It was such a delight crossing paths with Brittney Pressley, who is the author of two books – Loving Inward, Living Outward, Looking Forward and Open Your Mind Before You Open Your Legs.  Now, you KNOW the later caught my attention by the title alone and it is with great pleasure to introduce you to this awesome writer that believes each of us have the capacity to live an abundant life if we just slowed down, paid attention then acted accordingly. Enjoy Brittney!

Hi Brittney! Please tell us who you are. No need for titles and all that fluff, just the real things that matter. I want people that haven’t read your book to see you, the real, the beautiful you. So yeah, who are you sister friend. ☺

I am a 26-year-old big kid ☺. I love laughing, having fun, and try not to take myself too seriously; this is probably because I was named after a cartoon character (Brittany from the Chipmunks). In the same token, I love the truth and self-reflection – I always have (my parents were always brutally honest with me growing up). I am an extrovert AND an introvert, although most people wouldn’t agree with the latter; when I’m around people I am inspired but I use my alone time to reflect and digest the inspiration. And of course I love writing.

We are all born with a purpose or a special assignment that only we meant to fulfill while here on this earth. How would you define your purpose or special assignment?

I’d define my purpose as helping others to find and connect with their core truth. I’m not a fan of the “surface” although I know the right times where it’s appropriate. I like for people to dig deep and learn how the details of their life, behaviors, beliefs, etc. are connected to who they are at the present time and to not be afraid of questioning and challenging it. I believe another part of my purpose is to go against the grain – the norm – status quo. I’ve always been a bit quirky in my thought processing so I love to challenge everything, ask questions most may be afraid to ask, and go places that most may only dream of.

When did you know you were born a writer? Do you remember how you expressed this love for writing as a little girl? For me, I remember having this 5-subject notebook that I would write these scenes in and I had another composition notebook that had all of these… sex stories in them. LMBO What about you?

HAHA…I would love to read those stories!
English was always my favorite subject and my love for music started early on (I’d read the lyrics and listen to the songs over and over until I knew every word). But I didn’t know that I was born a writer until a few years ago. I started writing poetry after grad school because in my head I’m the female version of Jay-Z; and the poetry that I was writing turned into parts of my first book, Loving Inward, Living Outward, Looking Forward.

bp bwGrowing up who encouraged your writing the most and who inspired you? Favorite author, poet etc? Was there a particular moment when you realized you were no longer a child that dreamed of writing, but were a REAL author/creator?

That’s a great question. Surprisingly, I’ve been more inspired my music than literature or poetry when it comes to writing. Maybe that’s because with music I was able to hear the story in less than four minutes and if I were to read a book it may have taken a couple of weeks. My family pushed education and reading from my childhood and my dad has always had a very vivid imagination so it could be a combination of reading plus getting my imagination of telling stories honestly. Even though I don’t write fiction books (yet) I still try to tell stories within a non-fiction realm which may not be what people would typically expect from a book categorized as “self-help”.

Because of how much his book, The Book of Secrets, helped me to gain a new level of consciousness and insight to myself, Deepak Chopra is my favorite author. Maya Angelou is one of my favorite poets because of her honesty, tenacity, passion, and never swaying from what she believed to be true.

How would you define or classify your style of writing? For some reason, I expected something completely different when I first read the title of your book. I thought it was going to be… sweet, but it was not that. It was real. Reading your book felt as if I was speaking with one of my girls that’s simply keeping it 100 while gently correcting how I interact and approach men. Generally speaking, is this what readers can expect from all of your material?

That makes me so happy to hear, honestly! That’s exactly what my intentions were going into this book. My writing style is more personable, I want it to feel like I’m talking to the reader and not like I’m talking at them or that I’m better than them. I’m still learning so much about myself but while I’m on my journey I want to stop periodically and share what I’m learning, in a very direct but friendly way if that makes any sense. Readers can expect that every time from me – I am very honest and don’t like fluff but my intentions are always to help (and on the back end learn from others as well). I was curious if women would think that I was attacking rather than trying to uplift them so I’m glad to know that it came across as I was one of your girls.

Your second book, Open Your Mind Before You Open Your Legs is timeless and I am so HAPPY I had the chance to read it. Tell us about the precise moment the light bulb when on and you KNEW this was the story you were going to tell next. Were you sipping on that liquid sauce your with girl friends talking about men or home reflecting on your previous relationships on a Friday night while eating ice cream? Please paint us a picture when the Divine placed this message on your heart?

