Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The Glow Up, All Things Beautiful

Inner Beauty is an asset that we should strive for daily, making sure that our heart and soul are pure in our interactions with ourselves and others. On Monday's Raw Talk Real Conversation we spoke about Trauma: Identifying it, Confronting It and Healing from It.....Starting the Process. When we start the healing process by doing the work to heal from the situations that have harmed us and caused us pain, we remove the toxic energy in our lives and make room for the inner beauty to shine through. 

Moving forward once we are healed from the distress that trauma has caused us, we are excited to finally look in the mirror and see the inner beauty that we always knew was there. Now it is time to start on the outer beauty, now that is not to say we haven’t always worked on our outer beauty. Quite the contrary…..a lot of times to cover up the hurt and pain we dress up our outer beauty. We make sure that our hair is always done to perfection sometimes spending hundreds of dollars. Our brows, lashes and nails are always done… on fleek as the young people say, and we make sure that our appearance is on point. Covering up all the damage and betrayal in our lives. 

BUT finally, we can feel good about ourselves to the point that we want our outer beauty to match the joy and happiness that we feel on the inside. We no longer feel like a fraud for dressing up and pampering our outer beauty for the world to see. We are now able to comprehend the statement that Self-Love is POWER! We did the work and now we’re ready to show the masses just how beautiful we are…..inside and out; and we are going to start with pampering ourselves naturally. 

Now one thing I have learned about beauty is you can make it your own. Whether that is with the type of hairstyles you like and wear to the type of fashion you like to rock. Beauty is an individual effort and its only request is CONFIDENCE!

Now beauty is not only defined by hair, clothes and makeup, but how you take care of you. Beauty is also hair care/health, skin health (facials, cleaning & moisturizing), mind (meditation) body (exercising, diet, massages) and soul therapy (self-awareness, self-love & yoga) and improving/protecting your energy. 

Beauty is all of this and so much more, so let’s not only focus on one or the other because both are equally important. Ladies let’s concentrate during this time of quarantine and self-isolation on getting our Glow Up on in all things BEAUTIFUL and remember Self-Love is POWER!

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Untreated Trauma

How do we as a community help to heal the trauma that is affecting our community through violence? Does anyone ever think about the trauma a young mother has gone through, and if not addressed, passes on to her children? Add in poverty and the current crime and violence you see in the city is the end result.

Imagine a young single mother, let's say she has experienced sexual abuse in her life, she was not believed and told all her life that she was fast and never protected or loved. She wasn't given the attention she needed that would allow her to feel safe in her home or in her skin. She was never told how smart or beautiful she was in her years of puberty, experiencing strong emotional and hormonal changes, she sought the attention of anyone that would listen. 

Or let's say she witnessed domestic abuse in the home seeing her mother constantly abused and in pain at the hands of her father or her mother’s boyfriend. 

If not addressed these issues reverberate in her life as distrust, violence, promiscuity and or substance abuse. 


She becomes a young mom because no one ever showed her or taught her about self-worth. No one ever told her that her body was precious and not to be shared with everyone. Her father wasn't around to show her what true love is, her experiences with the opposite sex has always been abusive in some form so that's her norm and that's what's she is unknowingly attracted to. She has her child young, she is inexperienced but excited because now she has someone that will unconditionally love questions, no demands just love and dependence. Her patience is low because she is still a baby herself, she has no clue how to care for another human being let alone a baby because she was never shown love and care. The baby cries, she’s frustrated so she yells and screams. No one is there to show her the way.

As this unfortunate cycle of dysfunction, pain, lack of patience, love and understanding continues year after year. The result is oftentimes the out of control child we see in the schools, the disrespectful child that will cuss you out, get in your face, fight at the drop of a dime because they have not been shown how to properly control their emotions, how to handle conflict in a calm manner. The result is no one understanding what this child has gone through or been subjected to in the home all their life.

