Today, Aniyah speaks to us about her recent courageous transitions, her blog and how God speaks to us when we feel something is off.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I had a great childhood. My parents were very creative and worked hard to make it memorable. I was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Spent most of my summers in St. Louis, Missouri.
When I grew up on 15th & Meinecke in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, my parents would cook these really big meals. A lot of their friends from the neighborhood would come over to grab a plate. It was a fun and loving environment. Those were the days where your entertainment was what was happening outside and everyone sat on their porch to decompress, gossip, share stories, do hair and simply “just be”. Around age 5-10, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents and great aunt, (my mother’s mom, my dad’s aunt and my dad’s father). At my grandmother’s house, she would give me a sketchbook, paint, markers, colored pencils, tape, fabric, yarn and a bunch of other creative tools. She’d just let me figure out what to do with the crafts, and I’d create “mixed media” art. I could always count on her placing sherbet in a vintage tulip sundae dish paired with a decorative spoon nearby. She always kept the projects too, all the work of her grandchildren. From the drawings, paintings and mixed media art of her own, I suppose she’s where I grew my love and admiration for art and texture. Everything in her home had a story; from the large blue chinese vases to the wooden chairs made by hand that were 100 plus years old.
My great aunt, boy did I have great times with her. I think my aunt and Papa (grandpa) had an underling sibling rivalry in regards of who I liked and wanted to be around the most. So my Papa, being competitive and a crazy daredevil, took the cake by teaching me how to build stuff with tools no child should ever use. Thank God, I still have all my fingers and toes! I built my own dollhouse “mansion” and painted it white. He also taught me how to garden. Great times.
My grandpa and great aunt are no longer here with me. My grandma is still here, but she’s putting up a great fight with advancing Alzheimer’s, so I feel like I’m holding onto pieces of her and cherishing every moment of it.
I grew up in a well structured household. My dad identifies himself as a Christian. My mom is a free spirit who believes her church is her home. Growing up, I’ve always been big on energy and as I got older, I’ve been more intuitive. It gets eerie how accurate and intense it gets. I believe I get it from my mom and just learning how to be in tune with myself.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: And the LORD answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.” Habakkuk 2:2 (English Standard Version)
Also, to ever needs it, I watch Sarah Jakes Roberts on YouTube. She’s the best! With her content from prayers, stories, and preaching, she got me through some dark times. She’s very unorthodox and down to earth with her preaching which makes her so relatable.
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: My spiritual growth focus at the moment is self-awareness and self discipline. As I become aware of my own self-sabotaging traits and instill discipline into my life, I know I’ll evolve to the best me, at all times. It’s so easy to get distracted and lose sight of the bigger picture of what I want manifested. Living in a world that is very fast paced, here today and gone tomorrow, it’s essential for me to stay grounded.
Profession: I am a freelance writer, creative director and social media marketing specialist. I’ve received sponsorships and collaborative work with Panera, Johnson & Johnson, Tostitos/Frito-Lay, Chipotle, Clinique, Peace over Violence, and CYO Cosmetics.
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? God’s Favor.
My name, Aniyah- it’s origin is Polish and Hebrew. From Polish roots, its meaning is God was gracious, God has shown favor.
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? I went through a moment in high school where I questioned everything, as every human should. Around that time I stopped believing but… God has an interesting way of presenting himself – at least for me.
I was rejected from a college I wanted to attend (rightfully so, didn’t have the best portfolio) and nothing was working in my favor. I just felt, down all the time, and it wasn’t like me. During this time, I experienced a lot of dark nightmares. So dark that I felt the need to tell my mother about it and asked what did it mean. She told me to pray about it and actually get on my hands and knees while praying. And whenever I felt a presence or a spirit of some sort, repeat “In the blood of Jesus” out loud. I decided to get more in tune with blind faith and spirituality.
I didn’t consider myself a Christian. I still don’t give myself a title other than being a believer. However, I do practice many Christian beliefs and adopt the customs from different practices into my lifestyle. After those specific moments, I realized there was an evil spirit or energy of some sort that was trying to make its way into my life. I knew, if there’s evil, then there’s no denying that there is a God. Right? Just has to be.
Fast forward to now, I believe within the past recent years I lost myself and was obsessing over earthly things in vain. It took for God to take a lot of it away and remind me that He is all I need; also was His way of showing me how versatile and creative I can be while in between blessings or removing all that was no longer needed in my life. Of course, as humans we need shelter, clothes, and transportation to get to point A to point B but when we obsess over material things, earthly things (people, objects and circumstances), soon enough, a humbling awakening will arrive.
