[NEW] Sophia Nelson Wins Alpha Kappa Alpha Journalism Award at 61st Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference in Raleigh, NC

imagesCA7OJ6XNNelson, an award winning author, columnist and Freelance journalist for various outlets won the prestigious Bernardine Stoneham Smith Bailey Award this past week at the 61st Regional MAR Conference of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

The award is given annually by Member Blanche Hope Smith from Upsilon Omega Chapter in honor of her sister, Bernardine Bailey, who is a life member and Golden Member of Alpha Zeta Omega Chapter. Bailey, an advisor of her school newspaper, received the Gold Key on March 14, 1959. She also received the Golden Crown on March 13, 1975, from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association for outstanding devotion and service to the cause of the school press. The award was given for the first time in 1995. Sophia Nelson is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha and is active as a charter member of Psi Rho Omega Chapter in Virginia.

Nelson is the 19th award recipient of the journalism award.  She won the award for her feature story in Essence Magazine, February 2013, chronicling the inside lives of “First Ladies” of the Black Church.

[NEW] Black Butterfly: A Tribute to Karyn Washington founder of “For Brown Girls”

Karyn_WashingtonI am not sure that I have the words to express the sadness I feel at the loss of such a young, bright light like Karyn under such tragic circumstances. But, I will do my best to try.

At 22, my life was full, exciting, and busy. I was just graduating college, on my way to becoming a 1st year law student at a prestigious law school, I was in love with a cute guy from a great family, and my only care in the world was being a full-time student, and hanging with my beloved sister friends (all of whom are still good friends to this day).  I had taken a year off before law school to work in the New Jersey Legislature as a staff aide, and I met a woman named Christine Todd Whitman, who had just narrowly lost a US Senate Race to former Basketball great Bill Bradley. She would go on to become the first woman governor elected in my home state and my first employer after law school graduation.

Everything was ahead of me at 22. My life was going to be fabulous, historic, amazing. I was going to get married, have four kids, run for Congress (which I did at age 29), stay in Congress for six years, then run for the U.S. Senate, and after that well, maybe become a Supreme Court Justice, or maybe even the first woman Vice President. My ambitions were high.  I believed I could do anything. Be anything. And overcome anything. I loved politics. I loved life. I was so blessed to be so young.  Everything was ahead of me.

Fast forward 20+ years.  Much of what I desired for my life back then did not come to pass. Some of it did.  But I had the courage to try. To stand in the arena through some very tough years. Through some shattering losses. Through illness. Through financial stress. Through betrayals.  Through disappointments. Through career setbacks. Through family dysfunction. But I never gave up on living. I just kept going.

So, as I look back now as a woman in my late 40′s with likely more life behind me than ahead of me; it breaks my heart to learn that a beautiful young sister took her life last week in such a tragic way.  She had everything to live for. She was already changing the world at 22. She was brave. She was focused. She was kind. She was passionate. But something dark was going on inside of Karyn Washington. Something she alluded to in a blog she penned back last October 2013 after her mother died. It was titled, “You Don’t Know How I Feel.”

She wrote: “I felt empty, weak, angry, lost, lonely, sad. I still do. But that night I wanted to die. Honestly, I  still do feel that way. . .”  There it is.

She started suffering last October and by April 2014, she could take the suffering no more. I read through many of her posts last night as I sat drinking almost an entire bottle of red wine. Tears fell. My heart sank. I could see it so clearly: She was hiding. She was heartbroken. She was lonely. She had siblings and a dad who loved her, but she couldn’t tell them how badly she felt.  I know. I have been there. Only as an older woman I was able to ask for and get help.  I had a lifetime of living behind me, she was just starting out.

I have been writing a lot lately about “connections”.  Because I do not like what I see with our young people, and even people my own age. We are fighting on social media, we unfriend, we block, we delete.  We just don’t talk.

I penned an article for Huffington Post Healthy Living just this past Monday, titled, “Why Don’t We Talk Anymore.” CLICK to READ:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sophia-a-nelson/when-did-texting-replace-_b_5105265.html  The reality is Karyn was not alone. So many people are suffering in silence. In depression. With heartache. With loss. With grief. And they feel isolated and alone because we have stopped connecting one with another in ways that matter. It’s time we took stock of who we are and where we are as a species. We have become cold, calculating, and cutters of people when they no longer suit us.  We will never truly know what drove such a promising 22 year old like Karyn to take her own life.  What we do know is that she left us clues. She felt bad about her image as a “dark skinned” black girl. She felt less than. Even though on the outside it all looked right in Karyn’s world. On the inside she was hurting, badly. And she didn’t know how to make it stop.

I wrote a book, “Black Woman Redefined” three years ago this May 2014. I wrote it for girls like Karyn and for women like me, who often feel left out, valueless, and not good enough no matter what we have achieved with our lives.  The stereotypical image of “black girls” is still not very positive. It is very negative.  And for our darker complexion sisters, it is ten times harder.  I wish that I had known Karyn. I wish she had me in her phone contacts. I wish I could have talked to her. Held her hand. Encouraged her. Given her a hug. And told her that she was not alone. That I understood. And that I would be there to help her through.

Her life was valuable and she didn’t know it.  I keep asking myself, How could she not know it?

Sisters, gentlemen, all. We must do better. People are lonely. They are hurting. They need connection. They need to feel loved. So be kind. Lend a hand. Call up, visit, talk with, pray with, take care of the people around you. At the end of the day, we are all mortal. We will all die. The question is how will we live? And our living must be best summarized by how we took care of, loved, and helped other people when they were in pain.




