The Shortest Brief Ever

I don’t like the “perfect” box.

I have spoken about this before, but reflecting on some things in my past made this come RIGHT BACK UP. I was also listening to India Arie Simpson (One of my FAVORITE artists ever) speak about today’s subject (AUTHENTICITY) on her IG live on 7/3/20.

I don’t like when people live in highlight reels or show this front like everything is always ok. IT’S NOT. One of the greatest gifts, as a teacher, that I gave my students what modeling authenticity. Showing them that you can endure even when you aren’t alright. They got to see my smile return. That teaches that you can endure and come out too. You don’t have to “put on aires” or filter your face because you are in ANY position.

Now, I know that certain positions have to sort what needs to be shared as a part of the role & duties of the position. I get that. But if it ain’t authentic… I WANT NO PART. Not. One. Part. There is no amount of money worth authenticity or PEACE.

I know when my spirit is off. If I need a moment, grace, or an ear and you don’t have the capacity – say that. However, do not ever (again) expect me to wear a costume over my moment. Not enough makeup to make over this truth. Henceforth and forever…




Pandemic Implosion

“If it were easy, it would be done already.” – Me to Me.

I haven’t published a blog since April 2020. I didn’t follow the schedule that I gave myself… two blogs a month. I had good reason. It started during my spring break. I had plans… to clean, rest, and read. At the end of said Spring Break… COVID shut down America. Initially, I thought… surely… this will get fixed. With all of the genius scientists and medical professionals – who have my utmost respect – we will be out for a bit (like the floods) and then we will regain our footing. THAT DID NOT HAPPEN. Despite current outside activity, we are STILL dealing with said pandemic. The current reported number of positive cases in the county in which I reside is 19, 739, per The Weather Chanel Application. I still remember when the number was only showing around 1,000. I don’t want to get into the meddling thoughts about the validity of the reporting, because I know people who have personally endure this illness. The point is… it’s not gone.

I am a school teacher. Life was very different at the end of the semester. I am not only a teacher, I teach students who need a reading champion. This posed EXTRA trauma. I knew my babies. I knew them well. I knew who could push through and look for the light behind the clouds, knew which ones would use this to not read… because they simply don’t like to (read) anyway, and I knew the ones who wanted to be anywhere safe. I need you to read that as “home wasn’t the most stable place for them”. Not to mention… school is the social foundation for many students. All of that got snatched up in the name of safety. I don’t regret it, I am just speaking to the truth of the moment. Then.. there is the entire reality that parents were dealing with adulting, facilitating lessons, navigating jobs in and outside of the home (and the loss of said jobs), finding toilet paper, not running out of food, making sure the internet fueled devices, and not getting infected while juggling fire. In this environment, the parents became my primary contact and lifeline to my students. Oh yea, I still have other leadership duties to quickly adjust to, an internship that all but came to a screeching halt, and my only real social life line was electronic.

Two weeks into the nightmare that is COVID, I freaked out. About a month and a half into said nightmare the first of May loomed. This is where I know the Lord is real. I should have been a spinning top by then. While I had my moments, I didn’t crumble completely. In the middle of all of this, an unexpected blessing walked into my life.


I’ll get to that in another blog… much later. Just know this, when you aren’t use to blessings and they show up… you meet them with shock and disbelief. Like God, “is that You? I mean… cause… if not… I mean, did you hear THAT prayer??”.

On the back end I interviewed for a job. Second interview in a few months. I didn’t get the job. My Peace – I want what God has for me. If it wasn’t for me, no need in getting all huffed up about it. I can’t quote Jeremiah 29:11 all the time and then not trust Him with there is a plot twist.

Then, enter a plethora of racially motivated police killings. This is not up for debate. It happened. #JusticeforBreyonnaTaylor and #JusticeforGeorgeFloyd . The video from Mr. Floyd’s execution went viral fast. It ignited fires – literally. The country, in the middle of a pandemic, was on fire. The embers had been lit for A LONG TIME. Marches, riots, confusion, anger, strong emotions, and a sudden swell took to the streets.

This is why it’s taken so long to write this. I was mad. I was tired. EXHAUSTED. I am weary of BLACK people still being viewed as disposable. Still being seen as less than human. Still dying instead of being worthy of deescalation. Instead of going before judges, BLACK people are dying in the streets, in their own homes, and jogging in their neighborhood. The image of blackness has long held a stigma to people who aren’t black.

