communique Magazine Special Women's Edition

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Table of




Trademark Like a Boss


2019 Miss Teen USA Latina Bianca Figueroa


Stop working so Hard


The Legal Fabric of a Female Owned Businesses


The Journey of a Serial Entrepreneur


Claim Your Power


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Drug Addiction: My Downward Spiral to Freedom




Angelia Cross Cobb: Cut from a Different Cloth


How To Be A Formidable Woman


Felicia Garrett, LPC: The Key to a Renewed Perspective


Healing from Toxic Relationships with 4 Key Steps


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from the Editor T

hank you for taking the time to read this special March 2021 edition dedicated to the fabric of a woman. While March 8th is International Women’s Day and the month of March is used to celebrate women’s history, the fabric of a woman can never be identified or celebrated in a span of one month.

Recognizing the history and achievements of women in all facets of life is vital for the development of self-respect and new opportunities for girls and all women. Yes, this is an amazing year, one where we celebrate the first African American female Vice President, but this accomplishment only highlights the power of women. There is a reason that we are the life carriers, the life birthers, and the life nurturers. However, it is the weight of the fabric of a woman that if it is not checked, balanced, and adjusted regularly in the journey of life, can be the very weight that destroys her. On the following pages, you will see women of all ages and global stages that will inspire you and pull back the curtains of their success. From women who have graced the covers of magazines to serial entrepreneurs and those recognized as the who’s who. From a teen beauty queen to a celebrity designer who has created fashions for Hollywood’s elite. You will also see women who appear to have it all while privately suffering from depression, failed relationships, miscarriages, and all matters of loss. We are beautiful creatures that often wear painted-on smiles while balancing the weight of the world on our shoulders. What I hope you will find is that regardless of the beauty of these women, their record-breaking success, or numerous accolades, each one is very much like you and me. More importantly, I hope you find yourself in their stories and find your second wind to press forward. All things are possible to him (or her) that believes.

Here’s to your success,

-Alesha Brown, The Joy Guru Managing Editor & Celebrity Writer, communiqué Magazine


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Trademark Like a Boss

By Radiance Harris, Esquire

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My name is Radiance Harris and I live in Frederick, Maryland. I am the Founder and Managing Attorney of Radiance IP Law. At Radiance IP Law, we help six and seven-figure entrepreneurs and businesses nationwide protect, monetize, and leverage profitable brands with trademarks. Our mission is to help 20,000 businesses protect their trademarks.

Last November, Radiance IP Law celebrated five years in business. My biggest win was achieving six figures in my second year in business and continuing to grow steadily since then. The biggest advice that I can give to entrepreneurs and business owners is to protect your trademarks before launching your new business, product, or service. People mistakenly believe that having a limited liability company, purchasing a domain name, or securing the social media handle means that they legally own their business name. With digital media, business owners are extremely vulnerable to theft if they don’t legally protect their business name, brand name, tagline, and/ or logo from the start.

I knew I wanted to be a lawyer when I was 15 years old and I became the first lawyer in my family. After graduating from Swarthmore College for undergrad and the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, I started my legal career at the world’s largest law firm where I counseled and represented Fortune 200 companies on all aspects of trademark law. After working at a big law firm for several years, I transitioned 2020, over 738,000 trademark to a smaller reputable intellectual property In boutique law firm and did the same kind of applications were filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It was a record year work. for trademarks, which is amazing. It means Although I enjoyed the work that I did and that businesses are starting to understand the clients I served, I was not a fan of the at record numbers that they need to protect traditional rigid law firm or high billable their assets or they will lose money and hour model, and neither were clients. business opportunities. We are also seeing Therefore, without a business plan, any trademarks discussed more in popular clients, or hardly any savings or back up culture which has heightened education plan, I launched my law firm, Radiance IP and awareness about the importance of Law, to offer big law firm experience and securing trademark protection. highly-specialized trademark law expertise to small and emerging businesses at flat rates. I help businesses obtain trademark registrations from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.


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My biggest challenge has been staying true to my path and purpose while not becoming distracted by shiny objects and what my competitors are doing. To learn more about trademarks, check out my bestselling book, Trademark Like A Boss, which is available on Amazon and my website at If you’re interested in my trademark services, visit Connect with me on LinkedIn at and on Instagram at

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2019 Miss Teen USA Latina

Bianca Figueroa: The One Model Call that Changed My Life


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It all started with one model call that I decided to attend with a few friends, but little did I know that my life would change forever. Prior to this, I always struggled with self-confidence and I feel as though taking that step to put myself out there allowed me to find a passion to help others do the same. I am Bianca Figueroa. I was born on September 23rd, 2002 in Killeen, Texas. Although I was born in the states, my family tree is rooted in Carolina, Puerto Rico and my culture has been one of the most influential parts of who I am today. Growing up, my father was in the Army so, as most military families do, we moved around a lot. I’ve been to many places around the world like Germany, South Korea, and, of course, Puerto Rico to name a few. Even though I’ve lived in many places, I still say that I’m from Newport News, Virginia. Just like Puerto Rico, this place has molded me into who I am as a person and I’ve spent the majority of my life here. Ultimately it has become my second home. As a child, like many others, I had quite a few dream occupations like a dancer, singer and, at one point in my life, I wanted to follow in communiqué Magazine

my dad’s footsteps and join the army too. As I entered my teenage years, I became heavily involved in different types of art. I started runway modeling at 15 years of age and quickly noticed that everything was natural for me. This was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. I’ve always had an interest in expressing myself through different types of arts like poetry and painting, and modeling just so happened to be one of my life long dreams. After stepping out of my comfort zone by doing runway shows in different states, I decided to compete in the national pageant for Miss Teen U.S. Latina, where I represented the state of Virginia. Being that this was my first pageant, I didn’t expect to get as far as I did, but I won the crown! Winning Nationals opened up so many new opportunities and allowed me to expand my knowledge, business, and overall confidence. In March of 2019, at the age of 16, I opened a makeup business called Painted by Bianca. I began to gain a great amount of clientele and, shortly after, I had the privilege of providing makeup services for proms, weddings, photoshoots, and runway shows. I was very happy with how things were 9

going and I felt as though I was deep in my element actually doing what I loved. Unfortunately, one of the hardest decisions I had to make pertaining to my business was to either continue my work despite the current status of my mental health or take a break and perfect my craft. Going through life, I learned that it’s never okay to give up when you’re tired, but on the other hand, it’s okay to take a rest. At 16 I felt as though I was under a lot of pressure to get everything right that I didn’t take into count how that was affecting my business. There were many different obstacles put in my life and that led me to make the decision to back away to set priorities


and leave cosmetology school. During this time off, I was focused on my modeling career more than ever. Although I wasn’t a full-time makeup artist anymore, I wanted to branch off and continue to do things I was passionat about. I was featured in six magazines in total, two being Gezno Magazine and Gmaro Magazine. 2020, despite how hard it hit, I decided that I wasn’t going to let it take me down. One of the most influential people that has helped develop me into the person I am today is my pageant coach, Mardis Hall. He offered a lot of wisdom, but there’s one piece of advice that he gave me that will always stick:

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to make pertaining to my business was to either continue my work despite the current status of my mental health or take a break and perfect my craft. Going through life, I learned that it’s never okay to give up when you’re tired, but on the other hand, it’s okay to take a rest. At 16 I felt as though I was under a lot of pressure to get everything right that I didn’t take into count how that was affecting my business. There were many different obstacles put in my life and that led me to make the decision to back away to set priorities and leave cosmetology school.

During this time off, I was focused on my modeling career more than ever. Although I wasn’t a full-time makeup artist anymore, I wanted to branch off and continue to do things I was passionat about. I was featured in six magazines in total, two being Gezno Magazine and Gmaro Magazine. 2020, despite how hard it hit, I decided that I wasn’t going to let it take me down. One of the most influential people that has helped develop me into the person I am today is my pageant coach, Mardis Hall. He offered a lot of wisdom, but there’s one piece of advice that he gave me that will always stick:

“We only have one life to live and we have the choice of how we want to live it.” - Mardis Hall So, I took his advice and decided to live by it.

entrepreneur. All of my life, I was someone who Today, I am 18 years old and working on a business never really planned anything. I was more of a go called BFG Productions. My mission is to assist in with the flow type of person and now that I reflect on instilling confidence and helping one feel good that, I see that I wasn't making the right decisions. about self. I know how much of a struggle it can be This past year, I started tuning into Rob Dial the to try to gain confidence within yourself, especially life coach and I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve since I was in those shoes at one point in time. changed and outgrown habits that I was prone to I want to be able to share my knowledge and doing just because it was something I was used encouragement with those around me because to although it never benefited me or my business. the potential within each and every one of us is Once I started taking accountability and changing limitless. I want to be an example for other young my life around, I started making healthier decisions, models striving to get to where I’m at and even not only physically, but mentally as well. take them higher than they think they can go. I began to drink more water, meditate, set business BFG Productions is my way of giving back to the plans and goals, and put more focus towards things community that has made me what I am today that gave me a more positive outlook. Instead of and I won’t stop working hard until I feel I’ve done taking 20 minutes out of my day for something exactly that. that’s not productive, I now use that time to do Currently, I am dedicating my time to take the proper steps to officially open my business again. I figured that now that I’m more mature and the opportunity is better than ever, it’s time to finish what I started. What that looks like as of right now is finishing cosmetology school, taking extra makeup courses, and I’ve also been listening to more podcasts about how to become a successful communiqué Magazine

something fundamental like learning a new recipe or catching up on reading new material to exercise my mind. These things weren’t achieved overnight, but gradually I was able to change my whole routine and get to where I wanted to be in life. Granted, I still have low moments but I’ve learned how to change the outcome by focusing on the positive factors in life. 11

