Ask A Popped Brotha: An Intro

Welcome to the introductory post for the Ask a Popped Brotha series of the Popped Black Woman Blog. I’m excited to introduce you all to a man that I look up to a great deal who happens to be my husband and the father of my 1 year old daughter, Mr. Aaron Miles aka Brotha Aaron. We’ve been talking for a while about a way to share his financial advice with the world since he has lots of great advice to share. We figured this would be a great start. Without further ado, I’ll let him introduce himself.

Popped Black Woman Blog: Could you introduce yourself?

Brotha Aaron: My name is Aaron Miles and I majored in Finance and Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I’m focused on two asset classes, which are real estate and private equity. I love studying and investing!

Brotha Aaron with former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley circa April 2009 at a UIC function

Brotha Aaron with former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley circa April 2009 at a UIC function

PBWB: That’s great! Now, can you give a little info about your background and how you became interested in finance and entrepreneurship?

BA: It started when I was little growing up. I started a lawn care business when I was a 9 years old. I felt a rush and thrill with the thought of being able to empower myself by being a business owner. I remember one snowy day when I made $100 at the age of ten. I was sold! I am extremely passionate about entrepreneurship and its importance in our economy. Every product and service we do on a daily basis started out as a simple idea or dream. That is simple human ingenuity at it finest.

PBWB: Really inspiring! So why do you think financial literacy is important, especially for black women?

BA: To be frank, financial literacy is the new civil rights movement. We live in an ever-increasing class-based society in which economics is equally as divisive as race. It is important for black women to have knowledge of financial literacy. It is no different than your health, spirituality, and relationship. Often times is correlates to all of the above. Sometimes when I am at church, I wonder how many people pray for more money, but I challenge people to ask God or whoever you believe in to [help you] become better stewards [of your money].

PBWB: Amen Brotha Aaron. What do you believe is the economic state of the majority of black Americans today? How can we make it better?

BA: Sad. Our demographics consumed over 507 billion dollars in 2014. However, we are probably recipients of less than 3% of that consumption. We need to transition from a consumer-based society to producers/owners. The honest truth is I think we are worse off than we were 40 years. We have taken a step back in fundamental value in terms of home ownership and living debt free. We have positioned ourselves to live above our means, [while] renting and driving expensive cars. Not to mention [we are] saddled with student loans. It is a recipe for destruction. We need to start with financial literacy being a requirement in every classroom specifically in the black community. We need to stop chasing the Joneses and stop financing it with loans. We need to start eating mash instead [of] filet mignot and start paying with cash. It is the only way…

Brotha Aaron tearing it up at our wedding in Jan 2013

Brotha Aaron tearing it up at our wedding in Jan 2013

PBWB: This is really good stuff. Leave us with some of your favorite financial gurus so that our readers can do a little research on their own.

BA: Dave Ramsey, Robert Kyoski, Susan Orman, Jim Cramer, Larry Kudlow

Thanks so much for coming on board to spit some knowledge to the PBWB community. If any of you have general financial questions for Brotha Aaron, please email those questions to poppedblackwomanblog@gmail.com. Stay tuned for more positively optimistic and powerful info from Brotha Aaron each week 😉

Updates! Updates! Updates!

Well guys and gals, I am proud to say that it has only been a few weeks since I started my 101 Things in 1001 Days Challenge and I am knocking items off that list like Joe Frazier. As you may remember from Living on Purpose: 101 Things in 1001 Days (#61-101!!!), numbers 93-95 were as follows:

93. Redesign my blog
94. Reach 500 views in one month on my blog
95. Start a new interview series on my blog

You can see that the blog has a whole new look and I bet you are feeling it a whole lot better than the old, bland one because I know I am. There may be more changes down the road, but I’m going to feel this new look out for a bit. I am also grateful to let you guys know that the Popped Black Woman Blog has had over 500 views for the month of January! This is the first whole month that the blog has been up and running and I am so excited! I hope to continue to produce content that you all care about so that the views can keep increasing each month. If you have any suggestions for content such as book reviews, interesting stories/ideas, etc, please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email at poppedblackwomanblog@gmail.com.