The reality of White Privilege also resurfaced. Just for clarity, White Privilege doesn’t mean you are racist. It means that in your life the negative things you encountered weren’t attributed to your skin color or ethnicity. It permeates many industries. Have you ever had to question whether or not your child’s name will block their resume or job application for consideration? Have you ever been followed in a store – just because of your presence? Was your ancestral connection stripped from your culture by a dominant society? Were your hairstyles considered un-professional based on comparison to the dominant society? Was your dress code scrutinized because of your body type, but the same type of outfit allowed by another ethnic group or race? Has your body been sexualized even as a young child, based on other’s opinions and desires? Do you have to teach your children at a young age how to tolerate and survive people who don’t look like them?

If you want to see what privilege looks like on a visual scale google the marches and resistance to COVID. There were people, strapped with guns, on GOVERNMENT property. There were not mishandled by police. They weren’t maced or teargassed. Contrast that with peaceful Black Lives Matter marches. Now do you see? No? Ok.

These are a few things that categorize the situations that BLACK people – read anyone with a connection to Africa somewhere in their lineage- have had to face. I can’t think of a time that I wasn’t aware of my blackness. I have ALWAYS loved being black. However, I have always been aware that being black was criminalized in America. Not only here, but here is where I live.

So when the movement picked up speed again, I went inside. I didn’t choose to march. I chose to get trained to assist with voting drives and initiatives. I chose to have hard conversations with anyone who wanted to have them respectfully. I prayed, a lot. I cried. I started to filter what I could tolerate on social media.

We have a pandemic, summer, systematic racism, social distancing, people arguing about being told to put on a mask, some pulling rank on how to interpret people’s rights, and we are only SIX months into 2020.

I know we spoke clear vision and all of these awesome mantras in December 2019, but can we get a do-over on July-December 2020?

That’s a shot in the dark.

This is what I have for now. This is where we are. My grandmother died at 92 and dealt with the Civil Rights Movement personally. That stirs me. My multi-racial great grandfather was born in 1873. There are a lot of contributing factors to the way I react, my faith, and my peace. Aware. Protecting my peace – as fragile as it is sometimes… I am holding on for dear life.

Dear Summer…

Ivy Out


When sleep won’t find me…

I think a lot. I can overthink a lot too. Because of this, I PRAY A LOT.

There is something that brings me peace, especially when NOTHING is in my control:


Insert comical socially cool audible- “Periodt”. T for emphasis.

I have many questions. Honestly, I question truth – because it always stands, it can handle it. I question people – this doesn’t always turn out in reality like it does in my head. And yes, ladies and gentlemen, I QUESTION MYSELF.

When I find myself running on six cylinders, but only four are working well, my default is to stop all six. Over time, I have learned how much of a bad decision that is. I shouldn’t sacrifice the two because of the four. What I have shifted to, is making sure that I am one of the two first.

I have to keep my homeostasis if I am to correct, adjust, and adapt the malfunctioning “four”. I have to stop, pray and breathe. This isn’t always popular. It’s not for applause, it’s for maintenance. On a recent broadcast a few weeks ago… either Anthony Evans or Priscilla Shirer said you have to completely stop a thing to do maintenance. While that was a paraphrase, I think you get my point. Imagine trying change a flat without stopping the car. Go ahead, I’ll wait….




Not even possible.

So then why do we try to plow through, our maintenance? (By no means do I mean end life. Only that you stop long enough to hear through the noise. Stop and smell the roses.)

Once I have found my footing, stilled my heart and mind, and prayed, I can forgive myself. I can accept my decisions and indecisions, and correct forward.

It’s in times like these when the unknown can shake the little you thought you knew. Stop for maintenance. Listen to the Master Architect. He doesn’t need a manual, he created the blueprint. Once you’ve made the adjustments, the path will become a bit more clear. Even if its just the current view of your feet.



House or Hotel?

I realized something this weekend… I had been treating my house like a convenient hotel. Seriously, I pay my mortgage…so it wasn’t a free stay…but….

