These days, I am focusing more on shifting my mindset from trying to figure out how to do something new to maximize what I already have. This includes how to best nurture my personal and business relationships.
Gone are the days of randomly following people on social media and only liking their posts. How can we actually work together? I hope to participate in more collaborations.
We spend so much time at the start of the year trying to figure out what new, shiny thing we can go after when we already have shiny things around us and within us. How can we repurpose content we already have into something greater? How can we build on relationships we’ve already fostered into something better?
Instead of “What can I do?” I ask myself, “What can I do with what I have?”
Going forward, I am reminding myself that my gifts have no limits.
And I hope you are too.
From teaching and mentoring to sitting down on panels with the crème de la crème to share your perspective, Self-Publishing a book is about far more than book royalties. It is also the easiest way to become an authority in your field. It puts you in rooms you would otherwise not be qualified to be in.
And, while Maya Angelou spoke six languages, studied modern dance in San Francisco, and spent a year in New York studying African dance with Pearl Primus, she never went to college.
Malcolm and Maya both lectured at universities, although they never attended one. The people came to them despite them not having the degrees and certifications because they were exceptional at being themselves.
People will pay you to be yourself. To talk your talk. To let your light shine.
While writing books, I remember that I am not limited to only writing books. I can use my gifts to make an even more significant impact.
“Sweet soul. Do not allow yourself to be treated less than sacredly. You may need to learn how to treat yourself sacredly along the way. Maybe no one in your family knew what sacredness looked like. Maybe each of you inherited desecration. Once you set a sacred standard, it does not matter how the world treats you. You will have your template, your expectation, your boundary. From this foundation, you can develop the muscles for letting go of what does not choose to or is not able to relate to you sacredly. You see? You are sacred because you are life. You do not have to earn your sacredness. You exist. Therefore, you are sacred.“
– Jaiyah John
This was the most beautiful message posted by Jaiyah John, and I had to share it for No Whining Wednesday. We had not had one in a while, and I’d love to get back into it.
What is NWW?
No Whining Wednesdays is a term coined by Iyanla Vanzant that I decided to adopt to practice the art of complaining less and being more grateful. It is the deliberate act of looking at the good before considering the bad. Incorporated into a blog series, this means that for the entire day on Wednesdays, we try not to:
Here are some definitions:
To Whine – give or make a long, high-pitched complaining cry or sound; to grumble, murmur or complain in a feeble way.
To Complain – express dissatisfaction or annoyance about a state of affairs or an event; state that one is suffering from; state of grievance.
To Criticize – indicate the faults of (someone or something) in a disapproving way; to condemn, attack, discourage.
Now, I don’t believe there is no room for complaining. That wouldn’t be realistic. There are legitimate reasons to voice complaints and express grievances. This series is about being aware of the frequency to which we find ourselves complaining about things that, at a closer glance, do not deserve our energy or are not as monumental as they may seem. To quote Dr. Nicole LePera, it is a practice in emotional regulation, “having the skills to cope with negative emotions and process them in healthy ways.”
And to also refrain from criticizing others. While there might be room to complain, there is never a reason to condemn.
Today, we introduce you to Daphne Ayo, whose poem “Uncaged” placed second in our fifth annual poetry contest.
Daphne, Welcome to The PBS Blog!
What is your name, and where are you from?
My name is Daphne Adeola Ayo, and I am from Kogi state, Nigeria.
Nigeria in the houseeee.
When did you first fall in love with poetry?
I fell in love with poetry in Junior Secondary School Three. I think that’s Grade 9, the third year of Junior High in American parlance. Our English language teacher had asked the class to write a poem, and just like that, I found one of my absolute loves; poetry! It became, for that teenager, a form of therapy, a friend, a soulmate, if you will.😊
Yasss. What was the inspiration behind your poem?
Hmmm. There is so much negativity in the world that sometimes it is hard to see the positives. It can be hard to fight back against the constraints which keep us “in check”, to change the status quo. However, it can be done. “Uncaged”, I would say, was inspired by this ever-growing desire to stand up and show up for myself and my dreams despite all the ‘can’ts’, ‘should nots’ and all the odds stacked up against me as an opinionated, ambitious woman in a man’s world. It’s my way of telling others like me that they can define freedom in their own words and have the strength to push through and break those bars.
