G U I D E
- The Past
- The Present
- The Future
O R I G I N SStories have a beginning, a middle, and an end; sometimes they have an epilogue or turn into a series.
What about mindsets or knowledge? What’s the process?
I have a philosophy of Learn. Grow. Pass. Which is a philosophy I have practiced my entire life.
- I gain knowledge, information, skills, or resources. (Learn)
- I put into practice this knowledge, information, skills, or resources. (Grow)
- After, I’ve gained a handle on the topic, I share the knowledge, information, skills, or resources. (Pass)
Sometimes, I pass as I’m learning and growing and other times I wait until I fully understand.
But at the end of the day, I believe what we gain, we should pass along to our family, friends, and community.
Over the years, I’ve shared reviews of events, articles, books, quotes, parables, my process, etc. I recently decided to take the information I gained, organize it, and put it into one place.
I always have people asking me for resources. I thought releasing an annual digest of things that helped me grow and transform my mindset might be helpful to others.
I’ll reflect on the year past, the current year, and look forward to the next year.
Overall, think of it as a highlight of things I consumed to help me grow.
I hope you take something from this digest. I call it Learn. Grow. Pass
P.S. TAG, you’re it. Time for you to pass something along. Share this digest or share in the comments something you learned in 2018.
T H E P A S THow far in the past do I go?
Well, let me start with 2015-2017. I feel that marked a new stage in my life. I transferred from Arizona State University to Michigan State University, I ended a long-term relationship, and seven people directly related to me or in my circle passed away. Oh, and I realized I had depression. The last few years have been emotionally and cognitively demanding. Getting a PhD, running around depressed and not knowing it, and dealing with a lot of change is not fun. As someone who keeps in emotions, it was a lot to handle.
But I don’t want to paint a pity picture. While I had challenging situations occur in my life, I also discovered my personal strength and resilience and the power of community.
I discovered efficient ways to learn and work. I learned how to communicate with people who think differently than me. I learned how to respond to conflict. I learned how to figure things out on my own, yet I also learned how to ask for help. I learned who was in my corner and who was not. I learned that mindfulness is a powerful tool. It also marked the first time in my life that I consistently kept up with a meditation and journaling practice.
I learned that when channeled the right way, I am a creative, empathetic, bold, and courageous leader. I like that, and I want to continue growing in that way.
My friend and I always laugh that I’m not a time traveler. Whenever I get stuck thinking about the past, we joke and say “no time traveling.” But what if we could travel in time? Would it be for the better? I think the past is gone and it’s just a memory, but reflection is a powerful tool. I started off this digest with reflecting on past events and feelings because it sets the stage for my present and future situations. While, mindfulness has helped me stay focused and present, every now and then I don’t mind dipping into the past and reflecting on how it will transform and groom me for the present and future.
T H E P R E S E N TIt’s the end of November 2018 and I am in a good place. I spent most of 2018 building my own personal toolkit to help me with balancing my ambitions and the need for rest. I would say that 2018 was all about mental and emotional wellness. 2018 also was about learning more about myself and I spent a lot of time doing introspection. My decision to put my mental and emotional wellness first resulted in personal clarity and interestingly improved professional performance. There were several tools that helped me maintain my wellness this year and I hope to share a little insight with you and hopefully you gain something from my experiences.
P r a c t i c e sJournaling
I used to keep a diary when I was in elementary school. I stopped that practice because someone read my diary and shared it. I picked up the practice again after college and sporadically kept a journal of positive aspects. Eventually, when I moved to Michigan, I started up the practice again and I have stuck with it. I journal every morning, using the Artist Way method of three stream of thought pages. I also journal every evening, using a variety of methods, but most recently following the advice of Doist, I started documenting how I used my values that day.
Relationships are important to me. I value friendship and family and make effort to maintain these relationships. I have had my moments over the years when I was great at keeping in touch and then I fell off for a bit. Lately, I have returned to the practice of keeping in touch with people. I have reached out to people via email, text, phone, or written mail. It is important to me to maintain relationships with people who have played a role in my development.
