberts. One of the last few things said was: “Growth requires a discipline to do what most cannot because they are unwilling to risk discomfort.” I can think of quite a few reasons why that statement hit me so hard, but here’s one: Learning to truly love and value myself was uncomfortable. It required lifestyle adjustments, relationship pruning, and several hard, long looks in the mirror. It wasn’t enough for just my circle to change, my heart and my eyes had to change as well.

I had to be willing to look at myself and no longer see broken pieces, but a whole woman. I had to be willing to sit down with myself and figure out what was actually beautiful about me and deserving of more than just the bare minimum. I had to be willing to stop and take the time to determine if there was actually any validity in any of the negative things people spoke to, over and about me— myself included.

With time I realized that the only reason people treated me a certain way is because in some way or another I allowed them to. And the only reason I allowed them to was because I actually believed at that point, that was  the only treatment I was worthy of. But praise God, those days are over! In all of this “super single” time I have done a whole lot of unlearning. However, I have also learned a whole lot about myself as well. Over time, I have discovered that:

I am the creator of my own joy.

I can laugh in the midst of uncertainty.

I hold love at the center of my heart.

I have the power to shift the energy of any space I enter.

Transformation lies at my fingertips.

Radiance drips from my pores.

I am whole.

I am worthy.

I am deserving.

I am a child of God.

I am who He says I am.

I am who I say I am. Growth isn’t always easy but it is always worth it. We have the power to define ourselves and redefine ourselves daily. We have the power to decide what we are willing and unwilling to accept. We have the power to create our own joy, rather than let it be dependent on someone else. So go ahead, buy yourself flowers if you want them!

 

 

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I have decided that I am no longer waiting for someone to see my worth, shower me with love and affection, or buy me flowers. I know my worth. I wrap myself in His love daily. I affirm and empower myself as often as I need to. I buy my own flowers. I am single, but I can honestly say now that I am ready for love. I am strong enough to be whole and magnificent on my own, but ready to be complemented— not completed.  I am ready to receive with open arms what is next for me.

But here’s a little secret: I am in no rush.

What is for me is for me. Period. It will not pass me by. Like a sunflower, it will arise and bloom in it’s own time. In His perfect time. And when it does, it will be beautiful and well worth the wait.

WhitMcWrites😘

#WhitsWisdom

 

 

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“I wish I had your level of confidence.”

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This statement, no matter how many times I hear it, never ceases to stir up something in me. This week I received a message from a woman in Nigeria saying how much she admired me, was inspired by me and encouraged by my love for my body. She also said that she wished she had the level of confidence that I did. Now y’all know I am already an emotional being, so it’s probably unsurprising that instantaneously, tears welled up in my eyes. Maybe that seems a little dramatic, but you have to understand: for my entire life, this phrase had been one I only thought to myself about other women (and men).

I never imagined someone, let alone someone a whole continent away would have those thoughts about me. For the longest time, self-confidence seemed like this magical, mystical and elusive concept for me. I have never been thin, something always jiggles when I walk, my skin darkens the moment I step out into the sunlight, my hair transforms on it’s own throughout the day, and I am short– all things that were not celebrated growing up. However, these qualities that once left me insecure are now some of the ones I love most about myself.

I grew up feeling like I was always either too much or not enough. My self-worth was tied to academic excellence, my weight, and people pleasing. Whenever I attempted to lose weight, it was never from a place of self-love, but self- hatred/disappointment. I’d quickly drop a few pounds and see the instant positive reactions I’d receive, which ironically made me feel even worse about myself. So soon enough I’d be back to my old ways, continuing on in a never ending cycle.

I’d open up a Victoria’s Secret catalog, knowing darn well that once again I would not find someone who looks remotely like me in inside. I don’t think I ever actually thought that I’d look better as a size 2, but rather that the world would like and accept me better. And then I got to college, where apparently being “thick” was a thing people aspired to be and have. So when men (and women) began to make known how phenomenal they believed my body to be and their attraction to it, a small voice whispered, “You are now worthy (of love). You are now desirable.”

But I still didn’t feel worthy, confident, or loved. I felt like a tool, an imposter and lonely. So of course, my actions reflected as such. I wasn’t concerned with my physical health and my weight constantly fluctuated. My faith always seemed to be hanging on by a thread, meanwhile my mental health continued to dwindle with a deepening depression and increasing panic. I clung tight to toxic relationships/situationships/friendships because they were the only ones I thought I was worthy of.

So what happened? Did I just wake up one day and say,” You know what, I think I wanna be confident and love myself now!” Of course not! Self-love truly is a journey. It started with small changes, small wins, small seeds of faith, and small desires that grew bigger with time. I believe that self-love, self-confidence and self- care all go hand in hand. After all, how can you be confident in a person you do not love? Why would you engage in practices to care for yourself in mind, body and spirit if you do not love yourself?