I know you all are wondering why I haven’t mentioned number 95 yet. I am so pleased to announce that I have two interview series in the works, but the first one I am starting with is the Ask a Popped Brotha series, which features financial advice (and maybe other advice as well, you’ll have to wait and see…) from my very own smart and sexy husband, fondly known as Brotha Aaron around the way. Stay tuned for his introductory post to the series and send your financial questions for him to my email as well.

The Chocolate Hubby Taking a Cool Dip on a Hot Day

The Chocolate Hubby Taking a Cool Dip on a Hot Day

There’s a lot going on in the Popped Black Woman Blog Community and I’m so excited about our journey together. Remember to like us on Facebook and as always stay positively optimistic and powerful 😉

On “Light Girls” and Using Positive Thinking When Fighting Systemic Injustices

This post was inspired by a lot of the controversy surrounding the Light Girls documentary that premiered on the OWN network January 19th. I still haven’t seen the actual documentary (I know :-\), but I’ve read a few articles and blog posts about it. I saw the film’s predecessor Dark Girls and was really moved by it.

#teamAllSkinIsBeautifulSkin

#teamAllSkinIsBeautifulSkin

There was criticism surrounding Light Girls before the documentary even aired on OWN. There were people who believed that light-skinned women of color didn’t deserve to have their stories told because of light skin privilege or privilege towards blacks with “whiter” features over darker skinned blacks. However, after the documentary actually aired, judging simply from the articles and blog posts I’ve read, it seems like the criticism ranged from the documentary not addressing the key issue of white supremacy to it reinforcing stereotypes about dark-skinned black women. I believe that these may be valid points (I say ‘may’ only because I haven’t seen the film myself). The aspect that I want to focus on specifically is influenced by a blog post that I encountered called “Light Girls, When Documentaries Get It Wrong” by Jessica Ann Mitchell that stated “colorism cannot be changed through positive thinking.” The author seems to go on to say that positive affirmations and other positive thinking tactics reduce the very real and important issue of colorism when referencing portions of the documentary where positive thinking/self-help ideas were brought up.

Firstly, I wholeheartedly agree that systemic racism, sexism, and colorism exist in America and we must fight against it. When statistics show that dark-skinned African Americans are less likely to be hired for jobs than light-skinned African Americans even when they have better qualifications, we have a HUGE problem and this problem must be addressed. The problem I have is stating that positive thinking/self-help has no role in addressing the problem of colorism or other injustices faced by people of color. I believe that positive thinking must go hand-in-hand with (never in place of) peacefully fighting against systemic injustice because it is self-confidence that will get that person up and out of the door for the job interview in question whether he/she is light-skinned or dark-skinned. With the weight of racism and sexism, I believe it is that much harder for black women of all shades to be confident in their abilities and autonomy.

While I agree that positive thinking won’t solve the problems of colorism or racism, I do believe that positive thinking is key to taking back our power to reach our fullest potential. This issue goes beyond any individual experience but of course I have to bring up my own.

When I think about my past of growing up with an alcoholic father that was a great provider, but wasn’t so great at making me feel valued as a young woman, I believe that my lack of self-esteem held me back from stepping out and taking advantage of the many opportunities available to me. There was one particular time when I had a job interview with Jewel-Osco at their Itasca, IL headquarters during college for a management-in-training position at my local store when I felt tension with the white female job interviewer. I felt like she looked at me like I was nothing and with so much disinterest that I wondered why I was even called for an interview in the first place. This tension could have been because of my race or because of my skimpy resume; I will never know since there was nothing blatantly racist stated. However, I do know that I botched the interview before it even started because I didn’t believe that I had a real chance. I didn’t believe in myself and if I didn’t believe in myself, how could I sell my skills and experience enough to get a recruiter to believe in me? How could I stand a chance fighting external and internal forces working to keep me behind?

I believe without a doubt that low self-esteem held me back from achieving and doing some amazing things. Does this mean that racism or sexism couldn’t have been at play as well? Does any personal experience I have invalidate hard core statistics suggesting colorism is a legit issue? Of course not. However, I believe that while we ensure that systemic injustices are confronted and addressed, we must also address ways that we hold ourselves back because we feel defeated before the  game starts.

All women struggle with self-image and self-worth. Yet, black women also have the added battles of racism and colorism. As we fight the long, continual battle for equal treatment of all people, why not also work on building ourselves up and encouraging ourselves to make bold moves to achieve little successes until that big success is won?

