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!

Won’t You Celebrate with Me by Lucille Clifton

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. This first one is called “Won’t You Celebrate with Me,” by Lucille Clifton. Enjoy!

Photo by Lukas

won’t you celebrate with me

what i have shaped into

a kind of life? i had no model.

born in babylon

both nonwhite and woman

what did i see to be except myself?

i made it up

here on this bridge between

starshine and clay,

my one hand holding tight

my other hand; come celebrate

with me that everyday

something has tried to kill me

and has failed.


Don’t know about the contest? Wanna enter for a chance to win dope prizes?

Click Here!

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews: Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Title: Take My Hand

Author: Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Publisher: Berkley

Published: April 12, 2022

ASIN: B0998ZCQTK

Pages: 367

I have little time to read for leisure, so it excited me to squeeze in this gem.

Civil Townsend was a nurse at the Family Planning Clinic in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1973. Erica (thirteen) and India (eleven) were assigned to her case. As their nurse, Civil is to administer the Depo-Provera birth control shots.

This shocks Civil as the girls are still very young, have never been sexually active, and little India is not only mute but has yet to start her cycle. 

The Williams sisters are being raised by their father and grandmother, both illiterate, their mom having passed on. Their living conditions in rural Alabama are not fit for any human to live.

Take My Hand is a powerful historical fiction novel that tells the story of the Eugenics Movement that led to the involuntary sterilization of Black women in the twentieth century. This sterilization continued in many states until as late as the 1970s.

Eugenics, from the Greek word eugenes, was a term coined by Francis Galton, the cousin of Charles Darwin. It was a racist scientific idea that only those “well-born” or with “good” genes should be allowed to reproduce. This was a fancy way of controlling the Black population, which meant that at the center of eugenicists’ agenda were Black women.

“We don’t allow dogs to breed. We spay them. We neuter them. We try to keep them from having unwanted puppies, and yet these women are literally having litters of children.” 

Barbara Harris, Founder of Children Requiring a Caring Kommunity (CRACK),
C. 1990

Although Erica and India are fictional characters, they represent the many actual women who experienced this form of lynching. In August 1964, the North Carolina Eugenics Board met to decide if a 20-year-old Black woman should be sterilized. 

She was a single mother with one child who lived at the segregated O’Berry Center for African American adults with intellectual disabilities in Goldsboro. According to the North Carolina Eugenics Board, the woman (whose name was redacted from the records) was said to exhibit “aggressive behavior and sexual promiscuity.” She had been orphaned as a child and had a limited education. The board determined she was not capable of rehabilitation.

Take My Hand also mentions The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment (1932-1972) and the Roe vs. Wade decision (‘73). You can tell by how Valdez brings it out that she fully intends to educate her readers on these events. As the characters are learning, so are we. 

The story opens in 2016 and is told from the perspective of an elderly Civil traveling back to Alabama to visit an adult but sick India. The story goes back and forth between 1973 and 2016.

This is a book about racism, sexism, classism, poverty, and white privilege.

But it is also a story of strength.

Although heartbreaking, I find the book well-written and historically accurate.

Ratings

Plot Movement / Strength: 5/5

Entertainment Factor: 5/5

Characterization: 5/5

Authenticity / Believable: 5/5

Thought Provoking: 5/5

Overall: 5/5

My Book Review Registry is Open for a Limited Time

Lately, I have received several book review requests, so I’ve opened my registry. However, my schedule is already full, so the space on my list is very limited. If you are interested in increasing the number of reviews for your book, read on.

To apply for a review, click on the link below. This takes you to my Review Policy with step-by-step instructions on how to apply. 

Please be sure to follow the instructions in the policy if you wish to get a response from me. I do not accept unsolicited requests for reviews. Emailing me your heartfelt story, a list of your accomplishments, and book awards will not get me to review your book. You must follow the instructions in the policy.

About Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews:

This blog has been one of Reedsy’s list of vetted active book blogs that provides thoughtful, quality book reviews and has been on this list since 2017. This is because my reviews are honest and thorough without giving away spoilers.

I have six years of experience reviewing books personally and professionally. My authors comprise both Independent and Traditionally published from all over the world. 

However, I am just one person, so space runs out quickly. 

If you have a book you’d like reviewed for added exposure, reach out ASAP to get a top spot. 

New Policy: Because of the limited space, I now require authors to submit the first three chapters of their manuscripts for consideration for a review. Please be sure they are your first three chapters.

For more on how to submit your book, please see the review policy here.

Breaking the Silence: Part I

Photo by Alina Blumberg from Pexels


“If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”

Zora Neale Hurston

Friday, November 13, 2020

It felt like I had given birth with nothing to show for it.