Striving into 2021, I’m looking forward to networking, learning new techniques, and opening new doors. I am very thankful for the people I have met along the road—they’ve kept me grounded and focused no matter what. And with everything in the past now I really look forward to this new chapter in life. As of lately, I’ve been dedicating more time to one of my most recent projects, my YouTube channel, LifeWithBianca. With it, I plan to give people an insight into my life and who I really am on top of offering words of inspiration to the people who need to hear it most. I want to use my platform for good things only and I have a plan to entertain as well as help people feel better about the life that they are living. I want people to see my story and what I’ve been through in life and be reassured that no matter what you go through you can find light in your situation and change everything for the better. Going forward, I will continue to become the best version of myself possible. After getting through 2020, I feel as though I’m more self-driven than I ever have before and I’ve set more goals than I ever have before in my life. This year alone I plan on finishing cosmetology school and getting my license so I can continue with my business. I want to establish my rates so I can be able to make money doing what I love to do as a model. I plan on working towards getting my own place soon so I can have more room to grow outside of my current situation. And, lastly, I will keep using my platforms to reach out to as many people as I can. To follow my journey, please follow me at the links below: @Biancafmodel @lifewithbianca @BFGproduction 12

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STOP working SO HARD to Be KETO… and let KETO start working hard for YOU!

Michelle Borthwick With her proprietary ­customization codes, ­Michelle Borthwick takes you from working hard for Keto, to watching Keto work hard for you! You get to Live, Love & Lose…. when Keto Is Easy!

Michelle Borthwick FOR WEIGHT LOSS, CUSTOMIZATION MATTERS ARE YOU STRUGGLING WITH WEIGHT LOSS & LEFT WITHOUT A SOLUTION? We’ve all tried every diet out there only to end up yo-yo dieting without permanent weight loss. There are many reasons why other diets simply don't work. Most diets, by their very nature, set us up for failure because they aren’t designed to work longterm. My clients are determined to change their life and embrace something new. A new way of thinking. A new way of living. A new healthy body. A new way of losing weight. I’m Michelle Borthwick, the proud founder and CEO of Keto is Easy Coach where my specialty is (way) outside the standard Keto world and am commonly referred to as an expert “Keto weight loss & stall buster.” My propriety customization approach allows you to create a permanent Keto lifestyle and lose weight faster than ever. Keto turns on your broken (non-functioning) metabolism and hacks your body’s ability to burn fat rapidly! Forget your past dieting and yo-yo experiences…once and for all. Keto can transform your life in more ways than you can dream of. This quote from my client Cyndi sums it all up, “I have enjoyed the most incredible transformation that I ever could have imagined. My energy level has never been so high. I was able to stop taking my high blood pressure medicine. Through it all, Michelle was my rock that assisted me with all aspects of resetting my physical health, well-being, and energy levels. I owe my transformation to the Keto diet, her patience and understanding as to my needs.” LIFE BEFORE KETO Before I began my own Keto journey, for many years I was the CEO of a successful marketing and branding agency, where the demands of my business life led to my being overweight and dealing with multiple health challenges. Every day I was completely depleted of energy and napping to get through 14

the day. I was suffering from Gerd, plantar fasciitis, migraine headaches, severe brain fog, and prediabetes. I wasn’t able to show up for myself or my clients. (In a glamour focused business that required tireless hours, endless creativity, and spunk…of which I had none). Honestly, I found Keto because I was desperate to save my life and I haven’t looked back. Fast forward: I’ve lost 40 pounds, reversed prediabetes, and all my health problems are gone (with lab work to show how my A1C went from an unhealthy 5.9 to a healthy 5.0). An unexpected bonus is that I have more confidence than ever before and I’m consistently told I look younger now than I did 10 years ago. I’ll take it! WHY WOULD YOU CONSIDER KETO? Although it was first used over 100 years ago at the Mayo Clinic, it has evolved and Keto’s superpowers are now mainstream. Keto is immensely popular and has gained respect in the world of health and wellness, as increasing studies have positively supported the therapeutic health and weight loss benefits of the diet. If you want to quickly become the best version of yourself, improve your body image and your health then give Keto another look. KETO DELIVERS FAST & HEALTHY WEIGHT LOSS Keto delivers the fastest, healthiest weight loss plan ever to get back your body back, hands down. It will melt the pounds off very quickly; you’ll have extra energy and you won’t starve yourself to do it. It’s common on other diets to be hungry, feel deprived, and frustrated, only to have disappointing results before you finally give up. Not with Keto. ARE YOU A WOMEN WHO GOES ALL IN & LIVES BY YOUR OWN SET OF RULES?

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I’m now living my passion as a full-time Keto coach to serve and inspire women to get their life back, find hope, and lose that last bit of stubborn weight. I work with women who go “ALL IN” with their lives and believe that giving up on how they look and feel isn’t an option. Can you relate to these attributes? • YOU know age is just a number • YOU tend to live by your own set of rules • YOU desire to feel sexy and confident • YOU are goal-oriented and haven’t given up on life. In fact, YOU are revving up more than ever • YOU won’t settle for less and constantly expand your goals • YOU are involved in life, your community, and socially active • YOU are outcome-oriented and determined to get that last bit of weight off and keep it off If so, I’m definitely the Keto Coach for YOU. I will take the diet out of Keto, so you’ll quickly discover when YOU do Keto YOUR way, YOU reach your goals faster, easier, and with lasting change! Keto truly has the potential to be your last diet ever. WHY KETO CUSTOMIZATION MATTERS Fast and lasting weight loss and — truly— living Keto requires more than what Google and one-size-fits-all books or gurus on the topic will tell you. Maybe you’ve tried Keto, fallen in love with the food and freedom (and fat!) but you hit a stall or aren't sure you are doing it properly. Maybe you persisted with your macros but stopped losing weight, didn't lose, or even gained weight. Or, maybe you’ve heard so much about Keto you are exploring it for the first time. Customized Keto isn’t just the answer that will give you the results you want. It will break down any barriers you may have to weight loss. How? With my proprietary Keto Customization system, Keto is designed to fit your specific lifestyle, health, and personal needs. Keto is Easy Coach’s comprehensive program includes diet hacks, private coaching sessions, expert tips, and accountability. It addresses your individuality: YOUR activity level, age, hormones, lab work, lifestyle, palate, food cravings, health, sociability, motivation, mindset, and more. BEST ADVICE I CAN GIVE YOU The best piece of advice I can give you is “Trust me, trust the process until you find the confidence to trust yourself. One fine day, Keto will have worked its magic and you’ll be admiring a different version of yourself in the mirror. Oh, and you’ll soon be budgeting for new clothes as well.” MORE ABOUT KETO IS EASY COACH Keto is Easy Coach just celebrated two years in business, one of my top referral sources is past clients, doctors, and health professionals. I’ve helped hundreds of women change their lives from all over the United States and trained with many experts in the Keto world. In addition, it’s such an honor and privilege to serve as a consistent voice about Keto in the national and local media where my work has been published as an expert keto coach. This year was a highlight and I had to pinch myself, being one of the top Keto coaches to organically reach the first page of Google! My marketing background benefitted me with this accomplishment, but I also had the wisdom to hire an amazing business coach, Michelle Pippin, who has helped me transform my vision for my business and results. I’m not talking about an increase in income. I'm now clear who my ideal client is, and what's important to them and they know I’ve been there and care. The women I coach

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trust me, feel understood, and are confident I can help them. This is HUGE! Through diligence, trusted online partner sites, Michelle's guidance, and the grace of God, I'm on the first page of Google for Keto Coaching. Enough self-promo—there are plenty of unbiased reviews that support the success of my coaching practice and my happy clients on my website and Facebook. The Managing Editor for this awesome publication, Alesha Brown, is one of my Keto rock stars and here’s what she had to say: I had tried Keto before with some results, but found it too restrictive and frustrating. I was never in ketosis and it felt like just another diet. When I heard Michelle talk about her plan and customization, this was something that no one in the “keto world” ever talked about. I did not know that most of the Keto diets out there were designed for men and not women. Nor did I know that there is no one-size-fits for keto. In September 2020, I underwent a spinal surgery procedure and my nutrition was key in the speed of my recovery. Why not give Michelle’s customized Keto plan to try? Not only did I enjoy a speedy recovery, but the pounds and inches quickly dropped in less than two months and I am the lowest weight I’ve been in over EIGHT years! Keto is Easy Coach’s customized Keto is the key to weight loss made simple and easy! FREE 30-MINUTE SESSION Want to explore Keto? I’m offering a free 30-minute session where we will look at your current goals for weight loss and the Keto lifestyle. During the call, we’ll review my customization form and complete it step-by-step with your personal information. I’ll make recommendations for you: I promise to give you personalized PROVEN diet hacks and, if you are interested, some amazing recipes just to sweeten the deal! You’ll get a taste of what my coaching style is and, if it’s a fit for you, how we’d tackle your weight loss together! This customization system is currently reserved for all of my private coaching clients and it begins our work together. Right now — for a limited time — I’m giving it away for free to help as many people LIVE and LOVE KETO as possible. With your customized (not a one-size-fits-all) Keto action plan, you will lose crazy amounts of weight. You will look better, feel better, gain confidence, and be budgeting to buy new clothes! Jump on the Keto train with me and sign up here for your FREE 30-minute consultation: Once you get started with Keto, you’ll quickly fall in love with the weight loss, the foods, and the energy that is now yours in spades. You will see for yourself why Keto is the hottest, most trusted diet you must experience. Follow me on: &




