Dear Accountability Partners

I don’t do well with cluttered spaces.

That’s physical and mental space alike. But, in my line of work, I don’t often have much time to myself—so life tends to get really cluttered with things to do and people to talk to very quickly. (Anyone else ever looked up at 3 or 4 in the afternoon and realized that you failed to eat lunch? C’mon! I know I’m not the ONLY one).

So I’ve decided to plan 30-minutes in the middle of my to pray Monday through Friday, just so I can have time regroup and gather my thoughts. I’m posting to this to make you all my accountability partners. This is just a tiny step in the right direction.

I’ll come back at the end of May with a report on how I did and other techniques to carving out time for self-care that I gather as well.

What are you making room for?

How are you planning to make room for what your soul needs?

Tell me in the comments below.

Oh, and no, I don’t own the rights to this song. Jonathan McReynolds, please don’t sue me. 🙏🏾

—Sincerely, Tyra

ICYMI: Milwaukee was MIND-BLOWING!

ICYMI: Milwaukee was MIND-BLOWING!

If I had to try and describe it: Last weekend was really interesting, dope, eye opening, and just overflowing with love.

I can’t say how thankful I am to be able to tell my story on this platform. It is teaching me so many things about love (of every kind), support, business, family dynamic, legacy, how different people are coping with trauma, and how similar we are when we actually look at the types of experiences we need to heal from.

I performed a poem entitled, The Conversation, from my book A Smothered Scripture. I met some more amazing people. I wore my mask (doubled-up actually). I got my Grandma out of the house (with her mask on, of course). I learned something new about EACH of my tour mates that spoke about their individual healing process. (Seriously, when someone tells the same story twice and it’s as attention-grabbing as the first time… the storyteller in me loves that!) Oh, AND ya girl sold out of the EbonySun merch I brought along! Thank you, Milwaukee! 🥰

—Sincerely, Tyra

To learn more about the Art of Transparency Tour 2021 updates, click here.

WVON Interview | “Uplifting Our Youth During the Pandemic”

WVON Interview | “Uplifting Our Youth During the Pandemic”

Last weekend, I was invited to for an interview on WVON 1690AM – The Talk of Chicago’s Community Health Focus segment for “Uplifting Our Youth During the Pandemic!”

It was a dope experience to have someone I respect asking about my work alongside some exceptional co-guests whose work I follow. Shout out to host Dr. Doriane Miller, Dr. Sonya Dinizulu and Ernest Sanders!

To hear the entire interview about ways we are uplifting youth and parents in our every day work, click the following link: https://fb.watch/4Q2mAlBSNK/

To view more on Dr. Doriane Miller of Urban Health Initiative: https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/find-a-physician/physician/doriane-miller

To view more on Dr. Sonya Dunizulu of UChicago Med: https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/find-a-physician/physician/sonya-dinizulu

To view more on Ernest Sanders of @ssworkschgo: https://www.southshoreworks.org/

To learn more about Gary Comer Youth Center’s work with 6-12 grade youth: http://www.comereducationcampus.org

What “Turned It Around for Me?”

There was a time when I was so fed up with myself and my surroundings that I actually considered…

…It’s a “turning point” story in all of us! To hear how it turned around for me and each of the speakers on the 2021 Art of Transparency Tour, grab your tickets and meet us in Milwaukee, Wisconsin this weekend on Saturday, April 10th!

FOR TICKETS: https://artoftransparency.org/…/turned-it-around-for-me…

Remember to bring your mask or stay home if you’re feeling under the weather! We will be socially-distanced. See link above for full details!

Sincerely, Tyra

A Moment of Gratitude

A Moment of Gratitude

After a long night of filming, I realized I should say thank you! So, I went live on Facebook… at 12:00 a.m. …Yep! That’s how much you meant to me! In this video: 🎥
• I say THANK YOU to you! 🥰
• I talk about why I started my blog! 💻
• I share the meaning behind Shange! 🦁
• I say THANKS some more 🙏🏾!
—Sincerely, Tyra 🖤

#SlayTheDream today!

To view the entire video, head over to the Facebook page or click here!

HerStory | Connecting Her Past to Her Future

On this last day of Women’s History Month, it thrills me to share an event hosted by my church Quinn Chapel AME Church to celebrate five dynamic women in our community. I was honored to be one of them (🥰) and got to learn so much about a few women I greatly respect!

The Paul Quinn Women’s Missionary Society of Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church presents: HerStory | Connecting Her Past to Her Future featuring: Sis. Carolyn Thomas, Sis. Monique Williams, Sis. Tyra Owens, Sis. Melanie Boyd, Sis. Judy Williams, and Sis. Zelma Jarvis.

To view the show, visit Quinn’s YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/lOrkJWG592k or their Facebook page: https://fb.watch/4AqNgvykrX/

Quinn Chapel is always hosting relevant ways to fellowship, network and share community resources! So remember to like, comment, and share Quinn’s video and get connected to other events!

