10 Habits Of Successful Creatives

"A creative is an artist. Not just a painter or musician or writer. She is someone who sees the world a little differently than others."---Jeff Goins


It wasn't until I actually sat down to pen this piece that I discovered that "creative" (when it's a noun, not an adjective) was as controversial of a word as it is. If you surf around cyberspace, you'll see articles like "Are You Creative or Are You an Artist? (You Might Be Neither)" and the quick read "Who Is a Creative?" But I think it's a few lines in the piece, "What Is a Creative?" that I personally resonate with most. According to it, a creative is an artist, an individual and a thought leader; not one or another—all three.

Adding to that, a true creative is someone who doesn't copy or bite off of others. A true creative doesn't disrespect or dishonor someone's intellectual property. What a true creative does do is tap into their imagination to come up with original ideas. What a creative does do is come up with concepts that are nothing short of original, visionary and inspired. A creative doesn't follow paths; they blaze trails. A creative is someone who not everyone "gets" or even always (initially) supports. The creative doesn't care; they keep on creating anyway. It's the creative's habits and lifestyle that help them to keep on creating.

If you consider yourself to be a creative, first, I salute you. There aren't too many things more amazing' than you. I also think that you'll totally resonate with all of the habits that I'm about to share because, there's a high probability that they are a part of your regular routine (as they are mine).

10 Habits Of Highly Creative People

Creatives Spend Time with the Master Creator


Something that I find to be cool about how God is described in the Bible is, His first introduction is as a creator—"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1) Then, a few passages up, Scripture tells us that He declared, "Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness." (Genesis 1:26) To me, it's a reminder that I was made, by the Master Creator, to reflect His image by being creative too. In many ways, creating is a form of prayer, meditation and worship.

So yeah, it is my personal opinion that while creatives may be, well, creative in how they accomplish this first point, in some way, they are intentional about "tapping into" their Creator—whether it's before, during or after (if not all three), they are creating something.

Creatives Think WAY Outside of the Box

Wanna know if something is truly creative? It will be new, fresh and—one of my favorite definitions of original—"arising or proceeding independently of anything else". In order for something to be that, it's got to appear a little strange, maybe even crazy, at first. Creatives don't mind because they know that's what comes with the territory. It's not about if it makes sense to others or can be compared to something else. In fact, if it does, usually to a creative, that means they aren't doing something right.

To a creative, when they are creating something and someone says, "Yeah, I don't get it", that is high praise. It's a confirmation that they aren't working within a box but outside of it, which is just what they wanted to do all along.

Creatives Avoid Negative Things and People


Back to spirituality for just a second, according to the Bible, the first thing that God made is light. Light is pure. Light illuminates. Light is a form of guidance. Creatives like to get into and stay in the light. In this sense, what I'm speaking of is positivity. Anything that will take them out of a "light space", they will avoid it like the plague because it is negative and negativity is dark and draining.

I recently read an article from a psychotherapist about just how much negativity alters our brains. Instantly, I thought about someone I know who is a creative. Whenever complaining or gossip comes up in a conversation, they immediately excuse themselves. I've seen people get offended by how abrupt they are, but I get it. They'd rather protect their creativity and energy than not appear rude.

That's something else about creatives—they are very loyal, intensely so, to their creative space, both internally and externally. The more light (positivity), the better.

Creatives Listen to (Different Genres of) Music

There are a lot of artists and musicians in my space. When it comes to about half of them, if someone were to ask me what kind of music that they did, I'd categorize it as being "genre-less". That's because you can tell that they are fans of Biggie and Sade and James Taylor and Mozart and Dolly Parton and The Clark Sisters and Duran Duran and all of 90s R&B and Lizzo and Insecure's soundtracks—all kinds of music inspire them.

Same goes for creatives, at large. It's not uncommon for them to create with the most random playlist you've ever heard before (or complete silence). As far as the music goes, that makes sense because scientifically, music makes us happier, reduces stress and improves our learning and memory.

If you are a creative who always has a set of headphones on, I will give you a heads up on an article that I checked out on this very topic. Apparently, if you want to make the most out of your creative time, avoid rock music, only listen to classical if you really dig it and reserve new tunes for when you're relaxing as opposed to when you are creating. (Feel free to hit up the comments section to let me know if this is true for you or not.)