The Legal Fabric of a Female Owned Businesses by Attorney Nancy Greene


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have been a business and litigation lawyer in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia for over 25 years working primarily with women-owned businesses. I focus on women-owned businesses for two main reasons. I recognized a pattern in my cases that I wanted to break. Generally, a woman went into business with a man, who was a friend of a friend. The partner was someone she trusted because of his connection to someone else the woman trusted. Then, the “trusted” business partner took financial advantage of the womanbusiness-owner. Often, the women were left with crushing debt and massive self-esteem loss while their male former business partner just opened other businesses. I questioned what was different about a woman-owned business and why did so many smart women, myself included, sometimes make bad business deals? There is a fundamental difference between the fabric of a woman-owned business and a maleowned business. In my experience, women-owned businesses are often started because the owner finds a community she wants to serve. Do homeless shelters desperately need intimate apparel and feminine hygiene products? Great! Let’s start a charity to provide these products. (I Support the Girls. https:// ). Often times our focus is less on making money and more on how we can help. The fabric, the very heart, of a woman-owned business is relationships. Men focus on money. They also tend not to treat a setback as a personal failure. That’s not to say maleowned businesses are soulless or aren’t servicedriven. But your average woman worries more about the long-term relationship than the short-term “deal.” Women excel at creating and maintaining relationships. It’s what makes us powerhouses. It can also be our greatest weakness. You wouldn’t lay out an elaborate picnic using fine china and silver on a moth-eaten blanket. However, that’s what we do to our businesses when we prioritize relationships over protection. We put our business and our future at unnecessary risk. We unintentionally leave our businesses open to driving over legal landmines. It’s time we patch the holes in the fabric of our business to become whole women with whole businesses. Whether you are just starting your business or have

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been in business for decades here are some common mistakes that blow holes in the fabric of your business and how to avoid them. MISTAKE: Operating As A Sole Proprietorship When you are a sole proprietorship, the business is just you. Creditors look to your assets to pay the business’s debt. Joan didn’t form a company when she started her editing business because she didn’t think she needed the protection. Then she ran into the client from hell. After a series of nasty events, the client wanted Joan’s social security number (SSN) to issue a 1099 for the small amount of work he paid for. Joan didn’t want to give him the number because she was rightly concerned about how he would use it. I helped Joan incorporate “Joan’s Editing Services LLC” and get a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) for it. Joan was then able to give the client the company’s FEIN instead of her SSN. Even if you are part of a multi-level marketing company, if your business gets sued, it’s you who get sued as a sole proprietorship. Incorporating is the easiest and cheapest way to protect your assets from your business (and the clients from hell you can’t avoid). SOLUTION: Incorporate Your Business As Either A Corporation Or LLC. MISTAKE: Not Getting It In Writing. Handshake deals or verbal agreements are problematic. How problematic depends on how important the relationship and agreement are. Not getting it in writing with co-owners can rip the fabric of your business apart. Not getting it in writing with a client can lead to litigation and revenue loss. I’ll sometimes hear hiring a lawyer is “too expensive” or why spend the money on written agreements if they are uncertain the business will succeed. Let’s debunk both these arguments. First, there are significant legal resources available to business owners. I’m not a fan of the forms bank services (the ones where you pay a small fee to download a contract template) because using an incomplete or wrong form for your business can create a false sense of security or different problems. However, if it’s what you need to do when you’re starting out then spend the money to buy the short consultation with an attorney to ensure you’re picking the correct form for your business. I strongly


suggest working with a lawyer rather than a forms bank. I often draft a client’s initial business documents on a flat fee basis so they know what the expense will be and, if needed, we can agree to a payment plan. Also, working with a lawyer and spending a few thousand dollars to get your business properly set up is a whole lot cheaper than litigation or the failure of that business because you didn’t “get it in writing.” In these worstcase scenarios, you could be facing legal bills of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars or loss of your business. Invest in yourself and your business. You’re worth it and when problems arise, you’ll be glad you did. When’s the “best” time to get it in writing? At the start of the relationship. Why? That’s the honeymoon stage. Everyone also remembers what the intent was in starting the business or agreement. Also, once the business starts operating, legal work goes into the “important” but not “urgent” file. You’ll “get around to it.” Even if you don’t run into problems, getting everyone to agree to terms is generally more difficult once the business has had success than when you’re just starting out. I had one client where two of the shareholders wanted a shareholders’ agreement addressing what happened to a shareholder’s ownership when certain events (like being fired) happened. The third shareholder, Leslie, didn’t want to be forced to sell her stock to the company at a fair value if she was fired for cause. They never reached an agreement. When Leslie started acting against the company’s interests, the other shareholders had no way to end Leslie’s ownership of the company, even when she was hurting its business, other than going to Court. Ultimately, the company closed. Everyone, including the company’s thirty employees, lost. Had the three owners documented their agreements, including when and how they could buy each other’s interests when they bought the business, its doors would likely be open today. Don’t get me wrong: a written document can’t make the fabric of your business bullet-proof. There will always be disputes. A well-written document helps you avoid some disputes and, if the dispute can’t be resolved by the clear language of the agreement, it puts some borders on what’s at issue. A business coach’s contract had a disclaimer that she could not guarantee results as those depended on the client’s follow-through. A month after her coaching session, Donna demanded a partial refund because the business’s sales hadn’t increased. 18

I represented the coach in responding to Donna’s demands, her Better Business Bureau complaint, and her attorney’s demand for (now) a full refund. Each time, I reference the contract language that said Donna was solely responsible for her results. Without that written disclaimer, the coach likely would have refunded the full amount of Donna’s coaching, not because the coach did anything wrong, but because the cost of fighting about it would have been more than what she was paid. Instead, the coach paid a couple of hundred dollars to resolve the issue. Getting it in writing saved her thousands of dollars. SOLUTION: Get It In Writing, Every Time, With Everyone. MISTAKE: Purposes.





I once overheard a business coach tell her clients that the company should hire its first “employee” as an independent contractor to save on taxes and reduce the cost of that initial hire. I interrupted this horrible “advice” to set the record straight. You can’t pay just anyone as an independent contractor. The penalties for doing so improperly are hefty. There are so many misconceptions about when a worker is an independent contractor. What makes a worker a valid independent contractor? Control, control, and control. The more control you have over the worker, rather than the end product, the more likely that worker is an employee. Generally, having the worker come to your office and perform work on your equipment is a good indication that the worker is an employee. But now, in the post-COVID-19, work-at-home days is that worker still an employee? If only the location of the work changed, then probably yes. Keep in mind that independent contractors work for more than one employer. They may even work for business competitors. After all, what does it matter if the bookkeeping company I hired works for another law firm? If your “independent contractor” only works for your business, that worker is likely an employee. The other area where I see a lot of unintentional misclassification is overtime pay. An employee is entitled to overtime pay or not. As simple as that sounds, the test for who isn’t entitled to overtime isn’t easy. And despite your best efforts to properly classify an employee, you may get it wrong. Like with the independent contractor misclassification, the penalties

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for mistakes are hefty. I once had a client who didn’t pay his workers overtime because “no one” in the industry did. Needless to say, when those workers complained to the Department of Labor, his understanding of the “industry standard” didn’t matter. He owed significant backpay. We negotiated a payment schedule and a reduced penalty so his business survived. Misclassification can be a business-killing mistake. Don’t fall into the trap of misclassifying workers because you think you’re saving money (you’re not), or because “no one” pays that way. Common wisdom is often wrong on these issues. Even innocent mistakes

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in classification can be costly. Having a written legal opinion as to why you classified your worker the way you did will help reduce what you owe in the case of a mistaken misclassification. GET HELP PROPERLY CLASSIFYING WORKERS. If you have questions, please reach out to me at: for video tips on these and other common legal issues. Facebook: @attorneynancydgreene LinkedIn: .




