6 Profound Social Changes I Hope to See in my Lifetime

Photo by Dylan Hikes on Unsplash

Photo by Dylan Hikes on Unsplash

I'm tired. I don't care if I sound grump. Or picky. Or like a dreamer. Naive. Crunchy-granola. I don't care if I sound like whatever anyone might say to undermine what I'm about to write. I'm just tired of hearing the stories I keep hearing. Seeing the same documentaries made decade after decade. The same article headlines. The same FB posts. We need to change the narrative.


History books that tell the truth.
The Native Americans did not simply decide to move when Europeans showed up on the shores. This is wrong. People brought from Africa to the United States as a part of the slave trade were not "workers." They were enslaved. This is also wrong. It is unacceptable that either narrative was ever written.

We need history books that tell the truth. The good, bad, and the ugly. About slavery. About the legacy of Natives. About how all other people in the U.S. are immigrants. About how no one today is "illegal" or an "alien."

Learn More: How Textbooks Can Teach Different Versions of History

Meditation instead of detention.
There are many issues impacting our schools these days. In the midst of them all: Students are stressed. Teachers are stressed. Conflict is bound to happen. How do we respond?

Detention. In school suspension. Out of school suspension. These are the tactics we're familiar with. But are they really working? Or are they new outlets for discrimination?

What more productive ways are there to deal with student behavior? This school's trying meditation. And? Suspension rates have dropped. And attendance has gone up. Why are we so hesitant to initiative these kinds of practices? What do we have to lose?

Learn more: A Whole School Approach to Behavior IssuesWhen Schools Meet Trauma With Understanding, Not Discipline


A restructured criminal justice system.
We've become increasingly aware over the past few years of just how broken our criminal justice system is: the criminalization of black men, ineffective public defenders, the financial realities of mass incarceration, and then... does incarceration even really do what it's supposed to do? Does it prevent crime? Does it restore those who once committed a crime, so that they can re-enter our communities and thrive?

I want well-trained police officers. I want effective public defenders. I want justice for everyone regardless of color, money, gender, or anything. I want a system that invests in the better for people, not creates cycles of loss.

Learn more: What Can the U.S. Do About Mass Incarceration; How to Fix America's Mass Incarceration Problem

Fewer guns.
I'm not just talking about mass shootings. I'm talking about all gun-related homicides (including mass shootings, gang violence, domestic violence), accidental shootings, police-involved shootings, and suicides. We have a problem in the U.S. with all of these

Fewer guns won't solve crime; it won't rid us of violence. But it will make both far less lethal. It will mean that some people will live longer lives, who otherwise may die.

Learn more: The Gun Show; Timeline: Mass Shootings in the U.S.; GunsWhat If We Treated Gun Violence Like A Public Health Crisis?


Safe, affordable, individualized healthcare.
I wish healthcare was like Netflix, or Verizon. I wish I could go online, open my account, type in my area code, and see a selection of doctors, of various specialities, that I could just subscribe to monthly; maybe with a certain package, like my phone has 2-8GB or unlimited data plans.

I realize the realities of health care are much more complex for real reasons that make sense. Buuuut also power, money and politics. It could be better.

Learn more: Introduction to the U.S. Health Care System; How Racism Makes Us Sick; What the Health (podcast)

More grassroots crowdfunding.
The older I become, the more it seems to me like we — those of us who want to do radical, social change work — can't depend on traditional sources of funding to do our work. 

The people who have the most money in our communities seem to rarely share our interests and convictions, while those who do rarely have much money. Separately at least. Together, I'm confident we have a lot to offer.

That's why I love Kickstarter, and Indiegogo, and GoFundMe. But still... what if we just got together and hosted dinners where everyone showed up with $25 and knew — personally knew — the people and organizations they were giving to? We've done this kind of thing before. I want to see it even more.


My list could have easily gone on, but I digress. My mind, for now, is settled. What kinds of things would you like to see happen in your lifetime? Share in the comments below!

5 Reflections On Being a Rebel and an Entrepreneur

On Friday last week, I attended one day of this amazing event, RebelleCon, a lifestyle design conference for entrepreneurial women. Sound fancy? It was fancy — matcha latte shots fancy — wine in a pretty teal can with golden straws fancy — and it was all-around amazing!

As a young, Black entrepreneur, this event really appealed to me as an opportunity to learn some things I've been struggling to figure out on my own, and to meet some like-minded people — those in similar positions to me, and those who've been walking this road much longer. I need community!!