And because mom was a young mother, oftentimes the job/career opportunities are zero to none unless you want to work at a low wage job, struggle and become a part of the system that continues to suppress the poor. As a result, not only does she suffer, her children do as well…. again frustration kicks in. The house is in chaos! Mom is overwhelmed trying to take care of things, kids are going through their own emotional issues due to mom not being able to be present and as a result they are turning to the very thing that got mom in the position she’s in. It all seems so hopeless. This is the unfortunate cycle that a lot of our mothers are finding themselves in. Exhausted trying to make things happen, trying to feed and care for her children all while trying to keep them safe and out of the clutches of the streets…. not having the tools and failing miserably.

All this steams from trauma, some generational trauma that was never discussed nor treated. We have got to start having the hard, uncomfortable conversations in our homes, with our children with our parents and grandparents. There are things that happen in families that should never have been swept under the rug. The things that happened in the family that we were told not to talk about, and as a result you have a girl violated by her uncle or friend of the family now trying to raise her own. You have elders in the family stating “what goes on in my house stays in my house”; and the cycle continues

I concentrate on the female because we are the givers of life, the first human interaction a child has…. We are the nurturer. We raise our children, oftentimes alone with no help from the father, overwhelmed with trying to raise healthy well-balanced children, working to keep the home operating, attending school trying to better ourselves all while neglecting our own mental and physical health. She’s tired and exhausted, she’s needs her village. Her children recognize her pain, and in turn they are in pain and that pain and trauma is being played out in our streets daily through crime and violence.

Oh, and I haven’t even touched on the systemic racism that plays a huge role in this big picture. Lack of jobs and resources in a community, inhumane living conditions, food deserts, below par educational resources and politicians that could care less and work hard doing nothing. But I’ll leave that for another time.

Community, Village, Mentors and Family, WE HAVE GOT TO WORK TOGETHER TO HEAL US!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

A Woman's Strength

Why do we give so freely to others what we so desperately need to give ourselves? We love and care for others asking no questions, we give our time and compassion while neglecting our every need. We abandon our health, our peace of mind, our energy and so much more. We put our heart on the line without knowing the rules while we agree to play the game. Have we not earned the prize by putting others first? Taking care of a sick spouse or significant other, a child, a parent/family members and even strangers all the while needing a reassuring word, a hug, a thank you, or I appreciate you. At what point do we stop and realize that we're going to break down if we don't start putting our health and wellbeing first? 

It starts with fatigue, then a lingering cold that turns into the flu or some other health ailment. We start to gain weight due to improper nutrition and lack of sleep and exercise. 

Our mind is in shambles because we fail to slow down, relax and care for the one person that matters the most......YOU!

It's not selfish to put yourself first; sometimes it’s absolutely necessary, a moment to think and get clarity on the day’s event, a sit-down home cooked meal, a relaxing bubble bath and getting to bed early to get at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep. We need that more than ever. I'm sure we've all heard the saying "you can't give from an empty cup". That saying is so true.

A woman’s strength can lead to her frailty and ineffectiveness.

If you continue to play the role of savoir to all, you will find that you will be the one that will need saving.


Monday, February 3, 2020

Girls in the System

I sat dumbfounded with my mouth wide open as I listened to a group of 14 and 15-year-old girls brag about some outrageous acts. From stealing cars to breaking in homes, as if they were getting a new phone or kissing a boy. They knew where the tracking devices were, on the engine of the cars, steering column and in the tire. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! I’m a grown ass woman and even I don’t know how to change a tire let alone hotwire a vehicle! As the girls bragged about the adventures all I heard was, “A real criminal would know where the tracking device is”, as if that were something to be proud of. Hell, they even knew who to call if they wanted to flip a quick sale and earn up to $400. Who knew……

I would often ask the girls if they were in the juvenile system because of a decision they personally made or because an adult failed to decide for them. They admitted that it was their own decision to steal cars and commit breaking and entering. Whatever happened to girls wanting to be cute, go to the mall to window shop, or go on dates with the cutest guy in school? These girls would rather participate in delinquent activities and make decisions that could utterly ruin their futures. What would make a girl want to do this? The answers were simple; my older brother taught me, this is what my uncles does, or it’s just for fun. I warned them that one day, they’re going to break into the wrong person’s home or vehicle and receive a horrible surprise. I shook my head and thought, “they are fearlessly foolish”.

