Lesson 19: If You Can Concieve It You Can Achieve It


“All things are created twice; first mentally; then physically.  The key to creativity is to begin with the end in mind, with a vision and a blueprint of the desired result”

Stephen Covey


Several years ago I read the above quote in Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  I remembered it throughout the years, but it wasn’t until I undertook a project that I envisioned and made a reality this week, that the quote really resonated with me. In January of this year, I wrote in my journal that I wanted to create inspirational artwork to decorate my house.  I gave myself the deadline of completing this project by April 2017.

Today is April 15, 2017 and I finished the project on April 12th.  I created 5 canvas paintings for my living area and 3 for my bathroom to remind me to stay positive.  I learned many lessons about moving from conception of an idea to achievement that I want to share with you.

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Create a New Normal by Tasha Richardson


Picture Change New NormalHave you ever wondered why it seems like you keep facing the same problems or struggles over and over again?  You managed to change your life, your outlook, or at least accomplish some goal that you’d wanted, and you were sure that this time–this umpteenth time–everything would stick, allowing you to move on to bigger and better successes.  This was until, with utter disappointment, dismay, and defeat, you found that those changes you made disappeared as quickly as roaches do when the lights are turned on.

The notion of change is so seductive and exciting, especially when you finally feel empowered enough to want to pursue it.  It tantalizes us into believing that once we capture it–it is ours forever.  How can we avoid the trappings of ‘change’s’ siren song?  How can we create true and lasting change?

Food for Thought

Realize that you (and everything else around you) are always in a state of evolution and flux. Accept the fact that the only change that is permanent is change itself.  Elizabeth Gilbert best describes the relationship between change and motion.  She states, Change is all about motion, motion is all about uncertainty and we are deeply uncomfortable with uncertainty.”  In addition to our discomfort with change, many of us become complacent after we do manage to ‘change’ and reach our vision of success.  For example, those of us who finally lose the weight we’ve been carrying around feel so good about that feat that we end up getting comfortable, thereby slipping back into the bad habits that allowed us to be overweight in the first place.

Create a New Normal. What is the new normal that you MUST accept in order to continue to have the quality of life that you’ve worked so hard to create?  Part of creating that new normal is shedding old defeating beliefs about yourself and the world around you.  Your new normal becomes your non-negotiable.  For example, in November 2011 Tanika and I became vegan, gluten-free, and caffeine-free.  In order for our change to have been sustainable over the last 3.5 years, we had to sever our connection and emotional affiliation to what it meant to eat meat, animal products, etc. and wholeheartedly create the new normal where meat, animal products, chocolate, and coffee no longer fit.  One way to do this is to actively replace those things you give up with something else that fits with your new vision of yourself, all the while realizing that this is something that you must do continually.  To do this requires making a series of adjustments.

Be grateful for all of your failures. It really is like Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  Gratitude for failure allows you to appreciate process and have compassion toward life and the many lessons it seeks to teach you.

“Do the Next Right Thing.” One slip up does not have to define you.  You have the power to choose and to choose those things that will elevate you at any given moment.  For more information about this concept, check out Matthew Kelly’s great book called Perfectly Yourself and Brian Johnson’s Philosopher’s Notes and video summary.  Doing the next right thing allows you to be unbothered and to reframe failure as a temporary state.

Be Courageous. It takes courage and resilience to look at defeat and failure and still make those necessary changes toward embracing the life that you want to have.

What steps did it take for you to create a new normal?  What are some barriers you are facing now when it comes to living in the life you want?  We would love to hear from you.

Best wishes on your journey–and remember to do you!

Lesson #18: Valentine’s Day Everyday 


Today is Valentine’s Day, a day to show love to the people in your life. It’s a day to let people know how much you care for them. This is the mentality of many people. Valentine’s Day in reality is just a day–one of 365 or 366 days of the year to express the love you have for the people in your life. Just like you wouldn’t want to wait until a funeral to tell someone you love them, don’t wait until Valentine’s Day to do so.
On this special day I want to express gratitude for the man who shows me love on a daily basis–my husband Sheriffo. He has made me feel extremely loved, honored and respected every day that we have been together. 
He prays for me, encourages me, teaches me new things, helps me sharpen pencils and grade papers at night. As a busy teacher and wife when I accomplish a portion of the many things on my to do list, he is proud of me.
If you are not in a relationship, I pray that you can find someone to treat you the way my husband treats me. Here are just some of the ways you can express love on a daily basis.

Ways to show love everyday:

  • Say I love you
  • Help with the laundry 
  • Cook dinner for your spouse
  • Wash the dishes after your spouse has cooked dinner
  • Pray for and with your spouse
  • Encourage him/her to achieve his or her goals
  • Have fun together 
  • Surprise your loved one with his/her favorite thing
  • Laugh together 
  • Eat dinner together without distractions 
  • Celebrate the small victories with your significant other 
  • Go on date nights a few times a month

Of course there are plenty of ways to express love and gratitude to your significant others. I don’t have all the answers. This post is dedicated to my beautiful husband Sheriffo. I love you always and forever on this day and everyday thereafter!
Love Always,
Tanika Monique 