How has your relationship with Him changed you? I feel like I’m more in tune with myself and the world around me. When I am disconnected with God, I am all over the place. I used to be so desensitized with certain content, from film and music all the way to everyday conversations. It got to the point where any horror films based on true events, can’t enjoy for entertainment anymore, and I love horror films.
When something doesn’t feel right, I can feel it in my spirit. It doesn’t have to be anything dramatic, it could be something as simple as making impulsive purchases while trying to save. It’s the feeling of being rushed, body temperature feeling overheated, shortness of breath and anxiety. That isn’t typical anxiety. That’s God’s way of speaking to you. I pay attention to my nervous system while making decisions now, for purchases, spending time with people, dating, literally any and everything. If something doesn’t feel right, chances are, it probably isn’t.
“That isn’t typical anxiety. That’s God’s way of speaking to you.”
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? Honestly, it is a bit of a struggle answering this on a platform other than my own. This season I was forced to trust faith and involve myself in everything that scares me. Travel more. Take my hunger for being a writer to new heights. Network and put myself in rooms that I didn’t think I was ready to be in. I was living in Milwaukee, for a while. I went to school. Got a degree in Fashion & Retail Marketing.
I then attended Roosevelt University in Chicago, commuting 2-3 times a week from Milwaukee to major in journalism. Was in a relationship. Trying to make my hobbies as a writer become a side hustle. Within these four years, something had to go. I was experiencing burnout and depression. I took a break from school to focus on my finances and mental health. My relationship took an unexpected turn and began to get toxic. Toxic enough that I had two options, proceed with fake smiles and feel miserable inside or leave and figure the rest out later with hopes of getting a piece of my sanity back.
I had no idea how things would turn out. I used all of my savings to uproot my life. I broke my lease, I moved out of my “beautifully and aesthetically curated” townhouse in Riverwest. Pretty much packed the entire house and moved it into storage (Anyone need furniture? Tired of paying this bill).
The transition was painful, but looking back, I learned how temporary everything is, both good and bad. Now, I’m learning how to apply that in every situation. When life gets complicated and the unexpected happens, the only thing I can do is accept and adapt. And when I say adapt, I don’t mean settle. Adapt as in make adjustments needed to make room for what is destined for me.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): I am actually looking for new books to read, so if anyone has any recommendations, please share.
Top three essentials: Depends on the category, life in general:
- A charged phone
(bonus, rosehip oil, chewing gum & lip gloss)
How did God speak to you recently? I’ve been in harmony with “angel numbers.” It’s something that’s been fun to look into. I’ve been experiencing burnout this month and feeling like it’s been hard to get back into the rhythm of things. I keep seeing “414” everywhere. As I searched for what this angel number represents, here’s what I’ve found:
“Angel Number 414 is a message from your angels that you are to look to new ways to go about getting your work done more effectively and efficiently. Listen to your intuition as your angels are ushering positive energies towards and around you.” Blog source.
Also, God speaks to me directly through people. Just this week I had to travel to Wisconsin before work (in Chicago) to run some important errands I’ve been neglecting. I was a bit overwhelmed with the status of my vehicle due to a stolen car hitting it while parked a little over a week ago. Both tired and cranky after a horrible breakfast, just two apples and a free cappuccino, this very sweet and kind woman was talking my ear off. I don’t know what it is with people but they randomly start conversation with me with very personal topics. I sit through it to be polite, but every now and then, I find something to take with me. It’s almost as if the exact thing I’m stressing over, God speaks through them to deliver a message and give advice to me.
“It’s almost as if the exact thing I’m stressing over, God speaks through them to deliver a message and give advice to me.”
Hobby: Do I have hobbies? I suppose I do but haven’t had time to do them. I like to paint. Writing and journaling is a must for me. If I go too long, I feel like I’m suffocating. Watching interviews to recharge and get motivated is definitely a must for me as well. From time to time, I like to guess samples used from music when I have down time. I used to make style mood boards for inspiration but haven’t felt inspired in a while with fashion. Growing up, thrifting from second hand stores, estate sales and yard sales with my mother and grandma was my favorite thing to do. We would go out, get brunch, grab tea, and “ball out.” My most time consuming hobby that is very unproductive is binge watching dog and random animal/travel compilations on social media. For the past few years I’ve been on and off with studying birds. My favorites are flamingos, harpy eagles, and shoebills.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong:
- Stay in tune with yourself. Pray, meditate, read, write, buy crystals, or whatever works best for you to stay in alignment with your purpose.