Share any thoughts you have in the comments or on our Facebook page. I love a friendly debate! Be sure to “like” the Popped Black Woman Blog Facebook page!

Encourage Yourself

I have a confession to make. I haven’t been on my personal development ish like I should. I definitely can feel the difference in my outlook and thoughts. Lately, I’ve been losing focus on the big picture and only focusing on the day-to-day instead. I need to get that P.O.P.ed (positively optimistic and powerful) momentum going again.

Has anyone heard the song “Encourage Yourself” by Donald Lawrence? I know everybody that ever occasionally listens to Gospel has. It’s about using God’s Word to encourage yourself. When I was younger, whenever I was feeling down or going through something difficult, I would find somebody to call to encourage me. Whether it was having my older cousin pray for me or venting to a friend, I looked outward for that encouragement. Yet, many of us know that as you get older, your circle gets smaller and smaller. And there are certain things that you may not even wish to discuss with others because quite simply, you’re not a little girl or teenager anymore and you now have “grown folk business” of your own. Plus, as you enter certain stages of your life, you realize that you can’t run to other people for advice or encouragement because they may not understand or may not know the best way to encourage you.

This topic of encouraging yourself motivated me to write this post and share a few things that may help you all encourage yourself when you’re going through something whether it’s big or small. Below are 3 things that I find useful when I need to encourage myself.

1) Think of 3-5 things that I’m grateful for.

Yeah, it sounds hokey, but it really works for me. When I find myself complaining that I don’t have this or that, I stop and think about all of the blessings that I do have. I think about having shelter and food, a healthy child, and a partner to share life with. The thing about stopping to count your blessings is that you often can’t stop at just 3-5 things. The list is never-ending.

2) Read something encouraging

If you’re a Christian or Muslim, you may find encouragement from the Bible or Quran. Anyone may find encouragement from reading a personal development article or book. Anything that helps you focus on where you want to go instead of where you are could help. I like to frequent blackenterprise.com or read books from my Pinterest board appropriately titled, “Boss Books.” Even a biography that shows someone else’s “failures” and “successes” could help. I’ve had Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson on my to-read list for awhile.

3) Listen to a positive podcast

I only recently got into podcasts within the last 6 months or so. It was actually my husband who suggested it to pick my mood up while driving to and from work. I tried out a few, but I struck gold when I stumbled on Black Entrepreneur Blueprint! This podcast has encouraged me more than words can describe. This podcast and a cup of coffee gave me momentum to make it through the work day. It features interviews from prominent black entrepreneaurs. All of the interviews were informative and encouraging, but I especially enjoyed listening to black women discuss their journeys into entrepreneurship. I needed this at a time when I felt like I had no purpose and I was only a tiny cog in a big, spinning wheel. I believe this was a major force in my determination to return home to care for my daughter, get my financial house in order, and start my own business. For anyone that knows the rat race isn’t for them, give this podcast a listen!

And a special bonus…

4) Laugh! IMG_1618

Everybody says laughter is the best medicine (I don’t know if they considered medical marijuana in the mix) and I have to agree. Sometimes everybody needs to stop taking themselves so seriously and have a good laugh. I like to lurk on Twitter for some good laughs when I need a little pick-me-up since I love a silly meme, gif, or vine every now and then. Plus, it just seems like the world’s best everyday comedians are on Twitter. Here’s one of my favorite vines. You’re welcome.

How do you all keep yourself encouraged when you feel more pooped than p.o.p.ed? Share in the comments or on Facebook.

Only Two Choices

It is never easy to go against the grain of the people around you. Some of the biggest decisions I’ve made in my mere 26 years of life were done in opposition to my closest family members and friends. When I decided to start going to church with a friend from high school, a family member told me church people are crazy hypocrites, which is true, but I think this applies to all people, not just church people. When I decided to cut all of the perm out of my hair at 18, I was told that it was a horrible mistake to cut off all of my “long, pretty hair.” Even though I slipped up and got a relaxer the year after that, I immediately regretted it and have never regretted my decision to be natural since that second big chop. But more than anything, every new mother knows that once you have a baby, everybody else becomes an expert on what you should and shouldn’t be doing. People who don’t have kids (and aren’t medical professionals by any means) will tell you how to breastfeed or the exact time you should potty-train your child. And Lord forbid the topic comes up of whether you should keep working outside the home or choose to be a stay-at-home mom. You will not want for opinions because they will come like flies come to fruit. IMG_1602