Creatives Unapologetically Require “Me Time”


Only a creative will really appreciate what I am about to say. When we're doing something that is the epitome of being a creative entity, it not only benefits us; it blesses others too. Because this is the reality of creating, this means that our energy is constantly being used with other individuals in mind. That's why creatives have absolutely no problem with falling off of the grid from time to time. In order to remain balanced, focused and secure with oneself, there has to be moments when we get alone in order to hear our own thoughts, cater to our own needs and not hear other people's opinions.

It could come in the form of journaling, binge-watching a show all week long or taking a weekend trip to a B&B. But you can best believe that we're gonna shut the world out sometimes, and it's gonna be fairly often, and we're not gonna apologize for it.

Creatives Make Having Fun and Pleasure a Top Priority

Every year, I make it a point to have a theme word—and an anchor text—for my birthday. My peeps are used to that and so, when they asked me what it was gonna be for 45, I knew right away—pleasure. Some of them gave me a sheepish grin but it's whatever. And yes, I have a Scripture to back it up. Two, in fact. The New King James Version of Psalm 16:11 says, "You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore" and the Message Version of Ecclesiastes 9:7-8 has a line in it that says, "God takes pleasure in your pleasure!"

What both of these verses remind me is there has to be room for doing what I enjoy, what makes me laugh, what is pure unadulterated fun.

A lot of creatives remain in a constant state of what I call "purpose fatigue" because they act like it's some sort of crime to get off of the clock and do something for the sheer delight of doing it. But seasoned creatives know that if they don't, they will burn out, possibly get sick and end up miserable. Yep, fun and pleasure are constants for creatives. As often as possible too.

Creatives Unplug and Hang Out with Nature


Wanna know one reason why it's a good idea to put your smartphone down more often? It competes with your creativity. Think about it. Pretty much everything that we take in online is the manifestation of someone else's ideas. And while sometimes that can be inspiring, other times, it's nothing more than a colossal waste of time. True creatives know this; that's why there are moments—days even—when they may be unreachable or they'd much rather take a hike than watch a movie. They need to unplug for a bit.

This point reminds me of the classic read The Celestine Prophecy. It spends a significant amount of time talking about how nature teaches us things and recharges us. If you're currently having a creative block, get out of your phone and go outside into the fresh air and sunlight for a bit. Out of all of the things that have already been created, just looking at nature can remind you just how beautiful true creations actually are.

Creatives Make Some Pretty “Strange” Sacrifices

The textbook definition of a sacrifice is to give up something great for something better. I'm not sure if anyone does this better than a true creative. They might let go of a relationship in order to get an idea off of the ground. They might move in with a friend so that they can put their rent money towards a bomb business concept. Although they may traditionally be the life of the party, you might not see them for half a year while they try and turn their art into something that will pay their bills.

To the outside world, going for months eating not much more than quinoa and beans or selling your car so that you don't have to take out a loan may appear cr-a-zy. But not to a creative. To them, the sacrifices that they make now speaks to how much they believe that their dream(s) will manifest—and payoff—later.

Creatives Keep Their Circle Super Tight


Oh, how I wish I could give the person who said this their just due! I just can't remember where I stored the quote. Anyway, it was from a guy who posted on one of his social media accounts that we should be careful who we share our ideas with because they will first try and make us feel insecure about them and then turn around and attempt to do them instead. Pearls. Of. Wisdom.

The funny thing about creatives is, oftentimes a lot of people know who they are without truly knowing them (because someone can't "know you" unless you agree that they do). Because creatives are full of concepts and ideas, they have to be very careful who they open themselves up to. This means that their circle is usually very small because, while they are (hopefully) polite to all, they are intimate with only a few.

It might come off as standoffish at times, but it's not meant to be. Creatives just have to protect their head, heart and inspired space. It will be very difficult for them to create if they don't.

Creatives Take Lots of Risks

And finally, creatives are risk-takers. BIG TIME. However, a wise creative knows that there are such things as good risks and bad risks. What's the difference? I once read a writer compare investing money in the stock market to playing at a casino. Because putting money into stocks typically requires research, you're able to understand the probability of making your money back. It's a risk, but it's a calculated one, making it (usually) a good risk. On the other hand, taking your rent money to casino and playing random games, hoping that you'll be the Black version of Woody Harrelson and Demi Moore in the movie Indecent Proposal (before Robert Redford's character jacked it all up) is basically like playing roulette with your cash, ultimately, making it a bad risk.

Creatives know they have something special. What they also know is a lot of people are hoping that they don't see just how special their ideas and talents are. So, while they do make it a practice to take on ventures, pretty much on a regular basis, they don't do so without doing research, weighing out the pros and cons or without allowing their gut instinct to play a role. They're risky but they aren't super hasty. They know that what's right for them won't pass them by; that the best opportunities will be totally worth the risk and will only take their creativity—and themselves—to new heights. Habitually so.

