Joy Ubani

These past few weeks have been beautiful. You might not think working 15+ hour days is really beautiful (lol) but it was during these draining and extended work days/night that I really begun learning the value and meaning of self-love. I've learned that it's crucial for me to love and cherish myself the same way I would for close/favorite friend of mine.

Yesterday I decided to start loving myself. I had a reflective moment where I had to stop and ask myself how much I loved me. Like really and truly loved me. I proceeded with styling my hair  and dressing up for work me (honest hour: I don't usually wear my best outfits to work because I'm always in a hurry to get there). It occurred to me that I should treat myself as I would a friend who I absolutely adored (and I have a small handful of people like that in my life). If I love you, I'd give you the best of my best, I'd adorn you in fine clothes, I'd think the best of you and declare blessings over your life, and only prepare the very best for you. I have to admit that I've failed in this department lately. I've not been good at giving myself the very best.

Here are some ways I've begun to challenge myself to self-love:
  • Support myself: Like really be my own cheerleader and rejoice for every victory (especially on this journey of producing #BYBLondon) the same way I'd cheer for and support my close friends on their endeavors. I'm learning that you can't always wait for others to recognize your progress, or give you kudos, share your work on social media, or clap for you. Sometimes self-love is about giving yourself a standing ovation.
  • Speak life over myself: When I was passing through a season of self-doubt, my aunt sat me down and asked me what I'd tell a friend who was thinking and feeling as I did. The advice and words of encouragement I had for this friend were gold. So how much more myself? The words I think and say to myself should be just as pure and powerful, if not more.
  • Dress for myself: Loving yourself also entails being the best version of you and carrying yourself like the daughter of the Most High that you are. I've come to realize I feel my best, when I look my best. To this end, this week I've challenged myself to dress my very best wherever I go. (Honesty hour - I'm not always camera ready lol. Sometimes I have horrible outfit days (just because I didn't care enough to dress my best) and dread the thought of seeing someone I know in a grocery store..Is this true for anyone else? Lol).
  • Treat myself: How often do we buy small gifts of appreciation for people we love? I've learned it's just as important to gift myself with sweet things that bring me joy. I've been more intentional about buying myself flowers, cute bedroom decor (as of lately), eating right, treating myself to manis and pedis, and gifting myself with expensive (within reason) things every so often.
What are some ways you practice (real) self-love? Or how do you show your loved ones that you really and truly cherish them? If you can only answer the latter, maybe it's time you begin doing these things for you! xo

What I'm Wearing:

White Button Up Blouse - Zara

Cropped Denim - Topshop

Black Lace Up Oxfords - Nine West

Photography by: Sylvia Chuku

Hi darlings!

Are we still spreading the "Happy New Month!" greeting? Well even if the new month hype has passed, Happy new month!  I've been just a bit MIA from blogging and social media as I tried to navigate through this busy and very unbalanced season of my life. I've realized I have a lot on my plate lately; working a full time job as a high school counselor and therapist from 9am to 7pm, leading youth Sunday School at church, building my career in marketing via my new company Branding by Beauty, and developing my creative brain child known as Beneath Your Beautiful. Oh, and might I add committing to intentionally having fun by way of actually stepping out of my comfort zone (and home) to meet up with friends? In the midst of this, I have to admit, that sometimes I get discouraged when I come home from work exhausted and mentally zapped of creative energy. On these days, I'm forced to take a nap (lol..but actually, I gotta rest!) then come back to the drawing board and take a good hard look at my "why" as a reminder of why God put these big dreams on my heart. Does this happen to any one else?

Yes, my plate has become full. The sad and honest truth hit me the other day...I can't do it all at once. I realize that yes, by all means, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, but I've also come to understand that Christ also gives me the wisdom to select which things are priorities and which of those things can wait.

In conversation with close friends of mine who are also in this boat of trying to find balance as a girl boss/creative entrepreneur, I've come up with 5 ways to get it together and maintain balance during those seasons we absolutely must hold it together (especially when it feels like things are on the cusp of falling into pieces).