I’ve meditated off and on since college, but never kept a consistent practice. When I moved to Michigan, I began meditating again at the encouragement of a friend. Now, I meditate one to two times a day. I do guided imagery, guide meditations, Kirtan Kriya, Deepak and Oprah’s meditation experiences, and Chel Hamilton’s meditation podcast. The practice of meditation has dramatically changed the way I operate. I used to be pressed about time and worried about the past, but now I take care to stay present. I try not to let things that I cannot control, control my actions and thoughts.
In 2018, I decided to try out therapy and I am glad that I decided to go. I love it. At first I was guarded and felt weird talking to a stranger about my feelings, but now I love that I have the opportunity to express myself in a judgment free zone. Over the last nine months, I have seen improvement in how I interact with others and how I even treat myself. It is a practice I hope to continue moving forward.
W r i t t e nI read a lot. I read academic articles, blog posts, books, tweets, backs of lotion bottles, fine print on food products. I read everything. I’m always consuming information. It’s hard for me to highlight my favorite reads of the year, but I narrowed it down to the ones that I reflected on the most. However, have no fear; at the end of this digest, I do have a complete list of all the content I consumed. I don’t keep track of all the articles I read (I need to do better), but the list is updated as of 11/30/2018.
B o o k s
You are here: Discovering the magic of the present moment – Thich Nhat Hanh
Three years ago, my classmate recommended that I read Thich Nhat Hanh. I borrowed one of his books from the library and I could not get into it. Looking back, I realize that I was not in the right space to start reading books about mindfulness. I turned to reading mindfulness books in February because it was the only type of books I could focus my mind on outside of school related books. I have read many of Hanh’s books, but the one I started with in February was ‘You are Here’. This book discusses in simple terms mindfulness and Buddhist practices dealing with breathing and staying in the present moment. This book opened my mind to the practice of mindfulness and I did a deep dive into all things Thich Nhat Hanh.
Becoming – Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama, is commonly known as the first Black First Lady of the United States, but after reading this book, readers will understand that she is so much more. I loved this book, mostly because Michelle was relatable and that was unexpected. I felt like I was getting a master lesson on mentorship, love, family, career, and creativity. This is a book that I will revisit, but in audiobook format. I would love to hear her tell her story. I believe that sometimes there are people who can serve as mentors from afar and I feel like Michelle Obama is someone I consider a mentor from afar and this book solidified her as a role model.
Harry Potter and the sorcerer’s stone – J.K. Rowling
My sister and I always discuss if J.K Rowling is a crazy or a genius; maybe a little bit of both. I grew up on Harry Potter and every year I revisit the series. I have interacted with the series in many mediums: books, audiobooks, soundtrack, and movies. Each format is excellent. This year was the 20 year anniversary of Harry Potter and in spirit of this milestone, I reread the first book and marveled at the magical journey that Rowling’s created for my generations and those to follow.
Roll of thunder hear my cry – Mildred D. Taylor
I’ve read and reread every book Taylor has written, but Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry is my favorite. I still have my original copy from elementary school and I reread this book every year. It probably will be on this list again next year. I just love the main character Cassie and I love the writing of Mildred Taylor. I hope one day to write a story like she has and that there will be a person like me who reads the work every year.
The color purple series – Alice Walker
Did you know the Color Purple was a series? I didn’t know that. I also never read the Color Purple (or saw the movie). I know, I’ve been living under a rock. But this year I read two out of the three books in the Color Purple series. I read The Color Purple and The Temple of My Familiar. Wow, I loved them both and I can’t wait to read the third book. Walker is a masterful writer and I look forward to reading her other bodies of work.
Piecing me together – Renee Watson
I enjoy reading YA novels and want to read more books written by people of color, so I started to go down the list of Coretta Scott King winners and runner ups and I’ve been reading the books. I loved Piecing Me Together and just couldn’t put it down. I felt like I was there in the story and that to me is a sign of a book that sticks with me.
