My Thank You Letter to Naomi Osaka, Simone Biles & Simone Manuel for Declaring Their Self-Care Independence Unapologetically!

Hey Groovy Friend!

July was a powerful self-care month in the lives of three of my favorite women athletes, Naomi Osaka, a 23-year old Japanese-Haitian American world tennis champion and entrepreneur; Simone Biles, a 24-year old African-American Olympic gymnast; and Simone Manuel, a 24 year-old African-American Olympic swimmer. Each of these women of color have chosen to make their mental health, well-being, and self-care a priority. Watching them put themselves first above their demanding careers and public scrutiny has been a master class in what it means to embrace, embody, and express the radical self-care wisdom of African-American writer, womanist, and civil rights activist Audre Lorde: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.” I think we can all learn something from these self-care sheroes!

NAOMI OSAKA

Photo Credit: TIME Magazine

After watching Naomi step away from the French Open and withdraw from Wimbledon to prioritize her mental health, I read her essay in TIME and watched her Netflix documentary. Her courage to be vulnerable with herself and willingness to share her vulnerability on the world stage filled my heart with deep gratitude. Gratitude because here is a woman who clearly has her own personal issues (like the rest of us) and is deeply engaged in her own wellness journey, stepping out and shining a light on a topic most of society is hesitant to acknowledge, discuss, and address. In her TIME essay, she writes, “I do hope that people can relate and understand it’s OK to not be OK; and it’s OK to talk about it.”

SIMONE BILES

Photo Credit: Health Magazine

Naomi’s decision to speak openly, honestly, and from her heart inspired Simone Biles (“Simone B.”) when she decided to withdraw from the final individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games. During one of her interviews, Simone encouraged other athletes to “put mental health first, because if you don’t, then you’re not going to enjoy your sport and you’re not going to succeed as much as you want to.” She also reassured them, “it’s OK sometimes to even sit out the big competitions to focus on yourself, because it shows how strong of a competitor that you really are, rather than just battle through it.” Her mental health activism stems directly from the deep commitment she has made to herself to get help when needs it. In her most recent interview with Health Magazine, she shares how she uses the support of a psychologist, her family, and her boyfriend to navigate her life and career.

It is worth noting that after Simone B. followed her own mind and took a week to rest and focus on her mental health, she decided to return to the Tokyo Olympics and compete in the balance beam final on August 3, 2021. Once again, she has shown women and girls of color and all people how to love, honor, and nurture oneself. Her decision and actions illustrate what it means to be an IN-POWERED HUMAN BEING. A person who is able to put being before doing to honor their own mental health, well-being, and self-care. In the end, she came back on her own terms and won a Bronze medal!

SIMONE MANUEL

Photo Credit: TYRxSIMONE Collection

Like Naomi and Simone B., Simone Manuel (“Simone M.), represents a new wave of women of color who are using their global platform to champion mental health, well-being, and self-care as they express their own vulnerability and how they are nurturing themselves. Last year, Glamour Magazine interviewed Simone M. about the importance of mental health. Check out her candid response: “Mental health is so crucial because it contributes to how you navigate through this world and what you think of yourself. I’ve been seeing a sports psychologist since I was 15 and I use that to talk about my experiences as a Black swimmer and a Black woman in this world. I think that it genuinely has helped me be able to handle some of the hardships or the experiences that I’ve dealt with in my life. It’s such a powerful, powerful tool to be able to exercise your mind and strengthen your mind.”

Throughout the interview, she gives an inside look into her self-care which includes two of my favorite mindfulness practices, meditation and journaling. She urges us to resist numbing our feelings. She also reassures us that it’s okay to feel and talk about our emotions and listen to our bodies. I know she was following her own advice when she took a break from training after being diagnosed with overtraining syndrome earlier this year.

THE GEN Z + GEN X CONNECTION

When I look at these three 20-something women who represent my niece Jordan’s Gen Z generation and their self-care journey, I realize we share a similar path. As a 56 year-old African-American woman who sometimes self-identifies as a Gen X member, I remember what it felt like to be an overachieving stressed and time-pressed lawyer and investment banker in my late 20s and early 30s. My self-worth was tied to my career. When my career didn’t produce the success I expected, my mental health and well-being were nonexistent. With the support of my parents, family, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority sisters, Howard University School of Law and Georgetown University Law Center classmates, friends, and a therapist, I started to recognize how important it was to ground myself in self-care. It became the foundation for how I currently live my life. It also inspired me to express my creativity as a writer and an artist-in-residence for Smith Center for Healing and the Arts at Howard University Hospital and Walter Reed National Military Hospital. In addition, it led me to study and become a certified yoga and meditation teacher, a reiki master and sound healing practitioner, and a digital wellness educator. Today, I am blessed to use my experience and expertise in my work with people of all ages who are struggling with self-care as the Chief Mindfulness Officer of my wellness company, Ananda Leeke Consulting, and the founder of the Thriving Mindfully Community and Academy.