If you know me, you know that I am always doing SOMETHING. It’s for a good reason, but it still means that I am usually gone. I come to cook, eat, shower, play with my dog and sleep. Other than that… I  am gone. I don’t usually study at home, to avoid the distraction of doing other things. When I have meetings, I usually try to be somewhere I can focus on the meeting, and not multitask – or I’ll be present but mentally absent. As an unmarried woman, I don’t keep people hanging around my house that I am uncomfortable with. Peace is priceless, destroying that isn’t something I am up for. 


So… there are things that make it to my home…through time and space…that probably should have been donated, trashed, or repurposed. But on the go doesn’t leave a lot of time to declutter. Now, I clean, straighten, stack and the like… but I started stumbling across an old compact disc collection, old pictures, old poems, things that were framed that honestly were collecting dust. For only the second time in eight years… I open the windows, wiped down the window seal, and sat and stared outside. My second story window has quite a peaceful view. I aired out the room that held memories and books, pictures, and opportunity.

Subconsciously, I felt like I disrespected the space I worked so hard to get. I began to shift my thoughts to a prayer of gratitude. One, thanking God for the moment to slow down and realize my error. Secondly, I thanked him for the space I was in. There is something deep about that moment. I was simultaneously speaking with my sister who is in another state. We laughed about how different the climates were… but we also hit a really, really, powerful moment. I said something like this, “2020 forces transparency in a place shame probably used to hitchhike in my life.” 

There it is folks. When you stop long enough to pay attention… God is speaking clearly to you. I am a Jesus girl…through and through… but I can also be hardheaded. I’ll admit that. I can hear Him tell me to slow down and I can feel the rebuttal bubble up in my spirit. I hear it from my friend… (Hello Nyke)… and from my family (Hi Mom). I am not going to stop walking in purpose… but I am going to get back to my “getcholife” days. I am going to stop treating the house I prayed for, like a hotel I just stay at. I am working to make the peace I feel visually apparent. My eclectic taste is coming to my space – cue purple Livingroom end tables. More on that later. More green. Living green plants – that I have been nurturing for a year, and silk plants that will always keep me at peace – without the watering issue. I have been catching rainwater to feed my plants… the stuff from the faucet makes them wilt faster. (Message) I am making small consistent changes so that the space I occupy looks more like me – and not my Brown Twin. 

In life we select our choices. If we are not careful, subconsciously… we will repeat what we have seen with little regard for why we did that. The why is just as important as the method. I love my mom’s taste… she could buy my clothes forever… but our design and room aesthetic is different. For example… my mom loves lace doilies. I don’t. Not that I hate how my mother does things, I just do them differently. That’s a word… insert a praise clap…God uniquely designed YOU to be an original. Don’t die a clone. 

Ivy Out


In the Shadow of HIS light.

This is a woman who has made many mistakes. This is a woman who has celebrated lots of victories. This is a woman who asks a million questions. This is a woman who appreciates healing. This is a woman who cried, TODAY. This is a woman who has been poured into. This is a woman who pours out.

This entire blog was inspired by two things.

One: The life of Dr. Lois Evans.

I never got to meet her in person, but I met several people that she personally impacted. I thought I would get to meet her at Chrystal Evans Hurst’s Sister Circle Retreat – which was AMAZING, but she was unable to attend. While she couldn’t attend, she spoke to us via phone several times. Even in the fight of her life, she was encouraging us. I CRIED EACH TIME. You see cancer has plowed through my family as well. When I watched my SUPERDAD fight it, I worked REALLY hard to life faith first. Even when I knew God was going to call him home. Today, after avoiding it for as long as I could, I listed to the video of Dr. Tony Evans preaching the eulogy. I think I cried through almost all of it. I cried because I hurt for them and I cried because I remembered my pain. Cried because when he said she saw her parents, I remembered my dad telling me my grandmother and cousins had come. I cried because she kept the faith and stayed connected to God until she went to Glory and so had SUPERDAD. I cried because no one is immune to pain. One thing that stood out to me the most was just HOW impactful she is. She lived well. So help me God, I want someone to be able to say that about me when it’s my time to go. Dr. Evans spoke of how Paul fought the good fight, how Sis. Evans fought the good fight, and how if we are going to fight… it need be a good one. How much of the weight I hold has been carrying things that did not equate to a good fight? I am crying while typing… but it’s a slow sweet cry. I marvel at this woman who’s life is poured out as sheer magnificence. I remember videos that her daughters and granddaughter posted. Such a rich legacy of a woman who dedicated her life FOR HIS GLORY. To what honor do you give a woman, who even through a third party touch, has inspired you so? Real questions that need answers.

