Yecheilyah’s Annual Poetry Contest: Closing for Submissions Midnight!

First, my thoughts and prayers go out to all the Florida fam and anyone in the eye of the storm or who has been affected by Hurricane Ian in any way.

https://www.yecheilyahsannualpoetrycontest.org/

Today is the day!!


If you want a shot at winning one of the top four slots for this year’s poetry contest, be sure to email your poem to me at yecheilyah@yecheilyahysrayl.com by midnight tonight.

That’s 12a EST, 11p CST.

The rest of ya, figure out ya time zone, lol.

I know we can get a bit anxious as we wait for the results, so please take the time to review the following:

  • Poetry submissions close at the end of the day on September 30, 2022. I don’t read any poems until after the contest ends, and neither do my fellow judges. Feedback on entries will not be provided until the winners are announced.
  • We will announce the winners on November 1, 2022. I am an advocate for questions. Asking questions is how we learn. However, do not ask if I liked your poem or how I feel about it before the winners are announced on 11/1. 
  • Winners will be notified by email of their win at least one week before the public announcement to prepare them for their promotions. Our first-place winner also wins a personalized frame of their poem that must be customized, so the artist will need these details ahead of time.
  • It is imperative that the email you have on file is active and that it is the one you check often. We will need to pick another winner if we cannot contact you about your win in time. Not only do you not want this, but it also creates more work for us, so please be diligent. Start paying attention close to the end of Oct. Check your spam and junk folders. If we follow each other on IG, check your DM’s. Know I will do everything in my power to contact you, but if I have to call the FBI you’re gonna miss out.
  • If you submitted a poem, you should have received a reply saying your submission has been received. If you did not get this email, please resend it ASAP. 
  • We are giving away cash prizes this year, so when contacted about your win, we will ask you how you’d like to receive your money electronically. The other gifts will be shipped off to you.
  • You will be promoted on my blog, main author newsletter, Twitter, and IG pages @yecheilyah and @yecheilyahbooksllc.  Be sure you are following both (especially @yecheilyah, as it gets the most engagement).

What if I didn’t win?

We are only contacting the four winners. If, on November 1, you do not see your name among the winners, your poem has not been selected. 

I want to take the time to thank each and every one of you for participating in this contest. Putting yourself out there is not easy, and I am humbled that you’ve trusted me with your creative work. Make no mistake about it: without your support, there is no contest, so I am grateful, humbled, and excitedddd to read what you’ve blessed us with.

How Can I Read the Poems of Previous Winners?

You can check out the poems and interviews of previous winners at the links below.

**2020 was skipped per Covid when none of us knew what to do next.**

*FINAL CHECK* The little things can sometimes get away from us so remember: get your poem in BEFORE the deadline. Make sure it is on the topic of FREEDOM in some way. Double check you’ve sent it to the CORRECT email and that you are 18+.

My Pet Peeve with Entrepreneur Advice on Social Media

It’s that time of the year again when ya’ll start telling people to quit their jobs and start a business.

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Entrepreneur advice on social media is leading a lot of people astray. Here are my top pet peeves.

Telling People to Quit their Jobs

Please stop this.

There is nothing wrong with people working a traditional 9-5 or working in corporate America. Starting and running a business has a lot to do with lifestyle more than anything else. We all have different ways of life, and some of our lives aren’t conducive to the entrepreneurial arena. It can also be a mental thing. Some people are stressed out mentally from their 9-5s and want to try something new. But at the same time, some people love their jobs.

There is also the misconception that entrepreneurs work for themselves. But, the truth is even entrepreneurs depend on other people to make money. If people didn’t want to read my books/writings, there would be no one to buy them. If the hairdresser doesn’t have people who want to get their hair done, there is no business. There is no business if people don’t want to listen to your music. There is no business if people don’t buy your products/services.

“Six Figure Earner”

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This really grinds my gears.

First, when did it become cool to tell people how much money we make? I thought people who had money didn’t talk about it? Now, everywhere you look, people are talking about being six and seven-figure earners. It’s giving elitist vibes. Like ya’ll can’t sit with us type.

People are even screenshotting their PayPal and Stripe accounts and posting them to the gram. Like huh? Before you call me a hater, ask yourself if this is good business sense. Heck, is it safe? The same thing applies to taking pictures of your house keys. Congrats on the house, but it takes nothing to copy a key. My husband works in the apartment industry so I know. Post something else, but not your house keys, baby.

But I digress.

Here is why I think someone calling themselves a six figure earner can be misleading:

  • Are you making six figures consistently or did you make a mil one time and started calling yourself a millionaire?
  • How much taxes are you paying out of that six figures?
  • How much of that do you have to pay to employees or put back into the work?
  • How much of that goes toward bills and household maintenance?

The next time you feel discouraged by somebody you see on the internet, remember that social media shows us very little about how people live their lives. Many entrepreneurs still work a 9-5 to fund their businesses, and there’s nothing wrong with this unless you pretend you don’t for clout.