As I closed out July, I decided to write a thank you to letter Naomi, Simone B., and Simone M. for showing up as their REAL selves. Check out what I had to say.

Dear Naomi, Simone B., and Simone M.,

Your courage to stand up, speak your truth from your heart, say HELL NO to society’s hustle culture, and say HELL YES to your mental health, well-being, and self-care has become a powerful gift to all of us Black and Brown women, women of color, all women and girls, and folks on Mother Earth.

You are showing many of us how to declare our self-care independence unapologetically.

Your choice to honor yourself on the global stage is helping some of us see what it means to be vulnerable, loving, kind, gentle, and compassionate with ourselves. When we see you, we are able to look in the mirror and see folks who look just like us claim and practice their birthright of mental health, well-being, and self-care.

Without even knowing it, you are helping us all recommit ourselves to a healthier life mission. One where we are humans being instead of humans doing. One that carves out a public pathway to self-care beyond survival, the very thing Dr. Maya Angelou spoke about in her ancestral wisdom statement: “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive.”

One last thing! I wrote a poem, “What’s Next: A Lifeline to Stop Doing, Start Being” that expresses what this thank you letter could not. Watch a video of me reading it below.

Deeply grateful,

Ananda

Check out the IG Live conversation I had with Xina Eiland, President of X+PR, co-founder of Unmute, and co-host of the Get Found Get Funded podcast on August 1, 2021, about the impact of Naomi, Simone B., and Simone M.’s decision to prioritize their mental health and self-care.

SELF-CARE SUPPORT FOR READERS

Just in case you need self-care support, I invite you to do three things.

  1. Go here to take my self-care survey (4 easy questions that take less than 5 minutes to answer).
  2. Click here to claim your complimentary membership in my Thriving Mindfully Community, a digital sacred space that inspires you to nurture, transform, and celebrate your life and career.
  3. If you wanna deepen your wellness commitment and expand your personal growth journey with my support, join me for the Thriving Mindfully Academy’s Master Class on August 4th at 8–9:15 PM ET or August 7th at 1–2:15 PM ET. Click on the links below.

-Buy your ticket here for the Thriving Mindfully Academy’s Master Class on August 4th at 8–9:15 PM ET

-Buy your ticket here for the Thriving Mindfully Academy’s Master Class on August 7th at 1–2:15 PM ET

Happy Internet Geek Tuesday: Using My Digital Influence to Fundraise for ZuriWorks

Photo Credit: ZuriWorks.org
Photo Credit: ZuriWorks.org

Happy Internet Geek Tuesday!

Tomorrow marks my 49th birthday. This year, I am using my digital influence to raise money for ZuriWorks for Women’s Health, a nonprofit organization that offers beauty, arts and health programs to enhance the quality of life for women of color impacted by cancer. ZuriWorks also works to educate women of color about their health and to improve their survivorship rates.

Photo Credit: ZuriWorks.org
Photo Credit: ZuriWorks.org

I learned about the organization from my digital sister Xina Eiland, President of X+PR, when she began working with its founder, Andrene Taylor on several events earlier this year. I became an instant fan after watching Andrene’s moving video about her cancer journey and the amazing support ZuriWorks has been able to provide to women of color living with cancer. These women reminded me of my two grandmothers, Dorothy Johnson Gartin and Frederica Stanley Roberts Leeke, who lived with breast cancer. I wish they had access to ZuriWorks’ programs.

That’s why I am using the next two weeks (from December 17 to December 31) to invite my family, friends, and digital community to make a donation to ZuriWorks in honor of my birthday and the holiday season. Click here to make a donation. Any amount counts ($5, $10, $15, $20, $25 or more). Thank you in advance for your generosity!

Ananda speaks at Spelman College’s Leadership & Women of Color Conference

Social Media Panel featuring Roland Martin, Patricia Cesaire, James Andrews, and Ananda Leeke — Photo Credit: Lauren Brown Jarvis

Greetings All!

