Between the Lines: Top 10 nuggets from the 2018 MTY Retreat

This past weekend I got the opportunity to join a little over 90 amazing and talented women at the beautiful Nizuc Resort & Spa in Cancun, Mexico. The 2018 My Taught You (MTY) Retreat was hosted by Myleik Teele, founder and CEO of curlBox. Master class sessions were taught by dynamic speakers such as Karleen Roy (Founder, The Vanity Group), Zim Ugochukwu (Founder, Travel Noire), and Kahlana Barfield-Brown (Instyle Beauty Editor-At-Large). Special guests Luvvie Ajayi (New York Times Best Seller)and Necole Kane (Founder, XO Necole) shared intimately as we explored failure, triumph, and success. For the last couple of days, I’ve sat and reflected back on this extraordinary experience, sifting through my notes. In doing this, I realized that I walked away with so much more than what was written on the pages of my journal. So, reading between the lines, here are my top 10 hidden takeaways from the Retreat that have led to an enormous shift in my mindset.

10. Treat Yourself

There’s this philosophy that life is about the grind. While I wholeheartedly believe in the importance of hard work, how often do we let ourselves enjoy the fruits of our labor? While at the MTY Retreat I was able to indulge in the finer things in life. I was spoiled by the amazing staff at Nizuc who place such care and detail into everything they do. I was intentional about not bringing “work” with me to Mexico. I left any drama, anxiety, and stress at home in order to allow myself to fully embrace paradise in Cancun. For those 4 days/3 nights I allowed myself to be immersed in the experience and present for every moment. Too often we find ourselves neglecting our self care and prioritizing it at the bottom of our lists. Let me remind you that self care is necessary! So take that trip, have a glass of wine, or just unplug for a couple hours and treat yourself to a little TLC.

9. Laugh Louder, Twerk Harder

I want to take this moment to go on record and state that by NO means of the imagination would one categorize me as a dancer. I’m usually the one at parties sitting on the counter, bobbing my head to the music, and observing the crowd. Not because I’m too cool, I just know my strengths and dancing has never been one of them. Over the weekend, I decided to throw caution to the wind and live my best life while out on the dance floor. To my surprise I had the time of my life. It’s important that we allow ourselves to be happy, to feel good, to be free. There are times I find myself wound just a little too tight. There’s a certain sense of freedom that comes with releasing some of those inhibitions and allowing yourself to be consumed by the music. Sometimes you just need to throw your head back, arch your back, and shake whatever you have going for you back there.

8. Money Matters

Throughout our lives, many of us have received conflicted messages when it comes to money. It’s not something we tend to speak openly about, despite the inherent value that gets place on it in society. A quote from Myleik that was shared by various speakers over the weekend is “if it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense”. Somewhere down the road we learned that we shouldn’t worry about money. The message of “focus on the work, and the money will come” became warped into an ideology that we can’t or shouldn’t also be concerned with also earning income. Personally, I know I want to make a positive impact on my community. However, it’s important to remember that “good intentions” doesn’t pay the rent. We can do good, and still be about our coins. Think about it, are you growing a business, or just engaging in an expensive hobby?

7. Big Risk, Bigger Payout

I signed up for the MTY Retreat with no awareness of what the end product would be. I submitted my application and deposit, with little understanding of how the vision would manifest. For months I paid on a retreat and I honestly had no idea what it would look like, but with each passing month I became increasingly excited. Some people may not understand the logic behind this. Why risk spending money on something without knowing exactly what I’m getting? One thing I’ve learned is that when you bet on people who consistently deliver quality, you’ll never be disappointed! Life is about risks, taking chances, and diving into the unknown. The bigger the risk, the better the payout.

6. Perception Is Reality

Despite what you may want to believe, perception matters. What you put out into the world (regardless if it’s your work, how you look, or the vibes you give off) is important. So take pride in your appearance, and in what you do. Be mindful of how you interact with others. Be intentional about what/who you associate yourself with. Karleen shared that how you put it out there, is how it is received. Then Zim followed up by dropping knowledge when she shared that it’s not about who has the better product, but the better story. The way people experience you becomes the narrative by which they see you.What story are your actions telling about you?