The Second: the shadow effect of this selfie.

Direct your attention to the only picture that will be posted with this blog. When you are directly in alignment with the sun, there is a shadow that is cast over you. The artist in me sees metaphors in a beautiful way. Lord let me align with your Light in such as way that I am a shadow of You. I want to face into HIM in a way that it’s no longer about personal glory, but His light and His glory in me. Through me. Any great thing I do, let it point back to HIM. Abba. God the Father, God the Son – Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit.

January can trigger a lot for a lot of people. I pray it renews a drive to seek after Him. A match that lights a fire for Christ that is redeeming in nature. While I am a well-dressed-mess, weird – and proud to be it, creative and quirky, passionate and purpose driven..I am a child of the Most High. Child- like inquisitive nature, question and answer seeking, and apologetic in my issues. I am no where near perfect. I don’t care to be perfect. In my humanity I relate to those I encounter – my sisters and brothers. I LOVE PEOPLE. I really do love people. Differences and Similarities. Cultures and Languages. The amazing gems of humanity are a plus in my book! Yet, I am also greatly annoyed by the choices of some people. I read somewhere… the people who are the hardest to love need love the most.

If I have to be in a shadow, I pray its in the Brilliant light of Christ. I pray that I live well, love well, and serve well. I pray you do too.

Ivy Out – #AuthenticallyAndonnia #andonniaspeaks

*As with any post, If you enjoy it, please comment and let me know your thoughts. I would love your respectful rebuttals as well. Feel free to comment, life, and subscribe. Sharing is caring. 🙂


Assign The Right Value

I haven’t mastered the art of “pretty blogs”. You know, the kind with all of the perfectly curated photos that assume the correct position on the page. What I HAVE done in the past six years is speak my truth. Sometimes it’s pretty and glorious – messages yelling “Yasss Queen!” loudly like a curly afro in full shea butter sheen and glory. Other times, my blog is painfully honest – posting mess ups, loud like red socks in white laundry. But it’s me.

While we are celebrating the entrance of 2020 – #newyearsameme – my mind meanders in the territory of VALUE. Yes, value. What’s the difference between a LBD (little black dress) from Target and one from Chanel? Well, the fashion house that is Chanel – who’s startup is denoted in a children’s book in my classroom, has built a NAME for itself. That name is synonymous with value and a high price tag. It’s still made of fabric. It’s still sown on a machine. IT’s still retailed. Yet because of exclusivity, the difference in price of both LBDs could be astronomical.

My pastor said something that is still ringing in my ears. Too many of us associate material wealth with success. (you can find the sermons here -> )

Are we throwing away people, places, and things because the idea of “success” means exclusion? Do we have to have the bigger to mean better? That doesn’t work with body size for most, but it works for cars and homes? I appreciate my body, but growing up… folks made is seem like bigger meant unhealthy. As if that is the only indicator. (In case you are wondering, it’s not.) Do we really have to compare to succeed? We have to change cars to show the world we have spent more money? We can’t have the same friends we had when we were broke because… it’s an indicator that we are still…broke?!

This is a broken mentality. The things that matter most don’t have a price tag. The piece of metal fashioned in a particular is still appealing with or without someone’s name on it. Why do we not value the work of our own hands like we do the works of others? When will we understand that we have the opportunity every day to determine what is valuable… who is valuable. We should put more heART into those thoughts.

If you call yourself a Christian, and you’ve bought into the theory that you have to discard people, something’s wrong with the way you are doing this thing. Jesus didn’t throw people away. He was the way, and he walked it out. HE loved on people. HE showed up for people. HE valued many that the popular majority did not. Think about that.

You can only use filters online. They don’t work in real life.

Ivy Out


Reflect and Reset

It can be easy to welcome a new year without really giving any regard for the year you are leaving. I have learned that it’s best practice to finish a year before another one starts.

So… I have created a self-care worksheet to help guide your reflection. It will provide just enough space to celebrate blessings AND LESSONS from 2019. Once you do that… you are free to really look at 2020 with clear vision.

