3 Books to Check Out ( in 2017)

About a year ago I decided to dramatically reduce the amount of TV that I watch and focus more on podcasts and books. It was hard letting go of the Real Housewives of the world and Love and Hip Hop (lawd....the struggle!), but in the end it was so worth it! I truly believe that the right combination of books, can be more valuable than a second degree. 

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Black People Are a Part of This "System" That We Blame

The news that Michael Brown's killer was devastating, but to many, not shocking. We've seen this happen many times in the past few years. Sean Bell. Trayvon Martin, Amadou Diallo....and it just goes on and on. We all weren't surprised because we know that this result is a product of "the system," the way that things have been portrayed in the media, and other somewhat cliche terms that we've been reusing around these issues for the past couple of decades. But in more ways than one, we Black people living in the US are a definitely a part of this system that we attempt to blame, and we need unity, and real leadership to get out of this.

Issue A: We Lack Clear and Focused Strategy:

Last I checked, Michael Kors and Macy’s weren’t presiding over this case, so I’m not sure why we’re being asked to punish them and every other retailer in America.

Once the verdict was out, the calls for the Black community to boycott Black Friday started, with demands that we make our voices heard and show America that Black lives matter. In my opinion, this is not a strategy that can affect any kind of change. Yes, we are making noise on social media sharing statuses about standing in solidarity together which honestly feels good but there's no real impact felt when we go out after the sales are over and spend even more on those items. This seems to be trying to mimic the Montgomery bus boycott but frankly there is no comparison. Even if there is a huge financial impact, it is targeting the wrong entities. Last I checked, Michael Kors and Macy's weren't presiding over this case, so I'm not sure why we're being asked to punish them and every other retailer in America. The reason that the boycott made sense and was successful was that the same people that we were giving our money to were telling us that we didn't matter, so we sent those same people a message that directly hurt their pockets. It also by the way was sustained for months, not just a day, and the terms of the boycott were very clear - we are not coming back until we are treated equally. This Black Friday boycott has no purpose but to "raise awareness" about what was already one of the biggest news stories on television for the last few months. How has that helped us? And why do we keep walking into that same wall? We need a true strategy about change moving forward, which leads me to the next issue.

Issue B: We are reactive, and not proactive

Yes, Obama is president, and most of us celebrate that, but if you are wrongfully committed of a crime, he is not driving to your city to defend your case. So who is? And what are the NAACP and National Action Network doing to make sure that we’re in the know about who we’re electing to local office before crisis hits, and not after?

We always hear from our civil rights leaders in interviews and on the news AFTER tragedies and injustices, but what are they working on in between? It seems that they just wait for the next big story to hit, then talk about how unfair it is on air, then maybe create a hashtag and that's it. But what about addressing the root cause of many of these issues when they matter? For instance, let's talk about the fact that so many African American citizens, and citizens in general are not involved in local elections. Everyone has a lot to say NOW about the prosecutor in Ferguson, but he's been there for 21 years, dealing with issues in a very similar manner. But before this major news story, how many people knew? And now ask yourself, how much do you know about the prosecutor, district attorney, councilmen, mayor or even governor where you live? I bet the answer is nothing. On the flip side, how much do you know about Obama, Romney and McCain? Chances are, you know just about everything that they stand for. The majority of us have no idea about who is running in local offices, and about how much more they influence decisions over our lives than their national counterparts, so the majority just don't vote, and the few who do blindly vote for whoever is in our political party. (Ferguson's prosecutor is a Democrat by the way). Yes, Obama is president, and most of us celebrate that, but if you are wrongfully committed of a crime, he is not driving to your city to defend your case. So who is? And what are the NAACP and National Action Network doing to make sure that we're in the know about who we're electing to office? We can't wait until 3 days before the midterm elections date to send the generic "get out and vote" messages - what if they hadn't registered by the deadline? And what if they have no idea about who is running, what they stand for and their political history? Some forward thinking approaches could be to partner with organizations like MyTimeToVote and TurboVote to make sure that our people know where to register and by when. Why can't we create online forums to allow our people in each state to discuss the candidates, their history and our issues in those communities months in advance? Why do our civil rights leaders always wait until after the fact to just get on the news and complain? We really have to learn to do more than debate the root cause of issues after the fact. Let's actually attack them. And to do so, we also have to overcome the next issue.