Thank you! It was in the fall of 2013 that I knew I had to write the book. I was dealing with a lot of transition that year (moving away from home for the first time, living on my own for the first time, moving to VA from CT, starting a new job, working in Corporate America for the first time, my mom was getting divorced after about 18 years, my uncle was slowly dying from Gastric Cancer) – it was just an overall tough year for me. I was still dating and interacting with guys though. I would talk to my friend Millie all of the time about dating and I’d tell her that men and women communicating and understanding one another was God’s biggest joke to this earth. She has a daughter my age so she’d always give it to me straight, just like I was her daughter, and she’d tell me that the game never changes. I would complain to her about this one guy who kept playing games and she would say, “Well, as long as you keep talking to him you are playing the game too”. I didn’t understand that too well at the time because I thought that I wasn’t play any games at all and that I was just trying to decode why he was.

156843_345239412254372_1968581664_nThat summer, I read Manology by Rev Run and Tyrese and a few weeks after finishing that book is when my light bulb went off. I was reflecting on Manology and Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man and I was like, “wait a seconddddd – women are so busy looking for secrets on how to get and keep a man that we have not invested time in figuring out who we are or what we even want out of relationships.” And those quotations mean I was taking to myself ☺. That’s when I started to connect the dots in my own life; my relationship with my dad, my parent’s relationship, the cycles that I had adopted, the power of loving myself more than I ever love a man, how I developed my standards, the games that I’ve played, etc. After that I called my friend Millie and told her that I was going to write a book about relationships, but not until the following year, about everything that I had learned. I didn’t want to have two books published so closely to each other which is why I originally decided to write Open Your Mind Before You Open Your Legs in 2014 but the universe had a different plan. After that phone call where I spoke the book into existence, I kept hearing women say “men ain’t shit, all they want is sex”, “all men are dogs” and I felt like I had information that could help them. I found myself immersed in more conversations about men and women and taking a different approach than most women were. I was talking about the games women play (the games I was playing, what we allow, how we lower our standards just to have companionship, and so on. Then one day I was on my lunch break and decided that I was just going to go for it. Say it was a Thursday that I came up with the outline, by that Saturday I had already written the introduction and about five or six chapters because I had so much to say and so much that I wanted to share.

What was the writing process like? What was the editing process like? In the book you reference a few of your male friends – did they play a role in any rewrites you had? How many drafts DID you have before you completed the book? I’m always curious about that – what it takes to complete a book and when a writer has to say, enough is enough and this is it.

‘Enough is enough’ comes for me after I’ve had the proof for over a week and have read the book countless times haha. It never feels done so to speak but when I wasn’t getting the feeling of excitement, inspiration, or laughter from reading the book because I had read it so many times I knew it was time to let it go. I even found errors in the printed book but I’ve come to term with those because they were my fault for continuing to add content without having it re-edited.

The writing process for me is a very vulnerable space in which I’m inspired non-stop. Once I have my outline I am unstoppable and I’ll do things like wake up in the middle of the night or at 4 or 5AM to write down my thoughts. I spent a lot of my weekends writing and tried to balance out my social life but writing was definitely my priority. It took me about a month to write this book and even though there are only 168 pages, I know that’s unheard of. Once I had a draft I sent it to be edited and that took a couple of months because I wasn’t in a rush as I was working with the Graphic Designer to come up with concepts for the cover, waiting for the book to go through copyright, etc.

I was skeptical about adding my friends’ two cents in the book because I had never seen that done before but I would get to a chapter title and think, “hmmm…so and so would have some great insight to add to this”. I ended up going with it for a number of reasons, 1) some of my friends have expressed their interest in writing books and I wanted them to see their name in print so that they would feel inspired to write their own book eventually, 2) I don’t have a very large platform at this time but whatever platform I have I want to use it to pull people up and give them an opportunity to share what they know, and 3) I didn’t want the book to solely be my voice – I talk about relationships a lot with my girl and guy friends and wanted the readers to know that my view on relationships is not as farfetched as it may appear because the people in my circle have similar thought processes. Adding my guy friends’ contribution was to not only show the male perspective but also to show that there are good guys left and I just so happen to know a few.

What is the most beautiful thing you learned about yourself while married and what was the most beautiful thing about being married?

I’ve actually never been married – a friend of mine who has been married wrote the foreword. That’s a little later in life for me ☺.

In your ideal world, what would you want readers to gain most from your book Open Your Mind Before You Open Your Legs?

I want readers to challenge their views on intimate relationships, to really learn who they are, what they want, the direction they are headed; and I want them to embrace the vulnerability that comes along with intimacy. Intimacy, not sex! I also want readers to know that no matter what we were taught growing up (you deserve to be treated like a Queen) that we are merely a reflection of what we deserve. I also don’t want people to look at me as a “relationship expert” – I am simply sharing what I’ve learned about relationships and myself in order to help women understand that just because they’ve always been one way or have allowed certain things that they don’t have to continue on that path; change is certainly constant!