Beautifully articulated! Who would it be if you could have lunch with your favorite poet, living or dead?
I have so many poets I look up to and admire. This is hard!😅 Can I choose two? I’ll choose two. Rumi and Warsan Shire.
Awesome. Daphne, are you into spoken word?
I have never recited my poem before an audience before. Well, except you count me as an audience.😂
I would really love to explore the world of spoken word poetry someday. I have one in the works, but it is too shy to leave its shell. The first time is always the hardest.
As an introvert, I feel you. It gets easier the more you do it!
What is your personal definition of freedom?
Freedom means so much to me. I doubt you can even begin to understand how much, and I think that was why the theme resonated so well with me and my pen was able to do its thing. Freedom for me is to do whatever I want (within reasonable limits, of course), to be whoever I want, to speak my feelings, to embrace my demons, to depend on nothing, to live, to love, to win, to lose, to laugh, to cry, to just be ME.
I heard that. What advice would you give to people who want to pursue a career in poetry?
I would tell you what my close friends told me in many moments of doubt: “Do it!” I used to have this self-doubt over my poems, ‘Are they good enough for other people’s eyes?’ and sometimes I still do, but poetry is something that is personal and worth doing. It’s like being worried if people will like the colour of your eyes or the shape of your nose. It doesn’t matter as long as you own it and love it. If it brings you joy, do it! Take that pen and write, your poetry might be for a few, and that’s absolutely okay.
I love that, and I am sure you have just rescued someone from the bowels of doubt for sure. Please tell us more about your work.
I presently do not have any published books. Everything is still in the works. Some are very shy. I’ve written more poetry and flash fiction than I’ve done of any other genre. My works explore womanhood, grief, loss, love, feminism, friendship, domestic violence, mental health, stigma, and taboo topics in the Nigerian society. For the last one, I’m still building up my courage to share works on that.😅
Chile, we would LOVE to hear more about those taboo topics! We are all about normalizing taboos around here.
Where do you see yourself a year from now?
I’ve learnt not to really project into the future. If you live in Nigeria, you’ll understand why.😅
Daphne, you gonna stop teasing us now! Lol
I do hope that I would have taken a significant leap of growth in my goal to become a creative writer while smashing my other goals as well.
Now, tell us. What’s one topic that is Taboo in Nigeria?
That would be homosexuality. I think it intriguing that although it definitely exists, most people would rather pretend it doesn’t.
Thank you once again for everything!💙
You’re Welcome hun!
Now, let us dig into this poem!
“Uncaged” by Daphne Adeola Ayo
I sing of words hidden behind my tongue
and of rare, bleeding emotions masked in a song.
My fears and tears take shelter underneath the ink of my poetry;
Poetry which regales tales of sutured pains sautéed in silky smiles,
tales of scars adorned in sordid lies of healing,
tales where blue skies rebel in hues of grey and dark clouds herald gloom.
I hear the dirges from faraway,
singing of doom and caged dreams.
These bars won’t budge;
bars of tortured silence and locks of pain
This caged bird will sing:
In lines of euphemism,
in words of hope and wishes made on starry nights.
That one day, its dark and dreary nights would seek the dawn
and tell tales of battles fought but barely won,
of words breaking chains to escape oaths of silence,
tales of mended wings and beloved demons,
tales of how freedom at long last_____
heeded my relentless summons.
Daphne is a Nigerian writer who believes in the power and magic of the pen. A student of Classics at the University of Ibadan, she is an avid fan of canine animals, chocolates, and books.
She loves to read, digest, and write poetry. Her works have appeared in her personal poetry journal, on her Instagram account @dee_.vox, and in Classics Press publications, University of Ibadan.
Her works explore themes such as womanhood, love, loss, friendship, and more.
When she is not writing or sleeping, Daphne watches Kdrama, stage plays or listens to Brymo.
I used to ask people to subscribe to my email list, and almost no one ever did. It was also cringy to ask.
And then I realized I was working harder than I needed to.
The truth is, asking people to subscribe to your email list is boring, and no one wants to do it. We have enough emails.