A r t i c l e s
The productive benefits of journaling (plus 11 ideas for making the habit stick) – DoistI stumbled on this article this year and enjoyed the thoroughness of the article. I use the Doist product, Todoist and I enjoy reading articles they post on productivity. This particular article stood out to me because they gave insights on the different ways a person can journal.
Unprotected – Finlay Young
This article was an excellent read on many levels, from the investigative reporting to the visual layout of the article. I would love to one day create a multimedia article in this way. Besides the visual aspects of the article, the reporting was great and gave insight into the problems that arise when foreigners start charities in other countries. It was sad, eye opening, and made me think more about who I donate to.
It’s clear that I enjoy reading or this Learn. Grow. Pass digest would not exist. However, reading Holiday’s article on reading gave me insights into how I could approach reading in a more efficient way. It is my goal to get better at keeping track of the books I have read and the notes I have taken. I want to get better at making connections between readings and critically reading books the same way I might read an article for school.
Afrofuturism: The next generation – Ruth La Ferla
Ever take part in something and not even know it’s a thing or a movement. That’s how I feel about Afrofuturism. I’ve always liked science fiction and love reading books by Black science fiction writers. I feel a sense of connection with certain music artists, but it wasn’t until I found this article on Afrofuturism that I was introduced to the term. In the NY Times feature they define Afrofuturism as:
“Afrofuturism, a social, political and cultural genre that projects black space voyagers, warriors and their heroic like into a fantasy landscape, one that has long been the province of their mostly white counterparts.”
Umm, yes, I’m all for this and didn’t realize I’ve always been for this. Having a name to put towards what I already enjoyed was helpful.
Q u o t e s
A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years – Carl Sagan
To do great things, you have to read to lead. – Ryan Holiday
Every black person is obligated to try to do what he does as well as any person who ever lived can do it, or any person who ever lives can do it; then try to save one – just one – person if you can. And then struggle to destroy a system which is multiplying black victims faster than all the black intellectuals and black leaders in America can talk about. I see those three things connected – Lerone Bennet
One day I decided I was gonna choose me. I haven’t looked back since. – Yoga with Adrienne
The happiness in your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts. – Spotify Playlist called Pollen
It’s a funny thing that we forget sometimes. We’re so scared that we are going to die, we forget to do the thing that keeps us alive. Breathe. – Donald, This is Us
Life, with its rules, its obligations, and its freedoms, is like a sonnet: You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. – Mrs. Whatsit, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
…Not all those who wander are lost… – J. R. R. Tolkien
Nobody is superior, nobody is inferior. People are simply unique, incomparable – Osho
Democracy is not just about our individual rights and concerns and our individual protections, but rather it lives and thrives in making sure that everybody is lifted by the community. – Oprah
Maya Angelou used to say, ‘Baby, your crown has been paid for so put it on your head and wear it.’ So your crowns been paid for. The right to vote is your crown. – Oprah
I gave up blood on that bridge in Selma, 53 years ago; almost died. Some of my friends and colleagues were murdered in Mississippi and other places. I’m not asking any of you to give any blood. I’m just asking you to go and vote; like you never voted before. We have to vote. The vote is the most powerful, most powerful, nonviolent instrument or tool we have in a democratic society and we must use it; use it. Go out and vote, let’s go out and vote. Go and vote. Go and vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. – John Lewis
One of the biggest things we want to start cultivating, curating this community of just fly, passionate, creative, driven people. Who all have a lifestyle; that want to do better, create more, empower other people, build things that matter, move culture forward. But still be fly, have fun, have good energy, and collaborate and connect with each another in a real way. – Julian Mitchell, Get Paid To Be Yourself
I think you and Oprah would have very lovely convos. – My sister Stephanie
So laugh, breathe, and repeat. You make others laugh because you are an important human being. – My friend Mattie
Don’t just write [about] it, live it. I want you to live it. – My friend Mattie
It’s cool to challenge yourself, just be careful not to define yourself by anyone’s opinion of you. – My friend Dean
Take a deep breath and remember who the fuck you are. – Unknown; sent to me by my friend Dean
Have faith, not fear. – my Aunt Lola
A u d i o V i s u a lF i l m s
As a Marvel fan, I was excited for Black Panther to come out and I was not disappointed with the telling of this superhero from Wakanda. I think I’ve watched this movie over five times and each time I gain something new from it.
