Managing Money on Her Own Terms
Jan16

Managing Money on Her Own Terms

Written By Leah T. Johnson/ ColorBlind Magazine  A vacant, ordinary two-family flat is much, much more to financial guru Aja Williams. This type of home symbolizes the birth of financial capability- a step above financial literacy. The ownership of this cherished location is the vision for Aja’s Real Life Finances, a business spearheaded by Williams, to work with those who need assistance with finances, making smart money decisions and of course the “B-word”- Budgeting. Her desire to give back stems from a true understanding of personal financial woes. Cutting Back and “Letting Things Happen” Although Williams credits herself as being a disciplined person, the characteristic hasn’t always manifested itself in her dealings with finances. She believes her financial woes early on were caused by a “lack of wisdom.” Williams recalls making the decision to purchase a home at age 22 for herself and her son, Vincent Long Jr.  She worked at Ford Motor Company, drove a truck, and sent her son to private school. This was “Adulting” at its finest. However, things soon spiraled out of control. Her house note, home insurance, property taxes and finances increased and spun out of control within a year  to 2 years. “I recall going into a room in my house and saying ‘Lord, it has got to be more to life than this.’” Moments later, Williams was creating her first budget at age 26 using an excel spreadsheet. Ironically, this is the same spreadsheet she uses today. She used the “Snowball Approach,” to pay off her debt, from the smallest to largest amount. Williams forced herself to shop at thrift stores, avoid going to the hair salon, and to save any money she received. That same night, Williams promised herself she wouldn’t borrow anymore money. Lack of finances resulted in utilities being cut off from time to time until payday. “My heat was off, my son was sleeping in jogging suits, and the next day I was standing in line at DTE and my feet were freezing because I was cold the night before,” Williams recalls. “But I paid my bill, and I didn’t owe anyone afterwards! I didn’t have to go give my mom any money.” Despite an uncomfortable situation, Williams and her son endured and she felt the heavy debt slowly lifting. “Sometimes that’s the problem; we need to just let things happen… you’re not going to die, you’re not going to go to jail… just let stuff happen so you can get to where you need to get to.” The Birth of A Business “Being in debt was one of the worst feelings I’ve ever felt outside of losing someone...

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I.M.A.G.I.N.E. Mentoring Inspires, Encourages
Nov25

I.M.A.G.I.N.E. Mentoring Inspires, Encourages

Written By Leah T. Johnson/ColorBlind Magazine  All Photos Credits for this story- AJ Photography  There isn’t much that Latonya Garth can’t imagine.  Fittingly, her Nonprofit Inspire, Motivate, Achieve, Grow, Intervene, Encourage (I.M.A.G.I.N.E.) Mentoring Program of Michigan celebrated its 6th year of operation with a gala in Detroit. The formal affair was complete with live music (including songstress Angela Davis, whose smooth voice effortlessly resembles that of neo-soul artist Jill Scott), entertainment such as modern dance and poetry highlighting the false world of social media, and powerful shared reflections. “Ever since Ms. Garth has been in my life I have committed to what I said I would,” said Reflectionist Sykenya Jackson, who will attend Macomb Community College in February 2017. Jackson was followed by Lauren Sowell who mentioned that the sessions “Know Your Worth” and the “Five People Factor” through I.M.A.G.I.N.E. have really helped her. Sowell is a detox nurse at age 24. Although she is a young mom and regrets the effects from her former lifestyle, she remains determined, and moved many in the audience to tears, including Garth. The woman of the evening was introduced and began her speech by having her daughter Micah recite the I.M.A.G.I.N.E. proclamation. It became apparent that Micah, aged 2, hears those words recited often. “I want everyone to know I have two babies, one who is two years old, and another child that’s six years old on life support (referring to I.M.A.G.I.N.E.) I’m also a stripper,” said Garth who quickly glanced at her dad, Michael Garth, after making that statement. She knew she had to explain herself. “I.M.A.G.I.N.E. allows me to strip off the person that comes in the door, and then build them back up.” To her dad’s relief, he yelled “Well, strip on then!” followed by laughter from the crowd. Garth wasn’t ashamed to admit that she had not intended to be the keynote speaker for the event. But doing so was just what she needed. It was as if her speech was a form of catharsis for her.  She spoke about not letting others get in the way of your dreams. She effortlessly and honestly reduced people to three categories saying “Don’t ever let anyone change you… people are either for you, against you, or in your way.” Garth, who has had much success in 2016 by visiting over 20 different places on behalf of I.M.A.G.I.N.E. admitted to some disappointments. For example, the former building for I.M.A.G.I.N.E. was an “emotional decision” she learned from and that “it’s ok to take a step back in order to take a step forward.” Above all, Garth made it clear that “the dream...