And if you are a new author, no one’s ever heard of, saying we will get a free copy of your book doesn’t work either.
As I alluded to in the last post, authors must start to think like readers if they want to attract them.
Instead of asking people to subscribe to your list directly, do this instead.
Offer Something They Want
The value in giving something away is that if it’s a truly valuable piece of content, it will naturally lead to your paid stuff. At first, this wasn’t working for me. It wasn’t until I gave away my best book (the one people actually wanted to read) that I started to see a difference.
For your give, my advice would be not to throw something together. Give us something good.
Your give is also known as a lead magnet and doesn’t have to be a book. It can be a resource, guide, free tutorial, or access to exclusive content. It can be a complimentary ticket to your online class or a virtual pass to the next event.
Deliver Your Give By Requiring Email Sign-Up
Choose a platform to use to collect email addresses. I use Mailchimp, but there are tons of others. Require people to enter their email to receive the freebie.
Set Up Automation
As soon as they sign up, they should be able to instantly download the freebie. Setting up an automatic welcome email to officially introduce yourself is an excellent start to a warm welcome.
You’re done, and you didn’t have to beg, borrow, or pull teeth to get here.
Other ways to add subscribers:
Collaborate with other Authors
Host a contest
These are the two most powerful strategies I’ve seen. I get the most sign-ups through my poetry contests or when I collaborate with other authors.
Have a sign-up sheet at every live event.
This is probably the only time it’s okay to ask people to subscribe to your email list directly. I always have it sitting at my table. Still, the amazing thing is people will walk by and put their email addresses down without me asking! So in a way, you still don’t have to ask. All you have to do is make it available.
Add a pop-up on your blog and website.
Please ensure this goes away after about 5 seconds and doesn’t take up most of the space. Pop-ups that aren’t easy to close out are annoying and distracting. This makes us feel like we are being forced to sign-up. You don’t want people leaving your site because your pop-up won’t leave them alone.
Use Your Blog
If email newsletters aren’t your thing, you can always use a blog. When people subscribe to your blog, they get an email notification whenever you post something new. You can use this with your third-party email list or by itself. Either way, it’s another way to stay connected with your tribe outside social media.
I can go on, but the moral of the story is there are tons of ways to collect email without spamming.
Oh, please be sure you provide a way out! It is illegal not to provide a way for people to unsubscribe if they no longer feel you. It is much easier to do this if your emails go through a third party. If people can’t unsubscribe, they will report you as spam, which can ultimately hurt you. I talk more about that here.
Indie Author Basics simplifies and streamlines the Self-Publishing Process so authors can Self-Publish high-quality books without pulling out their hair.
The number of women coming forward about how they can relate to this is truly humbling. Check out my guest post on Navigating the Change blog and if you can relate, be sure to drop a comment on the post (if you feel obliged), so other women can see they are not alone.
Click the link below to read the article.
Stigmas die when we speak up about the things that matter.
Please help me extend a warm welcome to Monique Johnson.
Welcome to the PBS Blog!
What is your name and where are you from?
I am Monique R Johnson, Los Angeles, CA born and raised, but moved to Fort Worth, Texas in 2019.
Nice. Cali to Texas is a big transition. What inspired the move?
I considered Texas several years prior. A couple of people I grew up with made the move over 15 years ago. It was when I started dating a guy I worked with who, later took a job in Texas, that I reconsidered.
What would your perfect writing / reading room look like?
My perfect writing and reading room would look like a university library.
Nicee! I’m loving it already.
I’d have a writing desk with the perfect desk lamp for late-night writing. I’d have a bookcase with books from various genres: motivation, Christian spiritual, financial, self-help, poetry, and a few children’s books for my grands. I would have a leather recliner and a tall, full bird of paradise plant in the corner near the window.
What is the most annoying habit that you have?
Correcting grammar. It gets on everyone’s nerves.
So YOU the grammar police!
If you could do anything else, what job do you think you’d be really good at?
Lawyer. I love to make my point.
Lol. Any siblings Monique?
Three biological brothers, one step-brother, and three step-sisters.
If you had unlimited funds to build a house that you would live in for the rest of your life, what would the finished house be like?