I was lying on my back in the emergency department of Wellstar Paulding Emergency Hospital with my legs open, my feet in the stirrups. I prayed the doctors examining and whispering over my vajayjay would hurry up. At first, it was just one doctor, but her face did not do a good job of concealing her concern. I could tell the amount of blood was overwhelming her. She called in someone else, and before I knew it, there were three doctors down there.

“Press down like you are having a bowel movement,” said one of them. She looked like she was in charge, and I was instantly terrified.

“What?”

“Just a little bit. Press down.”

So basically, you are telling me to push. Push what? OMG.

I pressed down until she said stop, and I could see them trying to stop the bleeding. I felt like I was on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy.


I was thirteen years old in the summer of 2000, and my dad was sick and dying of cancer. The adults decided we should not witness his last days and sent us to Mississippi with our big sister. (My twin sister Tracey and me are the youngest of my dad’s crew, our other sibling’s already well into adulthood.) Here, at my sister’s house, I had the experience of my first period, and it was not modest or merciful. It came in as if it had been here before and stayed for a full seven days. 

No one had explained menstrual cycles to me, we were not being taught about it in school yet, and my sister was at work. Shocked, I cried as Tracey looked on in astonishment. We were terrified. We knew about it, but we did not fully understand it. My stepmother predicted mine would come soon, and every time she brought it up, I would get upset.

“What you gonna do? Stop it from happening? You gonna be the first woman to not have a period?”

I sat on the edge of her bed, brought my eyebrows together, wrinkled my forehead, and curled my lips up with eyes that said, “Yup.”

In my mind, I really thought I could stop it. That’s because I had no idea why it needed to happen in the first place. 

We eventually found my sister’s pads, but no one had taught us how to put them on, so I stuffed my panties with tissue and waited until my sister got home. 

Sadly, my story is not unique. When it comes to the woman’s body, many topics are considered so taboo they are rarely talked about or spoken of at all. Not even in the home. Sexual intercourse, the vagina, pregnancy, abortion, birth control, and menstrual cycles are topics people shy away from, like some kind of disease, leaving many women to learn through experience. Often, traumatic experiences. 

“I was around 13 when I asked my Aunt about sex because a lot of my friends at school were talking about it. Instantly, she asked why I’m around those kinds of friends and why I would ever ask that kind of question. She went on to tell me that I shouldn’t be having sex until I’m married and mentioned that I shouldn’t have a boyfriend either. I knew for sure that I was never going to come to her again.”

Afia, 18, of Pawtucket, RI

In the Black community, girls are sometimes shamed for even bringing these subjects up. When my stepmother scolded me for being upset about periods, she didn’t know she was setting me up to be ashamed of it. She never talked about how natural it was for women or asked me why the thought of it made me so upset in the first place. 

The teachable moment had passed, and like Afia, I knew I would never come to my stepmother to discuss periods. And, for a long time, I did not even like to say that word. I had developed a deep shame about it.

According to Netflix’s new series, The Principles of Pleasure, one name used to refer to the woman’s external parts back in the day was the Latin term Pudendum, from the verb Pudere, meaning “to make ashamed.”

“…let me know, and we can go get something,” my Aunt said loud enough for us to hear in the other room. 

She drank and played cards as they discussed prom and prom night. Her insinuation that if we planned to have sex, we should let her know “so we can go get something” was the extent of what I assumed was “the talk” about sex and birth control. There was no explanation of what she was even talking about. We were also already having sex by then. Not only did her comment make us ashamed to discuss sex with her at all, but Auntie was a couple of years too late anyway. 

But parents are people too, and “it’s difficult to recreate experiences that were not modeled for us, and many Black parents of today grew up with inaccurate and negative messages about sex,” says Melissa Carnagey, founder of Sex Positive Families, an organization that supports parents in having sexual health talks with their children.

Tracie Gilbert, Ph.D., Training and Technical Assistance Manager at Answer, which publishes Sex, Etc. had this to say about why some Black adults may not talk to their children about sex: 

“Black parents being nervous about talking with their daughters about sex is not only common but historically influenced by the desire to protect them from racism and white supremacist ideas about Black sexuality. Historical tropes about Black people included that they were hypersexual and had loose morals.” 

But this is not exclusive to Black women. All women have experienced similar traumatic experiences surrounding sex, menstrual cycles, and birth control.

These myths could be why some adults (like my Aunt, stepmother, and Afia’s Aunt) avoid the conversation altogether.


Like periods and sex, infertility is another topic many women do not openly talk about. As someone who has struggled with it for years, I hope to break the silence by sharing my experience.

How my menstrual cycle started would set the tone for the future of a tumultuous relationship between me and my reproductive system.

November 13, 2020

“Yes, she’s miscarrying,” said the doctor-in-charge.

To be continued…

Update: Click Here to Read Breaking the Silence Part 2