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A “Berry” Special Wedding
Nov10

A “Berry” Special Wedding

Interview done by Leah T. Johnson/ColorBlind Magazine Newlywed Zenia Berry gives readers a recap of her wedding day and shares advice with future brides…  ColorBlind Magazine: What was the best part/moment of your wedding day? Zenia Berry: I can’t limit it to just one…lol So, I’ll give two! 1. Holding Kevin’s hands up until the “I Dos”. It brought me so much comfort just knowing we are in this together, and his strength — knowing that this is someone I can depend on when I may not be my strongest self. 2. The feeling of “love in the air”.  All of my guests made that comment to me too.  You know, I’ve watched those bridal shows, and it always seems so hectic — like everyone is in a bad mood or the small nuisances become these major issues for everyone — but I didn’t have those feelings or thoughts at all. I just felt love from everyone, and it was reassuring to know that people are still supportive of and hopeful for marriages to be successful in this day and age. CB: How did you feel on your wedding day? Proud? Nervous? Anxious? etc.  ZB: Honestly, I had only ONE nervous moment. It was about 2:30 p.m. (a half hour before my matron and I were supposed to head to the venue to get ready) and I had a slight moment of being nervous. I can’t really say what exactly made me anxious. I think I just was hoping that the entire day went as planned. AND IT DID!!! 🙂 After getting married, I can only explain it as this overwhelming feeling of respect for (and yes, pride in) the person that you have made a commitment to and with. I mean, I’ve always respected him, but there is this increased level of awareness you have for the other person that reminds you to be very conscious of how important they are and the relationship is. It’s quite indescribable — once a person gets married, I guess they’ll know. Seems like all the other married couples I know told me we would feel differently, but they couldn’t say quite how. Now, I get it. 🙂 WE, as individuals are the same people, but OUR RELATIONSHIP feels more solid and sacred. CB: Complete this sentence– “The best thing about being a wife is…” ZB: being connected to someone that has CHOSEN to be connected to me as well. It’s a very prideful feeling. Knowing that I have someone I can grow with in life — who will allow for a mutual exchange of love and beneficial change as we share certain experiences. I could go on and on, but just feeling like there is...

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October Favorites!!!
Nov02

October Favorites!!!

Filmed by Leah T. Johnson/ColorBlind Magazine  Hi My wonderful readers! My October favorites video is here!! Hope you enjoy!!  

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“Missy’s” Mark on Nursing Field
Oct19