By Cheryl Polote Williamson

My name is Cheryl Polote Williamson and I’m honored to share my journey. I am originally from Savanah, GA, but I currently call Flower Mound, Texas home. I serve as an engaged, innovative CEO and Founder of Cheryl Polote Williamson, LLC and Williamson Media Group, LLC where my knowledge, resources, and passion for excellence connect others to their purpose. I also serve as the CEO and Founder of Soul Reborn – a thriving 501(c)(3) non-profit. With collaborative foresight, I’ve built relationships with community leaders, companies, influencers, and volunteers which has resulted in assisting more than 4,500 disenfranchised, underserved, and previously incarcerated women through conferences on leadership, entrepreneurship, money management, rebuilding, and philanthropy. With these three businesses, I diligently work to ensure I operate in excellence and purpose. Creating a Culture of Collaborative Intentionality is my brand; I believe that if you’re intentional in all things including your thoughts, relationships, and business ventures, achieving your purpose will always be the outcome. My platform is built on mindset, affirmations, consistency, and being intentional in every opportunity given. The Bible says commit your works to the Lord and your 20

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thoughts will be established (Proverbs 16:3) and I’m a firm believer of this.

books on Affirmations; I hold a certified life coach designation; I serve in communities and understand the value of servant leadership, and I When you think about solutions, you immediately take part in trainings and programs that provide think about solving a problem or issue. My continued personal and business growth. What businesses offer help to give volume to people’s makes me an expert more than anything else voices, manuscript to their stories, and direction is that I live what I teach. What I share with my to unlocking their purpose; these are the clients, global leaders, corporations, and those solutions we provide. Cheryl Polote Williamson, that I serve, I live it each day. I work to ensure LLC has assisted over 500 authors in their that my companies are able to run the race set quests to become best-selling authors and into before us and to run with the best in each arena. entrepreneurship. My company provided spotlight If someone were looking for a reason why my speaking opportunities for various women thru companies should be selected above other topthe AARP sponsored Salute Her Soul podcast level companies, it would be because I have where women of all walks and industries were consistent results! able to share their stores and encouragement. We’ve also been able to have a global reach with For example, as a visionary author, I refuse the Shift Your Soul with Cheryl radio segment on to just receive monetary compensation for the Majic 94.5 radio station. projects. Instead, I provide each person in my book projects a return on their investments. I With Williamson Media Group, LLC, I was the bring in facilitators for classes on how to how Executive Producer of a national award-winning to effectively sell their books. I’m hands-on by stage play – Soul Purpose, which provided holding Facebook live segments where I share employment for close to 90 people! Soul Reborn tips and strategies on selling their books and has been a strong philanthropic presence in the reaching their target audience. This is why I’ve community. With collaborative foresight, utilizing had the privilege of steering over 500 authors into company resources, building relationships with successful books and entrepreneurial endeavors. community leaders, and companies we’ve been And the final point, and most important to me, able to provide 10,000 meals, groceries, housing is the customer service provided. The culture of supplies, and holiday gifts along with 4500 plus my companies is serving and customer service is books to frontline and essential workers during embedded in everything we do. this pandemic. With every initiative, project, or client, I believe in teaching people about What is my why? Why do I continue to learn, grow, intention and mindset. When they harness their and constantly look to provide new collaborative thinking, it can change their lives! opportunities with such intentionality? This can be answered in four simple words…create a lasting Being an expert in the field and arena you’re legacy. I want to leave a legacy that teaches the operating in is key. To be an expert, you must world the true meaning of servant leadership! invest in your giftings, your team, and always My business began from participating in my first keep your why in front of you. What makes 2,500-word anthology. After this process, I realize me an expert is that I have proven results. that so many people had a story to tell but didn’t I’m a multi best-selling author whose written know how to share it or how to make a profit from communiqué Magazine


it. I began to research on how I could turn this into a business and, more importantly, how can I lay a blueprint for others to do the same. You must do the research first. Write the vision, make it plain, have an outline for what you desire to do, and ensure that it is purposed driven. Once I finished my research and mapped out how to be a solution to the problem identified, I mastered it. I learned the importance of process, execution, and ensuring there are multiple streams of revenue. It’s at this point, Cheryl Polote Williamson, LLC was established, September 6, 2016. Shortly thereafter, Williamson Media Group, LLC was established and then Soul Reborn. Progressive steps took us from authoring books, to stage plays and now producing films. It’s been a great journey that I believe is just beginning.

“Don’t ever attach yourself to a person, a place, a company, an organization or project. Attach yourself to a mission, a calling, a purpose only. That’s how you keep your power and your peace”.

Everyone identifies wins differently. Some look at the money made as a win, some may say it’s the title you hold. For me, I define wins in results, the social and global impact I make, serving others, and how I continue to see those around me grow. Selling over 5,000 copies of my book Affirmed in the first year of production is a win! It shows how people want to speak life and purpose over their lives and when they speak it, they see the manifest.

Being featured in Black Enterprise as one of the 9 Black Woman Who Impacted the World of Business in 2020 is a win because it proves the work being done is making a difference. Being selected as Executive Producer of the Year for the stage play – Soul Purpose, this is a win. Having the opportunity as an Executive Producer of the film Illegal Rose which made the Oscar shortlist, this is a win. These show what collaboration and hard work produce. 22

When it comes to challenges, I look at challenges as opportunities to improve. One of my biggest challenges is identifying team members that can provide the services that they invoice for. What do I mean? As business owners, we always ensure we’re giving our customers what they pay for and, in turn, business owners must make sure we get what we pay for. Your team makes all the difference and if you can identify people that provide the value of what you’re paying them for, and they share in your vision and work-ethic, the challenge becomes a win! The advice I would give to anyone that may be struggling in the area of business that I’m currently in: Seek all the free assistance provided before you start spending money. A great example would be the Small Business Administration— they provide great resources for business owners for free.

Seek mentors who are doing what you want to do. They will applaud the things that you’re doing well and offer advice for areas that may need improvement. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, you need the right pieces for your puzzle if you want to be successful. I remember growing up, everything that I’m doing now, I dreamed of this as a child. My father taught me that the world was mine for the taking. He instilled in me that I could be and do anything that I wanted. I had a front-row seat to witness communiqué Magazine

him live out his entrepreneurial dreams by owning and heading a multimillion-dollar international corporation. This gave me a clear illustration that every word of affirmation he spoke was true. Now that I’ve been in business for five years, my ideal clients are people who have a teachable spirit and they are prepared to invest in their dream. Someone who believes in operating in excellence and doesn’t give up when told no. A client that is willing to serve others; have a collaborative mindset and are motivated to help society with the services their business provides. The services that I provide in each of my businesses are so vital and relevant for today because they are a source of hope. If you can harness your thoughts and keep your mindset positive, you can manifest the life you want no matter what. Regardless of the current climate, understanding the strength and power of your mind and thoughts gives a woman the advantage. An example is with Soul Reborn: we stayed focused on the goal of serving frontline and essential works during the pandemic (climate) and because of this, we were able to serve 10,000 meals, groceries, housing supplies, and holiday gifts along with 4500 plus books to frontline and essential workers during this pandemic. Your gifts and mindset matter! The best piece of advice a mentor ever gave me was “Don’t ever attach yourself to a person, a place, a company, an organization or project. Attach yourself to a mission, a calling, a purpose only. That’s how you keep your power and your peace”. Again, I’m so honored for this opportunity. I leave you with two pieces of advice as you move forward into 2021 to achieve your purpose. First, “Don’t live so deeply in other people’s dreams that you never fulfill your own.” Secondly, with all communiqué Magazine

the accomplishments, never lose sight of what’s important and that’s family. Yes, serving is my passion, but nothing comes before the love and care I give to my husband of 30 years, my three amazing children, and two adorable grandbabies. Some of the upcoming offers that I’d love for you to know about are: Digital Downloads Affirmed Workbook – focuses on five key elements to help you flourish. 20 Ways to Monetize Your Book – this video/ workbook combo gives tips on how to make revenue from your book Cheryl Polote Williamson Magazine This quarterly magazine is an inspiration for the everyday woman, various subscriptions are available. Virtual Mindset Master Class – 3/27/2021 One hour and thirty-minute class teaching: • How to master the Art of Affirmations • How to utilize the power of affirmations and intention • How to live your best life through changing your mindset

Lastly, I would love for us to connect: Cheryl.PoloteWilliamson @CherylPWSpeaks Cheryl-Polote-Williamson


Claim Your Power!

By Smitha Gunturi

Pain and traumas are not conversational subjects in today's world. Sure, they are not easy, but are they not possible? We must create a safe platform for these uncomfortable topics to provide awareness, information, and help through inspirational journeys while motivating others with hope. Thus, I created my documentary series portraying traumatic inspirational lives as "The Journey Podcast." You might say, podcast!? What's a big deal? It is NOT just a podcast. These are stories of extraordinary people with extensive wisdom on life and the hard lessons they have learned. What are these uncomfortable traumas I'm talking about? Child sexual abuse, failed love, domestic violence, haunted relationship, rape, child loss, suicidal thoughts, and lone parenting. Are you thinking, God no!? I don't want to talk to anyone about these! If the thought of reading or listening to these stories makes you uncomfortable, think about living them? Why does anyone have to live with them? The way we address these issues is through statistics. Under the age of 12, 4 out of 5 girls and 3 out of 5 boys are sexually abused. We are NOT just numbers! What can help? Awareness and education. If it happened, hope, help, and support to heal and rise. Why do I resonate with these traumas? The short answer: I lived all of it! You might think: Wait, what? All of them? How did you even make it through? Live it with me for the next few mins to understand "how." My life started going downhill very young. I was between 7 and 8 years when my perpetrator put his hands on me. He was 55+. It felt odd on his expression of 'love' from what I get from my family. So, I told my parents in the words that I knew at that age.

was happening and I learned to say NO to my uncle at 17! However, these experiences broke me inside forever! I started looking for the "security" that I never had at home, which led me to end up with the wrong person, my exhusband. My ex expressed his interest in me and reached out to me continuously for years, though I had been telling him that I was not interested. Our culture didn’t have the concept of dating, so he was always around me using some excuse.

Unfortunately, the guy who was doing this to me overheard the conversation, came running, picked me up, kissed me on my cheek before my parents, and explained that he is missing his granddaughter. Little that my parents understood, they laughed it out.

Most people around us knew that he was interested and did not attempt to come close to me, including my uncles at home. His being around me gave me my "security," which I was searching for many years! So, I responded respectfully that I didn't love him, but would learn to love him after marriage if he was ok with it. Our families agreed and we got married after six years of his waiting.

