Switch It Up – Poetic Brain Dump #soc

SOC = Steam of Consciousness 

  • Set the timer for 5 mins.
  • Get comfortable.
  • Type anything that comes to mind.
  • This is a way to clear the mind before starting the day or before going to bed.
  • This may not make sense to anyone but me (maybe, ha!)
  • The people mentioned are real people. The names may/may not be their real names.
  • This is unedited.


Switch it up. 

The bed has 4 aides and none of them are right or wrong. 

The bed doesn’t get you out of it.

The walls don’t talk.

The streets don’t watch.

The grapevine doesn’t echo.

Raisins don’t dance.

Lions don’t laugh…wait do they?

Our train of thought’s name isn’t Thomas or the little engine that could.

It is circus.

It is illusion.

It is zoo.

All of our thoughts are animals who used to be wild.

Used to risk takers.

Now caged. Taught to live as spectacles.

Taught that spectacle is safe.

A dog that will bring a bone will take one.

Because bones aren’t supposed to hurt anyone.

In fact, nothing is supposed to hurt anyone.

#theend #shellyism #soc 

As we kick off a new year we naturally seek ways to start anew. We want to release old, negative, stagnant energy and step into a space of renewed positive energy.  Starting a new year supports the feeling that we have another opportunity to start/complete the things we didn’t start/complete last year. This is an awesome time to do a few activities to help you usher in the new year. Here is one that was recently given to me. I will be doing this activity this week and will blog about my experience.

Energy release activity:

1. Write a letter to 3 people (living or dead) you want to say something to
2. Read each one out loud.
3. Burn the letters
4. Sit quietly and take 7 or more deep breaths. I suggest meditating but the 7 deep breaths will complete the release as well.

I have identified (in my head) who my 3 people will be but when I get ready to write someone else may come to mind. At least two of the people that come to mind are still alive. I admit that I feel a little weird writing this out, reading it aloud and not going straight to them to tell them what I want to say. I am a pretty direct person, however, if I was going to tell them these things I guess I would have already. There is something stopping me and holding me back from living as free as I want to. I no longer want old thoughts to creep into my psyche when my guard is down. So I am starting with dealing with me vs. dealing with the person.

Stay tuned for an update within the week.

Thank you for reading!

Arguing with myself -Stream of Consciousness 12/2/16 #soc

  • Set the timer for 5 mins.
  • Get comfortable.
  • Type anything that comes to mind.
  • This is a way to clear the mind before starting the day or before going to bed.
  • This may not make sense to anyone but me (maybe, ha!)
  • The people mentioned are real people. The names may/may not be their real names.
  • This is unedited.


This chair is not comfortable. I should get a better chair. It’s early. Writing a to-do list is such a great idea. I may or may/not do everything on my to-do list but it feels good to write. When I am coaching full time I will coach clients to do that. Hmmm….Coaching. I have so much information to give people. I thing a lot about my worth. Am I worthy of being called a coach, a great mom, a great girlfriend. Wait..it just hit me. Am I a great girlfriend. EEk! Who knows but the dudes I’ve dumped or who have dumped me. Ha! First of all I am worthy of whatever the hell I want to be worthy of being or being without explanation. Second of all I am a great girlfriend I think. Did I just start kinda arguing with myself. LOL! That’s stupid.

I want to spend life helping others via motivational speaking, coaching, clothing, and stuff. Wait…lol! That’s only partially true. I really want to spend my life being be open and freely while waving people along for the journey. I want people to see me and be encouraged. Sheesh 5 minutes is not a long time. I am thinking more thoughts and wanting to keep writing. This alarm is annoying. I’m still typing. Wait am I defying the alarm that I set. I must STOP arguing with myself. Ha!

Thank you for reading.

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Twitter @iamshellybell

Stream of Consciousness – 12/1/16 #soc

  • Set the timer for 5 mins.
  • Get comfortable.
  • Type anything that comes to mind.
  • This is a way to clear the mind before starting the day or before going to bed.
  • This may not make sense to anyone but me (maybe, ha!)
  • The people mentioned are real people. The names may/may not be their real names.
  • This is unedited.