Featured image by Getty Images

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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In xoNecole's Our First Year series, we take an in-depth look at love and relationships between couples with an emphasis on what their first year of marriage was like.

It was a cold winter night in Chicago, more than a year ago. Your girl was scrolling through the fifty-eleven million options on Netflix to find something interesting to watch. I spotted this new show, The Circle, and have not looked away since. Produced by Studio Lambert and Motion Content Group, it premiered in January 2020 and has become my new favorite type of game show. Hosted by Michelle Buteau, The Circle is about contestants who are isolated in their own apartments and can only communicate with others via an online social media platform.

On season 2 of The Circle, the world fell in love with DeLeesa, the contestant who would eventually be crowned winner of the cash prize. She won the game by playing as a single dad named Trevor, who is actually her husband. As a true fan of the series, I figured it was only right to sit down with DeLeesa and Trevor to get the deets on how marriage has been for them IRL. So, let me take y'all back into time real quick, to the beginning of their love story.

It was 2007, and DeLeesa was starting her first day of school as a college freshman. She was getting adjusted to her new dorm and was introduced to her new resident assistant, *drum roll please* Trevor St. Agathe. They quickly became friends and Trevor helped DeLeesa find different activities around campus. After a year, they decided to take things to the next level.

Now, 14 years and two beautiful children later, the married couple have been focusing on doing whatever it takes to create the best life for their children. Since college, the power of commitment and open communication is what has kept DeLeesa and Trevor by each other's side.

One thing that we can all learn from The Circle and social media in general is that everything is not what it seems. When I connected with the couple, DeLeesa wanted to get the story straight about her and Trevor's love story. "I feel like people look at couples on social media and they think that things are perfect when that's not true. We went through stuff, too. We just figured out how to overcome it and move together as a unit."

In this installment of xoNecole's Our First Year, Deleesa and Trevor share how marriage is about work, navigating through the ups and downs, and prioritizing family. Here's their story:

How We Met

DeLeesa: I got to school early because I was starting [college] a semester late. I met him, we became friends, and I developed a little crush on him. One day, we were hanging out in his room and he just didn't want me to leave (laughs). So we were messing around for about a year. Exactly one year later, I told Trevor that I am not going to keep doing this unless he becomes my man. If he didn't make me his girl, then we were done. (Laughs)

Trevor: I tried to ride it out as long as I could (laughs). At the time, I was thinking, since I'm still in college, I shouldn't be tied down. But I knew that if I didn't make it official, she was going to leave. So, she was right, and we took it to the next level.

First Impressions

Trevor: I thought she was absolutely beautiful. She was pretty and the new girl on campus. So I knew she was going to get lots of attention. But I didn't want to be on that with her, so I continued to just be a stand-up guy. At first, it was the normal student-and-RA relationship. She would ask me what activities she could do on campus and I gave her a few suggestions. For a few days, we continued to hang out and I started to realize the chemistry we had between us.

DeLeesa: When I first met Trevor, I wasn't even thinking about going that [relationship] route with him. I was new to the school and I just wanted to be his friend. But because we shared bathrooms in the dorm, this man would just walk around in his towel sometimes. I couldn't help but notice him more after that. I just thought 'He is fine!' (Laughs) He was so nice and he never pressured me into anything, but, he knew what he was doing.

Favorite Things

DeLeesa: I love that he has unconditional love for me. I feel like that no matter what I do or no matter how mad he gets, he is still always going to be by my side for anything that I need. We have been together for a long time. Even though we had breaks in between, he has always been there for me.

Trevor: It's not just one thing for me, but I can sum it up: DeLeesa is everything that I wish I was. She is very much not afraid of what other people think and she is very determined to go after what she wants. She has that go-getter mentality and it is so attractive to me.

"DeLeesa is everything that I wish I was. She is very much not afraid of what other people think and she is very determined to go after what she wants. She has that go-getter mentality and it is so attractive to me."

Wedding Day

Trevor: On our wedding day, I was crying like a baby when I finally saw her. That is my fondest memory of that day: seeing my wife-to-be from a distance and instant water works. (Laughs)

DeLeesa: I really enjoyed our first dance. Our wedding was pretty big, and I planned the whole thing. I was very hands-on and it was hard for me to just have a moment and be present. But when we had our first dance, that was our time to just be with each other and not worry about anything else. It really hit me that we were married at that point.