Since then, it became "normal" for me as my parents were "ok" with what was happening. It continued for more than a year. Then the second person started molesting me, two of my uncles at home at the ages 14 and 17! By then, I knew what

After the wedding, my husband said without being in love I made him wait for years but married him anyway, and now I was “at his foot” and he would “teach me a lesson!" The following years went on with mental, financial, emotional,


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and physical abuse. I lost our five and a half months old child I was pregnant with due to his physical abuse in all the trauma! I attempted suicide twice!

living in the same fear that he might harm us. It took 25 years of hardship, tears, pain, and trauma to come out—one step at a time.

I hide under the bed for him not to force himself on me! When I had no choice but to let him do his thing, I hurt myself to not feel his touch! Some people don't call this "rape" because he was my husband and he had every right! Is that true? I don't know. I heard another comment: "if you knew things were bad or if he was a bad person, why did you continue living with him? You should have left him before." I seriously don't have an answer for this. I think I did not have the mental and physical strength to fight him. Every time I wanted to do something, I explained the financial benefits he would get and, as long as I met his expectations on those benefits, I was okay. The love he had towards money allowed him to sell me out to other men.

Remember, though we hear the words of encouragement or words of help and support, it should come from within to fight for our own life. If we can't help ourselves, no one can! We look for an easy way out and, if we can't find it, we get disappointed, depressed, and we push ourselves to take our own lives! Sometimes we think, is it even correct? Is it needed? We want it to end it all, but we can't find ways to work for it.

Was everything terrible in those years? No. I used my son as a reason to make myself better. I call my son my "mini dad." I was able to enroll back in school for my masters. I worked hard and started earning better than my husband. I turned a blind eye when he started having multiple affairs because I wanted to leave that hell and I don't want to waste time caring about his activities. Honestly, money is the only thing that kept my son and me alive. My focus was to blind him with it. I was becoming better at my career and got an opportunity to work in the US. I left India, followed by my husband after a year. The abuse did not stop with me when he joined us. He started physically abusing my 8-year-old son. One day, I saw a TV remote imprint on my son's back while my son explained how his dad was going to kill both of us if he did not listen to him. While explaining this, my son asked me, "Mom, if you think I need a father in my life, do you think he is the one? Can we leave this person and live by ourselves?"

We want that happy ending served to us and we say we deserve better. True, we do, but what are we willing to do to deserve that? We want that "happily ever after," but do we have the patience to wait for it? We have to wait for two hours even for a movie to have that "happily ever after ending." So, please don't give up; have the patience for your happy ending. Sometimes we never know how close we are to that ending. The first step towards any success is the hardest. If we can push ourselves to take that first step, we are already one step closer to our "deserved success." Every time you take a step, redefine your goals and success with more realistic thoughts and experiences. You will forever be in the path of what you are looking for! It took 25 years for me, it might take 25 days for you to end your problems, but you need to act on that first step NOW!

This changed everything and pushed me to take the first step towards freedom by leaving the house. We tasted life on the streets as homeless. My son and I were able to move to a new apartment with the help of a friend. Every time I moved to a new apartment, my husband would knock on my door and say, “I know you are here. Don't think you escaped.” In one of the conversations, he mentioned if I ever tried to get a divorce, it would end up with a custody battle and huge payment to him as I was the breadwinner for the family and I chose to leave him. My son's only request was he never wanted to meet "that person (his dad") again." So, I dropped the idea of divorce for a bit. With this, my life as a lone parent began. No one to help or even to know if my son and I were alive! Sometimes, without noticing we will live in that fear of being free. On his 18th birthday (2018), my son gifted the divorce application, my final step out of that hell! I learned that my ex got married and had a son even before the divorce but I was

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Drug Addiction:

My Downward Spiral to


By Maria Roberts My name is Maria Roberts and I reside in Newport News, Virginia. I am the Hope Dealer and my life’s work is to lead those hopelessly caught in the grips of addiction to freedom to a new way to live. It’s easy to talk about the wonderful things that happen on this journey called life, but the true test comes when you reveal the darkest part of your story. The part you wish you could just leave out or skip over. The part that may cause people to look at you differently. The part that you would rather forget, but ultimately there is no forgetting the part that makes you who you are. The darkest part of my story involves making a choice that would cause me to fall into the grips of addiction. Addiction took me on a roller coaster ride that went from intriguing to my worse nightmare. In an instant, my life was on a downward spiral that would surely lead to my death. Addiction changed my life forever. Growing up, I had many aspirations and dreams. Never in my wildest dreams did I aspire to become addicted to drugs and abandon everything and everybody. Addiction took me on a downward spiral that lasted for over 10 years. At my lowest point, I was homeless, prostituting to support my drug habit. The spiral ended when I got locked up for the third time and found help through a drug treatment program. I must admit that I didn’t believe that I would stay clean, but I have been clean for 14 years now. Certainly, a lot has changed over the past 14 years. I can say that I never thought that I would be living a life free from active addiction. When I was using, I always thought that I would die that way. Shoot, I had tried to stop using insurmountable times during my 10 years 26

of using, but every time I would pick back up again. It was a vicious cycle of hopelessness. I learned to adapt to that way of life and I thought I might as well make the best of it and be the best at the game. Somehow, in my crazy thinking, I made myself believe that as long as I was able to keep getting high and find somewhere to go, I would be alright. The truth is I was never alright. Every day, I grew more hopeless in my 10 year downward spiral on the street. Through my journey, I was beaten, kidnapped, thrown out of a car, held at gunpoint, raped, and more. I have no idea how I survived; it was definitely God’s protection. When I was in the midst of addiction, I almost stopped believing in God because I would always question how He could let me go through all of this. Today I realize that it was God’s grace that kept me. It was only because of His undying mercy that I am here to tell my story today. My journey to freedom has taught me that as long as you have breath, there is always hope. There is no such thing as a hopeless situation and that is the message that I carry.

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I can truly say that wouldn’t change anything about my story. It may seem crazy, but I know that my journey made me the person that I am today. I believe that I have been pushed into my purpose by my pain—a purpose that is bigger than anything I had ever imagined.

not been easy, but through my downward spiral, I have found freedom! In my book, My Downward Spiral To Freedom, I give the reader an up-close look at the journey from active addiction to freedom; from once desiring death to ultimately finding hope! My book is dedicated to those who No addict needs suffer hopelessly from the horrific disease to die in active of addiction. Today I am living my best life, a life free from the horrors of active addiction; there is addiction. It is my sincere desire to reach freedom and another other suffering addicts with the hope that way to live! I am the they will find the same freedom!

I am a strong resilient woman, full of hope and vigor. A passionate loving woman, full of grace and hope. I am a grateful person, with compassion for those who have Hope Dealer and not found freedom. No longer In our world today we are living in the I will always carry the am I girded by hopelessness grips of a serious pandemic, and isolation message of Hope! and despair; I have purpose! I has become a way of life. The rate of have a posture of gratitude; it relapse of clean addicts back to active is because of my gratitude that addiction is at an all-time high. The I was compelled to share my journey. Many people message of Hope and Freedom is needed now more looking at me would never believe where God brought than ever. No addict needs to die in active addiction, me from, yet this narrative has been only a glimpse at there is freedom and another way to live! I am the my journey. Hope Dealer and I will always carry the message of Hope! God has allowed me to accomplish a lot over the past 14 years. Most recently, I received my bachelor of science degree in religious studies last year, I actually finished with honors- magna cum laude. I never would have thought that I had enough brain cells left after what I put my body through to be able to think straight enough to even finish college, but God. I am in a or Dane minister, my ministry focus is drug addiction. The Ministry of Hope.

If anyone had told me 14 years ago when I began this journey that I would have the love and respect of my family and friends again, that I would be reunited with my husband of 37 years, that I would be in contact with my children on a regular basis, and that I would be an ordained minister, I would have surely thought they had lost their entire mind. However, God had a plan all along. Ultimately my journey has brought me to a place where I can help countless people by sharing my story. I am grateful because I realize that many people that went through the same situation that I went through didn’t make it, but I did and I won’t let the sparing of my life be in vain. Today my purpose in life is being fulfilled, I am making a positive difference in the lives of other people. God has given me beauty for ashes. My journey has

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SHELLEY SMITH President, Premier Rapport, Inc. Newport News, VA

But I was not derailed. A decade later my business, Premier Rapport Inc., crossed the seven-figure mark. During those years, I transitioned from conducting executive coaching and peer board retreats into aiding companies with the big picture – workplace culture – to have an even greater impact. Now I help companies create the cash they need by implementing strategies to make their workplaces healthier and more productive.