I also heard stories of running from the police, being slammed in the snow face down and assaulting the police; these were 14 and 15-year-old girls acting tough as if they were big strong men defending their honor. No fear whatsoever! How do we change this behavior, this mindset? These young girls are products of dysfunction, lack of supervision, love, structure and discipline, and ultimately their environments. These girls have been exposed to way too much and it hasn’t been positive and as a result they have gotten themselves involved into some unsavory activities with dangerous outcomes.

Talking to these girls every other Wednesday has opened my eyes to the realization that their environments are not conducive to them becoming productive members of society. At times, they convincingly speak as if they want to change; but, how can they? I can give them all the pep talks, empower and motivate them to change, and show them that by changing their behavior and mindset they can have a life of fun, success and less drama. However, if they must return to the same toxic, structureless environment with no discipline. Where no one is enforcing rules, teaching self-control and a different way of thinking……then change is impossible.

It would be ideal if these girls could experience a typical teenage life. Liking boys and going on dates, shopping for the latest fashions, trying out for the cheerleading team and what they’re wearing to the school dance or prom. Not hotwiring a car, running from the police or breaking in a home hoping they don’t get busted. Where are the parents, the adults in their life that are responsible for them……has times changed that much? Are parents or should I say mothers too busy to be worried about their daughter’s whereabouts or well-being? Is it too much to ask a mother to love, nurture and raise up her daughter to be a respectable woman? 

PARENTS……..we have got to do better. I know it’s hard, I’ve been there, I’ve been a single mother trying to figure it all out. It’s not fun and at times it was hard as hell, but our children didn’t ask to be here. It’s time to start sacrificing your time and energy and start raising our children with love, respect, manners and discipline. Yes, we are busy, with work, some school but our children are our greatest investment and they are a reflection of the time, blood, sweat and tears we put into them. As mothers, inexperienced and mature, we can never be too busy or preoccupied with life not to pay attention to the outcry that our daughters give to us.

Sometimes they just want us to ask them how their day was, what happened in school, with your friends or if something is bothering them. They want to know that we care about them outside of just being their parent and making sure that they’re doing what they’re supposed to do in school and home. They want to spend time with mom having lunch, getting their nails done or just spending the day with mom doing something or nothing at all…….just mother daughter time. Moms, that means so much to them, you wouldn’t believe. 

I was literally just having a conversation on last night with some girls, and it shocked me that these girls argue back and forth with their mothers and grandmothers. The adults that take care of them, or at lease expected to care for them. They were saying how “me and my mother go back and forth arguing, and I try not to talk back and curse her out but sometimes she just gets on my nerves”. Again, I was shocked, I wouldn’t have dared think or attempt to verbally spar with my mother or even curse at her for that matter. Mumble under my breath while walking away, sure but I better hope she doesn’t hear me. Slam my bedroom door, of course but in the midst I’m hoping and praying that she doesn’t follow me and swing open the door and give me the look of death that says “how dare you slam a door in my home where I pay the rent and bills”. I was that scared of my mother, not these girls and I truly believe that mothers are to blame for some of this behavior. 

We get frustrated and we take it out on our kids, we have a bad day at work, so we come home yelling and hollering, taking it out on the kids. If our significant other has made us mad……we take it out on the kids, it’s not their fault. They’re trying to figure it out as well and they’re looking to us for the answers, and when they don’t get the answers, love and direction from us they get it from someone that may not have their best intention in mind. WE HAVE GOT TO DO BETTER!

No longer can we act and appear as if we have it all together…..we don’t, and our children’s behavior is a clear indication of it. It’s ok to reach out to your village, your elders, women in your tribe that you trust to help guide you and give you the answers that you need. We can’t do it alone……we need that village and I’m sure if you reach out, that village will gladly and willingly help.  And if you don’t have any of the above, you have me.