Issue C: We don't put our money where our mouth is

While we were making noise *cough* oh, excuse me I mean “raising awareness” about Michael Brown’s death on social media, Darren Wilson supporters were donating to ensure that he had the best legal team possible to defend him.

Did you know that more money was raised for Darren Wilson's defense and support fees that was raised for Michael Brown's family after he was killed? While we were making noise *cough* oh, excuse me I mean "raising awareness" about Michael Brown's death on social media, Darren Wilson supporters were donating to ensure that he had the best legal team possible to defend him. This issue has plagued the Black community for years. We can't donate to causes like this, to churches or anything of that matter because we're saving for new 20" Brazilian hair bundles and Jordans. This is one of the parts that falls mostly on us non-civil rights leaders. We can't expect money to fall from the skies to make things happen. We have to put a little of the cash that we do have towards those causes that affect us. Each of our little bits adds up to a whole lot. 

Everything about the outcome of this case upsets me, just like the rest of Black America. The fact that the majority of the news coverage of this decision was around the restless looters in Missouri and not the fairness of the case, the fact that there is yet another Black family who is missing a family member, and is now dealing with the fact that he wasn't even avenged. I am upset. But I also can't help but notice that our leaders during the civil rights movement did so much more, with so much less because they had true vision, and a clear understanding of what they wanted from each battle. We can do better. I'm so tired of these random tactics and campaigns with no clear agenda but to "make our voices heard." We need the Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons to really strategize so that we can take a unified step towards PROACTIVE ACTION. Then the rest of us need to commit both in action and in cash(however little that may be). Otherwise, we frankly are just making noise on social media, and like every other hashtag, this too will eventually die out.

Source: http://majorindieart.com/type/image/

Drinking Tea for a Flat Belly

I've been on a big fitness journey for about a year now, and now and one great help has been tea! To clarify, I don't mean strange "weight loss teas" where no one knows whats in them. 

The main reason that I started drinking a whole lot more tea is that I knew I had to dramatically reduce my sugar intake in order to get the belly that I wanted, and in the US the majority of the sugar that most people take in is from sugar in sodas and juices. So instead of drinking those, I replaced everything with water and teas with NO SUGAR. Trying this method with 4 packets of sugar per tea is a bit counterproductive lol. May sound crazy, but trust me you'll get used to it quickly and wonder how you ever let yourself drink such sugary drinks! At any given time, I have 3 sets of tea in my home and I'll explain why below:

Green Tea: Drinking about 5 (8 oz) cups of green tea a day helps you manage your belly fat. It also is very beneficial when you drink it on an empty stomach, so this is my go to first drink of the day. I used to hate green tea with the strongest passion, but I finally found what I like! Bigelow Green Tea with either Lemon or Pomegranate is great. I like the pomegranate a bit more. 

Mint Tea: Mint tea is great for managing bloating, which most of us ladies experience at least once a month [sigh]. Its also just an overall feel good tea in the winter so I keep it close! I usually opt for the Bigelow Mint Medley (spearmint and peppermint). Any other mint for the most part works, but I usually avoid those with black tea in them just so I can be sure I'm getting a lot of mint in my system!

Sweet Orange Tea: I used to drink a really unhealthy amount of orange juice. I gave up soda years ago, and thought orange juice was so much better, which is both true and false. It has a whole lot less chemicals and processing, but it has almost the same amount of sugar as a coke! I really needed to replace this with something, so now I drink a lot of Tazo Wild Sweet Orange Tea during the day, and just ice it to pacify my need for something sweet when it comes up. Its the perfect fit!