- Detach yourself from things that doesn’t serve you purpose or make you feel uneasy. If taking a break from social media is necessary, do it. If your creative work starts feeling like a chore and you no longer enjoy it, step back for a moment to recharge. If you hate your job, I know it’s easier said than done but, find a new one. Relationship with your partner coming to an end, it’s ok. You’ll be ok. Accept and make peace with it. Know that whatever is meant to be, will be. You don’t belong to anything, so free yourself.
- Feed your spirit more than you feed your flesh. We all seek a certain type or amount of cars, homes, money or jobs but while manifesting those things, pray for clarity, for healing, balance, peace, the will to let go, the will to learn, the will and motivation to make changes needed. These are the things that will align you with financial freedom, a career in your desired field of interest and so on.
Favorite person in scripture? A few names cross my mind, but I still have a lot of learning to do in order to have a favorite.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? I love this question! Well… I want people to know that God will always make a way. I want people to know that starting over isn’t a bad thing, and in many cases it’s for the better. Therefore, give yourself permission to keep starting over. It’s God’s way of rerouting you for reasons that may not make sense at the time, but they will eventually.
“I want people to know that starting over isn’t a bad thing, and in many cases it’s for the better.”
How do you engage with your community? I’m always in search of ways to get more physically involved with the community. As of now, I have a blog and there’s a section called “Girl Talk” where I talk about relationships, mental health, spirituality, and how to tap into creativity. It’s for a community of women who need a place to receive inspiration in an unorthodox way. I receive a lot of personal messages from my following via Instagram or email about their journey experiencing depression, a toxic relationship, or trying to find ways to part-take in self love and self care. To hear that my words helped them muster up strength to never give up… that’s so powerful and means the world to me. I believe being a voice for women is tied into my calling. It’s something I’m vastly passionate about.
“I have a blog and there’s a section called “Girl Talk” where I talk about relationships, mental health, spirituality, and how to tap into creativity. It’s for a community of women who need a place to receive inspiration in an unorthodox way.”
Favorite holiday? This one is tough. Top three in no specific order, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. I have a huge crazy family full of “jokesters” so it’s always refreshing to be around them for the holidays. My family really needs their own reality show.
A goal you have? Better my consistency with developing and pushing out content as a creative. It’s good but could always be better. I also want to collaborate with more non-profit organizations. Get more active in the community.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: In Missouri, Sunday dinners was a tradition, but now it’s just dinners and gatherings at random for everyone to catch up and enjoy each other’s company.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? “Will my sarcastic dark sense of humor get me kicked out? If so, is it temporary or … would I be sh*t out of luck?”
Thing you want to raise awareness about: The importance of mental health, self love, self awareness, spirituality, breaking family cycles of trauma and miscommunication and financial literacy.
What does your morning routine consist of? Depends on the day. Lately, it’s been a sh*t show. However, ideally… it’s me lying down. Setting my alarm 15 minutes earlier than when I actually need to get up. That way when it goes off, I don’t have to rush and get ready. I can allow my mind to recharge. Drink a glass of water. Pray, meditate, write. I have a journal where I write to God. It’s where I show gratitude and seek answers. Vent about things I’m moved by or release any negative energy that I’ve caused myself. Make smoothies. Eat breakfast. Make tea. Drink another glass of water. Go for a walk. Get dressed, start the day. My schedule is all out of whack as of now but give me another two weeks when things settle down for a bit, I’ll be back on my A game.
What is on your nightstand? A glass of water next to a bottle of water. A stack of books with two journals placed on top – one journal is for errands and the other is for my conversations with God. There’s also a rock from Turks and Caicos and a seashell from Cayman Island and a gigantic bag of Swedish Fish.
Define Christianity in a sentence: Seeing that I don’t give myself a religious title I’ll put my spin on it and substitute with spirituality.
Spirituality is the journey of being in alignment with your values and beliefs lead by faith and instincts.
For more Aniyah:
- Spiritual, lifestyle, & beauty writer
- Creative director & social media marketing specialist
Until next time, keep witnessing!