After topping out in my career as a successful hotel executive, I knew that the only way to generate unlimited income was to start my own business. I did just that in 2009, losing money my first year and also learning that my husband was disabled with MS. 28

My journey to success began as a child playing with my Barbie dolls. My Barbie was always in charge. I made office buildings from empty boxes and put my name on them as their owner and CEO. From very early, I wanted to be in charge, make an impact, make decisions and help people. At age 11, I began working in my parents’ businesses, serial entrepreneurs who owned, a restaurant, flee market and auction house. I hated working then, but learned so many important life and business lessons that would assist me in my future career.Shortly after graduating from high school, I began working for Marriott International as a part-time desk clerk. In 14 years I moved 14 times, opening 22 hotels while holding positions communiqué Magazine

throughout the company. I left Marriott as an area general manager to assume a position with a hotel franchise company. During the 10 years I spent with that and another hotel company, I successfully built their businesses and I left the last job as head of operations. I had burned out on the hotel industry, but I realized that the part I really loved was not the brick and mortar aspects of the business, but the people, the teams and the workplace culture. What had lit my fire had been the opportunity to encourage and nurture positive relationships and inspire teams to reach for something beyond the day-to-day grind to create an organization that stood for values. My passion, rather obsession was about helping people to see the big picture and to understand how they fit into it. I had become disengaged from my job, but I saw an opportunity to help prevent others from becoming disengaged. That’s when I started my company to bring to life what I had lived and learned during all the years since I began working as a child and through the decades in the hotel industry. All those boats I had sat in and sailed back to shore then had meaning and purpose. Through my business, Premier Rapport, I began working with companies to help owners and executives bring to life the synergy and environment they had always wanted to create. I believe that workplace culture isn’t built in a day – it’s created every day. A positive culture allows every team member to be seen, heard and valued and embodies the company vision, mission and values. Such an environment attracts, maintains and grows top talent, and these people are the driving force behind the company’s success as reflected in sales, profit and impact. communiqué Magazine

Since I began my business, I have consulted with hundreds of companies all over the world; written six books and three dozen e-workbooks; produced hundreds of podcasts; and created a certification process that addresses the behavioral, cognitive and emotional aspects of workplace culture and teaches my methods for improving them. I am most proud of having created company-branded internal universities for corporations to take my model and apply it to their specific challenges and opportunities for enhancing their cultures. Starting and growing my business has not been without its own challenges. Figuring out my niche was perhaps the hardest, but then I had to learn to sell, something I had never done before. The ups and downs of the business cycle – plus having a disabled husband -- have resulted in worries from time to time about whether I would be able to put food on the table for my family. Ultimately, I have persevered and been rewarded for it. I found that my ideal and most responsive clients are those experiencing pain. No one hires you when everything is going well. They hire you to solve problems they can’t solve themselves. Their pain can take many forms -- high turnover, low employee engagement, low sales or low profit. These are all symptoms of a dysfunctional workplace culture, but these can be turned around through awareness, goal setting, action and accountability. My average client realizes a 10-to-1 first-year increase in profitability compared to their investment in working with me as a consultant. Though I consult with mom and pop businesses, international corporations and companies in between, my typical client company employs 200 to 450 people and operates multiple locations nationally or internationally.


My greatest innovations have been the proprietary systems and processes I developed to analyze and correct the “people problems” in workplaces. These include IMPACT Leadership® (Intentions and Inclusions, Measurements, Process and Performance, Accountability, Collaborations, Tactics and Timelines), ACC® (Analyze, Curate and Create), EEM® (Employee Empathy Mapping) and the AoWC Framework® (Anatomy of Workplace Culture). My Culture Curator Professional Certification® allows leaders at all levels to receive professional credits and certification in the processes I employ while consulting with companies. If your business is struggling with creating an engaging, productive and profitable workplace culture, I suggest you begin to turn around the environment by taking an inventory. This includes defining success for yourself, your team and your company. Determine how your culture fits into your success. What are your company values and what are the actions words that make them come alive? How do you define a healthy workplace culture? What does it look like, feel like, sound like? What do you say and how do you show up? Does everyone on your team define it the same way you do? Where are you aligned? Where are the gaps? Those gaps are your areas for improvement. Start there, but start small, then build on your small, initial successes. Workplace cultures have made many shifts over the past decade. Women’s rights, including #MeToo, had a huge impact, as have COVID, Black Lives Matter and other movements from the at-large culture. You can help your organization thrive during challenges such as these by becoming a leader for workplace culture improvement. Take advantage of the many resources on my website, such as the e-workbooks for courageous leaders. 30

Though there are still too few women in CEO chairs, this is improving, and women throughout the organization can bring much talent to bear on workplace culture. My goals for my company are to continue educating and training executives about the effect of workplace culture on their companies’ bottom-line success and to work with larger companies. While I have already served national- and internationallevel companies, I want to assist more of them. Some of my clients have included Ferguson, Marriott, Interstate Hotels, ECPI University, Virginia Premier, VCU Health, META, Dymax and B.F. Saul Company & Affiliates. My main “why” in business is my three children. I want to provide for them and show them that they can do whatever they set their minds to do. My other “why” is the work itself. I’ve come to believe that success is only possible when you are obsessed. I am obsessed with what I do. My work isn’t work – it’s fun and rewarding on many levels. I can’t imagine doing anything else. Those seeking more influence and reward in life communiqué Magazine

must wake up and pour their hearts into their work. The ability to do this begins with loving yourself first and not selling yourself short. Your belief in yourself will motivate you to achieve more than you ever thought possible.

LinkedIn: premier-rapport/ YouTube: premierrapport Instagram: rapport/

Follow me: Website: Blog: Email: Twitter: @PremierRapport Facebook: ShelleySmith.PremierRapport/

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YourMorningCommute Podcast: https:// The Culture Hour Podcast: https://premierrapport. com/culture-hour-podcast/ Forbes: forbescoachescouncil/people/shelleysmith1


Angelia Cross Cobb: Cut from a Different Cloth

We’ve all heard the saying, cut from a different cloth. Did you know as a woman that you have the basic properties that make up the most valuable, exquisite fabric? As a woman, you must be able to breathe, be able to flow at your own pace and be durable, soft, and, most importantly, resilient. Hello, my name is Angelia Cross Cobb. I was born in a small city in Virginia, known as Franklin. Growing up, I stood out and was different. I had no clue then what was in my future. Like a seed, I was yet growing and flourishing into who I am called to be. I’m truly thankful that I never gave up, even when obstacles came my way. We are women who are born with a purpose and a push. Women, know that when God stamps His approval upon your life, He will bless you with many shoes that He trusts you to wear. I’ve been married for a little over ten years. Two of my key characteristics are 32

faithful and loyal. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful team of five smart, creative, loving, and talented children. Family is the center of my joy. For the past seven years, I was given the assignment to take care of my mom who has Dementia. Anyone who has studied that mean, ugly disease knows that you must have patience and love that runs deep for the person who needs care. Honestly, it’s the GRACE of God that allows me each and every day to accomplish everything that I need to do. Part of the many shoes that I wear is as a business partner with my husband for Level Up Art Jewelry. We make custom, handmade jewelry for men, women, and children. The past four years of this joint venture has taught me how to handle my emotions and always keep business as business. But I’m not done. I’m also an author of two of many books to come. I released my first book, The Valley Experience in 2017 communiqué Magazine

and, in 2021, I will release my second book, The King’s Daughter. I believe in setting and being an example to my family first. Women, always remember to shine. You never know who you many inspire. But wait, there’s another pair of shoes I forgot to tell you about. I also manage my daughter’s brand called My Ice Cream Dream. My daughter Jasmine Miracle Cobb became an author at the age of six. She’s now eight years old and watches me closely to be just like mommy. Before the pandemic hit in March of 2020, my family and I were booked on different platforms. Since the pandemic, things are still getting accomplished. We just build and strategize on a different scale. During the pandemic, we’ve lacked nothing. I have to operate on a schedule in order to focus. I homeschool every day. Fear tried to come but I had to override that with faith and prayer. When you have people who depend on you, giving up is not an option. You must find the courage to keep going no matter what. Now that it’s 2021, I find myself praying and meditating more. There’s strength in that. Often, I’m asked the question by many: How do you do it? I simply say GOD. It’s true!!! It’s Him who can trust me with all these duties. I simply give it all to Him and say GOD I can’t but you can. Women, you are chosen. Being chosen isn’t always popular, but it’s always worth every sacrifice you give. Embrace your journey and know it’s producing substance. Pray and meditate daily, then execute your plan. Just as GOD has chosen me to manage multiple businesses, communiqué Magazine

take care of my mom, do Kingdom work, plant GODLY seeds within my children, be a faithful wife and, last but not least, take care of myself, so can you! I speak life to myself and anything that’s attached to me. There is a purpose for your life. Remember to stay away from toxic people. Anything toxic will pollute your destiny. I speak to the person reading this. I speak life to you. You are a winner. Your dreams will manifest. You are more than a conqueror. If GOD has brought you to it, He’s able to pull you through it! Use what’s in your hands to manifest your dreams. Every day, wake up, dress up, and show up on PURPOSE!! Women, you are phenomenal. You’re cut from a different cloth! Blessings. Please follow me/us: Facebook: @AuthorAngeliaCobb @JasmineMiracleCobb @JasmineMiracleCobb @LevelUpArt2017 levelupart_movement_


Dr. Shekina Farr Moore:


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I believe right now, with everything going on politically, if women were running the world, there would be peace. But in order for us to move out of the shadows, confidence has to be at the center, along with opportunity.

I am Dr. Shekina Farr Moore out of Atlanta, GA. I run the international confidence brand, Formidable. I run Formidable Woman, a brand of Formidable Brand, LLC. Formidable Brand, LLC is a women's empowerment company whose mission is to champion confidence in women. The company suite includes Formidable Coaching Institute, Formidable Mingles, Formidable Publishing, Formidable Woman Magazine, Formidable Apparel, Formidable Consulting, and my non-profit, Formidable Girls, and Fierce to Formidable Support Group. We teach confidence and provide confidence training, coaching, and tools. Additionally, we offer potential income streams. Many sleep on confidence but it can make or break a vision.

success and access. With this in mind, we have built and continue to offer products, tools, courses, and services that build this confidence in women—Business, Image, Mindset, Finances, Relationships, Health, and Education. Having been a woman who has struggled with confidence, my journey to gaining it made me want to see every woman experience it. It completely alters how we show up in the world. It opens doors and rolls out carpets. I moved to Atlanta with a nine-month-old baby on a wing and a prayer. I was unhappy, overweight, had lost friends, and was overwhelmed with feelings of failure.