There was a time when I used to resent these didn’t-ask-your-opinion opinions and allow them to upset me. I used to question how people that seem to oppose everything I decide to do say that they love me and not support me. But now, I’m grateful for the opposition because it makes me a stronger person and forces me to really analyze my own decisions in a good way. People have always feared and distrusted what they don’t understand or what is different from them. I’ve realized that I have two options when people oppose something I’m trying to do. I can

Let those opinions control me and paralyze me from doing what I feel is the right thing to do

or

Use those criticisms to make me even more determined to prove people wrong later.

The choice is always ours. We can take the easy, but miserable road of people-pleasing and staying stuck in the box people will keep trying to put us in or we can take the sometimes lonely and difficult road that will make us people that we are proud to be, but most importantly, it will make us people we are meant to be. I choose to listen to those criticisms, nod my head, and focus on what my head, heart, and spirit tell me to do, tapping into all that positivity, optimism, and power that I have within me. What do you choose to do?

You Have More POP-ed Magic Than You Think You Do

I never considered myself to be very bold or courageous growing up. I avoided confrontations to the best of my ability. Even that one “fight” I had in 6th grade wasn’t even really a fight. I hit someone for something they said (probably about my mamma), they hit me back, and I just looked at them like, “So what happens now?”

I was always self-conscious and eager to please. I never saw myself as brave. Yet, when I think about it, I definitely had my badass moments…

It was my freshman year of college at a predominantly white and Evangelical liberal arts college in a wealthy suburb of Chicago. My shy and timid black self stood at the front of my public speaking class and gave a shaky speech on the need and benefits of affirmative action to society.

Me in my Afro glory, freshman year of college

Me in my Afro glory, freshman year of college

I was the only black student in the class and my white teacher was an adjunct professor that had his share of ignorant-in-an-attempt to be funny comments. One of those comments was calling me “Foxy Brown” when I entered the class with my Afro.

As I rambled through my speech, barely glancing up from my sloppy index cards because the faces in front of me were blank, bored, or skeptical, I felt anything but brave. Yet, when I look back on it, I could have talked about anything else, why would I talk about how great affirmative action is (something I only partly agreed with myself)? Underneath my shyness and attempts to go under the radar, I had a desire to shake things up and turn over tables, I knew that it was an unpopular subject on campus at the time due to more African American students being enrolled that year than in many years prior (and the multicultural scholarship made available to most of those students). I didn’t choose that topic because I was really passionate about it; I wanted to piss people off!

So maybe I was brave then. Maybe we all have way more courage, power, and strength than we think we have. We are always our own biggest critics. It is now 7 years later that I embrace my desire to play devil’s advocate and turn over tables, if only in people’s minds. We always have power within us, even if we only tap into a little bit. Let’s walk in that power and shake some things up.

Me a couple months ago, "I don't give a..."

Me a couple months ago, “I don’t give a…”

Choose to be positively optimistic and powerful today and even on days when you don’t feel like you have it in you.

Living on Purpose: 101 Things in 1001 Days (#61-101!!!)

So we’ve come to the end of the road…but it’s only the beginning! I’m done working on my list of 101 things that I want to conquer in the next 1001 days, roughly by the end of October 2017, and I’m ready to start checking things off! I must say that this final part of the list left me with moments of being completely stuck and having to take a break to get some fresh ideas. This happened somewhere around #’s 61-80. But, after searching Pinterest for inspiration, I was able to use other people’s 101 things to get my own creative juices flowing again. I’m thankful that I found Design Darling for a great deal of inspiration as I got down to my last 10 or so items on my list. Without further ado, here are numbers 61-101:

101 Things in 1001 Days #’s 61-101

61. Make a vlog entry and put it on YouTube
Youtube

This will be a stretch for me since I’ve always been more of a writer than a talker, but it’s worth a shot! Not sure what the topic will be yet! Image source: Oejitv, “Logo YouTube,” Copyright October 11, 2014 CC-BY-SA-4.0

62. Have a real spa service done at a real spa (i.e. body wrap, facial, massage, anything!)
Spa_interiors

Doesn’t this look amazing??? Image source: Avilash behera, “Spa Interior,” Copyright June 30, 2011 CC-BY-SA-3.0

63. Reach one hundred followers on this blog

Currently, at 21 followers. I hope to make content worthy of 100 amazing people like you tuning in for each post. Let me know any ideas to make the blog better and/or how to attract more followers. I’m a newbie! Check out my contact info in the “About” section.