Sonya Cooke the Mentor, no judgement!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Our Youth

I vividly recall my excitement when I decided to pursue a job at an elementary school. My goal was to run for the school board, but I also wanted firsthand experience interacting with children in the education environment. I chose an Indiana Public School (IPS) in the neighborhood because my children attended. I also knew some of the staff and I knew my way around with being familiar with the school and wanted to make a difference there.

I figured if I was on the inside, I would be able to advocate and mentor the girls through my Girl Talk Inc. Empowerment Program while also being able to help them academically. Man, let me tell you, did I get a rude awakening, and as I mentioned before I was a mother of two kids that attended the IPS system.

I quickly found out that these kids were not only bad as hell, they were disrespectful, out of control, and had no self-control for themselves or others. These kids were acting like wild animals with their erratic behavior! Now, to be crystal clear these are 10, 11, & 12-year-old boys and girls very few 13-year-olds. Babies to me, who portrayed the most horrendous behaviors I have ever seen in all my 47 years of life from children.

Growing up I was raised to say “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am”, please and thank you, and to respect my elders regardless of the circumstances. That is not to say I or others from my generation didn’t cut up, but we had enough respect to not curse in front of an adult especially our parents; hell, any adult for that matter! No, not the kids I encountered, they cursed, yelled, screamed, shoved, threatened and even to the extent of kicking over classroom furniture.

 What I later learned through their reluctant telling, stories from teachers, and reading material on adolescent behavior, these kids were failed by their parents, loved ones, and adults who were charged with loving and protecting them. The same individuals who were supposed to take care of, provide shelter, clothing, food and guidance for them. These children were acting out what they had seen, heard, and experienced in both their home and environment. These children have had and continued to experience trauma that no child should ever have to experience at their age and especially when this trauma is avoidable and often inflicted by the ones they love.

These poor kids were hurting and acting out wanting help, and the only way they knew how to express themselves was through defiant behavior that would appear to an adult, an authority figure as disrespectful and out of control.

I said all of that to say, PARENTS, we must do better!

I constantly hear and have been guilty of saying myself. These kids are bad as hell, they need ass whooping’s, or the politically correct verbiage is “they need discipline”, and love. I was that parent and mentor saying this consistently. I’ve learned that they need so much more! Yes, kids do need love and discipline however they also need someone to listen to them and understand what they have been through and are going through. Children need stability and consistency; the village of old, counseling, therapy, in lieu of suspensions or juvenile disciplinary action.

My call to action is this, young mothers I am here for you; we are here for you! I was once you, a young mother with two young children, inexperienced and trying to figure it all out. Failing at times but trying to do my absolute best at others. Now there are a lot of things I hear young mothers are doing in front of their children that I didn’t dare do. I am not judging but again, as mothers we have to do better. Children learn from what they see and hear, they repeat and imitate these said actions. We can’t get upset about what our children are doing when we are providing them with the blueprint to do so. We must do better!

I am a mother, a mentor, and the village! Whatever I can do to assist the young mothers of this generation to raise their children in a healthy, loving, and well-balanced environment; I’ll take the initiative and do! I don’t profess to know everything, however what I do know through experience and education I will whole heartedly share. I will go to the ends of the earth to be there. I am here for you, as we as a village are here for you, so let us help!

Monday, April 9, 2018

What Does Self-Love Look Like?

What does self-love look like to you? Self-Love is defined as regard for one's own well being and happiness.

Does self-love look like dressing up in the most expensive name brand clothes, keeping your hair and nails done? Does it look like an independent woman investing in herself through education and moving up the ladder on her job....enjoying a thriving career? Or does self-love look like a woman that is spiritually connected to a higher being? She goes to church every Sunday, she sings in the choir and she may even be on the usher board. Self-love may even look like a woman that is adored by many, they may think she has it altogether, envying her every move.

