An Ode to my Sister

Women have been on a remarkable journey. When we look back at history, we can see so many achievements, powerful stories, inspiring transformations and much more. We have been able to show the world that our drive, ambition and heart cannot be derailed. We are banding together, taking stands, and we are doing it all with grace, power, and ferocity! Simply put: we. are. FIERCE!

As I approach my 30th birthday, I reflect over all of my achievements, my past, my present, my future. I examine my networks, my circle of friends. I think about my friends and family that have consistently helped me through the best and worst times of my life. And then, I think of one of the best partners, friends, sister, a person could ever have. I am talking about the other half of “As Told by HER”, my baby sister, Hailey.

I was first inspired to write this blog after seeing, for the billionth time, one of the greatest sister duo’s in history grace the stage at the Australian Open, on January 28th, 2017: The Williams Sisters. I don’t need to explain their many accomplishments because their reputation speaks loudly and proudly on its own. What really spoke to me, and tugged at my heart strings was watching how they spoke to one another, after Serena won against her big sister, Venus. Unconditional love, immense happiness, and outright excitement was spread throughout that stadium, coming directly from this dynamic duo.

When Venus spoke to Serena, after the match, I felt such a connection to what she was saying.

““Congratulations, Serena, on No. 23,” Williams said. “I have been there right with you. Some of them I lost right there against you. I guess that’s weird, but it’s been an awesome thing. Your win has always been my win. I think you know that. And all the time I couldn’t be there, wouldn’t be there, didn’t get there, you were there. I’m enormously proud of you. You mean the world to me.”” – The New York Times

Every time I read it (which I have done several times), I get emotional. I thought of my sister as I watched them speak to each other as the crowd cheered and applauded. The world has watched the Williams Sisters rise to stardom, struggle at times, and then rise once again, like a mythical, magnificent Phoenix. On January 28th, 2017, they showed us all where determination, practice and skill can take you, as well as what feats are achievable when we challenge one another and truly connect on a higher level.

With all of this being said, it is my turn to recognize my sister, openly and publicly as we approach our shared birthday, which is April 14th.

To my sister, Hailey, there’s not enough room on our blog, time in my life, or space on our YouTube channel for me to tell you what you mean to me. I have struggled to write this blog, because I get emotional every single time. You’ve stuck by side through my depression, anxiety, grad school – which is basically the root of all my recent depressive episodes (haha!). You get me. From the inside jokes we share; the nights we have spent staying up late watching “The Best Man Holiday”, making plans for our future and discussing how to get this blog off the ground.

Remember when we drove to watch KU play in Lawrence, KS, during a blizzard, just to find out we needed to go to Kansas City?! Remember when we saw “Harambe” in Pittsburg, Kansas? What about the time you decided to go natural, but you were scared, and I did your big chop for you? You have stood up for me more times than I can remember. Like that time we were in Thackerville and that man asked me to get out of my seat so he could have it and you immediately got mad, and I had to calm you down because I didn’t want to fight him?! Remember that time we were in church, and that woman was trying to run her hands through her ponytail, but her fingers got stuck, and apparently we were the only ones that noticed??? So, we stood there shaking, trying not to laugh, during a very serious moment. Remember how we got the nerve to go on the tallest slide in the world at Schlitterbahn and be both almost had a panic attack? Remember when dad told us to “stop walking on the couch?” And when mom would make us hold hands when we weren’t getting along? Remember when I would buy you all the cool shoes because I knew the kids at Morris didn’t know where to buy them? We have so many shared memories.

I have watched you blossom into a beautiful young woman, one that I admire and look up to (since you’re taller *wink wink*). I’ve watched your greatness from countless gymnasiums, your strength during multiple track meets, and observed your power with your words. I could go on, but as I said earlier, there’s not enough space or time. I look forward to many more memories, many more shared stories, many more laughs, and cries. In the words of our mother, “we’re thick as thieves,” and nothing can come between us.

In closing, I can’t wait until April 14th so that I can share my birthday with you, once again, celebrating my 30th and your 23rd birthday! The turn up will be real, new stories will be created, and we will be fly as usual!

If you have a sister, blood or not, make sure she knows that she is loved. We are all in this together. Continue to be amazing one day at a time, one moment at a time, and one lifetime at a time. Thank you to all of my sisters reading this and I hope my trip down memory lane has provided you with some joy today. Until next time, remember to love yourself and to #KnowYourWorth.

As Told by HER – Whit James


#WorkingWomen Spotlight | Alana Ladson Art

This week’s #WorkingWomen is : Alana Ladson, Business owner/Creator

Business: Alana Ladson Art

Background: Alana creates paintings, enamel pins, art prints and stickers of women of color along with other magical beings. I am also the creator of Fatty Uni, a body positive, loving icon for those who are looking for fun, positivity and happiness in their worlds!

As an African American nerd that didn’t see enough of herself in the media as a child; she still sees the same problem going on for little girls decades later. She was an intuitive kid, more than she even knew at the time, but her internal frustration with the misrepresentation and (lack thereof) of women of color, particularly black women, was very evident. She knew that as a people, we are diverse from skin tones to personalities to beliefs. She believed that if girls & women of color could see themselves as beautiful and properly represented in multifaceted ways in art, music, tv, etc. all of our collective worlds would be better. God has blessed her with the gift of creativity and even as a very young child it was always her intention to share that with others who needed the art she makes, like she needed it back then – and even now..

What being a #WorkingWoman means to her: It means juggling a job and a growing business, as well as family time and a (kinda) social life! Having to split my time between my business and my job has been fine thus far, but I know as I grow in both areas I’ll need to adjust and be more flexible. A Working Woman should be able to those things: be flexible and make adjustments when things are going great or going not so great! In addition to that, it’s always wise to be grateful and give thanks. I believe in God, so I give my first thanks to Him. I also practice this art of gratitude with people in my life that have helped me as well. Every opportunity you get to show yourself, show your best side! Those are a few traits that I think are important to gain as a Working Woman!

Alana, on knowing their worth: That’s what my art is about! As a woman of color I feel the need to express my vision and others through my art. Though most of my art is of women of color, I also create things like unicorns (like Fatty Uni!), sleepy bears, fairies, food and more. I want anyone that looks at any form of my art to feel happy, blessed, warm and at peace looking at certain art pieces from me. When you’re wearing my pins, I want people to feel cool, confident and beautiful. I want women to feel powerful and lovely & I hope that they can feel that when they see and wear my work.

Pictured below are some of Alana’s pieces:
unicorn   alana ladson art   IMG_2292IMG_2294
Be sure to  look up and contact Alana Ladson Art ;  ; . As well as her vlog feature on YouTube: As Told by HER