I loved the book when I read it a few years ago, so I was excited to watch the film. I was not disappointed, I laughed and I teared. It was a great romantic comedy and of course I was happy to see the diversity.
I saw this movie twice in the theatre. The examination of police brutality and the aftermath was telling. I cried and I laughed during this movie; even after the second time seeing it. The actors did an excellent job drawing me into the story and making me relate with the characters.
A u d i o
I’ve followed the Startup podcast for some time and I enjoy the profiles they do on different types of entrepreneurs. Arlan Hamilton was an interesting profile. This particular episode of the series stood out to me because it highlighted the lengths some people will go to ensure their dreams come true.
Golden State Warrior Andre Igoudala – Without Fail
I love Gimlet Media, so most of the podcast series I listen to are distributed by this podcast network. Without Fail is a new Gimlet series about failures and successes in business. This episode stood out to me because it featured an NBA basketball player that I am familiar with; Andre Igoudala. This episode was a reminder that athletes are not just athletes, a lot of them have interesting projects they are involved with outside of their sport. It was refreshing to hear Igoudala’s experiences with venture capital.
I’ve Been to the Mountaintop – Martin Luther King Jr.
I’ve heard MLK’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech many times, but I never heard his ‘I’ve Been to the Mountaintop’ speech. I spent the spring of 2018 listening to Malcolm X, MLK, and other leaders speeches, but the ‘I’ve Been to the Mountaintop’ speech was the most touching one I listened to. At the end of the speech, I found a tear dropping down my face. It was in that moment I realized that MLK was a powerful orator, he painted a picture that had me believing that I too can reach the mountaintop.
Uncivil is a podcast that talks about the untold stories of the Civil War, this particular episode discusses two women spies; one Black and one White. I love listening to stories such as these because they provide insight into untold heroes in history.
E v e n t sHaiti Tech Summit
This summer I went to the Haiti Tech Summit, which is part of a 13 year initiative to address the future of Haiti using startup ecosystems. The keynote speaker was Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter and Square and there were a host of other speakers and sponsors there. It was great to see many Haitians, Haitians from the diaspora, and supporters of Haiti there to discuss using technology to accelerate growth in the country. Not only did I learn a lot, but I met interesting people and had an amazing time.
T H E F U T U R EI’m always thinking. Maybe overthinking, but thinking nonetheless. Sometimes I’m pondering over something that I noticed in the world or other times I’m thinking of solutions to a problem.
I think about the future a lot, not just in the form of questions that need answers (QTNA), but also what I will I learn about next.
I typically follow a need; my needs or maybe my community’s needs. Most of the time I’m just trying to grow, discover, and strive to reach my full potential. That often means whatever I’m reading tends to fill a gap in my life; something I think I need to work on. I mentor several people and facilitate a mastermind group and I read things that I think can help us grow collectively.
I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that asking questions and quenching a thirst for knowledge makes it much more enjoyable (at least for me).
Q T N A
- There is a young man who lives in my gramma’s neighborhood in Haiti. He is in college and has a bright future, but does not live in an environment that can support this future. When my gramma was alive, I might send gifts through her or money. When she passed away, there no longer was this middleperson who could facilitate sending remittance to Haiti. The other day, I was thinking to myself, “I would love a secure way to send money or items to this young man.” So I posed a question on Twitter:
- I love traveling to Haiti and learning more about my heritage. Each time I visit Haiti, I grow a little more concerned about its future. Brain drain is a huge issue and lack of collaboration with the diaspora is another issue. Haiti is building its tourism industry, but maybe it should consider building its diaspora relationships. Develop ways for first, second, and even third generation Haitians in the diaspora to come back and learn about the country and how they can lend their skills. Additionally, many that are of African descent tend to want to make a ‘pilgrimage’ to the motherland (Africa). I fully support this desire, I’ve done it myself, but what if Haiti worked on branding to those of African descent, especially those in the western hemisphere to come to another motherland; Haiti. Haiti’s role in shaping the geopolitical environment in the western hemisphere is important history. More should know about it and it’s close to other western hemisphere countries. One of my good friend’s father always says that every Haitian and Black person should go to the fort in Cap Haitian. After doing it this summer, I agree. It felt like a rite of passage.