"How could you afford such a fancy, amazing conference, Cheyenne?" I couldn't! I volunteered one day of the event (BAM BUDGET WIN) and — ohhhhh — I’m so glad! Here are few thoughts that really stuck with me post-conference:

Don’t be afraid to start now.

This whole conference was a testament to the power we have when we believe in the things we envision. The women of RebelleCon (Anika and Shannon, y'all amaze me) planned this conference in about 11 weeks. Yes. I’m going to say 11 weeks again. Because 11 freaking weeks. There are 52 weeks in the year and this team of amazing women planned a 3-day conference with over 70 attendees, 9 sponsors, over 15 other major supporters, 12 speakers, and multiple venues in 11 OF THEM. And you know what? I only attended one day, and just that one day totally blew me away.

So yes, that’s why I won’t tell myself “I can’t.” I can. I can! I absolutely can. When you have an idea you’re passionate about, something you know is missing in the world, or someone will appreciate, you just believe you can and you just start. It won't go perfectly, you'll make some mistakes, there will be hard moments, AND it will all be worth it and beautiful, and amazing.

Treat wellness like an investment in yourself, instead of an expense, or damage control.

If you work work work work work without taking care of yourself... you probably already know what happens. It's not sustainable! But then... sometimes feely healthy doesn't feel possible!

With beauty, laughter and grace, Jessamyn Stanley shared what that looked like in her life, going from meltdown graduate student to stereotype-defying yoga teacher. It was not a straight-line journey.

My favorite part of Jessamyn's talk is how she took the idea of going to yoga as simply something you do some weeks to "be healthy" to a practice that can literally shine light on the dark little fortresses we all have inside — walls we create that hide our insecurities and hold us back from seeing ourselves fully and loving ourselves deeply and reaching our goals.

Investing in your physical and mental wellness is investing in your life, and investing in your life is investing in your work. At the end of the day, no matter what kind of title goes before or after your name, you've got to make sure that simple, wonderful, beautiful YOU is well. Because YOU are enough without running yourself ragged for whatever it is you may think you need to run for. Seriously, you are.

It's easy to forget that in a world run by money and status and fine print documents. But those things are man-made. We exist within their framework, but who we are — our worth — those things are far beyond them.

For me, sometimes I literally look in the mirror and I point to myself and I say, “Now you take good care of her, you hear?” It makes me laugh, and it reminds me that I haven’t taken my multivitamin yet. So then I go do that and run out of the door in a mad dash for whatever thing I forgot to put on my calendar.

But seriously, I’ve been trying hard to this year to make some financial and disciplinary investments in my health and wellbeing, from regular yoga to desperately trying to learn how to make myself simple, healthy meals.

You CAN create high-value work and stay grounded and stay accessible to your community.

Pricing has been one of my biggest struggles, literally keeping me awake at night. How do I set my prices? What does it say about me if I charge this much an hour or that much? Will I be undervaluing my peers? Will I be selling myself short? Will I scare off potential clients? Make them feel like I’m not for them? Or cause some organization to have to skimp on something else they really need if they choose me?

Because I’ve been grappling with this for a while, I took the opportunity at RebelleCon to ask my question about charging your worth and supporting your community to Tonya Rapley, founder of My Fab Finance.

Tonya is incredible. Poised, funny, sincere, and down-to-earth. She shared her story — how she left a nonprofit that severely undervalued her, how she'd been featured on a cover of Black Enterprise Magazine, and how suddenly people were asking her to coach them! What to do? She thought, Uhhh, $50 for three sessions? And not long after that, she knew she had to think again. That pricing just wasn't sustainable for her and her family.

As for my question, Tonya answered it really beautifully. It’s about the communication. And I look at it like this: I set my general hourly rate based on the value of the work that I provide. When I talk to clients, I want them to know, This service I’m offering you, it’s really valuable! But I also want my clients to know, If you can’t afford to spend this much on this service right now, I can still be here for you. Let's talk about what it can look like. Both need to be clear.

My work’s value doesn’t change if I do a task for a lower price. The case-by-case process of making it work with the client in front of me is how I can show that I’m accessible to them, that I am here for them, and that I care about them way beyond dollars and cents. Which is how I always hope people receive me and the work that I do. Way beyond dollars and cents.

When we invest in each other’s lives and work instead of competing, we all win.

I’m really not competitive. I played soccer for a few years in elementary school, ran track for less than a year in middle school, and dropped all sports by high school. Wins and losses all kind of rolled off; I’d quickly explain myself out of whichever feeling and move on to working on my latest novel (not joking, I really wanted to be a 16-year old published author, lol).