Missy – “Ooh. I have one.”

EC – “Missy. I’m trying to talk to the people.”

Missy – “But I’m your pet and I have a pet peeve.”

EC – “Go ahead girl. What’s your Pet Peeve?”

Missy: “Okay, okay. Okay.” *wags tail*

EC –  “Missy…”

Missy – “Okay. Okay. What gets under my fur is how there aren’t any pictures of me on this blog. Not one single photograph.”

EC – “Missy, that doesn’t have anything to do with entrepreneurship.”

Missy –  “But you are gonna let me get my own Instagram right, right?”

EC –  “No.”

Missy – “Why not?”

EC –  “You don’t have a purpose for an Instagram. All you wanna do is post selfies all day.”

Missy –  “What’s wrong with that?”

EC –  “I said what I said.”

Sorry about that. She thought because this was called “Pet Peeves,” I was supposed to talk about her.

Yes, I am an entrepreneur. Full time. But I don’t believe in shaming other people into becoming one if it’s not something they are really passionate about doing.

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What about you guys? Any pet peeves you have with advice floating around social media? We haven’t even talked about all this bad financial advice. Whew chile.

Religion and Relatability (or the Lack Thereof)

Photo by Pixabay

My mom and aunts never forced us to go to church. Except for that one year we moved from the projects to a new apartment. My aunt seemed hell-bent on giving us the American dream. I suppose after the trauma of growing up in Robert Taylor, if she couldn’t give it to us in total, she’d try to provide us with the next best thing. To her, that meant bump beds, new clothes, our own rooms, going to church every Sunday, and choir rehearsal every Thursday like all the other “good Christian folk.”

We hated it.

8 Year Old Me

The first time I got baptized, the church came to scoop the project kids up in these school buses, took us to some building, separated the girls from the boys, and made us undress and put on long, white t-shirts with no underwear. 

Right.

So when the new church tried to baptize me, I was so terrified that my entire head didn’t go into the water. 

Fortunately for us, that was the only time in our lives we were ever required to go. As we aged, going to church became one of those decisions we could make ourselves. We got to decide what or how we would believe. Later in life, my cousin decided to be a Jehovah’s Witness.

Easter, 1995, Robert Taylor Projects at 4947 S. Federal

I think choosing our belief system and the freedom of being able to explore religion outside of Christianity was one of the healthiest things the surrounding adults could have done for us, which we totally overlooked growing up.

There was so much trauma I think we missed this critical sort of autonomy our parents afforded us. And I think they missed it too. With all the drugs and abandonment, there were still these glimmers of hope we didn’t realize were diamonds in the ruff.

To make a long story short, I’m an anomaly to most people because while I am obviously spiritual, I am not religious (and I believe there is a difference.) Because no one had ever forced religion on me, I’ve never been devout in the traditional sense. I can talk about the bible all day, but I’ve never been the “church lady,” nor do I live my life that way.

And no, you don’t have to be a Christian to be a “church lady.” Ya’ll know what I’m talking about.

I have zero interest in being the embodiment of that fake piousness too often present in mainstream religions. This pretentiousness, in my opinion, causes many to lack the ability to be relatable.

Take my most recent Instagram post, for example. (If you read this later, it’s the reel with the God Did song by DJ Khaled featuring Rick Ross, Wayne, and Jay-Z…whose part was too long and not as great as everyone says, but I digress.)

In general, I don’t listen to a lot of mainstream rap. I think most of it is trash. Give me some throwback Common or Talib Kweli. I’ll even take College Dropout Kanye.

But pairing that song with the message I had for that day (and doing it on a Sunday when most people’s minds are religiously focused), I thought it would relate to people more deeply. 

And it did. 

I should point out that being relatable does not mean compromising your own beliefs. I see it more like being able to connect with something others might find familiar for a greater, more clear understanding.

My internal motto is: “You (your actions, how you carry yourself, think) will be the only bible some people will ever read.”

I hope one day more of us could consider this point of view in all its layers.

Black Only Awards

I hope you are doing well.

It’s finally time to reveal some news I’ve been sitting on.

I was nominated for the Book Author of the Year Award by the Black Only Awards a couple of months ago. I sat on this to give me time to verify their legitimacy as I had never heard of them.

My first thought was, what in the Indie BET awards is going on here? (I’m not in the business of being scammed, lol.)

It turns out that they’re legit. (And unlike BET they are black owned.) A little hood, but that’s alright! I’m from the south side of Chicago. These my people. No judgment here.

That said, I am excited at the opportunity to win a literary award. I don’t do it for the applause, but it is nice to be appreciated, and I thank whoever in the world who considered me for this and cast my name.

I am especially honored to end the year this way because of how the year started. I had an emergency surgery in February that took a long time to recover, and I am still healing. Also approaching is the second anniversary of my mom’s death (9/23). I needed this boost of encouragement.