“Missy’s” Mark on Nursing Field

Written By Leah T. Johnson/ColorBlind Magazine Minority. That word means a lot to Haitian-born, Tampa, Fl resident, Manouchar “Missy” Pierre-Val. Although there aren’t many who look like her in her profession as a Nurse Practitioner, she isn’t deterred. “I love that nursing is very diverse,” she said. ” There’s so many choices: trauma, cosmetics, hospitals, research.”  Pierre-Val knew she wanted to become a nurse after being in a nursing program offered at her high school, and also from shadowing those already in the profession. The field of nursing is also revered in her traditional Haitian culture. Still, she sees very few women of color when she goes to work. “There’s definitely a gap, and it bothers me. I’d definitely like to see more women of color represented,” she said during a phone interview from her office in Tampa. To succeed as a young professional, Pierre-Val did what most people do while in college; she embraced her super powers to do a lot simultaneously. She worked midnights as a nurse while in grad school, and worked as a cheerleader for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “The hospital I worked at was across the street from the cheering practice area. So, I would work, practice, do school, go home, and try to get some sleep. I don’t know how I did it all,” she said with a small laugh of relief. Cheering itself was very non-traditional based on her culture. However, Pierre-Val’s bold personality made her want to be 1 of thirty-four women, and 1 of 3 women of color, who rallied the crowd in support of the Bucs at NFL games. “Even the dress in Haitian culture is traditional, so to wear a cheer uniform was different. But I wanted to try something different.” Pierre-Val fondly recalls her pom-pom days and still keeps in touch with some of her former teammates. It’s possible that her grueling schedule as a cheerleader undoubtedly assisted with her busy nursing profession. When she isn’t seeing patients, doing physicals and the like, she is heavily involved with two sites: giftfornurses.org, an online shop with apparel and accessories for nurses and those who know nurses, and fierceexpression.com. The latter website is described as a “nursing 101” site, complete with mentoring, virtual tutoring by Pierre-Val and 20+ nursing professionals, E-books, and more for anyone interested in nursing. These initiatives are only a stepping stone for another project she is passionate about- that of bringing career awareness about nursing to high schools- just like it began for her. “This is important so students can go to college already with an understanding of the field,” she said. Her focus coupled with...

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September 2016 Faves!!
Oct15

September 2016 Faves!!

Hi Everyone!   I almost forgot to post this video!! Please enjoy!!  

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Benefits of Working out with GFIT
Oct06

Benefits of Working out with GFIT

ColorBlind Magazine had the opportunity to interview Regina J. a local fitness instructor. She explains the birth and benefits of GFIT in the article below. Leah T. Johnson/ColorBlind Magazine  ColorBlind Magazine: Why did you choose to start GFIT? Regina/GFIT: The GFIT/Get FIT program was started to assist those who want to be healthy, whether it is weight loss, becoming stronger, having good overall cardio health which promotes a healthy mental well- being. The program was designed to help the inner & the outer unite. Usually, when you feel good physically, you feel good mentally. ColorBlind Magazine: When did your interest in fitness/health begin and how has it been sustained over the years? Regina/GFIT: After dealing with my own weight struggles and losing close to 100lbs 20 years ago, I was encouraged to become educated in the health & fitness held which prompted me to become certified in 2000 in 14 areas of health & fitness which would enable me to assist others with their struggles and goals.         ColorBlind Magazine: Can you share a health success story? (personal or someone else) Regina/GFIT: A few that come to mind are my own success of losing almost 100lbs as well as seeing a client lose over 60lbs attending group workout sessions as well as one person doing personal training sessions with me and another one lose an extreme amount of weight just in time for her son’s wedding!! Those are extremely proud moments, not for me but for them because they showed up and did the work!!! ColorBlind Magazine: What do you hope to gain and receive by hosting the GFIT fitness classes? Regina/GFIT: I hope to gain and receive the satisfaction of being able to help individuals to recognize that good physical health is important and can be fun. Long gone are the dreaded long daunting tasks of working out doing jumping jacks, burpees etc… Dancing to great music is an excellent form of exercise and is great for the cardio vascular system as well as toning. The classes provide a full body workout with a variety of dance styles, strength training and YES, DANCING ABS!! No more getting on the floor!!! Using the proper techniques and form you can get a great ab workout dancing to the latest beats!! At the end of class and everyone is spent and sweat is dripping off of them, I know that I delivered and they got a good workout and are satisfied!! Also the message is: Take time to do something for yourself. We give so much to our mates, children, and employers. We need to make time for us, to keep us going. I love knowing that when you are on your way to class you know you’re...

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More Hair, Don’t Care!!
Sep25

More Hair, Don’t Care!!

Filmed By Leah T. Johnson/ColorBlind Magazine (guest appearance by Lena Johnson) In this video my sister and I share some new styles we are excited to try!

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The Shoe Challenge!!
Sep12

The Shoe Challenge!!

Presented by Leah T. Johnson/ColorBlind Magazine Please enjoy the follow video as I show some of my favorite shoes from the Summer! Also, I add in a few surprise shoes!!    

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August 2016 Favorites!!
Sep05

August 2016 Favorites!!

compiled by:Leah T. Johnson/ColorBlind Magazine  It’s that time again!! Happy September and enjoy my August favorites!...

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