Deep breaths are awesome. I should take more of them.
Yesterday was amazing. This women in leadership rountable/meeting/gathering of kick ass women was super dope.
Man, Aerica be hooking me up. I am so thankful for Christine’s intro. I kinda wish Christine was still here. I wanna talk to her about all the things I’m thinking. Man, I wish I was still a apart of Femex. I wanna talk to all of them. Anyway, today is a great day. Ah man, I missed the New Moon. I was gonna do a whole New Moon ritual. I felt like I needed to. Maybe the universe is saying I just need to keep doing what I am doing.

Meditating everyday and taking time for devotion has been invigorating. Lemme stop. I only used that word bc people might read this. I don’t use the word “invigorating” often. It feels like a hiccup of a word to stuff in your mouth. Words are weird. I was also thinking that surfing is weird. I was telling Epiphany last night that I am not sure who look at a huge overwhelming pile of water and thought “hmm I should take a piece of wood and ride across that.” Oooh…I should research the beginning of surfing for my motivational speeches. YES!

-Time’s up-

My goal is to do this exercise everyday. I feel invigorated (ha!) and more ready for my day.

IG @iamshellybell
Snap @shellybehere
Twitter @iamshellybell

Because the Judge says so?

In a Virginia court of law, a judge in my child support case evaluated my ex-fiance and I’s income according to her own judgement and the state’s child support calculator. When I told her that I had launched my company (Made by a Black Woman) in January and was currently only able to show her what I had been making (a little over $500 a month) vs. what I will be making consistently in the future she asked “Well what did you make last year?” Last year I signed on to make about $60,000 from a full-time job. I also had income from organizing events and poetry performances. She then asked “How did you go from making $65,000 to making $500 a month? I explained to her that I was laid off in August and decided to start my own business. Her response was

“If you can’t make $30, 000 – $40,000 running your own business then you need to find a job”

Immediately my blood began to boil! Who was she to make this judgment? I just launched the business in January. It’s only April. We are barely out of the first quarter and speaking in terms of quarters I’ve made significant progress for a small business considering that I’ve had to take out loans to cover expenses. Business is growing. I am Shelly Bell, LLC is the overarching business with Made by a Black Woman as a fashion company and MsPrint USA as a custom apparel printing company under it’s umbrella. She asked how much I would be making if I were recorded my income as $40, 000 which I am on par for making and quite possibly likely to exceed. I resent the idea that an honorable judge responsible for upholding the laws of the land, who most likely when into huge debt trying to become such person made a comment that has NOTHING to do with my child support case and insinuates that I could possibly be attempting to gain support for myself outside of my child. I was granted $700 a month which is JUST enough to cover costs for daycare for my 18 month old. This is all that I have been requesting of her father and all the input I needed from the courts. Whether or not I “should” continue my passion for entrepreneurship is NOT the call of any judge.

If court was a safe space where you could represent yourself and be respected as a human being who is capable of representing yourself I would have had this reply for the judge:

“While I understand that you are not a fan of marginalized groups who don’t have the resources to borrow large lump sums of money to start a business you have no right to minimize my efforts to own my own business with your limited views. Such snide remarks should be unlawful and I should have the right to request another judge. It is possible that I have the right to request another judge, but I have been advised by lawyers that I would be risking the “bad kid” syndrome where the new judge would be judging me based on your opinions. This affects my safety and trust in the court system. Your comments affect my trust in the right to fairness by someone who is supposedly knowledgeable enough to facilitate law enforcement in Virginia but lacks understanding of marginalization and how that affects entrepreneurs of color. Women of color entrepreneurs to be exact. I am appalled by the idea that a judge who lacks empathy is even presiding over my case. I came here for fairness and I am leaving in fear of neither my ex or I receiving such.”

Since this incident my ex and I have decided to settle out of court with our own document. The picture above is the picture hanging directly behind the judge while we discuss visitation and child support. How the hell can a citizen feel safe looking at that?! A BLACK CITIZEN TO BE EXACT!

Thank you for reading!

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Warning: I haven’t blogged in a while and this post is just a ramble. 