It’s a whopping $1! It works great with digital platforms and can also be printed. It’s an instant download in my etsy shop. Feel free to share this with others.

Here to grow and glow with you!

Ivy Out

#andonniaspeaks #authenticallyandonnia #annlettered


Hard Lessons -PEOPLE

I remember certain people that, in my head, were root people. Meaning, I just knew they were lifetime connections. I could already see it. In my head I have been married, a mother, been on girl’s trips with bestfriends… had THAT job… in my head these things were going to happen.

In reality, not so much.

I had to learn not to mislabel people. It’s hard. Sometimes I would label a man “husband” when he wan’t even boyfriend. Didn’t mean he was a bad person, just wasn’t the reason he was in my life. I labeled some women sister or best friend and some were just acquaintances.

ALL CONNECTIONS TEACH. Some are lifetime connections and some are seasonal connections. That season may not change with winter or spring. Maybe it’s at a particular job or church – as long as you are in that space, then you are connected. Sometimes, that connection comes to reveal something in you. After the lesson is internalized and actualized, you notice the connection dissipates. Learn to let go.

Letting go is a skill.

Don’t be angry if calls slow or cease. Don’t kick up dust or throw stones. Acknowledge the season and move on.

Forever is a long time to hold fruit past its season.

Love, Light, and Truth,


Ivy Out



What makes you want to get up in the morning? What makes going to bed tired, whenever that is, worth it?

How much longer shall we punch the time clock of life while living casually?

I saw an almost wreck today. I immediately began to thank God that I wasn’t looking at the aftermath of the red light the jeep disregarded. Life can change THAT fast. It is not going to ask your permission. It is not going to wait for you to hit the breaks on bad decisions, or accelerate the good ones. Time is going to continue to push forward. What you do with the time you have, is up to you.

To me, living life without faith is like driving to an undisclosed location, without gps, full speed ahead.

You can argue with a lot of things, but that analogy should at least make you think.

What would you tell your child if you gave them instructions to go to the store, gave them your debit card and keys, but never gave them the directions to the store. Landmarks only work if they can be recognized.

2019 reminded me of some lessons I learned the hard way. I bought some really nice pieces, but sacrificed somethings I shouldn’t have. I sold some art, but not as much as I liked. I sold more t-shirts that I thought I would, but I didn’t track progressions like I know to. I said good bye to some people I wish I wouldn’t have had to. Longed for someone I shouldn’t have. I got up to preach and felt the weight of the failure – even though some got blessed by it. I produced poems that hit home for me, and me alone.

But I did it all.

I said the things.

I apologized – because you can not call yourself mature if you refuse to own when you mess up.

I said more hello’s to new people.

I was triggered by social media, and podcasts, and memories, and one particular therapy client.

Somewhere some good things happened.

Noir Bella Project expanded into a weekend retreat. I had one art show – and I am sooo grateful for that. I laid the groundwork for CONCRETE GLASS. I started teaching my 11th class of middle school readers. And for the life of me, I think there are more things… they don’t jump out at me.

But that’s how this goes. The negatives stick out more. They always do. So… let’s develop them. Helping people drives me. I seem to have diversified how I do it, but I now recognize that I have been walking in that since I was a little girl. I get to do it internationally soon. Stoked.

I was going to wait until Christmas to release my Reflect and Reset document… but I think I’ll release it earlier than expected. JUST NOT TODAY.

It will be a free document to guide you down memory lane. I believe strongly that you shouldn’t start a new year until you finish the one you are in. So before you crack open the 2020 calendars (except for the folks who are already #bookedandbusy and have 2020 dates already 😉 ), let’s wrap up what we have done, seen, and memories established in dear old 2019.

Will you be back to download the document? It’s free. Will you share this one with friends? If they subscribe now, they will get the notification as soon as it comes out – just like you.

Sharing is caring. Commenting helps too.

This almost ten year blog needs to connect with some new people. Help me do that. That part is free too.


When all else fails, learn.

No one likes to lose. Seriously, let’s be honest. When we put effort behind something and then it doesn’t work out the way you envisioned it, it’s the anvil that weighs you down. There’s just this little nagging truth. We learn a great deal when we lose.

Go ahead. Get mad at me. I knew it would happen. It’s not me, it’s the truth.