One day, God had me lock myself in a room and write down my feelings. From that came Our ideal client is the woman who looks great my best-selling book, Blah to Fierce, where I on paper but who hasn’t yet accepted her carried women through a 30-day challenge to greatness. She needs an usher like I did. move out of their rut. Like me, I figured other women were going through the same thing What sets us apart is our holistic approach and could use a guide. I was right! to building and equipping women with confidence. Confidence is such a key factor in Five years later I was named among Atlanta’s personal, social, emotional, and professional Power 25 and lauded by the Mayor, GA House development. It literally transcends all areas of Representatives, and President Barack of our lives and can make or break both our communiqué Magazine


Obama. I became a formidable woman simply by making a decision. I share this story not to brag cut to echo to anyone in similar circumstances that you are one decision away from a 180-degree turn-around. Whether on social media or in everyday life, we often view the lives of the influential and wonder how we can become them. I not only share the secrets to my success but how to be a “formidable woman.” And it all starts with “unbecoming”—a phrase I coined to help women strip away everything that isn’t really them. Most people like to use the term ‘become’, but I believe that when God created you, you were already who you are... From the very beginning, He already knew. In the heavenly realm, you already are that person and so you just have to ‘unbecome’ everything that isn’t really you and allow the true you to shine through. This means all that society has told you, all the limits. There’s a saying that people see your glory but they don’t know your story. The story can scare you if you let it, but it is everything. It builds your resolve and your resilience. Mine has made me formidable. In the pursuit of my dreams, I have had to overcome so much—no’s, being talked about, eight miscarriages, bankruptcy, repossession, and a heart attack. But one thing I can attest to is that setbacks are just setups for comebacks. Every time I had a setback, I came back stronger, wiser, more fruitful, more impactful, and more successful.


When I had my heart attack, I was at the pinnacle of my health journey. I was really feeling myself, too. I remember that. Then… BOOM! I was laid out on the floor passed out. Thankfully, my sons were home at the time. It was a wakeup call to me at that time to not just focus on looking good, but to actually be good. One of the common things facing women in the area of confidence is emotional triggers. A trigger is any word, person, event, or experience that touches off an immediate emotional reaction. It’s like being startled by a noise: The noise is the trigger; the startle is the response. When we’re triggered, our bodies engage the survival response: fighting, fleeing, or freezing. When it comes to triggers, self-awareness is key in managing them. I know for a fact my trigger is CONTROL! And we’ve all been there. Someone raises his or her voice and we feel shaky. A door is slammed, and we become instantly enraged or alarmed. Some triggers include: 1. Feeling vulnerable, such as when we’re in a situation in which we feel exposed 2. Relationship experiences, such as when we’re lonely or feeling smothered 3. Boundary concerns, such as when someone is coming at us while drunk or disrespecting our space 4. Feeling uncomfortable about what is happening, such as when we witness someone being hurt or when

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someone’s words or actions disagree with our values

me my name would be great. And I believed her.

5. Fearing what might happen, such as when a threat appears imminent

The best advice I ever received came from a book by Dr. Lois Frankel, author of Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, who encourages 6. Feeling we are controlled, such as when women to be kind but never nice. It has very someone is making decisions for us or much become a part of how I govern my is telling us what to do or feel business affairs and life in general. 7. Feeling taken advantage of, such as The best piece of advice I give you is to do when someone fails to pay us back on a your absolute best to unbecome so that you loan can radiate the very best version of yourself. 8. Feeling self-conscious, such as when In so doing, you will attract everything you we’re alone in a group or comparing need to flourish. ourselves Formidable is rolling quite a few initiatives 9. Being discounted, such as when this year. We are releasing our new app, someone stands us up or ignores our Formidable Mingles where power couples calls meet and create their own love story. It will be available on Google Play Store and Apple What’s helps is to: App Store. We are also excited about the • Call it out launch of our newest publication, Formidable Men Magazine, the brother publication to • Identify the source Formidable Woman Magazine. Our Health • Be aware of projecting it and Beauty sector is releasing new tools for women including an online fitness program • Notice the arousal signs and cookbook/cooking series. • Take a breather Follow me at: • Know you’re not alone in it • Practice acceptance / @formidablewomanmag Growing up I was extremely shy and struggled @formidablemingles greatly with confidence but I always knew Email: I had it in me to be great and others saw it before I did. My change came in high school when my French teacher Madame Males took an interest in me and built me up. She told

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Felicia Garrett, LPC: The Key to a Renewed Perspective


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ello Ladies! My name is Felicia A. Garrett community, etc. There is an unrealistic pressure and I am the Founder/Owner of Renewed placed on us to be superheroes and to show up right Perspectives Counseling and Consulting when we are needed. Services. I am also a Self-Care Strategist for Christian Women, a trainer, and an author. I reside I provide a space in counseling in Suffolk, VA and conduct my services virtually. As a psychotherapist, I help my clients change their perspective so that they can change their life experience. Over the past six years, I have helped hundreds of individuals and couples shift their focus from surviving their life challenges and transitions to thriving through them.

I encourage anyone who is contemplating seeking therapy and or emotional wellness support to do it, do not wait! It does not make you crazy, weak, or broken. There is nothing wrong with saying “I need help.” Seeking and needing support makes you human; a human that realizes that whatever you are facing, be it a challenge or a celebratory transition, requires some additional support, skills, and knowledge to conquer.

and in consulting for women to just be. They can be free, human, and vulnerable without judgment. I provide that space for them and help them learn to provide that space for themselves.

People hire me to help them live better. I am not a healer, only God does that, but I am a helper. I consider myself an expert at being Felicia A. Garrett; whatever I do, I am me doing it. I am a natural encourager who genuinely cares about people; therefore, I am genuine, honest, and transparent with my clients. My ideal client is the “strong” person who is ready to prioritize their mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical wellbeing so they can be their best self. One of the best things I did was figure out who my ideal client was. Unfortunately, as a therapist, you truly cannot help everyone that reaches out to you for counseling services. You would be doing a disservice not only to yourself, but to the individual who took that first step in trying to better their mental health. If I’m not a good fit for someone in any capacity of my work, I do my best to help them find someone who is.

I specialize in helping women through life transitions, relationship growth challenges, and understanding how to incorporate self-care into everyday life. As a self-care strategist, I provide a unique service to a demographic that is not specifically served. I also offer groups specific to women in supportive and leading ministry roles (Pastor’s Wives).

I started my practice so that I could provide services in a manner and environment that was conducive to healing. I wanted to help people, not treat the diagnosis, and meet the “numbers” requirement for a system that was not focused on the people in need. My first counseling office opened in February 2015: it was my 40th birthday present from myself and my husband. It was not the fanciest office with Women are expected to, and often, hold themselves all the bells and whistles, but it was my baby. responsible for the safety and care of everyone in In 2018, I was blessed to upgrade to an office their lives, be it their family, friends, co-workers, with space to hire residents and interns and have communiqué Magazine


a meeting room for group therapy. In March of 2020, when the pandemic hit, I closed my physical office and moved into my cozy home office. In February 2021, I will launch my new business, Living Renewed. Living Renewed is a selfcare strategy services company, created to meet a need for a demographic that is near and dear to me, as I know the inner-workings of worklife as a Christian woman, supportive ministry worker, and a pastor’s wife. Living Renewed is designed to help Christian women who are ready to become intentional in their practice of self and soul. I help them take off their capes, step out of the box of people’s expectations, and strategically incorporate guilt-free, faith-based self-care into their daily lives.

delegating tasks to others, saying “no”, or just putting your phone on do not disturb and enjoying a nice day at the park with that book you’ve been telling yourself you are going to read for the past six months. During the past six years of being a practice owner, I believe one of my biggest wins was being able to offer employment to residents and interns in my private practice. Though I would not change my journey, I would have loved to be able to get many of my hours and experience in a private practice space. The opportunities to work under a private practice owner are very slim in my area so the route I took, like most people, was grinding it out as a QMHP. Another win that I truly thank God for is being able to switch my practice over to virtual counseling during a worldwide pandemic. In a time when people have and still are losing everything, I’ve been able to adapt and still offer my clients a safe and welcoming place to conduct sessions.

