During the last 365 days of my life, I have reaped some of the greatest rewards in exchange for my pursuit to explore the unknown. I willfully walked out on faith to find a home in unfamiliar faces, places and experiences.

Let’s see: early in the year, I landed a feature with NBC Today for the stretch-marks photo that went viral, I got engaged in March, was a married woman in June, 2 days later, I relocated to Chicago from Houston, in August, I officially started my full time freelance career as an artist, in October I joined the Black Girl in Om team as visual content director – now the art director, I illustrated two published books with two amazing black women writers: Anisah a Ali + Alex Elle, I launched Lifestyle with Ivory + Ash: a stationary and home goods brand rooted in affirmations, mantras and illustrations for women of color, recorded my first podcast, officially joined the BGIO podcast as a co-host, scored a feature by Instagram, re-launched my website, became a blogger, traveled to New York +  Mexico for the first time, and successfully branded myself as a photographer, illustrator and “influencer”.

it was an exceptional year to say the least. ’16 ignited an undeniable fire inside of me. It will forever be exalted as the year I came into my own as an unapologetic black woman creative + black creative entrepreneur. I walked into 2016 with a desire to be used by God in the most unconventional ways, learning to trust Him with all of me. And as a result: I’m exiting this phase of my life with a heart filled with gratitude and an awareness of self.

This year, I managed to speak over my life with affirmations that catapulted my career and confidence as a creative entrepreneur. I reacted to every vision revealed to me by doing what was necessary to make those visions tangible. I also realized that all of my desires manifested themselves in different ways at the appropriate time and that it all happened in God’s timing, God’s way.

Through my exchanges with different people in Chicago, I developed a sense of urgency and responsibility to be more intentional in my creative practices. I found satisfaction in creating art that reflected and resonated with women who look like me. God, so gracefully, revealed to me the necessity of my position as a black woman, artist: one who knows God, is loved by God + desires to please God.

I firmly believe in the power of my creator, the power of my tongue + the power of my mind. These are three things that I can confidently take from ’16:

  • I am capable of living the life I desire.
  • I  have a responsibility as a black artist to create spaces, experiences and art that reflects, inspires and educates people of color.
  • God can use me at ANY TIME for His glory.
  • I’ve come to discover just how exciting life can be when I approach God’s word as it is: the truth. God did not give me a spirit of fear. Life and death lies in the power of the tongue. For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. 〰 proverbs 2:6

I will continue to exude black joy, thankfulness and confidence in the new year. If ’16 is any indication of what my ’17 bout to look like: *flies across room* 20-selm-teen will be revolutionary, and of course lit den a mug.