What Is Your Definition of Success?

Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” 
— Dr. Maya Angelou

View article on anitarussell.medium.com

Ask Yourself These Questions to Develop Your Unique Definition of Success

Do you have your own definition of success? Many people are trying to live up to society’s definition of success without considering if this is the best option for themselves. Ask others what success means and you’re bound to hear a variation of these answers:

Nice house, big and fancy, with an infinity pool, in a gated community. 
Fancy cars to fill up a five-car garage.
Respectable corporate job worth bragging about.
An attractive spouse.
A bazillion dollar bank account.

Those things are fine if that’s what you choose. But suppose success is meant to be just as unique as each of us. Or suppose your vision of success does not fit a standard, melting pot definition. If you take the time to think about it, your definition of success might be something completely different and off the standard path. Consider this alternative success scenario:

Being single and traveling the world. 
Running your own business from a laptop. 
Having meaningful adventures each day. 
Wearing flipflops at least eight hours each day.

A person with this definition of success would be miserable in the first scenario. They might find themselves accomplishing something that is not so appealing in the end; something that lacks the fulfillment that was hoped for. How do you avoid that kind of disappointment? By creating your own definition of success!

Start by considering these introspective questions.

Continue reading

Meet 40 Resilient Women Who Rise and Make a Difference


Hey, come closer. My name is Anita Russell and I want to tell you about the newest installment of the Voices of the 21st Century book series. In this book, you’ll discover the messages of forty women who have channeled their passion into a mission to make a difference.

By joining forces on the pages of the book, these messengers spread their wings and expand their reach around the world. The book I’m talking about is Voices of the 21st Century: Resilent Women Who Rise and Make a Difference, published by Women Speakers Association. I am proud to be one of the forty messengers. The book releases on February 23. Visit the official website at voicesofthe21stcenturybook.com. And I’ll see you on February 23.

A Short Story: Musings of a COVID-19 Baby


“Musings of a COVID-19 Baby” is the title of a short story I wrote as a co-author of a new collaborative book project. My name is Anita Russell. Through my work as a life coach, speaker, and author, I distrupt limited beliefs, empower deep self-knowledge, and challenge women to break barriers, unleash their true potential, and live intentionally. I’m here to tell you about my story in a collaborative book project, Voices of the 21st Century: Resilient Women Who Rise and Make a Difference,   

I wrote “Musings of a COVID-19 Baby” as a tribute to my two grandsons;  Cairo, a one-year-old, and Zane, a thirteen-year-old. It reflects a vision for my grandsons to exercise their birthright to freely exist in the skin in which they were born.

I wrote the story in the voice of Cairo, describung him as “a melanized baby boy born into a world plagued simultaneously by two pandemics—one biological, one systemic.” It speaks of a desire that his life, his dreams, and aspirations not be prematurely deferred, broken, or frozen. It speaks of his resilient family—three generations who have stood in protest of the racialized society into which he has been born.

I wrote this story as an indictment against the forces that have the potential to harm rather than nurture Cairo. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once remarked that a person should not be considered on the basis of skin color but on the content of their character. But problems arise when the perceived content of their character is tainted by myths, stereotypes, and ideologies that exist in a racialized society. Cairo represents the future of freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness through resilience and self-determination. 

Voices of the 21st Century: Resilient Women Who Rise and Make a Difference releases on February 23. Visit the official website at voicesofthe21stcenturybook.com. I’ll see you on February 23!

Overcoming Decades of Grief

Anita D. Russell’s first solo project as an author, I Wanna See Laney’s House: A Sibling Story, reveals her decades-long journey towards spiritual growth and mental wellness. It begins with a tragic moment at the family home on Linden Avenue in East Pittsburgh. A dark night of the soul unfolds when one sister is hit by a car and the other hit by depression.

Anita is a life coach, speaker and founder/CEO of The Place to SOAR, a Pittsburgh-based social enterprise dedicated to cultivating. The primary components of the SOAR concept — Step Out And Redesign — include the SOAR Coaching Academy for adults and the SOAR Youth Empowerment Program, developing leadership in teens ages 13-18.

I have a riddle for you:
How does a 5-year-old girl recover from depression?
Answer: One decade at a time.

Therein lies my story, a life filled with joy, laughter and sunshine ultimately morphed into a quest for mental wellness over several decades. On Sept. 6, 1962, I became a depressed little girl after witnessing the death of my 3-year-old sister, Laney, who was hit by a car in front of our house. On that day I disappeared, and no one could see that I was gone. I suffered from the internal bleeding of emotions I did not recognize nor understand; emotions that I did not have the language to express, articulate or process. I suffered from the pain of grief that dragged me into the dark, melancholic space of depression.

Read the full article on Kidsburgh.org . . .

“Sometimes They Think I’m the Help”

Black CEOs Speak Up about Discrimination on Long Island, Saying They’re Often Made to Feel Like Outsiders

Long Island, NY

Black business owners on Long Island say that regardless of their years of experience or achievements, they are often made to feel like outsiders. In excerpts from a conversation hosted by Newsday, four Black CEOs discuss the impact of race and racism on their careers.   Credit: Newsday / Jeffrey Basinger

Deidre Helberg, CEO

One of the featured guests is Deidre Helberg. She is the CEO for her family business, Helberg Electrical Supply. She is also the President to the U.S. Coalition of Black Women Businesses (USCBWB), founded in February 2020.