Week to week visitation has begun. Skylar (22 month old) stays with Paul (dad) one week and with me (mom) the next week. This is my third child and I have never had visitation split this way. Leading up to this week we have been to mediation and court to work out visitation and support. Through this process I realized that black men are traumatized by the idea of court, police, and a possibly other government entities that represent control (like the IRS). I was completely comfortable going through court to settle our differences, but Paul believed wholeheartedly that we could have made the decisions ourselves. This is coming from a dude who is a selfish only child and at the time was still throwing “i’m not happy” temper tantrums over really small things.

I am 7 years older than him so it is only natural that I be patient with his maturity, but I was really clear that we would not be able to communicate in a way that could resolve visitation and support easily. His qualm with court has never really been explained. He just always says “I just don’t want to go through the court.” Then he kinda emphasizes the words like “BECAUSE IT’S COURT!” I usually reply with a blank stare “OK. I don’t get it. It has actually helped.” He disagrees. I feel that court has kept him on his “A” game when it comes to paying child support and finding a place of his own quickly so that we can begin week-to-week visitation.

I had so many concerns about this new visitation schedule. Will Skylar adapt well? Will she be choosing who’s house is more fun? Will she want to stay with him over me or me over him? Out of all the things that were so hard to communicate about, this is one area where we both shared a bit of fear. It has been easy to identify all the places we disagree. Disagreement is louder than agreement. Sometimes I think we were so busy disagreeing that we could not stay together. Staying together meant acceptance. Him accepting that I am NOT a traditional woman and me accepting that he IS a traditional man. Even though acceptance may not have been the key to giving Skylar the chance to grow up with a mom and dad in the same home it surely would have been nice to try.

The week has been going fine! Paul drops her at school in the morning. I pick her up from school. He picks her up from me and she spends the night with him. It gives me more time to work. I feel guilty because I actually like having the free time at night. I miss her like crazy though! Next week is my week. I am not sure if she will understand that Daddy is not coming to pick her up. It just dawned on me while typing that maybe he should come over a few times throughout the week. Here’s the kicker! In order to make this work I have to see him more which is something that I don’t necessarily want to do. He is cool and all but he represents a bit of trauma for me. Of course, I just bite the bullet for Skylar because that’s what “good moms” do right? sigh.

The saga continues….


Thank you for reading!

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Let’s Open Mic TONIGHT!

Open Mic Poetry Night with Award-Winning Poet Shelly Bell

For Immediate Release: April 21, 2016

In celebration of National Poetry Month the Mobile Art Lab is hosting a Live Poetry Open Mic night at the Braddock Interim Park, 600 N. Henry St., on Friday, April 22 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Poet and advocate Shelly Bell will lead the evenings events with live poetry readings and music. Everyone is welcome to attend and recite his or her own poetry or his or her favorite poems and songs. Refreshments will be available.

Shelly Bell is among the nation’s most sought after writers, community organizers and performers. Excelling as a truly dynamic force in the local (Washington, DC), national and now international media, her work as a performance poet has led to an arts partnership with the Northern VA Fine Arts Association, an interview with NerdWallet, a performance with the world renowned Washington Metro Philharmonic Association, and serving as an Arts Commissioner for the City of Alexandria, VA.

She is the author of All Women are Stupid Sometimes – a contemporary tale of what women endure for love. Her poems have been published for academia in Critical Articulations of Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation which examines the relationship between race, gender and sexual orientation. Shelly has published articles on music, arts, and culture as a contributor for Brightest Young Things, Brooklyn Bodega, and the editor of The Dope Female Critics. She is also the founder of Women Writers Rock – an advocacy group for women readers and writers in the DC metro area and beyond.

She chases the new while maintaining a savvy consistent business flair as a writer, designer, and filmmaker. Shelly Bell is unquestionably an extraordinarily gifted artist mixing uncommon honesty with a populist style. Her unflinching desire to remain honest to herself and her aspiration makes her personal motto entirely true. “Regret Nothing Write Everything!”