How you start is not how you finish, that’s for sure! Keep striving, folks.

Now, here’s how to vote!

Visit the website at blackonlyawards.com.

Who Are You Voting For:

Yecheilyah

Category:

Book Author of the Year

Your Email

Why You Think I Should Win

That’s it! Easy peasy.

Note: Because I am asking for votes later than everyone else (I had to do my research first), I really need your support. You can vote as many times as you like, but voting ends October 1st.

Thank You!

5 Things I Do to Stay Productive

Many people ask me how I manage doing so many things. First, you should know I don’t have a 9-5 and no small children to look out for, so this gives me more flexibility with my day. Here are some things I do daily to increase productivity.

I Walk Daily

One of the first things I do in the morning after prayer and coffee is walk a mile. Georgia is a hilly place and there’s this big hill around my house that will have you dying chile, but is a great way to get the blood pumping. If I don’t walk around the house, me and hubs go to the park and do two rounds around the area.

If I feel like doing more, I come back and hit the treadmill or the AB machine. You might wonder what this has to do with anything.

Physical activity helps to reduce anxiety, depression, and negative moods by improving self-esteem and cognitive function.The way I feel after a good workout and all the creativity flowing through me is thrilling. I feel energetic and happier than sluggish and irritated. It doesn’t have to be over the top. Thirty minutes a few times a week consistently can work wonders. You’ll find you have more mental clarity and creativity after working out.

I Don’t Watch Much TV

As much as I love my black movies and go around quoting them, the truth is I don’t actually watch a lot of TV during the day. Most of my TV watching is in the evenings and on the weekends. During the day, I’m working. If I finish early, I read or listen to a podcast or I’ll have an inspirational YouTube video playing in the background. I can listen to Maya Angelou interviews all day.

I Set Deadlines

This is important for me because I forget a lot. I set dates for important stuff I need to get done. I mark these dates on a calendar and it has to be a literal, physical calendar and not my phone because again, I’ll forget. Setting deadlines also helps me to be more accountable for what I said I would do.

Sleep

I sleep more now than I did before and it has made a tremendous difference. I don’t necessarily go to bed super early, but I take naps if I am feeling tired during the day. Yesterday, I got a lot of good rest because I went to bed earlier than usual. Slept for a few hours, woke up to eat and went back to bed. It was great. When we sleep, our brain reorganizes and recharges itself, and removes toxic waste byproducts which have accumulated throughout the day. This shows that sleeping can clear the brain and help maintain its normal functioning. If you are not getting enough sleep, it’s like a computer whose battery is low, it will eventually shut down. This means this “No days off, no sleep” grind culture is actually not very healthy.

Schedule Blog Posts

Far as keeping this blog updated is concerned, a lot of the posts ya’ll read I’ve scheduled to go live days in advance. First, I write a draft. When I come back to finish it I set a time I want it to publish. I also have the WordPress app on my phone so I can share the post on Twitter and respond to comments on the go.

Other things that help me is that I drink a lot of water and I don’t smoke or drink hard liquor. (I do drink wine.)

That’s it!

Speak to Me of My Mother, Who Was She by Jasmine Mans

As we get closer to September and the close of this year’s poetry contest, I will post more poems from other artists to help spark creativity.

This year’s theme is Freedom, so we will focus on poems that have to do with that in some way.

This one, “Speak to me of My Mother, Who was She,” is an excellent example of a freedom poem that digs deeper than the surface. Enjoy!

Photo by Thiago Borges

Tell me about the girl

my mother was,

before she traded in

all her girl

to be my mother.

What did she smell like?

How many friends did she have,

before she had no room?

Before I took up so much

space in her prayers,

who did she pray for?

  • Source: Black Girl, Call Home by Jasmine Mans, p. 13

Haven’t heard of the poetry contest yet? Wanna win interviews, cash prizes and more?

Click Here!

Clothes by Kahlil Gibran

As we get closer to September and the close of this year’s poetry contest, I will post more poems from other artists to help spark creativity.

This year’s theme is Freedom, so we will focus on poems that have to do with that in some way. Here’s a powerful one called “Clothes,” by Kahlil Gibran. Enjoy!

Photo by Uus Supend

And the weaver said, ‘Speak to us of Clothes.’

And he answered:

Your clothes conceal much of your beauty, yet they hide not the unbeautiful.

And though you seek in garments the freedom of privacy you may find in them a harness and a chain.

Would that you could meet the sun and the wind with more of your skin and less of your raiment,

For the breath of life is in the sunlight and the hand of life is in the wind.

Some of you say, ‘It is the north wind who has woven the clothes to wear.’

But shame was his loom, and the softening of the sinews was his thread.

And when his work was done he laughed in the forest.

Forget not that modesty is for a shield against the eye of the unclean.

And when the unclean shall be no more, what were modesty but a fetter and a fouling of the mind?

And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.


Haven’t heard of the poetry contest yet? Wanna win interviews, cash prizes and more?

Click Here!