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Jeff Elkins
Jeff Elkins
Me Time

We Don’t Know Who Needs to Hear This, But…

Here’s wisdom from Oprah, Iyanla, Valorie Burton and others to help you navigate life’s pivot points with courage and grace today.

Ready for life’s next chapter? Self-help books have been around for ages, but personal growth titles for Black women first boomed in the ’80s. We learned to find The Value in the Valley and follow Sacred Pampering Principles from sister gurus who instructed us, our aunties and our moms on how to launch our best lives. Now’s an excellent time to refresh that reading list. We’re older and wiser now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still use a little encouragement and advice to get us through a tough day or closer to a goal in our sights. These inspiring books definitely make being good-and-grown even better.

Here’s what to read …

When you need to step into your greatness
The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose
by Oprah Winfrey

If you could use a daily dose of Oprah — and who couldn’t? — this book gives you a taste of her sure voice, plus life lessons taken from interviews with dozens of notables: RuPaul, Cicely Tyson, T.D. Jakes, Jimmy Carter plus spiritual leaders and trail blazers from all faiths, cultures and experiences. Their words of wisdom, interspersed among breathtaking color photographs, make for an easy, inspiring read. It’s a book that you can dip into anywhere to scoop up inspiration.
Sister wisdom:
“We fall off course the minute our intention shifts from following our heart to responding to what we think others believe…. The goal is to get back to living for yourself, to get back to your flow. That is not a selfish thing. It’s an honorable thing.”

When you need to hang tough
The Warrior Code: 11 Principles to Unleash the Badass Inside of You
Tee Marie Hanible with Denene Millner

If you didn’t watch Fox’s military competition reality TV show American Grit, you may have slept on Tee Marie Hanible. The retired Marine gunnery sergeant has an inspiring come-up story that includes foster care, military reform school and elite combat training. Now an entrepreneur and philanthropist, Hanible shares her personal experiences and tells us how to get some grit, know your big reason, and get out of your own way. Each chapter includes Warrior Work pages designed to help you affirm your strengths and map your way back to your inner badass.
Sister wisdom:
“Mistakes are going to happen … But folding into yourself and hiding after you make one — or one hundred! — won’t make things better or right. Squaring your shoulders, holding your head up high and embracing the lessons you’ve learned from your mistakes are what make you grow. They’re what make you strong.”

When you’re ready to reclaim your time
It’s About Time: The Art of Choosing the Meaningful Over the Urgent
by Valorie Burton

You have to be twice as good and work twice as hard. It’s a mantra we’ve all heard and heeded, so sisters who want success stay on the grind. But are we doing what’s meaningful? And is it important to us? Elite life coach Burton shows us how to break from the demands of societal expectations, technology’s pull and the addictive work-til-you-drop mentality that’s sucking up our time and our mental and emotional bandwidth. She offers advice on how to start living timelessly by taking inventory of what you do with your time and taking steps to reclaim it.
Sister wisdom:
“Here’s the thing. The first step to getting unstuck from poor choices is telling yourself the truth. Too often, the truth scares us, and so we pretend all will be well and march forward as though the consequences will not catch up with us.”

When you need a kick in the skirt seams
Get Over It!: Thought Therapy for Healing the Hard Stuff
By Iyanla Vanzant

Iyanla has long been our go-to girlfriend for sister-savvy advice. Now she’s offering gloves-off counsel to help you face your toughest adversary: you. In her latest book, she encourages us to stop the blame-and-excuses cycle and face up to our own subconscious DNTPS, dominant negative thought patterns. She helps us identify 42 familiar habits — anger, bitterness, pride, helplessness and more — and offers prayers and affirmations to reverse each of them. Vanzant’s system of thought therapy helps us break the patterns that keep us in suffering mode.
Sister wisdom:
“Once you become aware that something exists, you are required to acknowledge it. Acknowledgement is, therefore, the conscious and/or verbal recognition of what you know and understand now. It is an act of courageous ownership that requires a willingness to tell the radical truth about what is going on and your role in the unfolding events.”

When you want to make bold moves
Let Your Fears Make You Fierce: How to Turn Common Obstacles into Seeds for Growth
By Koya Webb

Holistic health coach and yoga instructor Webb says, “The root of all negative emotions is fear.” The first part of the book helps us identify four common fears — failure, judgement, change or being the first — that hold us back from achieving our full potential. This book is her guide for recognizing them and pushing through them toward the freedom of fearlessness. Each chapter includes health care and healing practices, including yoga poses to get your mind and body aligned, breathing techniques, meditation instructions, time management advice and even dietary tips.
Sister wisdom:
“There is energetic power in affirmation! Saying it, believing it and feeling it to be true changes the energy around you and raises your vibration. By changing your vibration from what you don’t want to what you do want, you’ll be in alignment energetically and attract more people, places and things that align with that energy — and your end goal.”

When you’re ready to squash the haters
More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say)
by Elaine Welteroth

You and your daughter may know Elaine Welteroth as the editor who woke up Teen Vogue and for her cameo on Black-ish. But she learned some grown-woman lessons on her journey to the top of the fashion magazine food chain and shares her thoughts on navigating race, identity, success and self-worth. The take-away: The key to life’s inevitable ups and downs is to be patient and true to yourself.

Sister wisdom:
“We are all born with a sense of possibility and limitlessness. This is before the labels are placed upon us, those social stratifications of race, gender, sexuality and status that start to shape our idea of who we are and that can often erode the dreams of what we can become. We are also born with a certain indestructability that can withstand every one of those tests — if only we recognize it. And it is the power of our own possibilities that keeps us fighting to get back to who we were born to be.”

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Jeff Elkins