64. Find out how to read at a baby/toddler story time at the library
65. Do a real push up
66. See a live boxing match
67. Take a CPR refresher course
68. Make a cheesecake
69. Research the foster parent licensing process and pray with family over starting the process
70. Make a pair of earrings
71. Come up with a consistent Bible study plan and stick to it
72. Start/join a book club
73. Join a Toastmaster’s group
74. Attend a networking event or empowerment conference
75. Learn to step (a Chicago line dance for those that don’t know)

Semi-random pic, but he looks like he knows how to step. Pic taken at 70th & Jeffrey in Chicago by yours truly.

Semi-random pic, but he looks like he knows how to step. Pic taken at 70th & Jeffrey in Chicago by yours truly.

76. Go to the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN
5308655687_b2b54a7b9c_b

So much history here. Thank God for those that came before me so that I can be where I am today. Image source: Carl Wycoff, “National Civil Rights Museum – The Lorraine Motel – Room 306 – Memphis TN-28,” Copyright December 26, 2010 CC-BY-2.0

77. Watch a TED talk/other personal development video once a week for at least 3 months
78. Take little L to a children’s museum
79.  Create a cookbook with recipes from family members and friends
80. Research meditation and give it a try
81. Spit some poetry at an open mic event like I’m in “Love Jones”
82. Seriously research starting a food pantry at New Exodus Baptist Church
83. Clean out my “junk” room
84. Go at least a month without surfing the web on my phone before going to bed
85. Go one entire month without eating any fast food or dining in at any restaurants
86. Read 5 African/African American history books written by people of African descent
87. Clean out my gmail and yahoo email accounts and unsubscribe from junk mail that floods my inboxes
88. Upgrade my phone
89. Take a photography class
90. Feel cultured and special at Jazzin’ at the Shedd

Caribbean_Reef_tank_at_Shedd_Aquarium,_2009-11-15

This is an event at the downtown Shedd Aquarium in Chicago that takes place after museum hours where you hang with friends, have drinks, and check out exhibits without the usual museum crowd present. I worked at the event once for a non-profit I interned with, but I’d love to attend as a guest. Image source: Sage Ross, “The central Caribbean Reef exhibit at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois,” Copyright November 15, 2009 CC-BY-SA-3.0, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic, 1.0 Generic

And now, we’ve come to the final 10 things on my 101 in 1001 list. Are you ready???

91. Go to a concert with my mom
92. Take my husband to an NFL game
93. Redesign my blog
94. Reach 500 views in one month on my blog
95. Start a new interview series on my blog
96. Attend a blogging conference
97. Take a self-defence class
98. Buy 1 original piece of art
99. Have a date night where hubby where we do something we’ve never done before as a couple (not dinner and a movie, concert, the usual)
100. Buy a needed item from an African American-owned business
101. Donate 50 cents for every task completed and $1 for every task not completed to the American Cancer Society 

IMG_0475

My father died from lung cancer in 2008. Why not make this a way to contribute to research for the cure for all forms of cancer? I better start saving now. (Side note: why am I wearing a shower cap in the pool…smh)

I will have the full list as a page on the blog in case you all want to see it without going through several posts. As usual, let me know what you all think in the comments! And keep me accountable if you don’t hear an update on the completion of this list for too long! I’m P.O.P.ed and out… 😉

Living on Purpose: 101 Things in 1001 Days Continued (#31-60)

So I said I would be back with my next set of simple and fabulous things I want to do/accomplish over the next 1001 days. According to convertunits.com, one thousand and one days from today would leave me with the deadline of October 6, 2017. To make it a little easier for myself (yeah I’m gonna cheat a little), I’m going to make the deadline the end of October 2017. That seems like a long time, but I’m sure the days will fly by as they always do. At least this time around, I will be more intentional than I’ve ever been about the life experiences that I want to accomplish within that time frame. But I digress from the reason for this post…