Personally, I feel the dynamic and respect between men and women, especially within the black community is deteriorating at an abysmal rate. For example, just listen to the lyrics of the most popular songs on the radio where the word BITCH is thrown around as if it’s synonymous with being a woman; to prime-time television where the most popular shows paint this idea that being the side-chick (mistress) is something to strive for, and NOW these MEMES all over social media that paint women in such a terrible light.

What advice can you give to young ladies (15-22 years of age) that are being bombarded with this type of messaging? In your own words, what would you say to the young woman growing up in this day in age that doesn’t have the impressions that certain media like Cosby Show, the Different Worlds, the Living Single, the Tevin Campbell and others provided?

I’d give 15-22 year olds a lot of the same advice that I gave in the book, “everything starts with you”. I’d want them to know that they have control over how people treat them, over respecting themselves, over setting boundaries for themselves or finding a mentor that they look up to and understanding the difference between entertainment and reality. Just because their favorite singer or rapper or TV personality refers to themselves or other women as a bitch or a “bad bitch” does not mean that they have to accept that for themselves.

I don’t watch TV often because I don’t connect to a lot of the messages or images being shown but I do see the social media mess lol. I think that it’s important for young women (and adults) to know that social media, although powerful, is not a real depiction of the world. I’d encourage them to put their phone down or turn the TV off and not be afraid to have open and uncomfortable conversations with the people around them whom they respect. Asking the questions that they don’t want to ask their friends is a start and setting goals for themselves to become what it is they want to become in this life is extremely important. There is life outside of Instagram ☺!!!

Another piece of information that I think is important for young women to know is that no matter how much they look up to someone, they do not have to agree with everything that person does or says. I used to be afraid of being labeled as a role model because I never wanted to let a young person down in the way that I have been let down before. And I never wanted someone younger to think that I was perfect without understanding that I’m flawed and a work in progress just like everyone else. I’ve come to terms with it now because I don’t mind telling younger girls to think for themselves and while they may be inspired by me, they shouldn’t digest everything I say as their truth. They should always challenge what they hear and learn; and never lose who they are trying to emulate someone else.

Without giving too much away, what do you think is the most important chapter in your book? It’s going to vary from person to person of course, but for me – I loved the section on LOVING YOURSELF and not getting LOST in your dream man. It’s so hard not to get lost when you meet that guy that just makes life feel like heaven by simply being around him. What do you think is the most important advice?

Ahhh, that’s so difficult. I think the most important chapter in the book is “Stop the Cycle” because without knowing why you act the way you do in relationships, why you have a particular mentality towards men, or without having a healthy definition of what love looks like the rest of the information can be considered null.

For example, growing up I saw women who had extremely high tolerance levels when it came to what they accepted from men. Now, there’s nothing at all wrong with having a high tolerance and being patient with people but it was to a fault in my opinion. It was like they were allowing men to get away with being disrespectful and in turn losing confidence and respect for themselves. I think it stemmed from the desire to keep their family together but what I’ve learned since is that there is nothing at all wrong with having boundaries and a low tolerance for disrespect. It’s one cycle that I’ve decided to stop – no matter who the person is (my father, a boyfriend, an uncle, a cousin, etc.) I will not allow them to disrespect me because of the role that they play in my life. I understand what I am worth and I won’t allow anyone, no matter how much I love them, to ignore that.

As much as we like to do things entirely on our own, God blessings come through other people. Who has helped you the most during your writing career?

Without knowing it my family has helped me the most because I’ve been able to learn so many lessons from them by simply watching them. Some of the lessons were straight up and some I had to learn by saying, “okay I don’t want to be in a situation like that so I’m going to do this differently”. I also have been fortunate enough to have older women in my life, outside of my family, who have been vulnerable enough with me to share some of their uphill battles and from that I’m always inspired to take what they’ve learned and try to turn it into fuel to become not just a better writer, but a stronger woman, a stronger person, and a more connected spiritual being.

What can we expect Brittney Pressley in the upcoming school year and how can we be of support?

In the next year I will be taking the steps to making a transition from the corporate world to being my own boss full-time. I am going on a grassroots book tour this July to Charlotte, NC, Atlanta, GA, Memphis, Tennessee, and Jackson, Mississippi and am looking forward to gaining more exposure and inspiring as many women and young women as possible.

Any last thoughts to share with those reading?

You have far more power within you than you think – tap into it!

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Tamala Baldwin

We are all born with incredible gifts and my purpose is to help as many along this journey of mine to remember their position of honor and royalty through inspirational, Christian-based media.
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