As a Black woman business owner, I am proud to be a member of the USCBWB. I also serve as the USCBWB Northeast Regional Partner, residing in Pittsburgh PA.
—Anita D Russell, Founder/Principal at The Place to SOAR

USCBWB is a Hub for Resources and Staying Connected 

  • Networking. Become a part of a community. Entrepreneurs, practitioners, educators, and policymakers committed to ensuring that our businesses and communities are valued, resourceful. Supported with regularly scheduled networking events
  • Social Media. Engage with our community online, in webinars and events. Receive resources that intersect communities around the country through various social media platforms.
  • Partners. Join one of the Regional Partners in communities across the country. Access a local network of leaders and resources.

USCBWB Supports Your Health and Your Business

  • Resources. Online and direct access to industry-specific resources that support business growth.
  • Business Development. Find opportunities to grow your business. Procurement partnerships, new business with corporations, and member-enterprises.
  • Professional Growth. Take advantage of dynamic opportunities, including our Health & Social Equity Series. Expand your knowledge on topics that promote the health and wealth of our businesses and communities.
  • Advocacy.  Attend national, state and local trainings, events, collaborations and activities. Ensure that policymakers are making positive and equitable decisions that support the wellbeing of ourselves, our businesses, and communities.  

Homeless Teens & Children

Homeless Children’s Education Fund Asks How do We Fix This?

Education is the key. I spent a couple of years volunteering for the Homeless Children’s Education Fund supporting the Teen Outreach Program known as TOP. The aim of the program is to confront the challenges teenage youth face when experiencing homelessness and to offer a college and career road map to success for each individual identified through HCEF’s partnerships in Allegheny County. I served as a mentor trainer and supported the targeted high school outreach working with students within schools (Brashear and Westinghouse High Schools in the Pittsburgh Public School system). I also volunteered at the summer camp program for children in a local shelter.

The mission of HCEF is to advance the education of children and youth experiencing homelessness, guiding them to be productive, empowered citizens. As a national model for addressing the educational needs of unstably-housed children and youth, HCEF leads a collaborative effort among regional partners by providing educational programs and services in Allegheny County and advocating for policy and system improvement.

Be Uniquely You

Sometimes, I think we as human beings have forgotten what it means to simply be uniquely you; that blending in homogeneously has become the order of the times. Like there’s only one ideal state or look or way of thinking that everyone should strive towards. So, what if you could see every micro experience you’ve ever had across the span of your lifetime? What if you recall every opportunity you have ever had to touch someone’s life; to cultivate change through transformational strategies; or to make decisions that bring you into unique joy, significance and fulfillment?

Leading up to my 63rd birthday, God dropped a special message onto my spirit. I’ve never been one to stress over age. It’s has always been about winding up rather than down; being better tomorrow than yesterday; or growing wiser as time progresses. The message helped me look at age from a yet another perspective.

The message resonated with me and I decided to share it with you. Consider this: What if you could create a micro experience map or a pointillism painting (aka the power of dots) that chronicles a lifetime? Each dot representing a unique micro experience over a lifetime. Imagine how different your painting would be from mine or anyone else’s. This message forms the basis of the theme for my life in 2020, “Be Uniquely You”. You were created to be significant, one-of-a-kind, not a duplicate of anyone else. I consider the number two billion as it relates to the unique painting of my lifetime.

A Bench by the Road

Follow Anita on Medium

While attending the ASALH 104th Annual Meeting and Conference in Charleston SC, I decided to do the post-conference African American Heritage Bus Tour. So glad I did! Anyone who knows me would know that I have a deep appreciation for African American History—that is the undistorted view; the view that speaks our narrative truth to power; the view that brings into the present our generational contributions, not just in America but across the diaspora and the world. The tour was sponsored by Dominion Energy and the National Underground Network to Freedom. One place of historical significance on the tour was Sullivan’s Island.

Fellow Authors Sitting on a Bench by the Road.

For me the highlight of the Sullivan’s Island stop was sitting on a bench by the road with fellow authors. The “Bench by the Road” is a project initiated in by the Toni Morrison Society The name “Bench by the Road” is taken from a 1989 interview with World Magazine where Morrison speaks of the absence of historical markers designed to remember the lives of enslaved Africans. According to Morrison, her fifth novel, Beloved, served in this role:

There is no place you or I can go, to think about or not think about, to summon the presences of, or recollect the absences of slaves . . . There is no suitable memorial, or plaque, or wreath, or wall, or park, or skyscraper lobby. There’s no 300-foot tower, there’s no small bench by the road. There is not even a tree scored, an initial that I can visit or you can visit in Charleston or Savannah or New York or Providence or better still on the banks of the Mississippi. And because such a place doesn’t exist . . . the book had to” (The World, 1989).

The second notable memorial is the Sullivan’s Island Marker . . .

Click to Enlarge and Read the Full Text

A place where…Africans were brought to this country under extreme conditions of human bondage and degradation. Tens of thousands of captives arrived on Sullivan’s Island from the West African shores between 1700 and 1775. Those who remained in the Charleston community and those who passed through this site account for a significant number of the African-Americans now residing in these United States. Only through God’s blessings, a burning desire for justice, and persistent will to succeed against monumental odds, have African-Americans created a place for themselves in the American mosaic. . . .

ASALH: Author Book Event

Slide 1

Imagine a gathering of minds bringing forth knowledge, and narratives bearing the history from transatlantic migration to the 21st century...

Image is not available
previous arrow
next arrow

During the first week of October 2019, I had two firsts in my life. I visited South Carolina—not just driving through on my way to somewhere else—actually spending five days in Charleston. And I attended the 104th Annual ASALH Meeting and Conference held at the North Charleston Convention Center. The truth is I had no idea what to expect.

Find out how you can become a member of ASALH!

“I was enthralled from the moment I stepped in the conference space . . .”

Continue reading