Working out then following it up with a soda (even if its diet) is really not going to cut it. So once again, just try it out and see how it makes you feel and look different. The most important rule once again is NO SUGAR!! Remember, Summer bodies are made in the Winter, so this is the perfect time to get into it!

Have any other tips or comments on this subject? Share below. I'd love to know your thoughts!

FREE Events in DC This Week: Bootcamp, Open House & Alpha Dinner

This weekend and next week are packed with great events and they are all FREE! Find out more below:

1. FREE Bridal Bootcamp - Saturday, September 6th at 12:00PM

My wedding planning company, Statuesque Events, is partnering with Divas and Dolls Fitness to bring a free but fun event! We'll be working out, discussing best practices when planning your wedding and giving away amazing prizes including free uplighting for one lucky bride, and free personal training for one lucky attendee! Find out more and register at http://mdbridalbootcamp.eventbrite.com to secure your spot 

2. Toastmasters Club Open House- Monday, September 8th , 2014

I have a few friends who help run this program on Monday nights and it's great! 

Want to improve your communication skills? Want to be more effective in meetings?  Get your point across more concisely? Exercise your critical thinking? Then visit the Daniel Leadership Toastmasters Club and learn how membership can help you succeed. The ability to communicate is a highly regarded skill, and Toastmasters can help you develop your ability to effectively communicate and become the leader you are called to be!

The Toastmasters communication and leadership program is a “learn by doing” in a friendly atmosphere with helpful feedback to strengthen your skills.

Attend the OPEN HOUSE and see how the club’s program can build your confidence and help prepare you for higher position and pay, and greater personal recognition and fulfillment. 

*Note: If you are playing a meeting role please be prepared to provide an explanation of your role.

Venue:  Enoch Adeboye Hall: 919/921 Philadelphia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20910


3. The Alpha Course: Tuesday, September 9th at 7PM

The Alpha Course is one of my favorite programs ever. For starters, they have free dinner every Tuesday night (can't be mad at that!). It is also an environment where adults come together and have very candid discussions about life and religion. Not all attendees are Christians or even religious, and everyone is free to share their views very openly. Is drinking a sin? Can you sin in your thoughts? Did Jesus really exist? What is the point of life? You can discuss these questions and any others that you have over dinner, and make new friends in this FREE 10 week program. Register today by visiting www.alphatowne.org. We'll see you there!

Maintaining & Getting Spiral Curls With Marley Crochet Braids

I changed my curl pattern 2 weeks ago and I have been getting questions non-stop about how I did it! 

Well, I went swimming a few weeks ago...............in the ocean, lol so you know I needed to wash my hair. Honestly, my hair came out just fine, with the braid out pattern and everything afterwards which was nice but it was dirty so I figured I'd clean it.....hence video #1 below. I also showed what I do to pamper my hair under the marley hair twice each week.

I figured, I already went through the stress of washing and detangling the hair, so why not try a new look after it all instead of doing the braid out that I did the first time. So I enlisted some perm rods. A few people told me that they've tried the perm rods and still couldn't get the spiral pattern..............you HAVE TO curl from the top and not the bottom and hold the hair in the water long enough. The video below shows you how.

Below are some progress shots of my hair 1 day, 1 week and 2 weeks later.......no recurling necessary!!! All I did was turn my head upside down and tie a satin scarf when going to bed.......when I remembered lol. Some nights I just slept on the hair. Not using the satin scarf causes your hair to lose some shine and frizz a bit but I actually like that because I think it makes it look more natural. Some say a satin cap works, but I've never successfully slept then wake up with a satin cap still on my head so I opted for a scarf which is a little more secure.

One Day Later

One Day Later

One week later

One week later

Two weeks later!! Still bouncy!

Two weeks later!! Still bouncy!

I hope that this has been helpful!!! Please leave questions and comments below, and also subscribe to my YouTube channel!!

Fitness & Health: Are They Always the Same?