I get really frustrated with competition, especially in the doula world. I’ve been a part of a lot of meet and mingle events where parents come and interview a handful of doulas. I’ve left some of those events to find an email or a call offering me a job, and I’ve left some of those events to nothing! Because those parents didn’t pick me, they picked someone else.

I mean, it's okay to feel bummed by the loss of a potential job or client, especially when you're really passionate about the work you're doing, and you're working really hard to stay afloat.

What's the best thing for my potential client, anyway? Not only that they hire someone who can do the work, but someone they’re comfortable with and feel connected to. If I don’t fit that latter end, then I didn’t lose anything at all. That client wasn’t mine. They were that other amazing kickass entrepreneur’s.

And how amazing will it be to partner with that entrepreneur on something that neither of you could do alone? We're creators, people. We're not just out here to find work; we're here to create amazing new products and events and services — together!

Win. Win. Win.

There is so much amazing growth and friendship and opportunity yet to be known.

My favorite thing about being in a room of over 70 amazing entrepreneurs is knowing that there are over 70 amazing, inspiring stories all overlapping at that moment, and any one of those stories may intersect with mine at any time! Suspense!

I connected and reconnected with so many people on Friday that my happy little introvert soul could hardly handle it! I left during the last mingling session, drove straight home and hibernated all day Saturday.  

But I have a list of folks I’m planning to reach out to and meet up with real soon — and in fact, I met with one amazing woman, pediatrician Dr. Janet West of MyRVABaby, this morning! 

RebelleCon...? More like... Reb-HELL YES-Con! (Can I do that? Or too much?)

So from the bottom of my heart, thank you to all those who put together, participated in and supported RebelleCon. And I can't wait for next year when I'll be a speaker! 😂 (JK. Unless it actually happens. Cause you know, who knows!)

The Power of Regular Rest

Photo by HS LEE on Unsplash

Photo by HS LEE on Unsplash

The older I get, the less isolated I feel about my journey with anxiety, and the less I feel like there's nothing I can do about it.

Anxiety, in and of itself, is isolating and is disempowering — if anxiety, as I've experienced it, had a voice, that voice would be saying: "You're alone and there's nothing you can do."

It can take me from a moment of pure joy to what feels like a never-ending state of overwhelmed "WTF-ness", if you will.

I have to find outlets for my stress and anxiety. From September 2016 - September 2017 that was mostly yoga for me. I did yoga sometimes several times a week. 

I didn't do any all October. I got wrapped up in work, events, Netflix and going out with friends. And last week, I felt anxiety manifesting physically in my body, for the first time in about a year. Red, hot face, rushed thoughts, oh no, wait, what, what's happening? Yeah. It makes a tangible difference.

anxiety strip-01.png

So now I'm on a mission to start yoga again, revamp my eating habits, and get regular rest. Even if it means late blog posts, or skipped ones (which I'm sure bothers me way more than anyone else, even though my mind tries to tell me otherwise).

There's power in rest. And there's power in allowing myself to go through these motions of feeling. As Brené Brown says, if I numb myself to these challenging spaces, I'll ultimately numb myself to the glorious ones that follow. 

Do you have a story of the power of rest or vulnerability in your life? Share in the comments below!

This Month in Music: October Vibes

Music Icon-21.png

I listen to music constantly. Work, eat, workout, play — these are some songs that have been traveling with me through October. What songs have been getting you through your month?

Music Icon-10.png

7 Things I Should Have Learned in High School

Photo by JodyHongFilms on Unsplash

Photo by JodyHongFilms on Unsplash

I had a handful of truly AMAZING teachers in high school. They went above and beyond to talk to me and other students about what happened in our real lives and curiosities we had that weren't always related to the work we had before us.

But it seems to me there's a general giant gap in the most public high school curriculums that even the greatest, most involved teachers can't necessarily fill. Some of these items I'm listing were touched on in high school but... I should have learned about these things in detail. You know, considering they're ALL affecting my everyday life a lot more than the War of 1812.

Basically Everything About Finances
How do I create a budget? What are investments? What's an IRA? What if I take out loans for college? How do I manage my credit score? Plan for retirement?

Oh, and also, what the heck do I do when I find out my finances may be in danger because of an Equifax hack? Rely on John Oliver, that's what

These are clearly important things to know about! I wonder how other people learn them?