The One

DeLeesa: Well, the thing with Trevor and I is that we broke up a lot. We reached nine years of being on and off. By that time, we said to each other that this would be the last time we were going to break up. We were going to try our best to do everything that we could to stay together. And if we didn't work out, we were going to go our separate ways. For me, I really wanted us to work because I did see him as my future husband and my children's father. So it was the conversation we had to not break up that was my "you are the one for me" moment.

Trevor: It was something that I always knew. Young Trevor would say, "If I had to get married, this is who I want to marry." When I knew it was time to take things more seriously with her, it was after we had that conversation. Another confirmation that DeLeesa was the one was when we had to move to Canada from New York. I thought to myself that this woman must really love me to pack up and move to another country for me. This woman trusts me so much and she is my forever.

"The thing with Trevor and I is that we broke up a lot. We reached 9 years of being on and off. By that time, we said to each other that this would be the last time we were going to break up. We were going to try our best to do everything that we could to stay together."

Biggest Fears

Trevor: The questions that popped into my head were, "Can I do it?"; "Can I be a good husband to her?"; or "Was I truly husband material?" You can't take a test for that or study to get those answers. You have to just do it, apply your morals and values, and do the best you can. What has helped me with this is continuing to reaffirm how we feel about one another—affirmations that let me know that she is happy and I am doing a good job. Marriage isn't that much different from what we have already been doing this entire time. We just wear rings.

DeLeesa: My biggest fear [is related to the fact that] I am a very independent person, [so] if I do not like something, I can be out, quick! So with me, I questioned if I could stay put and fight through the bad times within a marriage. I would question if it is worth sticking it out since this is a lifelong commitment. What has helped me get through that is reminding myself that I can still be independent within my own marriage. I can still do things on my own and still share my life with someone I really care about.

Early Challenges

DeLeesa: I feel like I have been really good at keeping my relationship with my friends balanced with my partnership with Trevor. So when we first got married, my personal challenge was me trying to juggle between being a good wife and still making time for my girls. I really didn't want to lose sight of who I was in the process of marriage.

Trevor: My work at the time forced me to travel a lot. So when you are in that honeymoon phase, it's important to have quality time together. It was hard with my job to enjoy life together as a married couple in the beginning. Yes, we have been together for a long time. But this was different. Not being around my wife as much as I wanted to was really hard for me and the both of us. Our communication started slacking and we definitely struggled during that time.

Love Lessons

Trevor: There's two lessons that I have. One lesson is that I am a husband first. I have spent a lot of time not being a husband so it can be easy for me or anyone to continue to behave that way. But my wife always has to come first, no matter what is going on in life. When you're married, you have to reinforce that. My second lesson that has helped in our marriage is making sure I do things in order to make her life easier. It can be the simplest thing, but for me, it is a huge priority.

DeLeesa: My biggest lesson is being able to learn from each other. For example, if he is doing simple things to make life easier for me, I am learning from him how to show up for him to make him happy. It can be easy to just receive everything he is putting forth, but it has to be give and take for us.

"I am a husband first. I have spent a lot of time not being a husband so it can be easy for me or anyone to continue to behave that way. But my wife always has to come first, no matter what is going on in life. When you're married, you have to reinforce that."

Common Goal

Trevor: To do everything in our power to ensure that our girls have the best possible life. Everything that we do at this point is for them. Before children, I may have moved slower working toward certain things, but there is definitely an added fire on how we approach things because of them.

DeLeesa: I agree. The number one goal is to be the best parents we can be. We want to set up generational wealth and we want them to be culturally aware. We want them to grow up and be proud of everything we have done for them.

Best Advice

DeLeesa: My advice would be don't go looking for advice, honestly. A lot of people are going to have an opinion about your life and sometimes that may not be the best for you. People can have different intentions and may give you the wrong advice. So I feel that if you need to vent, then yes, have someone to confide in. But don't take their word as facts. Try to figure out your marriage for yourself. Stick to your intuition and what you want to do, no matter if you are being judged for it.

Trevor: The things that matter are to be patient, listen close, choose to be happy, and love hard. I also think when people come to terms with the fact that marriage is work, then it is more possible for people. There are honestly more things to be happy about with the person that you marry. You have to keep all the things that you love about that person at the forefront to get you through. Once you do that, you will be fine.

Follow Deleesa and Trevor on Instagram @leesaunique and @trev_saint and their family page @itsthesaints.

Featured image via Instagram/Leesaunique

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