Last week was filled with Georgia peach sweet adventures during my trip to Spelman College’s Leadership and Women of Color Conference, a professional development opportunity for women aspiring to be leaders as well as those who are in leadership positions. The conference theme was “Leading with Purpose.” It was organized under the leadership of Dr. Jane E. Smith,  Executive Director, Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement at Spelman.  Click here to learn more about the conference.

My favorite moments from the conference included:

  • Hearing Dr. Beverly Tatum speak about composite mentoring during the conference opening.
  • Interviewing Tiffani Gatlin, founder of Tastemaker Magazine on day one of the conference. Click here to listen to the interview.
  • Attending the Book Fair and speaking with my digital sister Deborah Owens, “The Wealth Coach,” about her book, A Purse of Your Own (and having her sign my copy of the book!)
  • Hearing Dr. Tatum talk about H.O.P.E. = Having Optimism Produces Effort. Timeless wisdom!
  • Chatting with Dr. Nicole LaBeach and purchasing her book, A Woman’s True Purpose at the Book Fair (getting the Choose Yourself t-shirt too!).
  • Meeting people like Nicole Roberts  Jones, CEO of iDEFINE, during the Legacy of Leadership Awards Dinner.
  • Listening to the empowering words of the Legacy of Leadership awardees Shinae Chun,  Former Director, Women’s Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor; Evelyn Lowery,  Founder, SCLC W.O.M.E.N.; Monica Pearson,  News Anchor, WSB-TV, Channel 2; and Vivian Stringer, Women’s Basketball Coach,  Rutgers University.
  • Chatting one-on-one with Vivian Stringer about social media after the Legacy of Leadership Awards Dinner.
  • Having breakfast with my new digital sister Lynn Shareef, a proud Spelman alumna.
  • Learning from Dr. Kym Harris,  President & CEO, Your SweetSpot Coaching & Consulting, during the Coaching Breakfast.
  • Being inspired by the Testimonies from the Field session featuring Kathleen McGhee-Anderson (Spelman Alumna),  Writer/Producer, TV/Film/Theater; Alisha  Thomas Morgan, Georgia State Representative (Spelman Alumna); Tisha Tallman, President  & CEO of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of  Commerce; and Jue Wong, CEO, Astral Health &  Beauty, Inc.
  • Attending a leadership development workshop facilitated by Tai Beauchamp,  CEO/On-Air Host, BluePrint Group, LLC.
  • Meeting Dr. Tatum, Dr. Jane E. Smith, and Patricia Cesaire, Director of Social Media at Black Enterprise.
  • Seeing the Faith Ringgold exhibit at the Spelman Museum of Fine Art during one of the breaks. AWESOME! Ms. Ringgold is one of my favorite artists. Love her memoir too!
  • Hanging out with some of my favorite social media peeps: Lauren Brown Jarvis (Spelman student), Lauren Thomas, and James and Sherrelle Andrews.
  • Sharing my experiences and lessons learned as a blogger and the Digital Sisterhood Network founder during the Social Media Panel.
  • Spending time with the awesome Spelman Media team: Tomika DePriest, Terrilyn Simmons, Joyce Davis, and Kia Smith
  • Meeting my new NYC sistalove Theresa at the end of the conference and chatting about our favorite moments.

Social Media Panel – James Andrews, Ananda Leeke, Patricia Cesaire, and Roland Martin

On day two of the conference, I served as a panelist for the Social Media Panel – Purposeful Posts: How Social Media Can Shape Your Leadership Brand.  Click here to learn more about the panel discussion.  Journalist Roland Martin moderated the panel.  Patricia Cesaire, Director of Social Media at  Black Enterprise, and James Andrews, Founder of SocialPeople.TV, served as panelists.  During the panel discussion, I shared my experiences as  a blogger and the Digital Sisterhood Network founder, insights on taking care of yourself online with a digital diet, tips on how to use social media tools, and the power of women online.

Check out several tweets about my comments below.

Lynn Shareef
Lynn Shareef@lynnshareef

#anandaleeke it’s about the quality of the social media conversation

SC Women of Color
SC Women of Color @SpelmanWOCConf

.@anandaleeke advises us to take good care of ourselves. You can overdose on social media. Go on a social diet. #SpelmanWOCC #fb

Beverly Daniel Tatum
Beverly Daniel Tatum@BDTSpelman

@TastemakerMag RT! @anandaleeke says sometimes you have to be on digital diet #SpelmanWOCC

Joyce E. Davis
Joyce E. Davis@enjoyceinglife

@anandaleeke scheds tweets & says shes #radioshack girl likes real cameras > #instagram, sold 4 $1B-@jamesandrews #SpelmanWOCC #SocialMedia