Great Internet Resources for Finances:
4 Best Personal Finance Apps as of October 2017 // Five Essential Apps to Track Your Spending, Save Money, and Pay Your Friends // 6 Personal Finance Apps that are Better than Mint // Nerdwallet

Also How to Figure out Taxes
So technically, this is still in finances but I think it's worth its own category.

I'm not sure taxes came up in high school at all. But I remember the first time I realized I had to file. Sitting in front of my computer like... wait... what? 

Great Internet Resources for Taxes: Top Tax Apps: 7 Best Mobile Apps to Organize and File Taxes // 10 Apps to Use Now to Make Taxes Easier Next Year // The Best Free Mobile Tax Apps of 2017

Everything About Insurance
Also within the range of finances... but different, too. Health insurance. Car insurance. Renters insurance. Life insurance.

How did the practice of insurance start? What do insurance companies actually do with my money? What kinds of insurance do I need? What if I can't afford insurance? What happens if I don't have any insurance? When I do want and can afford insurance, how do I find the best insurance for me?

Remember what I said about the first time I realized I had to file taxes? Insert this for the day I realized it was time for me to have my own insurance, lol.

Great Internet Resources for Insurance: NPR (answer to all) // Please Steal My Car: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast (start at 14:11) // Planet Money: The Fine Print

ACTUAL Sex Ed + Sex Health + Birth Control Information + What Having a Baby Means
Teenagers should know what sex is, what healthy/unhealthy sex patterns are, the realities and risks of STIs and pregnancy, how and when someone can get pregnant and what it practically means to start a family at any age.

I mean everything from the anatomy (which was the bare minimum that I did learn), to all the ways how not to get pregnant (not just don't have sex or "here's a condom"), to how much it costs to just diaper a child (apparently about $72 a month).

More than that, by the time we graduate high school everyone should know how to take care of their bodies whether they're not having sex at all, or having sex frequently.

Teaching teens about sex doesn't mean they'll all start right then. Pressure to become sexually active exists for many teens whether they know much about sex or not, whether they'd even put

that language to it or not. If we took all that out of the dark and into the open, we'd have a lot less surprises, in our teen years and beyond.

Great Internet Resources for Sex Info:When Did Porn Become Sex Ed // This App Takes A New Approach To Sex Ed: Fun // 7 Sex-Ed Apps You Didn't Know You Needed // OMGYes // TED: Sex Ed for Adults // Fertility Info You SHOULD HAVE Learned in High School

The Options of Self-Directed Learning + Work
School should do this naturally, but especially with the rise of standardized testing... I think it's rare, realized by students either through a thoughtful adult or their own sheer force of will.

I've talked to so many people my age who felt like school was just a conveyer belt to a job, rather than a conduit to a calling.

I think I always kind of knew in the back of my head that I could work for myself one day if I wanted to. But it felt entirely out of reach until the day I started doing it. Why?

Great Internet Resources for Learning: Khan Academy // TED // Skillshare // Lynda // Curious 

ACTUAL U.S. History and How to Be Effectively Politically Engaged Today
Once upon a time, a really amazing explorer found this magical land. He had a colorful dinner with the cool brown people he met there. They were like, "Hey! Cool, new friends! Let's all live together." Everything was totally cool after that. Then a bunch of time went by and some really amazing white men threw tea into some water in Boston to tell the British to get lost and started the most amazing country ever, the United States. Okay, yeah, for a while we had this uncool "slavery" thing, but then the Civil Rights Movement came and we fixed that. Now we have a really awesome, totally fair judicial branch, legislative branch and executive branch, where all these great judges and Senators and Representatives and the President make everything happen for the best of everyone in our country.

That's basically what I learned about the U.S. in school from the start to life today. Because that's not true, I've found these resources.

Great Internet Resources for U.S. History + Political Engagement Today: More Perfect // NPR One // The Skimm // Stuff You Missed in History Class // Countable // Votespotter // Voter

How to Cook + Eat Healthy
So first of all, I'm not a cook. I'm too ADD in the kitchen for my own good. If I'm cooking and I get a blog idea, I'm gonna have a half-written blog post and last minute delivery for dinner. I've accepted it.

Still, everyone should know what a healthy plate of food looks like and some basic ways to get there without jumping through hoops of culinary fire or spending and arm and a leg.

As for me, for now, I've melted hopefully into the arms of Blue Apron. We'll see if this relationship lasts.

Great Internet Resources for Healthy Eating:  Best Nutrition Apps of the Year // Fooducate // Eating Well // My Food Stamps Cookbook // Choose MyPlate

What do you wish you would have learned about in high school? What resources did I miss? Tell me about it in the comments below! ☀️