Visit: https://quinnchicago.org/ for all the tea! 😊

YouTube: https://youtube.com/user/QuinnChapel

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/QuinnAMEChicago/

Instagram: https://instagram.com/quinnchicago?igshid=18qv3ez6ukq5a

I Have An Announcement! 🎉

I Have An Announcement! 🎉

I live a pretty private life. So making public business moves is really something foreign to me. It’s been a learning process!

So, of course, when I was looking at a friend’s social media page and saw their title for their brand/company underneath their photo, I thought… “Why have I never added that to my Facebook profile?” (Insert a 🤦🏾‍♀️+ a 🙄) But, I’m thankful for the people (family, friends + complete strangers) that have supported me all this time despite this slip!

What’s something that seems intuitive but people forget to do for their business? If you have another “simple-enough” tip that could help someone, please share in the comments. We like supporting each other on this site. So, don’t be shy!

…Guessing now this means, at some point, I need to do a proper launch party, huh?! 😏

—Sincerely, Tyra

The Announcement on Facebook.

The Announcement on Facebook.

Send this poem to a Black Woman 🖤

Is there someone in your life you who could use a reminder about how strong/creative/blessed they are? If you are a Black woman reading this, what are you speaking over yourself this morning, Queen?

Here’s a poem I wrote years ago to speak over myself when I needed an extra bit of encouragement. My only request:

If you share this at all, share it with a Black woman—first.

—Sincerely, Tyra

Dear Queen,
Look in the mirror and repeat:
You are beautiful. You are Black. You are woman. Divinely created to bring peace to a world of chaos; perfectly molded to solve any problem with your intelligent mind. Go forth and give rise to the day you wish to experience.

—Sincerely, Tyra 🖤

Oh, But After This!

Oh, But After This!

I stayed up a little late last night finalizing my monologue for this weekend while on the Art of Transparency Tour stop in Memphis.

It’s a gritty take on my life story.

Raw, real… and I hope I don’t ugly cry at the end… 🥴😂

For tickets: bit.ly/aotmemphis

—Sincerely, Tyra

**COVID protocol will be followed during each show/activity. See link for full details.

In-Person or Remote Learning? A Solution-Focused Conversation

I like to call my full-time job, the “not-so-9-to-5-9-to-5.” I know it’s a bit clunky, but it’s true since I work in the out-of-school time/youth organizing realm. As the Community Resource Manager for Gary Comer Youth Center on the Southside of Chicago, I have been able to plan, organize and facilitate some dynamic events focused on the safety and wellness of our community’s youth. Yet, also serving as a parent in this field, I have a unique vantage point of gaps and growth areas.

I realized a few months ago that our city leaders, Dr. Janice Jackson CEO of Chicago Public Schools and Mayor Lori Lightfoot, had not designed adequate parent engagement before making decisions about when to send our children and teens back into neighborhood schools. So, I decided to ask my colleagues from other community organizations to to help me plan another event. “In-Person or Remote?: A Solution-Focused Conversation” was an event held this past Tuesday with parents and caregivers in mind as our target audience.

In April of 2020, the Gary Comer Youth Center hosted the first COVID & the Community discussion with several community partners, our neighbors, and a few young adults. It was a powerful conversation and generated many ideas for new and enhanced mutual aid projects, resources, and youth opportunities to help sustain often forgotten communities like Grand Crossing, South Shore and Woodlawn. In hindsight, none of us could have predicted that almost a year later we would need to have a follow-up event.

As organizers, our ultimate goal is to help our community’s youth and families stay safe, healthy, and thrive. One way we do this is by making sure parents have adequate information and support from other trusted adults. So this year, our focus was assisting parents with finding solutions to their in-person and remote learning struggles.

We know that the Chicago Board of Education held a week of community forums earlier this school year that were widely attended by concerned parents. In late fall 2020, CPS distributed a district-wide survey to gauge how many parents would send their students back to schools for in-person learning. Despite serving 330, 000 children and teens, CPS reported that only 77, 000 kindergarten through eighth grade parents selected in-person learning. Chicago Teachers’ Union leadership argues that Chicago Public Schools created an inequitable process for parents to participate in the survey and obtain information throughout this process. Months later, we can see that neither in-person or remote learning has equitably served our community’s youth. We also realized that the majority of our parents’ voices (those who do not represent CPS or CTU) have simply been absent from the conversation. So, we decided to create a safe space for parents to not only voice their concerns with both options, but to generate solutions as well.

As service providers and community organizers, we plan to use what’s shared in Tuesday’s solution-focused conversations to inform our out-of-school time programs so that we can better support the families that rely on us. Next week, I’ll be reporting back with the notes and data that the parents in attendance shared with us.

Do you have solutions for making either in-person or remote learning better at your children’s school? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments and share them with my colleagues, community partners, and other parents! Overall, my greatest hope is that we are able to bridge the gap and create an atmosphere of unity for our community’s youth.