  1. Go back to your why: As I mentioned above, sometimes you have to go straight back to the drawing board. Remembering why you started should give you that push to remain persistent and persevere during those especially frustrating moments. There have been several times where the only thing I wanted to do was throw in the towel and cancel an event, drop a client, or just call in sick from work. But my vision board flashing through my mind with an unrelenting force snapped me back into reality. Don't give up, dear boss girl! We must keep going.
  2. Get inspired: Being stuck in a rut is completely okay and normal. We've all been in situations where we are just not motivated or don't feel creative. During this time I've sat down to read interview on women and men who inspire me the most. I have a list of about 7 women on my white board who are go-getters and in my age bracket. In my head these are my besties (lol) who are cheering me on and who encourage me through their craft. Don't give up, dear boss girl! You are amazing at your craft!
  3. Be still and say no: I talked about this in my last blog post. Sometimes it is absolutely necessary to say no. It's not every invitation you accept, or every business/networking meeting you attend. Sometimes you might have to take a sick day because you really and truly can't do it all (at once) and have to prioritize your needs and the needs of your business. (Now I'm not encouraging you to take a sick day every time you want to relax...Really pick and choose your battles here). Don't give up, dear boss girl! Take a breather and go again.
  4. Ask for help: When I spoke to one of my best friends who is a full time (new) mom, an entrepreneur, and a part time graduate student, she mentioned this as the most important coping method for her. It's not every time you carry the burden, sometimes ask for help. I have to admit this is something that took me time to learn! After 3 years of starting by business, Beneath Your Beautiful, it's now that I have not only hired a team of fully capable staff, I've just begun to slowly take the reigns off and ask for help AND allow my girls to do their tasks. *Cowers away in shame* Don't give up, dear boss girl! We are equal to the task.
  5. Find balance: It's totally fine to take a day or two off from being a girl boss/creative entrepreneur. To be honest, you'd probably be more creative if you had a proper work/life balance. (Okay I'm totally not yet practicing what I preach...I work on Saturday's...*Cowers away again*). Well, I guess I can say I'm speaking from experience? Gather your group of friends and/or family and cherish moments of laughter. You'd be surprised by how they might even inspire you and how they will light your fuel of creativity and motivation! Don't give up, dear boss girl! All things are working together for your good.

What I'm Wearing:

Slip Dress: Topshop
Black Leather Jacket: H&M
Lace Up Heels: River Island
Floral Print Side Purse: River Island

Photography by: Kelechi Okpa

I've spent the past several week contemplating why I've not yet reached "my next glory." Most simply put, I felt I had reached a point of stagnation. I wasn't growing my craft nor was I flourishing in my purpose. The former half of this year has taught me a lot about responsibility. I've taken out of it that it's simply up to me to get God's best out of my life. Each of us are held solely accountable of our joy, success, and faith -- basically we're responsible for getting the best out of what God has placed in us. As Christians we are tasked to go from glory to glory and we must activate our gifts in order to get there.

Here are 5 painful (yes, painful - lol) ways to get unstuck and move to your next glory:

  1. Be consistent: Vow to show up daily (especially on those days you feel like you just can't). Create discipline in your life and go at your goals by consistently putting in effort each and every day. Be steadfast in your promise to work at your dream. Show up and stay at it.
  2. Be serious: Okay now...Imagine if you gave this dream of yours your best all. Like absolutely everything you've got. How much more successful would your company be? How much faster would you run? How much more would your edges flourish? I am totally guilty of not giving each "small" (no task is too small!) goal absolutely everything I have. In retrospect, in those moments I have given a task my best all, I've experienced glorious results.
  3. Be still (but move only when He says "go"): Realize that it's not every activity or every idea that deserves your attentive yes. Get in your quiet corner and seek God for your next move. (It's  possible that He also wants you to stay right where you are).
  4. Be humble: Know when to ask for help. Know when to say your plate is too full and you just can't move. Know also when to receive criticism and go at it again, this time with a different perspective.
  5. Be prepared: Most times, God needs us to master our current assignment before He elevates us to the next best blessing. Ask yourself if you've done your best and given your all in preparation for your next glory.