Spelman College
Spelman College@SpelmanCollege

@awarriorssoul: @anandaleeke determines her tools based on where she is, how much time available, quality of convo #SpelmanWOCC #socialmedia

Spelman College
Spelman College@SpelmanCollege

RT @JSmithSpelman: @anandaleeke says she has suffered from #tech schizophrenia but also goes on digital diets  #socialmedia #SpelmanWOCC

mikkdepriest
mikkdepriest@mikkdepriest

@anandaleeke says writing her first book led her to blog. #SpelmanWOCC

Dr. Jane Smith
Dr. Jane Smith@JSmithSpelman

#digitalsisterhood is the brand @anandaleeke has developed via her #digitalsisterhood network. #SpelmanWOCChttp://via.me/-17jmtak

Lynn Shareef
Lynn Shareef@lynnshareef

#spelmanwocc woman are a powerful presence in the digital world #anandaleeke digital sisterhood! 69million strong

Jacquie Hood Martin
Jacquie Hood Martin@Jhoodmartin

#AnandaLeeke says take time away from social media as not to become ‘a social media schizophrenic’ it’s ok to back away #SpelmanWOCC

Jacquie Hood Martin
Jacquie Hood Martin@Jhoodmartin

Women view the Internet like its ‘social tv’ we use it as a mean of community and connectivity says #AnandaLeeke #SpelmanWOCC

Here are more photos from the conference. Enjoy!

Ananda, Joyce Davis, and James Andrews

Roland Martin and Tomika DePriest

Tastemaker Magazine founder Tiffini Gatlin and Ananda

Tai Beauchamp’s Leadership Development Workshop

Ananda and Deborah Owens

Ananda is speaking at 8th Annual Spelman College Leadership and Women of Color Conference in May

Photo Credit: Spelman College

Guess who is going to speak at Spelman College in May?  Yours truly!  I AM SUPER EXCITED!  It will be my second time speaking at Spelman.  Last year, I spoke at the Digital Doyennes event sponsored by Spelman’s Digital Moving Image Salon and the Women in Film & Television Atlanta.

So here are the details about my May visit.  I will be speaking on a panel with Patricia Cesaire of Black Enterprise, James Anderson of SocialPeople.tv, and Roland Martin of CNN, that will discuss how social media can help women shape their leadership brand at Spelman’s 8th Annual Leadership and Women of Color Conference on May 17. Check out the Pinterest board I created about personal leadership brand (will add more information in April and May).

The Leadership and Women of Color Conference begins on May 16 with an opening session on Leading with Purpose and the Legacy of Leadership Awards Dinner.  A networking breakfast, opening session with testimonies from the field, and panel discussions, and workshops will be held on May 17. Click here to see the full schedule.

Speakers include Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, Dr. Jane E. Smith, Tai Beauchamp, Josefina Bonilla, Henna Inam, Angela Fletcher, Katherine Giscombe, Kym A. Harris, Nicole Roberts Jones, Kathleen McGhee-Anderson, Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan, Deborah Owens, and Andrea Riggs. Click here to register for the conference.

Be sure to follow Spelman and the Conference on Twitter @SpelmanCollege and @SpelmanWOCConf.

Miriam Muley’s Powerful Blogalicious 2010 Presentation on Marketing to Women of Color

Blogalicious 2010 began with a powerful presentation on marketing to women of color by Miriam Muley, President/CEO of The 85% Niche and author ofThe 85% Niche: The Power of Women of All Colors, Latina, Black, and Asian.  The title of Muley’s presentation was “Unleashing the Power of Women of Color.”

I learned so many  facts about my power as a woman of color in America (see below).

  • Women of color are incredibly entrepreneurial.
  • Women of color are the quintessential market.
  • 9 out of 10 out the new females in the last decade are Latina, Black or Asian.
  • Women of color have $1 trillion in purchasing power! That means women of color’s purchasing power is equal to Brazil’s gross domestic product. We got some deep pockets!
  • Black women are the crown jewel in the women of color purchasing power: $500 billion.
  • 56% of women of color are the prime decision makers in their households.
  • Women of color are increasingly well-educated: 43% Asian, 17% Black, and 11% Latina.
  • Businesses owned by women of color are the fasting growing segment of the US economy.
  • Women of color are pioneers in business.
  • 42% of a majority-owned businesses are owned by women of color.
  • Women of color businesses generate $230 billion in sales.

Check out the video (1 hour 3 minutes – totally worth watching) below.