Here is my list for 101 Things in 1001 Days #31-60:

31. Become a wine expert
wine label

Expert as in Southside Chicago level, not for real for real lol

32. See a ballet
Image source: Geralt, "Ballet," via Pixabay

I’d love to see a really romantic one. I’d probably burst into tears. Image source: Geralt, “Ballet,” via Pixabay

33. Learn to swim
Hey, if these ladies can do it, I can do it. Time to woman up! Image source: Alamy, "How to Overcome Your Fear of Swimming," via theguardian.com

Hey, if these ladies can do it, I can do it. Time to woman up! Image source: Alamy, “How to Overcome Your Fear of Swimming,” via theguardian.com

34. Get flat abs
Image source: Neopri, "Runner," via Pixabay

I’d love to show off my six-pack…to my husband ;0) Image source: Neopri, “Runner,” via Pixabay

35. Get a nose ring again
Me freshman year of college. I was on my "Black power bohemian ish." My piercing closed when I tried to change the ring too soon.

Me freshman year of college. I was on my “Black power bohemian ish.” My piercing closed when I tried to change the ring too soon. I miss it though.

36. Dye my hair and/or get a hair cut
37. Take one of those trendy paint and drink wine classes
38. Organize a potluck
39. Learn how to thread hair
40. Sip Brandy by a fireplace
41. Sell/donate my old books
42. Volunteer on a consistent basis for at least 3 months
43. Ride a Ferris Wheel at night with my hubby
How romantic!!

How romantic!! Image source: Shocontinental, “Ferris wheel light show at night,” 2009, via wikipedia

44. Wear lipstick for a whole day
This is actually a big deal for me. Since I have larger lips, I've never wanted to wear lipstick to draw attention to them. This will be a huge act of self-love.

This is actually a big deal for me. Since I have larger lips, I’ve never wanted to wear lipstick to draw attention to them. This will be a huge act of self-love.

45. Make my own lotion
lotion in jar

I’m rarely satisfied with lotion that I buy, especially in winter when my hands get so dry. Plus, I’d love to use lotion without all the chemical junk without store prices. I’ll keep you all posted on this front! Image source: Carnivore Locavore, “lotion,” February 21, 2013 via Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

46. Make soap
47. Watch the sunrise
48. Kiss under mistletoe
49. Go for a bike ride with my toddler in tow
50. Host a game night
51. Potty train my daughter
52. Go to a concert
53. Take a pole dancing class with my  main bizzle, Takizzle
pole dancing

Look at those arms! A workout for me and my hubby becomes putty in my hands. Image source: convergentmediapr, “Nicole Williams Performs at the California Pole Dance Competition,” Copyright November 8, 2009 Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

54. See an opera
55. Make cake and frosting completely from scratch
56. Pray with a stranger outside a church/religious setting
57. Make gumbo from scratch
58. Do a good deed without someone knowing
59. Send a care package to a college student
60. Learn how to enjoy working out without listening to ratchet music
Me listening to "Some Cut" by Trillville & Cutty. This is why I need to be in a church (#22 if yall remember). This is "practically" the "only" time I listen to ratchet music.

Me listening to “Some Cut” by Trillville & Cutty. This is why I need to be in a church (#22 if y’all remember). This is “practically” the “only” time I listen to ratchet music.

That’s all I got so far guys and gals. Numbers 61-90 coming next time. Can anyone relate to any of these? How’re your lists coming or how do you choose to live on purpose? Drop me a line at the bottom. Stay positively optimistic and powerful ladies 😉

Living on Purpose: 101 Things in 1001 Days Challenge!

One of the things I’m loving about my new blogging life is all the amazing fellow bloggers I’m getting to know via some truly inspirational blogs. Recently, I was inspired by Jhaneel Lockhart’s post about her update on how her 101 things in 1001 days is coming along. She graciously referred me to where this fabulous idea began on the Day Zero Project website. Basically, the idea is to compile a list of 101 things you would like to complete in 1001 days, which is almost 2.75 years. The idea is to choose things that are attainable, but require you to stretch yourself at the same time. I really love this concept because it forces you to be intentional about living. It pushes us all to be proactive about our lives instead of being reactive or simply waiting or wishing for good things to happen. A major part of being positively optimistic and powerful (aka POPed) is to live on purpose.