Mansion, with an east and west wing, two kitchens, game room, media room, living room, enclosed patio, herb and vegetable garden on one side of the back yard, a dog run in the other, and an in-ground swimming pool in the center. The house would have a balcony with an amazing view. The bathroom would have a walk-in shower, with a waterfall feature and a sitting area.
Let’s get into writing a bit. What genre do you write in and why?
Mixed Genre of non-fiction with a dramatic approach and a sprinkle of poetry to end each chapter. I love writing this way because it makes it more engaging and easier to explain how people can get unstuck.
Why is writing important to you?
I write for my family and generations to come so that they will know how I made it through the toughest times in my life. I want readers of my work, be it my poetry, my magazine articles, or my novel, to know that an everyday person like themselves can get through whatever they are dealing with if they decide to believe that they can.
When did you publish your first book?
My first Anthology was published December 2021. My first memoir was published June 30, 2022. It was exciting and challenging for me. I learned that publishing is not the hard part, it’s the promotion and marketing that’s hard for me.
I get it. So what takes up too much of your time?
Figuring out systems for my business and now my book journey.
In your book, you talked a lot about how your faith got you through a lot of the pain. Do you consider yourself a religious person?
I am not religious in that I do not believe in all of the rules and traditions that mark religions. I do follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. I believe Christ was a spiritual teacher and healer, but the world was not ready to receive such a reality. Religion nailed him to the cross.
If you had one superpower that could change the world, what would it be?
To make everyone love each other with a Godly love.
What does a Godly love look like?
A Godly love looks like a man and woman who puts God first, demonstrates unconditional love, sacrifices for one another, and goes to God in prayer over situations the couple cannot handle in their own strength.
What are your thoughts on race?
We should embrace our differences, and not be opinionated on who is the better of the races. The conflict is in the ignorance of one or the other and the fear.
What do you think of police brutality in the black community?
I am mixed on it. I am a mother of black sons and they express to me that they know how to do the psychological game with the police so, thank God, they’ve not been a victim of it. They have been stopped, even arrested, but never mishandled. How can we do better? I think all of our people who have been victimized, profiled, or targeted by law enforcement should learn to use psychology, or better yet wisdom instead of responding with emotions. That is not helping during intense situations.
How would one use the study of the mind to avoid police brutality? Can you give some examples of how getting overly emotional could worsen already intense situations?
For example, if an officer is approaching a black man on a routine traffic stop, or suspicious activity, the black man should not react in a defensive, or in any way that can be taken as uncooperative, or threatening. Instead, he should be compliant, ask what the stop is for, ask if he is being put under arrest, and get the officers names. A calm, unemotional state of mind will put the officer a little more at ease, thus de-escalating the situation.
You KNOW I got more questions, chile. But, let’s move on.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Life is not always pretty. We all experience hardship every now and again.
What is your best advice for reducing stress?
Get enough word in you to have something to meditate on when you are getting overwhelmed. Walk, bike ride, or spend time doing dedicated workouts. Eat healthy.
In your own words, what is humility?
Maintaining a grateful attitude, not thinking you deserve all the accolades, but are willing to share the spotlight. Gracious in your acceptance of gifts, complements, and is not easily offended.
What is love?
God. It is receiving others right where they are without judgement. Accepting the good and the bad. Tolerance. Caring about your fellow human. Forgiving.
Thank you, Monique, for spending this time with us.We enjoyed you!
Monique Johnson is a native Californian who relocated to Texas in pursuit of new opportunities just before the world-wide pandemic and social unrest. She is the former founder and president of a nonprofit after school program she created to help keep teens off of the streets. She brought awareness to the Prison Industrial Complex and how it’s growth was planned based on statistics pulled from the minority population. These stats have been improperly used to build more prisons, thus keeping this population incarcerated. She mentored youth to keep them from making bad choices that could land them in the unforgiving criminal justice system.
Johnson motivates single mothers, women in general, as well as young men to push through the hard parts of life. She is an experienced trainer, speaker, project manager, and has a gift of leadership as displayed in her professional career and community. Her books and her upcoming workshops are geared toward her goal to help women and men in their business, personal and spiritual development.
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.
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.)