- Haiti has an infrastructure problem on many different levels; electrical, political, transportation, waste management, broadband, etc. The one that is increasing concerning to me is the pollution problem; how can this be solved? Is there a way to have people pick up the litter and bring it to a recycling center for money? Clean up the environment and also provide jobs at the same time?
- The young gentleman that I know in Haiti is in college and has difficultly doing his assignments because of the unstable internet connection and also it cost money to use internet on mobile devices. How can education in a country improve, if students do not have access to basic things like a stable internet connection, low cost or free internet connection, and electricity.
- Now, the issue that should be on the minds of every political leader. What is the plan for environmental refugees? The western hemisphere is home to many island nations. It’s not a question of if, but when climate change is going to create a massive humanitarian and environmental crisis in these regions (and other regions across the world). What are we going to do? Do we open the borders to accept these new environmental refugees? Is there an exit plan? How do you get people off the islands? Or if you don’t get people off the islands, what are these governments doing to plan for the future?
- Every time I go to Haiti, all I think about is how are they going to solve a multilevel infrastructure problem? I hope Haiti gets a visionary leader, who can put the country on the right path without relying so much on foreign involvement.
- Is there such thing as over production and consumption in our society? This is something I’ve been thinking about lately. There is so much of everything; information, data, clothes, businesses, etc. But where does it go? In nature, a tree grows, its fruit drops on the ground, an animal eats it, then through bowel movements, drops the seed into the ground and then the seed grows into a tree. This is nature’s version of circular design. I’m concerned that more businesses do not follow a circular design model. I also feel a bit of guilty as I participate in this over consumption and production by creating more blog posts, services, products, etc. When does it end? One thing I’ve been toying with is adding in a social good aspect into anything I end up selling. For example, if (when?) I write a book, donating proceeds to deforestation issues in Haiti or an organization that helps disadvantaged kids get books.
- In the same vein of overproduction and consumption. What do you think of podcasts? In the early days, there weren’t many podcast out there, but now there so many podcasts out there, it is getting overwhelming. Is the podcast industry over saturated; much like the TV industry?
- As we learn more about the adverse impact of digital tools, what will we do about the push to bring digital items into education spaces? Is being connected almost 24 hours a day healthy? Connected at school, connected at home, connected everywhere. I’m curious to know how this will impact learning in the future, especially the ability to focus.
- This is random, but I don’t like the way mothers in commercials are dressed. Why do they have a mom cleaning a house in a business casual outfit? Have you ever seen a mom clean a bathroom in slacks, a button down shirt, and a cardigan? Where did this representation of mothers in the home come from? I know a lot of mothers and none of them dress like that to shop, to clean, or to play in the backyard with their children. It’s a small thing, but it bothers me, because media representation is important. Also, why is it always the mother cleaning and running errands, that’s a whole separate issue, but I would love for these companies to actually visit homes and see how moms really dress or who really takes care of some chores in the home. I used to date someone who liked to clean as much as I did. Can we see some men like that on TV? And please, not in slacks and a blazer.
- I don’t know much about the cyber security industry, but I do think with all the data breaches and election manipulation news that has come out over the last several years; that cyber security is an industry that has room for growth. I am interested to see how consumer knowledge grows on how to protect their data and how other companies are working to protect consumer data.
- I would love to see more policy on technology and the Internet. I feel the digital landscape is still the wild wild west with little oversight. I would like to see more discussion on how to create policy that protects consumers, while still allowing for innovation to take place.