National Poetry Month 1/30

April is National Poetry Month! Every year poets around the world take on the challenge of writing a poem a day for 30 days. Every year I begin the challenge, but I think I’ve only completed it maybe once. This year is slightly different. I am going to begin the challenge, but I am not going to pressure myself to complete it! Writing every day is a huge task, but rewarding nonetheless. Plus, I need new poems in my life. After launching Made by a Black Woman as an online retail store and a design center I have been busy making living the entrepreneur life of hustle, happiness, and more hustle. February (Black History Month & my birth month), March (Women’s History Month), and April (National Poetry Month) are month long celebrations that vibrate various parts of who I am. Each month means a lot to me and has been a part of my journey as a designer, poet, and artist in general. So here we go!


You are not a penis’ bell hop,
Not escort for sperm,
Not a tool,
Not a party favor,
Not an accessory,
Not just company for the man,
Not plucked from below his ego.

Rib, is bone.
Rib, is structural.
Rib, he can break.
Rib, he can live without.
Rib, man can repair.
Rib, man has more than one of.
Rib, can be kicked.
Rib, is strong but unremarkable.
Rib, is the most forgotten part of body.

You are more than rib.
You, big bang.
You, spontaneous combustion.
You, unpredictable explosion.
You, Venus.
You, Moon.
You, cyclical.
You, stardust.
You, complex.
You, magical.
You, mysterious.
You, 5th element.
You are so much more than the bone that grew Fallopian tubes.

You appeared.
You are pulse.
More artery than bone
More muscle than rib
Man made God his image.
Man forgot how you got here.
Man don’t know what to do with you,
as if  it’s his decision,
to do,
with you,
at all.

When Mantras and Bible Verses Fail

Some days the reminder that I am a single parent comes rushing through my spirit like a gust of Chicago wind. It rustles my emotions and whirlwinds my plans. While “single mother” is not synonymous with “fatherless,” most days there is an imbalance of active parent participation. A mismatched level of accountability that hovers over our co-parenting routines. I feel heavy today. Skylar needs to learn to potty. Imani needs to be pushed to balance school and to practice her basketball skills. Josiah needs to exercise more and to be told what he is doing right more times than what he is doing wrong. I just launched an online retail store that needs marketing. I have 4 dependents. None of them will be successful without me. To hold so many futures in my hands at once is exhausting. Especially on days when my super powers are running low. In the hours where my own thoughts are kryptonite. These are the moments when mantras and Bible verses fail. When my throat hurts from trying to hold back tears. When my belly jerks a little because short breaths are the cure for anxiety. Trying to think a positive thought seems like too much thought.

Feels Overwhelmed

I need a crying room right now. A place to just scream, cry an ugly cry, toss the wind back out to the world, and to have the biggest temper tantrum an adult can have. Sometimes I need space to be unreasonably emotional. I don’t have a crying room so my room will have to do. My pillow will have to muffle the yelling and the wind will have to exit quietly under the bedroom door. The soaking power of pillows beats Brawny paper towels any day! I take this moment to ALLOW MYSELF TO LOSE IT!


When I start feeling like loss is all I have I tend to lose IT. Well, I don’t really lose IT, I just throw IT down then stomp on IT until I’m ready to pick it up, dust it off, and hold on to IT again. Much like a toddler, when tantrum is over I will just have to get up and fall in agreement with the things expected of me. On the other side of this cry the situation doesn’t change. Skylar will still be pottying on Imani’s floor, Imani will still need to be yelled at to condition for basketball, Josiah will still need me as a drill sergeant if he’s ever going to exercise, and my company will still need me to network to push it forward. The before-the-breakdown me is different from the after-the-breakdown me. Releasing tears is an essential part of a spiritual detox. Though I did not consciously choose this detox my body knew it was time to rid myself of some emotions. I will probably cry on and off through the night. A good detox could take some time. I had an epiphany last week that the eyes are funnels to the brain. Everything I’m viewing is being screened through previous experiences and being sifted into my psyche as being one thing or the other. However, this is not 2002, I am not a college kid with two kids and a part-time job. I am not fighting the same battles. I am not a teen mom trying to prove to everyone that I can succeed. I am successful. I will continue to succeed.

AND just like that my mantras float back…..”Success is easy for me” “No matter what success continues for me” “I am moving forward into opportunity” “This moment in life is new and I will live it as such!”

Line up the responsibilities. Let’s rumble!


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