Self-Love can be all of those things.....or neither of them. When we discuss self-love, we talk about loving yourself, inside and out, flaws and all. You accept the person you are, but you never stop improving. Despite mistakes, challenges, hurts and pains you realize that you have to love yourself through it all. You understand that you will not tolerate mistreatment from others. You realize that you can't be everything to everyone, you also understand that if you want the life of success you must work hard for it. Persevering through the muddy waters with your head held high and not giving up when the going gets tough. You also come to the realization that you have to surround yourself with positive energy. People that will have your back, uplift and empower you, friends that you can be transparent with and will hold you accountable. You want to be able to be yourself around these know, be your authentic self.

You also want to have a loving, honest and real intimate relationship. We all know that we teach others how to treat us, so we have to be in a place where we draw those types of people into our lives. We have to be confident enough to know that we deserve to be treated like a QUEEN, and nothing less.

The only way to come to the realization that Self-Love is POWER! Is dealing with the past hurts and pains that have beaten up our self-esteem and self-worth. The issues and situations that has us thinking that we aren't worth the love and affection that we crave from others. That we're not worth the accolades and success that we long for and seek out.....whether on the job, in relationships (intimate and otherwise), or going after your goals. At the end of the day, we have to deal with our challenges and the issues that keep us stagnate. We have to realize that all of the storms that we've been through were there to test our character and build our strength for the next stage in our lives.

So ladies, make sure that your well being and happiness comes first. Make sure that you're taking care of yourself Mind, Body and Soul because can't pour from an empty cup.


Sunday, February 11, 2018

Personal Development

I recall when I wanted to pursue the area of Personal Development. I had some introspective moments where I thought back over all the things that I had been through, and how bless I've been to survive it all and still be in my right mind. From my childhood, through my teens years and then early adulthood, until now.......the woman I am today. I have truly persevered, despite the obstacles, challenges and mistakes. I always knew that I wanted to be more than what society tells you you are when you make mistakes of the magnitude that I did. So, in my late 20's I decided to start working on me, you know really making an effort. No matter how small the steps or minute the accomplishment; I knew it was time to take responsibility for myself and my actions if I wanted to be the person I knew I was destine to be.

See, when we talk about Personal Development we talk about personal growth, increasing our value to oneself and the community, taking responsibility for our decisions in life. We seek out our true purpose and work on the relationships that are dear to us. There are so many other components to personal development, but the KEY factor is you want to be a better you than before. 

 Personal Development can sometimes be done on your own by doing some introspective thinking and really reviewing your past, what your struggles and obstacles have been, where you are in life now and what your true purpose is. Some need help in this area by getting a mentor or seeing a certified professional coach. A person who can guide you and asked all the right questions to really get you thinking about your path in life. I personally believe that we all have had moments in our lives, regardless how successful we are, where we had to do some Personal Development. 

Personal Development doesn't mean a deficiency in your self-worth, it just means that there's some areas in your life you want to improve. Recognizing that comes with maturity and wanting to be the best you possible. So, I started on my journey towards Personal Development. I started reading more, books that could increase my vocabulary, books that would get my imaginations going. You see I had to change my mindset if I was truly going to change my life. I changed my circle of associates and friends, now all this didn't happen immediately. You see, I prayed and asked God to take people out of my life that wasn't meant to go on the journey that he had for me and to bring people into my life that could assist, empower and inspire me to get to the next level in my life. People that I could be authentic and transparent with......that would hold me accountable. I wanted and needed that positive energy around me.

That started my journey to where I am now, married almost 14 years, two adult children that are doing well and a life that I knew I would have one day. Never giving up on where I knew I could be in life, happy and self-assured more than ever. Determined not to settle for mediocrity, but wanting the best out of life for me, so that I can give the best of me to my purpose, my children, loved ones and the women that I serve in my community. This is where Personal Development has gotten me.

If there are areas in your life that you want to improve, and you feel as if you can't do it on your own. Reach out to a mentor or a professional coach in your community, someone that you can trust that will help guide you and get you on the path towards living your best life.