So where did I find this confidence? If I’m being honest, I’d say first and foremost, I found it in God. I wondered how in the world God could continue to use me for His glory and positively impact other people while I was so broken. I wondered how I could possibly continue to doubt my worth and claim that I loved God. Because with even the deepest levels of depression working to consume me, one truth remained: I AM STILL HERE. So that must mean something. That must mean that in some way my life had WORTH and PURPOSE, no matter my appearance, my failures, my mistakes, my trauma, or my circumstances.

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The more my faith and love for God grew, the greater my love for self became. Slowly but surely I began taking certain actions of self-care, like writing more often, dancing more, and eating less foods that I knew were harmful to my body. As I danced, my confidence grew, as did my comfort with and love for my body. Now, (and for the past 3+ years) I no longer share any piece of my body with just anybody. I made (and have maintained) certain personal commitments to myself and God— willingly. Lastly, but possibly most importantly: I WALKED AWAY FROM THE TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS.

I let them go.

I let them go.

I let them go.

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I let go of or created distance from anyone who was: emotionally abusive, consistently disturbing my peace, manipulating me, draining my energy, abusing my kindness, didn’t have my best interest in mind, was filled with negativity, triggered/encouraged unhealthy behaviors, diminished my faith, downplayed my dreams, couldn’t support me or who’s spirit just didn’t sit well with me.

Of course I have messed up countless times. I won’t claim to have it all figured it— because I don’t. But what I do know is that it is possible to be self- confident, filled with an abundance of self-love and practice self-care. It may not always be easy, but I promise, it will be worth it. If you feel you need something to get you started on (or dig deeper into) your self-love journey, here’s a few questions to consider:

*I recommend getting a pen and paper to write down your responses

  • Who am I?
  • Who do I desire to be?
  • What does my self-care look like? (*see my self-care check in for guidance)
  • What makes me happy?
  • What are my goals?
  • How do I define my worth?
  • How do I define self-confidence? Self-love?
  • What would self-love look like on me?
  • What is preventing me from moving to the next level in my self-love journey?

These are are just a few to get you started! Are there any more you can think of? Please feel free to let me know and send any questions my way! I’ll try my best to answer them as well as I can.

Remember, you are not alone. Your life matters. You are so worthy. You are so deserving. You are so capable.

I see you.

I see you.

I see you.

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Love + light.

-WhitMcWrites 😘

#WhitsWisdom

***All of these amazing photos were taken by Amanda Clare. For more photos from this series, be sure to follow her on Instagram, @divulgenyc !***

We have just entered a new month and with it comes a new chance to begin again. As I enter August, I can’t shake the feeling that my whole life is about to change— in business, in ministry, in my everyday life and even in romance. However, I knew that I could not enter this new realm acting the same. But before my actions could change, I knew my mindset had to change. The way I speak to and of myself had to change. So, here is the declarative statement I wrote. I hope this encourages you to take a few moments today and write your own. There is power in the tongue. What we speak is what becomes. So let’s speak LIFE over ourselves. Here is my Warrior’s Declaration:

This is not a game,
So NO MORE playing small!
No more thinking small.
No more dreaming small.
No more praying small.

I AM who HE says I am.

I AM who I declare I am.

Greater is waiting for me on the other side of fear.

This isn’t about me anymore.
This is about all the souls I’m called to help heal.
This is for all those lost, searching and begging for light and direction.
This is for those in need of love who need to be wrapped tightly in His love.
This is for those who have been broken time and time again, who need to see that the breakthrough is real.
This is for those who don’t/didn’t think they were gonna make it.
This is for those who don’t see a way out.
This is for those that need to learn how to forgive— themselves and others.
This is for those that need a reason to live another day.
This is for those who need to experience worship.
This is for those who need a prayer warrior, a prophetess, a preacher and a poet.
This is for those who’s limbs yearn to move for God.

I am not lacking.
I am not incapable.
I am not unqualified—He has qualified me with His grace.

I am extraordinary.
I am more than a conqueror.
I am a child of God.

He is the author and the finisher.
I am the pen and paper.

I will pray with expectancy—for He has done great things.
I will pray with power—for He is behind and beside me.
I will pray with promise — for I know all things work for the good of those who love the Lord.

I will praise Him with my mind, body and spirit.
I will glorify Him always.
I will let my light shine.

No more dimming myself.
No more hiding.
No more excuses.
Only faith.
Only God.
Only now.

For salvation happens in the present.
Renewal happens in the present.
The magic happens in the present.

And presently, I declare that my time is HERE and NOW.
My breakthrough isn’t coming— it’s currently happening.

I DECLARE:

That fear has no place here and holds no power over me; I will not give doubt a foothold.

That joy surrounds and abounds in me; love will follow me wherever I go.
I am lacking of nothing; everything I need is within reach and accessible to me.
I am limitless; with Him, all things are possible— the possibilities are endless.
I am abundant; goodness is continuously flowing to and through me.
I am light; no darkness can dim my shine, only magnify its power.
I am powerful; His strength is being renewed in me day by day.
I am anointed; my gifts will make room for me, if I make room for them.

I can and I will.

I am who I am.

I am beginning again.

I am ready.

This time, I am prepared to win.

 

WhitMcWrites😘

#WhitsWisdom

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