Outfit details:

Black Jeans: Topshop (Joni Collection)

Black Turtle-neck Crop Top: H&M

Black and White Drape Front Duster: Forever 21

Photography: Will Charles Media

fear·lessadjectivelacking fear.

synonyms: bold, brave, courageous, valiant. 

I recently re-watched the film Enough (starring Jennifer Lopez) and finally understood (from a personal perspective) where her fight came from. As the film title suggests, she was over and done with being beaten, running, and crying. She'd had enough and was more than ready to claim what was rightfully hers: peace of mind,  joy, and freedom.

In order to preserve her sanity, her daughter, and her other possessions, she was forced to be fearless and she trained until she was fully equipped to step out and fight with faith.

Fearlessness doesn't come easily. Your courage is awakened when you realize it's time to possess your possession. You'll have a strong desire to claim everything you've ever hoped for and all that God promised. You'll become so fatigued from the fear that all you'll know to do is fight. (But don't go onto the battlefield unarmed).  This is when we rise up and fasten our armor of God and start calling forth dry bones of hope, boldness, and stamina. 

My life started looking drastically different when I was forced to be fearless. I realized I had so much waiting for me on the other side of anxiety, pain, and hurt. I no longer wanted to live in a space where I was scared to live my dreams. I became so uncomfortable with how uncomfortable fear made me feel. Eventually, my dreams will forced me out of fear. Sometimes progress has to come by fire by force so I was forced to stop operating and praying from a place of fear, and I started living and praising from a place of faith.

When you're forced to be fearless, faith begins to fill where fear once reigned. You become confident in whose you are and are snapped to reality remembering whom you serve. Your faith equips you to rise daily and claim what God has promised you.

The truth is, some of God's promises have to be fought for and you'll only possess them when you become absolutely drained from the running, hiding, crying. You're forced out of fear when you've absolutely had enough.

What dreams have forced you to be fearless? I'd love to hear your stories below and on insta with the hashtag #forcedtobefearless! xo

What I'm Wearing:

Side Blazer Dress: Topshop

Lace Up Pumps: River Island 

Photography by: Will Charles Media

You have to be aggressive. These words that my mother spoke to me days ago rang in my head until they finally struck a chord.

If you're hitting some turbulence right now be aggressive in getting through it. Hearing my mother tell me: "the deeper you allow your circumstance to consume you, the harder it will be rise. You have to be aggressive." was an awakening for me.

Many times we get discouraged, distracted, and fall deeper into our circumstance and we miss the fact that while the victory is already won, it is completely up to us to be aggressive and step into what God has for us.

pursuing one's aims and interests forcefully, sometimes unduly so.

I've noticed that when it comes to vision, purpose, and identity a lot of us don't have as firm of a foundation as we should. This is where aggression meets purpose. If God has placed a vision so fervently on your heart, it is completely up to you to be a aggressive in making that vision come to life. If you want to seek God and learn about your purpose & identity in Him, you must be aggressive in finding Him. Here are 3 (simple) ways I learned to be aggressive in seeking God and rediscovering purpose:

  1. Pray (without ceasing): Position yourself in such a posture that allows you to speak to God and hear from Him. Maybe for you, this is stepping away from distractions (like social media or certain friendships/relationships).
  2. Seek God: Immerse yourself in His word and in worship. You'll find that He speaks to you in this way. Learn more about who He is -- His character, His ways, and what He's already done.
  3. Surround yourself with a community of believers: Find people who are eager to pour into you, and who are able to guide you in your journey.
You have to realize that more aggression equals less fear. When aggression meets purpose you'll find that you can't easily be defeated. You'll have a desire to constantly push harder until something great happens. Imagine how unstoppable you'd be if you never took no for an answer, ignored nay-sayers, and consistently pressed forward in His presence? Whooo! Praise break, praise break!

