For many, International Women’s Month is all about reflecting on the legacies of amazing women who have overcome adversity and learning from them.
One woman is reminding us the importance of not only looking at the past, but also creating our own visions of the future.
As International Women’s Month comes to a close, it’s important to analyze all that we wish to become and hold space for those dreams.
Dr. Kari-Claudia Allen, a self-proclaimed Black girl visionary, is a board-certified physician, community leader, inspirational speaker, and woman of unassailable faith. She’s currently working as a professor of academic family medicine at the University of South Carolina. She’s also an expert on maternal-child health with a focus on diversity, community, and inclusion.
Dr. Kari-Claudia Allen offers the resounding wisdom that we as people, especially Black women, can start a new chapter. She created the Envision Journal, which is filled with vision boards, inspirational quotes, affirmations, writing prompts, interactive sections, and even playlists. The content covers the topics of faith, relationships, family, finances, radical self-care, self-love, gratitude, and more.
BGN was able to catch up with Dr. Kari-Claudia Allen and learn about her journey and the creation of her Envision Journal.
What inspired you to create the Envision Journal?
In December of 2018, I was in the kitchen of one of my friends and at her kitchen table, she was making a vision board. I had made vision boards in the past but I had never really saved them. She was trying to make one out of a blank composition notebook. She cut the vision board items out and pasted them into the notebook to try to keep them all in one place.
I was like, “What are you doing?” She got some magazines and some clippings, and I wanted to do this, too. So, she gave me a blank composition book that she had, and I started gathering some magazine clippings.
Instead of making a vision board, I wanted to make a vision journal. I wrote what I was imagining and envisioning, looking for everything significant. I spent hours working on the notebook. I remember almost a spiritual feeling coming over me. I started writing my gratitude list, a love letter to myself, and I remember thinking, “Oh my gosh, this is so powerful! I’m tapping into dream making,” which I hadn’t done in so long.
I decided I wanted to have a girl’s night to teach my other friends how to make a vision notebook. This turned into encouragement from my friends and eventually 35 people at a local boutique during my first visual journal workshop. We had a blast. I kept thinking this is something. In 2019, halfway through the year, I had accomplished 90% of what was on that list just because I wrote it down, thought about it, and manifested it. That’s how the idea of the vision journal came about. The vision journal was born out of that, and I started doing workshops all over the place.
How did you overcome the largest adversity of your life?
After living what many called “the perfect life,” I lost it all in 2014 and hit rock bottom. I was forced to completely start over, including my medical career. Not only did I leave a job I had worked incredibly hard for, but I was also going through a very painful divorce. My faith was slipping, and it was difficult to see a way forward. Not only did I have to believe in a purpose and power that is higher than me, I had to speak life back into myself. My words of affirmation spoke to a place that was greater than my brokenness. I was posting sticky notes all over my mirror, journaling, doing yoga, and just trying to do all the self-care things I could think of to heal my heart. And it worked. Radical self-care saved me.
As I healed and grew more and more into my authentic self, I knew I had to share the tools I had gained with other women. Creating and working my vision journal changed my life in a matter of months. I have always been a journal lover and have been writing in journals and diaries since I learned to write. I’m the woman who has splurged on pretty planners, calendars, and journals of all sorts — but nothing transformed my thinking like my vision journal did. When I found this secret, I knew I had to share it with the world. In fact, it was always shocking to me that more people weren’t using vision journals. When I tell people about them, the immediate response is always: “I’ve heard of vision boards, but what’s a vision journal?” I love that moment because I get to share this amazing thing that I know is going to radically change their worlds.
What does Black girl visionary mean to you?
It defines who I am. It means to keep fighting, to keep living. I think of my ancestors a lot. I think of what they endured and what they imagined. I even think back to the Civil Rights movement and how hard our ancestors fought, how hard Martin Luther King and his colleagues fought based on a vision that they had never seen before. Just the ability to dream and think that there has to be a better way — I believe we can do better and be better.
Do you have a message for Black girls and women who feel like they’ve lost their connection to their dreams and aspirations?
Yes, absolutely. My watchwords are to envision, manifest, thrive. I think of what those three words mean. To envision means envisioning your most authentic and abundant self. What does your life look like? Are you living and breathing all the joy that you can? To manifest is manifesting your dream into your reality by living out your purpose. So, if you believe it, you can have it. I live by that. If you can see it, you can definitely have it.
Then, to thrive comes from thriving in this life you’ve built and knowing who you are and what you can offer this world and what is possible for you, which is absolutely anything.
I love that Oprah Winfrey quote where she says, “Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life because you become what you believe.” You become what you do. So, if you have found yourself disconnected, feeling exhausted by adulting or things that just come up in life, know that it’s never too late to journal a dream.
To me, having a vision is like having a memory. Even if you can’t recall it right now, it’s never gone, because the brain never forgets. So, you still have your vision. The more you reconnect to the source of your power and your strength — whatever your guide is — the more that you connect with that, the more that you connect with yourself.
The Envision Journal is available on myenvisionjournal.com for around $30 and Black Girl Nerds readers can use the exclusive code: BLACKGIRLNERDS (all caps, one word) and save 11% on their journal purchase.
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Danielle Broadway is an English Literature MA student at California State University, Long Beach. She has been published in Black Girl Nerds, LA Weekly and Medium, is a writer for CSULB’s the Daily49er, is a managing editor for Watermark, her school’s academic literary journal and is an assistant editor at Angels Flight • literary west. She’s an activist and educator that is inspired by her family to make social change both in the classroom and beyond.