If you follow me at all on Instagram or Facebook, you know that I've become a bit of a gym freak in the past 8 months, lol. I figure I'm in my late twenties, and this is the time, if ever, for me to see how far I can push this body of mine. I started weightlifting in gym when I was only 16 years old and lifted more than any other girls in my class on leg days, coupled with dance and/or step practice a few times a week.......but then I also used to eat whoppers(yes the chocolates) and coke for breakfast and french fries with more coke for lunch, so it all balanced out, lol. I've always been skinny-ish but never fit and toned. 

In this journey, I've hit periods where I got really frustrated with my progress because you know, we all wanna be ripped in 7 days right? Its only logical. I've done a lot of research to figure out what exercises and foods to invest in for the results that I want, and over time noticed that most of these sites pushed supplements, whey protein and other things to help you reach your goals. As a person who doesn't even trust multivitamins (I hate medicine that much), that just has not worked for me, so I had to dig further to find alternatives that I'm actually comfortable with. For instance, instead of drinking a protein shake after my morning workouts, I usually eat a bunch of turkey bacon and 3 eggs. No one ever told me to do that, but I found through more research that the real reason people take protein shakes is that eating protein after strength training helps you build muscle mass........so I figured, why not just use protein from food? And its been working for me.

This whole sexy-by-force trip that I'm on has me following a whole lot of fitness mavens on Instagram. It helps me look at my phone and realize that I should probably drop and give someone 50. The motivation has been great, but now I'm noticing that most of these people have started clogging their feeds with supplement information too..... and a lot of people feed into these which to me is so disturbing. I also don't do the so-called fitness/low calorie bars or any of this other funny food. No artificial sweeteners either. Because if its not sugar/naturally protein rich food.....then what exactly is it?

In my opinion, the FDA approves anything these days. You can tell that because Coke has enough aspartame in it to clean your toilet bowl (no scrubbing necessary), and McDonalds sells food that literally never decomposes. And yes, in theory we don't know what causes cancer and other strange diseases,  but I can't imagine that the genetically modified foods, chemicals preservatives and other weird things in all of these foods have nothing to do with it. Being skinny is cool, but we have to live in these bodies til we're old and grey, it'd be nice to not have to replace today's chemicals with mandatory new ones in the form of pills down the line.  

I definitely don't claim to know everything, and I'm sure that there are a few supplements out there that aren't so bad about you......I just don't care the experiment til I find one. Feel free to share your thoughts below and agree or disagree.....but in my opinion the pursuit of health and the pursuit of fitness a lot times are just not the same. 

Marley Crochet Braids - My $23.60 DIY Hairdo

Hello everyone!

First I have to apologize that I let my blog go over the past half year (yikes!!) I've just been busy working on some personal things, self reflecting and a lot of other things, but rest assured I am back with all my crazy antics (yay!).

I am used to doing my own hair since I'm so #teamnatural and #teamfrugal. But typically doing my own hair has been limited to styling my own hair without extensions, and maybe straightening it if I'm feeling adventurous, lol. But a little over a month ago I went on a whim and created my 1st wig (largely because I didn't want to pay someone $500 and wait 2 weeks to have it done.... all in addition to what I already spent on the actual hair......I'm sorry what?!?!?!) It turned out OK (surprisingly) and I got a lot of good feedback, so now I feel like I can conquer anything! I decided though that I wanted my kinks back, and wanted a really big fluffy mane. Last year, I had some kinky weave in which was nice, but was also $180 a pack....and of course I needed 2 packs + paid someone to install it. I decided to go an alternate route this time around and try marley crochet braids and OMG.....I love them! Below are the videos showing how I did it. Anyone, natural or relaxed can achieve this look. Enjoy, and share!! 

Here are a couple of random selfies showing how I styled them in the past week that I've had them in. I'll likely be restyling them into a new pattern just for fun pretty soon, and should create a new video showing that too.

How I wore it on most days. O, and I loooove that pencil skirt! 

How I wore it on most days. O, and I loooove that pencil skirt! 

I felt like being a little more conservative in the office today.....so there you have it. Pig tails!

I felt like being a little more conservative in the office today.....so there you have it. Pig tails!