As my friends and I like to say: no excuses -- just results! ;)

" should simply keep on doing what you've done from the beginning...Keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God's energy, an energy deep within you, God Himself willing and working at what will give Him the most pleasure." - Philippians 2:13 

Photography by Tiffany Jewels

Hey, loves!
I've been MIA for a little as I try to recoup from some of the curveballs this season has thrown at me...(otherwise infamously known as the "quarter-life crisis" (QLC)). This is something I've always heard about, but never thought I'd experience myself. I like to think of myself as someone who is driven, in control, and has high expectations. I've always been quite in touch with myself, confident in who I am (and who God says I am), and focused on my goals. Ironically enough, these are the types of people the QLC comes after the hardest. And honestly, it can feel debilitating.

I wanted to share some of the lessons I've learned in my experience. Maybe you're a twenty-something trying to navigate through QLC, depression, or anxiety. Or maybe you're just in an uncomfortable situation. (Read more about what to do in discomfort here).

4 Tips on Getting Through the Quarter-Life Crisis

  • Actions speak louder than words thoughts: In this season your thoughts can become completely distorted...going against everything you've ever believed about yourself. I had a conversation with my dear older sister recently where we tried to figure out how to combat negative thoughts (aside from obvious affirmations). Sometimes this is easier said than done. So what I've tried to do is change my actions so that my thoughts become aligned with whatever behavior I'm engaged. (Rather than allowing my thoughts to influence my behavior). For example, if I'm feeling visionless I'll intentionally pull out my vision board, turn on my laptop, and begin actively working towards my goals. If I'm feeling doubtful of who God says I am, I'll pick up the phone and speak to someone who affirms me/reminds me of my beautiful ideal self. (I'll talk more about this in another bullet point). 
  • Think like Christ, so you can believe like Christ: Okay we're back to thoughts. This is where positive affirmations come into play as well as great expectations. You have to make a conscious effort to see yourself as Christ sees you and to see your future as Christ sees it. (He promises to give us an expected end and He plans to prosper us...God is not tryna play us).  As soon as that negative thought creeps in, reject it and renew your mind instead with what Christ tells you. I always find comfort in knowing that His thoughts are higher than my thoughts. But we still need to make that effort to meet him there. I found these verses extremely helpful in renewing my thoughts daily.
  • Surround yourself with people who live a life that reflects your aspirations and (Godly) expectations: This is what I meant by having friends you can call and speak to when you're at your lowest points. Find someone you trust and pray with them often. Read scripture with them and share with them. Get a mentor who can teach you, pour into you, and reaffirm your purpose and your identity in Christ. Sometimes it's just a matter of hearing who God says you are that can build you up.
  • Speak Out: Talk about your experiences and get to the root of the problem so you can get rid of it. Mental health matters but I know not everyone has access to mental health practitioners/Christain therapists. If you fall into this category, again, find some you trust and speak out. Journaling is also a great way of speaking out and releasing thoughts. 

As cliche as this sounds, I am fully expectant that this season of my life will turn into a glorious and victorious testimony. At times I do feel discouraged, but I'm grateful for the community I'm surrounded by and the people who intercede on my behalf. Have faith, no matter how discouraged you feel. Cherish this with me: He who promises is faithful, and it will come to pass. (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

Photography by: Melissa C. Olguin

Over the past several years my prayer has always been that God should use my life as a testimony. I prayed this fervently, having no idea that it would mean that I'd be stretched and pulled into discomfort and transformed completely. 

I'd be lying if I said I knew I would joyfully and gracefully enter into 26. Towards the end of last year I felt lifeless and my vision stifled. Moving back home after spending 2 years in a different country completely shifted my perspective especially as many of my relationships with friends, family, and a significant other left me broken and confused. 

I'd be lying if I told you that I thought I'd be here today rejoicing, with a huge, goofy, and extremely joyful smile on my face [and in my heart] simply because I'm still here, my vision is clearer, and because I am alive and well. My experiences, friends, and family have watered me continuously until this very moment. And because of it all, I am now in full bloom.

I fully expect 26 to give me a testimony that is greater, with pains and gains that will elevate my position and glorify my God. I'm grateful for the pulling and the stretching. My scars are nothing if not reminders of my strength, courage, and wisdom. I've come this far and have no choice but to keep pressing forward until I reach the very sweet and perfect place that God has intended. I live for the sweet moments I hear Him whisper and tell me I am "almost there and doing just fine."

Photography by Melissa C. Olguin

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