Always & Forever 

Forever & Always

Blackeyed Pea Casserole Vegan & Gluten Free


My grandma told me that if you make black eyed peas at the beginning of a new year you will have good luck. I decided to put that theory to the test by making this dish on January 3 and then again last week. I’m a little late getting this recipe out, but I hope you enjoy as much as I did!
Here are the ingredients ou will need:

  • 1 bag of dry black eyed peas 
  • 1 carton of low sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes 
  • Daiya classic blend shredded cheese
  • 1 bag of beyond meat fiesta crumbles 
  • 1 bag frozen collard greens 
  • 1 onion (yellow or white)
  • 1 big sweet potato
  • 1 box of gluten free cornbread


  • Salt
  •  Black pepper
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Cumin 
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder 
  • Parsley (for garnish)
  • Italian seasoning (for garnish)

*Please note that when it comes to measuring spices I do not measure them. I just sprinkle by eye*


  1. Rinse ¾ of bag of black eyed peas then put in pot along with the vegetable broth. Cook for approximately 2 hours or until fork tender. (You can soak beans overnight or for at least 2 hours. I forgot to do this)
  2. While beans are cooking, cube 1 large sweet potato, and dice the onion
  3. Prepare cornbread mix according to package directions.(I used coconut oil instead of vegan butter and for an egg replacer I used flaxseed meal and water)
  4. Once beans are done cooking, scoop into a large 9×13 baking pan
  5. Add cubed sweet potato, canned tomatoes, diced onion, frozen collard greens, fiesta beef crumbles , and vegan cheese
  6. Add spices and mix until well incorporated 
  7. Spoon on cornbread batter on top and sprinkle Italian seasoning and parsley on top
  8. Bake for 40 minutes or until cornbread is done and sweet potatoes have softened

You can set your oven to 375-425 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can serve with rice and top with guacamole and salsa. The second time I made this I forgot to buy collard greens and I used green onions instead of regular onions.

This is a hearty meal that the entire family will love. It will last for several days if covered in the fridge. If you are not vegan or gluten free you can substitute the beefless grounds for real ground meat, the daiya cheese for real shredded cheese, and the cornbread for jiffy mix.
Stay blessed. Stay beautiful. Stay you!
Love Always,

Tanika Monique

Always & Forever

Forever & Always

Lesson 17: There Are Blessings In Each Day


Today as I was walking down the street, I started thinking about all the things I still needed to do. I started feeling overwhelmed thinking about my to do list. Then it dawned on me, “there is a blessing in everyday.” As I said this to myself, my eyes welled up with tears because I knew this was true. I may not be able to do all the things I think I need to do today. But God woke me up this morning; I have family who loves me; I love myself; I’m gainfully employed; I have a roof over my head.

Don’t get so drowned in your perceived problems that you are blinded to the blessings in this moment. Everyday you are alive is a blessing. The problems you have are blessings and opportunities to learn, grow, and become a better version of yourself.
This is a short and sweet message, but I hope it adds value to your life. I still have a ton of things to do, but it was important for me to write this message for myself and for you.
Stay blessed, KNOW THAT YOU ARE BLESSED, and See the blessings around you.
Love always,
Tanika Monique

Always & Forever

Forever & Always

Lesson #15: Have GODFIDENCE 


I was having a discussion with my sister yesterday that inspired me to write this post. I thought I made the term GODFIDENCE up, until I looked it up a few minutes ago. Anyway, I hope I can help inspire you to stay encouraged and have faith in God even when things are challenging in your life.
Often we are guilty of saying we trust God, but we actually don’t. Yesterday, I found myself worrying and stressing about a personal matter. I was filled with anxiety. Then I thought to myself, have GODFIDENCE. Confidence that God is working on my behalf. Whatever problems I have, God already has the solution.
According to tagdef.com, GODFIDENCE is “A feeling or consciousness of God’s powers or reliance on God’s promises; also the faith or belief that God will act in a right , proper or effective way.”
I really had to ask myself, do I trust that God will fulfill his promise to be there for me in my time of need? Do I really believe that the answers to all my prayers were on their way? By all the worrying I was doing, you would think that I didn’t. 
So I had to think, when has God failed me? The answer: NEVER. He hasn’t come when I wanted him to, but he’s always come right on time. Every problem that I’ve had, God has solved. When I look back on my life and think about everything I’ve been through, I know it was nothing but God that carried me through. I wouldn’t have made it this far without him. 
So I challenge you to really take an honest look at your life. Look back at all the instances where God has come through right in the knick of time. Think about the current problems you are facing; do you have GODFIDENCE or not? 
I don’t know what you are going through, but I know that with God you will get through it.
Be encouraged! Have GODFIDENCE!
Love Always,
Tanika Monique 
Always & Forever

Forever & Always

Mashed Plantains


If you have really ripe plantains and don’t know what to do with them, then this sweet recipe is just what you need. One day I baked some plantains (recipe coming soon) and I had some really ripe ones that were too mushy to bake. Since I didn’t want them to go bad, I decided to create this recipe.

The mixture of plantains, coconut, and pineapple is so delicious, it will have you wishing you were on a tropical island.

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Black Beans and Hash Browns


For the past two weeks this has been my favorite breakfast.  We eat this almost everyday.  It’s very filling and the good thing about this dish, is that you can add different toppings everyday to switch things up.  I’m going to share with you the recipe for the very first day I made this dish.  Without further ado, here are the ingredients you will need:

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