N e x t
Books I’m going to tackle in the beginning of 2019
- Proof of collusion – Seth Abrahamson
- Atomic habits: An easy & proven way to build good habits & break bad ones – James Clear
- The book of joy: Lasting happiness in a changing world – Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Douglas Abrams
- Digital minimalism – Cal Newport
- Narrative of Sojourner Truth – Sojourner Truth
Topics I want to further explore
- Business analysis
- Financial literacy
- Goal setting
- Graduate from my PhD program
- Start my career
C O M P L E T E L I S TContent I consumed in 2018…
B o o k s
- Naming the new world – Calvin Baker
- Queen sugar – Natalie Baszile
- Wild seed – Octavia Butler
- Mind of my mind – Octavia Butler
- Clay’s ark – Octavia Butler
- Imago – Octavia Butler
- Adulthood rites – Octavia Butler
- The wake up call: Financial inspiration learned from 4:44 + A step by step guide on how to implement each financial principle – Ash Cash
- The alchemist – Paulo Coelho
- Rapid falls – Amber Cowie
- Sum: Forty tales from the afterlives – David Eagleman
- One crazy summer – Rita Williams Garcia
- The checklist manifesto: How to get things right – Atul Gawande
- E-Squared: Nine do-it-yourself energy experiments that prove your thoughts create your reality – Pam Grout
- Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi
- The art of communicating – Thich Nhat Hanh
- No mud, no lotus: The art of transforming suffering – Thich Nhat Hanh
- How to love – Thich Nhat Hanh
- How to relax – Thich Nhat Hanh
- The mindfulness survival kit: Five essential practices – Thich Nhat Hanh
- You are here: Discovering the magic of the present moment– Thich Nhat Hanh
- Buddha doodles: Imagine the possibilities – Molly Hahn
- The art of power – Thich Nhat Hanh
- Solitude: In pursuit of a singular life in a crowded world – Michael Harris
- Mindfulness for beginners: Reclaiming the present moment and your life – John Kabat-Zinn
- A wrinkle in time – Madeleine L’Engle
- The stars beneath our feet – David Barclay Moore
- The bluest eye – Toni Morrison
- So good they can’t ignore you: Why skills trump passion in the quest for work you love – Cal Newport
- Becoming – Michelle Obama
- A killer’s mind – Mike Omer
- The Westing Game – Ellen Raskin
- Harry Potter and the sorcerer’s stone – J.K. Rowling
- Find your why: A practical guide for discovering purpose for you and your team – Simon Sinek
- We were mothers – Katie Sise
- Brave enough – Cheryl Strayed
- The gold Cadillac – Mildred D Taylor
- Roll of thunder hear my cry – Mildred D Taylor
- Let the circle be unbroken – Mildred D. Taylor
- The color purple – Alice Walker
- The temple of my familiar – Alice Walker
- Piecing me together – Renee Watson
- The underground railroad – Colson Whitehead
- Fear: Trump in the White House – Bob Woodward
- American street – Ibi Zoboi
- Theodore Boone: The activist – John Grisham
- Theodore Boone: The fugitive – John Grisham
- Theodore Boone: The scandal – John Grisham
- How successful people win – John C. Maxwell
- The power of significance – John C. Maxwell
- The Well – Mildred D. Taylor
- Revolution – Deborah Wiles
F i l m s
- Ant Man & the Wasp
- Avengers: Infinity War
- Black Klansman
- Black Panther
- Crazy Rich Asians
- The Hate U Give
- Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
- Incredibles 2
- A Simple Favor
- We the Animals
- Alex Hughes
- Angel List
- Asian Efficiency
- Buried Reads
- By Regina
- Cal Newport
- GG Renee
- James Clear
- Michael Simmons
P e r i o d i c a l s
P o d c a s t s
- Adventures in New America
- The EntreLeadership Podcast
- The Horror of Dolores Roach
- Lead to Win with Michael Hyatt
- Meditation Minis Podcast
- Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations
- The Productivity Show
- Sleep With Me
- Startup Podcast
- Terrible, Thanks for Asking
- Therapy for Black Girls
- Without Fail
T o o l s
C O N T A C T