Is there a Right Way to End or Exit Relationships? Learn more on REPLAY of “Exit Strategies” TONIGHT 9PMET via XcelRadio.com

imagesCAYMFAA2“Rejection is not always about someone wanting out of your life, but rather about God wanting them out of your future.” Pastor Kim Jones Pothier (via @RealTalkKim on Exit Strategies, Sat March 22, 2014)

This past Saturday Xcel Christian Radio hosted a special 90 Minute coaching session on how to EXIT out of our relationships properly. The topic was a very HOT one to say the least as many people get on social media routinely and vent about break-ups, haters, toxic relationships, etc. The guests for the show were amazing we had Pastors, Psychiatrists, Psychologists, and Mentors/Coaches to young girls/teens who chimed in to help us to HEAL and better understand what happens when we get LEFT behind and when we LEAVE people behind the WRONG WAY.

I am not going to do this RECAP Justice but let me say this: Tune in Tonight 9PMET for the REPLAY of the program broadcast via http://www.xcelradio.com (hashtag: #ExitStrategies) you can follow by hashtag on instagram, Facebook and Twitter. You can run a search and read it in Storify as well. We had over 40,000 people listening worldwide. Our all-star guests included renowned psychiatrist Dr. Janet Taylor who gave us some great guidance on how to heal after a bad break up, when to stay in the relationship and fight, and how to do a better job at the OUTSET of a new relationship of managing expectations, paying attention and responding to Red Flags.

I want to use some information provided in his post by PHD and clinical therapist Sr. Sabrina Jackson to frame the context of our discussion. I will write an opinion article about the subject in a week or so in one of my national columns. But here is the crux of what we discussed is there a right and wrong way to leave people, and exit from their lives.  I think the general consensus was YES there is. But it also depends. As my co-host Napolian Barnes said, “We need to learn how to enter relationships better so that when we exit (if we must) we can do so better.” I agree. He added, “When I think of an “exit” I think of an emergency. Sometimes I have to run out, leave, because I am in danger. I can’t explain to the person why I have to exit. However, if there is no danger, and as a person of faith I am accountable for what I say and do to people and how I leave them.” I agree again.

The show started off with a bang with Pastors Jacquie Hood Martin, ordained Reverend, Author, Speaker & certified John Maxwell instructor and Sr. Pastor Terrell Fletcher of City of Hope in San Diego helping set a spiritual framework for why it matters how we ENTER relationships before we can get to the EXIT. Pastor Fletcher had a powerful line, ‘Unrighteous entrances almost always lead to contentious exist.’ And the discussion was off. Rev. Martin got into helping us focus on what matters about people when we allow them entrée into our lives. Not their looks, car, etc. But how they live, treat others, what they speak, how they entreat, offer compassion, and love. She said, “Give people enough time and they will always TELL you who they are.” I could not agree more. People always TELL you before they SHOW you. I wrote that on this blog a few weeks ago.

Here is the framework provided by Dr. Sabrina Jackson:

If you are considering EXITING a relationship or friendship use these guide posts:

  1. Routinely examine your circle of friends, if some no longer fit the circle begin to change the contact. Slowly back away. Shift. Or as Rev. Jacquie Hood Martin said, “There is a drifting process” that occurs when people are going to leave us or we them.
  2. If the person has hurt you. Forgive and Do Not seek revenge. Decide if you will confront them and address it or not.
  3. Seek God for guidance on changing the relationship or exiting from it—Christ is compassionate and we should follow His example. We can’t beat up on people or make them do what we want them to do. Likewise, people can’t correct if we do not tell them what is wrong.
  4. Determine if the person is open to feedback, if so share the challenges or your hurts as a way to assist them in other relationships. (EX: I have been told that I spend too much time on my cell phone and that my friend felt ignored). Although, it did not feel good, I had to look at my behavior and make some changes.
  5. As Christians, be happy for the person for future successes even if the friendship has changed. Remain cordial and keep lines of communication open when appropriate. The key word is if appropriate if you are in emotional or physical danger it is not appropriate to stay in contact.

For those of YOU who have been LEFT by someone with no explanation (and it will hurt) take these steps to HEAL:

  1. Do Not take their exiting personally. There can be several reasons why the relationship is ending:

a.) The relationship just ran it’s course

b.) Where God is taking you, new people are necessary and He is creating room/space

c.) There has been growth and they just outgrew you. It’s okay.

  1. Do Not spend a whole lot of time and energy trying to force a relationship or wondering why. If a person desires to leave…Let them go!!
  2. Accept the fact that it is over, it will hurt, and you must go through the grieving process for the loss. But acceptance is key to healing.
  3. Do not spend time speaking ill of the person to others or on social media rants. If you do this, you must reap for your behavior. God has told us not to seek revenge as vengeance is His!! Let Him deal with them for mishandling your heart.
  4. Know that you must forgive and love!! If you have done something to hurt the other person, apologize. You can only draw others to you by showing loving-kindness. It is a mandate to love even those who have hurt us.
  5. Be Coachable- Be open to feedback without blaming, making excuses, or taking it personally. Do not just hear make sure you listen.

If any of this seems familiar, please go online, 9PMET/8CST get your wine, your tea, grab a few friends, some family members and get some excellent FREE advice for how to mend your life from a broken heart. Or how to better exit someone’s life when you have to leave them behind.

Have a great week!