My experience as a pastor’s wife & church leader birthed one of my mantras that I use often with my clients: “Take off the mask.” Not just pastor wives, but as women, oftentimes we feel like we have to be perfect at many things at the same time. We must be a good wife, loving mom, perfect employee/ boss, faithful church member, and a giver to our communities. Once you check off all of those boxes, there leaves little room for You. By the time you take off the mask, you hardly recognize the person staring back at you. That is why I preach But what is life without challenges? I think one of my biggest challenges as being a private practice self-care into the ground. owner is figuring out many things on your own and also prioritizing self-care. Private practice is We oftentimes empty our cups more than just counseling clients and scheduling to everyone else and leave for the next session. There is an administrative side that comes with being a therapist that I have ourselves nothing to drink. Selfbeen learning trial by error. When I opened my care comes in many forms, first office, I did not have more than maybe 10-15 not just a shopping trip and clients. Many were private pay, so I did not have to worry about billing insurance, collecting co-pays, mani/pedi’s. Self-care can be 40

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or sitting on hold with a claims department. As my clientele grew, I had to learn that I cannot do it all by myself as I was burnt out trying to handle everything on my own. Seeing clients from 8-5, then working the admin side for another two to three hours made me question was this really what I wanted to be doing. When I upgraded to a bigger office and started accepting interns and hiring residents, I knew I needed to let go of the administrative side of things and hire an assistant. Hiring an assistant was truly one of the best business investments I made! Growing up, I only saw therapists on TV during my grandmother’s favorite soap operas or when Lucy set up her booth on the Peanuts’ cartoon series. Therapists were not popular in my world. I wanted to be a nurse and help deliver babies. I attended a cooperative High School (trade-focused) and pursued medical, nursing focused, skills during that time. After a short period of time, I realized that nursing was not my ministry and I entered the customer service world. I was in management for almost 15 years.

At the last company I worked for while in management, there was a mass layoff. When I received the news, I sat down with a blank piece of paper and really thought about my passion and what I wanted my next career to be. I was already in graduate school and decided to pursue it fulltime. I was 35 and felt like I was starting over, but that was one of the best things that could’ve happened to me. I needed to be uncomfortable in order to grow.

work with great mentors, coaches, and colleagues who have shared priceless words of wisdom and encouragement. One of the pieces of wisdom that I have held onto was shared with me during my grad school internship. I was a non-traditional student switching careers in my late 30’s while my other intern colleagues were traditional students, in their early 20’s. As I ended my time at my intern site, my supervisor told me:

“Do not underestimate your life experience and what you will bring to any position you go to. You have everything within you to do this work, you just have to believe it.” Ineededtohearthosewords from her at that time. I have remindedmyselfofthosewords severaltimesoversince.Iwould sharesimilarwordswithanyone readingthis,donotunderestimate yourself.Youhaveeverything withinyoutodoanythingyouput yourmindtodo.Nogoonandlive renewed on purpose! @feliciaagarrett @feliciaagarrett

Over the past few years, I have been blessed to communiqué Magazine


Healing from Toxic Relationships with 4 Key Steps By Dr. Carla Marie Manly, Clinical Psychologist


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Healing from a toxic relationship requires selfawareness, patience, and perseverance. Why? Because toxic relationships tend to erode self-esteem and can lead to chronic mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and stress. Although toxic relationships can leave you feeling powerless, trust that you can move forward when armed with some important knowledge and supportive tools.


lthough no relationship is free of challenges or issues, toxic relationships tend to have reoccurring negative patterns—problems that are often rooted in issues such as poor communication, dishonesty, disrespect, or inflexibility. When evaluating your relationships for toxic patterns, remember to pay attention to your gut instinct; if something feels negative and harmful, it’s likely a toxic dynamic. In a 4-step process that helps you notice and move away from toxic patterns, you’ll be on your way to a healthier life: communiqué Magazine

Step 1: Identify the toxic relationship types. Step 2: Identify the common signs and dynamics of toxicity. Step 3: Take concrete steps to move away from the relationship. Step 4: Work on healing from the inside out. Step 1. Toxic relationships are not all the same! The first key step

is to recognize the different types of toxic relationships. Although the focus here is on romantic relationships, it’s important to note the toxic relationships can arise in any arena from the workplace and social settings to close friendships and the family unit. None of the listed categories are mutually exclusive; more than one can be in play at the same time! Pay close attention if any of the below categories apply to a relationship in your life. 43

• The controlling relationship. In this relationship, there is a pattern of secretly or overtly controlling the speech, thoughts, actions, choices, or daily living patterns of another person. • The emotionally abusive relationship. The emotionally abusive relationship can be hard to spot. If the abuser is very adept at being abusive, he or she may be withholding in nature, “kindly” critical, or generally insult the other person in subtle, hard-to-spot ways that leave the abused feeling off-kilter and wondering why the interactions seem so difficult and painful. In more overt cases, the abuser will be highly vocal in offering criticisms, disparaging comments, and ongoing verbal assaults. • The bullying, physically abusive relationship. This type of relationship, which is often difficult to spot unless behind closed doors, may involve hitting, punching, throwing items, sexual assaults, and more. • The enmeshed relationship. An enmeshed relationship offers little freedom, whether within a family unit or a romantic partnership. In this form of toxic relationship, the participants secretly fear the growth and challenge of moving beyond the bounds of the relationship. • The co-dependent relationship. A commonly known toxic relationship, 44

the co-dependent syndrome is one in which participants enable each other’s toxic behaviors in a variety of ways: from drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and other addictive behaviors to remaining stuck in patterns that perpetuate negative behaviors and avoid self-growth. • The passive-aggressive relationship. A form of an emotionally abusive relationship, the passive-aggressive relationship is one in which one or all participants do not communicate or act in a straightforward manner to get their needs met. Instead, the passive-aggressive person secretly manipulates situations in a variety of ways in order to obtain their goals.

Step 2. Notice the signs! The

second step in healing from a toxic relationship is learning to identify the signs of toxic dynamics. Every toxic relationship will have its unique patterns, but all share a general foundation of disrespect and lack of consideration. Notice if any of the signs—or other toxic patterns not listed—are part of a relationship in your life. A few key signs of toxic relationships include: • Destructive and Abusive Words and Actions: One common form of relationship toxicity arises when one or both partners engage in negative commentary—put-downs, sarcasm, or any form of emotional communiqué Magazine

or verbal abuse. This may arise in seemingly harmless comments such as, “You’re too emotional,” “You don’t think logically,” or “You talk too much.” However, any negative commentary—whether demeaning expletives or rude criticism—is a hallmark of toxicity. Destructive comments often lead to physical abuse, another horrific sign of a toxic relationship. • Rigidity: Toxic relationships often result when one or both partners are consistently rigid. Inflexibility and a failure to compromise erode the balance and fairness in a relationship. As compromise is an essential element of healthy relationships, problems can arise repeatedly if a partner is unwilling to collaborate to find balance and mutually satisfactory resolutions. • Unhealthy Communication: Refusing to listen to the partner’s point of view is a common issue that leads to ongoing toxicity. If partners are not willing to truly listen to each other and consider their point of view, problems will fester and worsen. • Dishonesty and Manipulation: Dishonesty is one of the most toxic relationship issues. When a partner is dishonest or manipulative, the relationship can erode over time. If honesty and respect are not honored, the relationship is generally doomed. communiqué Magazine

Step 3: Take concrete steps to move away from the relationship! Toxic relationships

can be ended in a variety of ways, some which are more appropriate than others depending on the level of safety and psychological issues in play. Before ending a toxic relationship, it’s important for you to know what you want and to have a plan for moving forward in healthy ways. Below are a few key approaches for terminating a toxic relationship. • If the participants are emotionally stable, you can simply say, “This relationship is not working out for me. I have decided to withdraw and ask that you respect my boundaries by not contacting me.” • If the relationship is one where both parties are stable yet feel the need to part ways—where both see the toxic situation and see no hope for change—an honest, mutual agreement to move away from the relationship is often possible if the situation is handled calmly and kindly. • If a participant is not emotionally stable and is in any way unsafe, it can be highly appropriate to simply withdraw from the relationship without openly stating one’s boundaries to avoid dangerous conflict. This may necessitate blocking electronic communications, changing locks, and—if necessary— obtaining a restraining order. 45


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Step 4: Healing and moving forward! • Learn to set strong boundaries. Foster and maintain healthy boundaries. Work to become familiar with your personal truth, and do the work to learn to stand in your truth with courage and respect! • Find healing support for yourself. Whether you join a support group or engage in individual psychotherapy, it’s important to have support as you work on creating new, healthy patterns as you heal from the trauma of a toxic relationship. • As you move through life, notice your reactions to toxic people. Although we can’t change the toxic people we meet into non-toxic people, we can work on our own emotional regulation, boundaries, and not being reactive. This may involve learning to take time-outs if activated, keeping visits short, or imagining a glass screen between you and the toxic person. Strategies like these can save the day! • Avoid the temptation to move into a new relationship before you feel truly healed and ready. Give yourself plenty of time to heal and take your self-work seriously. If you don’t work on becoming stronger from the inside out, you might unwittingly get drawn into another toxic relationship.

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Remember to be kind, patient, and nonjudgmental as you work to move away from toxic relationships in your life. On a neurobiological level, it’s important to give effort to hardwiring in kind, healthy patterns to replace any negative relationship dynamics. This takes time, conscious awareness, and a great deal of practice. When you stay with it, your life will change for the better. One mindful step at a time, you will find yourself gravitating toward people and relationships that make you feel truly good about yourself. You deserve healthy relationships filled with unconditional love and support.


Credits Cover: Makeup & Photo courtesy of Creatiff Beauty Designs, LLC Pages 5-7, Radiance Harris Photo Credit: Amanda Ghobadi, The Branding Babe Pages 8-12, Bianca Figueroa Photo Credit: AVH Photography & Gifted Imagez (with the crown) Pages 13 & 14, Michelle Borthwick Photo Credit: Ivory Lens Photography


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Pages 18 & 19 Atty Nancy Greene Photo Credit: Nancy Greene Page 20-Cheryl Polote-Williamson Photo Credit: For Beauty Sake Pages 22-23 Smitha Photo Credit: Swifro Pages 24-25 Maria Roberts Photo Credit: Nikoi Roberts

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