When I think about my 2019 I have two overwhelming feelings. One, I made some decisions that didn’t work. As in, I was warned and didn’t heed the warning. So, when these decisions didn’t end well for me… it hurt twice as bad. However, it forced me to reevaluate my thought process. It made me look at what my decisions prompted. Honestly, I am grateful for the thought interrupt. It was a detour that I needed to comprehend now. I don’t want to get to 2025 and have the same outcome. The only way to change the outcome is to change the actions and thoughts that got me there.

The second overwhelming feeling I have is GRATITUDE. I don’t look like what I have been through. Sincerely, most of the battles I fought were not plastered publicly. I doubt many of them were easily identifiable, even to the people closest to me. I had to reevaluate how I viewed my friends AND me as a friend.


Me, as a friend. It is very easy to become critical of the people you call friend based on what they do or don’t do. It’s another thing to look at one’s self and give that same energy. I had to realize that I don’t pick up the phone and call people like I should. Over the years, I think texting and social media became my cop-out way of checking on people. Then, when people began to institute digital wellness (i.e. logging off and really perfecting face (2 face) time…) then I lost connection. Not because feelings were lost, but because my cop out was tapped out. (Insert me waving a white flag) The other culprit, change of environment. Two years ago I changed churches. That seems like a big deal to some…because…black people don’t often change churches. Those who regularly attend and serve become loyal to the building as if God isn’t present in others. Yes, church sarcasm. You’ll be ok. I am saying what some won’t. I still love my old church, but God told me to move on. I am super glad I did. What I was worried about, was staying connected to those I used to see weekly. I can admit that the connections aren’t the same, but I haven’t lost them. I just have to work harder to speak to them, since we don’t conveniently see each other weekly.

THERE’S THE REVELATION FOLKS… SHIPS are WORK. Friendship, Relationship, and any other ship that involves interaction and connection between two or more individuals. Even staying digitally connected to my blog audience is a struggle some times. Not because I don’t want to. The desire is ALWAYS present. My schedule, clear thoughts, planning and execution… those things don’t always align. Attached to the revelation is the fear that maybe I don’t measure up as a friend. Maybe I don’t reach out enough. Did something major happen and I missed it? Was I there when they needed me? Half the battle is showing up, did I? This is less about if it was noticed and more about the intention.

Hindsight is plenty clear. While I know I have some work to do, I did set out to be intentional about my connections about a year ago. Loosing #superdad in 2015 reminded me how precious life is. It put some of life’s great and horrible moments in perspective like a permanent contact lens. I am grateful for grace and mercy and friends that extend that to me. I then also extend that to them. I don’t think I am the only one who needs to work on intentional connections, re-connections, or learning when to let “well enough” be enough. Some people are good and just NOT going with you into your next season.

Say it with me friends, “Just let them go”. I know. I’ll be the bad guy for the truth. We have to honor seasons. Believe it or not, they change without your permission. Some of the people who were closest to you in previous seasons will not be adding your to their Christmas card list. (Non-Shameless Plug… want custom Christmas Cards handmade for your circle> email , you can also check out work on and ) When the calls stop, the texts diminish, and the face time is non-existent, say a prayer for their good and move ON. Not because you dislike them or harbor ill will, the page turned. The page WILL turn on some people. It’s ok. LEARN.

The loudest lessons this year were taught when I fell, cried, prayed, screamed, and just went to sleep because at the time… that’s all I could do. I don’t profess to have all the answers. I wouldn’t want that burden anyway. I do know how to pray. When people connect with me for prayer – I take that seriously. The mess ups prompt me to pray too. Urgent and Life altering prayers like… “fix it Jesus” and “I surrender Lord”. I know that when I mess up, my default is shifting to JESUS. I know that not every amazing event will include space for me – but that doesn’t change the fact that the event is dope. Not being included used to make me feel some kind of way… one of those lessons showed me that it’s usually not anything personal. So, I learned.

Some won’t like this. That’s ok too. Welcome to Some of the opinions of the author will not be accepted as general consensus. It’s supposed to be that way.. group think doesn’t go with my heart. (get it.. this (insert thing) doesn’t go with my outfit… )

When you don’t win, you learn. You should. Reflect and grow. Tis the season.

Ivy Out.