5. Just Start Already

Jump…step…crawl! Whatever it looks like, just move! So many of us have these big dreams and goals, but we wait around and sit on them. We tell ourselves that the timing isn’t right, or that we’re waiting for (insert excuse). A common theme among all of the speakers was ACTION! The art of limitless living is action! In all of the preparation and planning we do, we forget to do the most important step…START! We tell ourselves that we aren’t ready, and justify it by becoming consumed in the “planning” stages. Don’t overthink yourself to the point of inaction. You may never feel completely ready. There will always be more to learn. So, stop getting in your own way, own what you know, and get moving!

Before heading out on the water to paddle board for the first time

4. Give Your Fears The Finger

Yea, you know which finger I’m talking about. So often, we live our lives ruled by our fears. Too afraid of change, newness, and the unknown. Yea I admit as someone who is a big fan of control, I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with change. The crazy thing is, growth doesn’t happen in our comfort zone. In fact, it doesn’t happen anywhere near our comfort zone, and that’s scary! You’re not going to get anywhere if you’re hung up on the “what if’s”. You’d be surprised by what’s waiting for you just on the other side of fear. So whether it’s getting on that plane despite every natural instinct in your body, or hopping on a paddle board with almost 100% certainty that you’ll either drown or embarrass yourself. As so eloquently stated by Zim Ugochukwu “Feel the Fear and Fly”. There’s liberation that comes with doing something for the first time.

3. You Deserve To Be Here

When I first received the invitation back in December 2016 to join Myleik and several other dope Black women at the Retreat, I was convinced that it was a fluke! I had no idea how I was selected, let alone how I would measure up in comparison to the other women who would be in attendance. My imposture syndrome was at an all time high! Fast forward 13 months and the same thoughts were running through my mind as I prepared to board my flight. Now, with every thing said and done, I may not be completely rid of the notion that I just slipped between the cracks as Myleik and Diana read through each and every one of the 1,500 applications...but I have stepped into the belief that I did in fact deserve to be there. As I made Ceviche with Myleik Teele, took shots of Tequila with Karleen Roy, danced in my pjs on a couch with Luvvie Ajayi, threw up the mid with Kahlana Barfield-Brown, and shut the party down with DJ Kiss, I came to a shocking realization. These women aren’t made of gold! They didn’t do the impossible or unattainable. They had a vision, made a plan, and worked their butts off to make big sh*t happen. In a room full of dope women, don’t shrink yourself because you feel you don’t belong. Be. Dope. Too!

2. Change Your Mindset, Change Your Life

I hate to sound like a cliché quote right now but Ford was on to something when he said “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right”. The theme of this year’s retreat was Limitless Living. As Black women there are systemic barriers that are set in place in attempt to limit us. But how often do we check the limits that we’ve placed on ourselves? We convince ourselves that “oh we can’t do this”, or “we can’t do that”. I choose to challenge that! Why can’t we? In her keynote speech, Myleik shared that limits are 1. self-imposed; 2. deceiving; and 3. REMOVABLE! Dare to dream outside the realm of what you think is possible. The belief that things are beyond our reach only contribute to our inability to attain them.

1. There Is Power In Community

The My Taught You Retreat was the best thing I never knew I NEEDED. While I knew why I wanted to go and had no doubt that I would leave with nuggets to elevate me to my next level. I never could have dreamt the magnitude this transformative experience would have. Surrounded in a room full of Black women, I felt a sense of connection and community that is unparalleled to any other experience I’ve ever been a part of. So yes, believe the hype because Black Girl Magic is real. Sisterhood is important, but Black sisterhood is vital. When we come together as one, we become unstoppable. So often we believe that we can do it on our own. When the focus becomes so heavily on outdoing the “competition” we lose allies and sister friends that can support, motivate, and encourage us along the way.