You would think that the hardest part about this project is actually checking items off of the list, but actually coming up with 101 things is HARD! So far I’ve only gotten to thirty-something so I think I will share my list in increments of thirty. I plan to keep you gals posted every time I complete 10 things or so. I’m not attempting to complete them in any particular order either. I’m just gonna let it fly!

101 Hot-ish in 1001 Days

1. Build a profitable business

Just realized these are all singles...

Image source: 401(k) 2012. “Money-Savings” December 1, 2011 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.

2. Travel to a city/location in the U. S. and outside the U.S. that I’ve never been before

Dying to get to Paris to drink café au lait in front of Le Louvre...

Dying to get to Paris to drink café au lait in front of Le Louvre. Image Source: damonnofar. “Paris…” June 23, 2012 via pixabay, Creative Commons Attribution.

3. Have a reunion with my besties from college

The usual club pic. Miss these girls.

The usual club pic. Miss these girls.

4. Learn how to shoot a gun
5. Learn enough basic coding to make a website from scratch
6. Taking a drawing class geared towards children’s literature

watermelon book

I’m such a stereotype…

7. Take a cooking class
8. Become an advanced hair braider
9. Read a new book each month for 6 months straight
10. Start a garden
11. Become conversational in either Spanish or French
12. Get a makeover
13. Have a stylist consultation
14. Make a new friend
15. Go to a film festival
16. Participate in Bike the Drive

Sweet home Chicago

Sweet home Chicago

17. Eat a multiple course meal at a fancy restaurant
18. Become an advanced Yogi
19. Run a half-marathon
20. Get a real massage
21. Don’t say anything negative for a day

Happy, happy, happy

Happy, happy, happy

22. Become a member of a church
23. Create a family tradition
24. Write a personal mission statement
25. Write a play
26. Have a piece of writing published
27. Write a children’s book
28. Donate blood
29. Open an investment account/buy stocks and/or mutual funds
30. Create a will.

Extremely important no matter your age or financial situation, especially when you have kids.

Extremely important no matter your age or financial situation, especially when you have kids.

Whew, that took a lot of energy, but I have about 71 more things to come up with so wish me luck! Will you try the 101 Things in 1001 Days challenge with me or something like it? Do you find lists helpful for getting things done? Do you share any of the goals I’ve listed? Hit me up in the comments! Stay p.o.p.ed pimpin’ 😉

Vision Boards: Planning Your Year and Beyond

A couple of days ago, I re-read Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson M.D. The first time I read it was in my eighth grade reading class. My teacher, Mr. Enri, had us read the book as a class and discuss it. (Mr. Enri if you happen to read this, know that you will always be one of my favorite teachers!) At that time, I understood the importance of the story, but now, after more life experience filled with many ups and downs, it really clicks.

It's a really quick read.

It’s a really quick read.

The story centers around “Cheese,” which is really what each of us wants out of life. One person’s “Cheese” might be a nice house and rewarding career, while someone else’s could be spiritual and mental peace. In the story, four characters search for their “Cheese” through a maze. The readers learn many simple lessons about life in the process, of which I hope to unpack a few in future posts so stay tuned.

However, what I want to focus on today is the importance of visualizing your goals. This helps to keep you motivated while moving towards them. One of the “littlepeople” of the story, Haw, does this on his search for “New Cheese.” He imagines himself eating his favorite cheeses, which makes him more optimistic about reaching his goal.

We can gain a lot of momentum in our journey through life by picturing ourselves reaching our goals in our minds. Yet, sometimes it’s even more inspiring to have a physical representation of our goals and desires to help us stay focused as well.

I’ve decided to create a vision board to look at each day to keep all of the “New Year, New Me” momentum going well past February 😋 I’m hoping that having something that I can physically look at will help me on those days when I’m feeling discouraged.

For those of you in need of where to start with creating your own vision board, look no further because the popped black woman is here to help.

You will need a few basic things: a piece of cardboard/some other kind of sturdy base, a couple of old magazines, a pair of scissors, and some tape, and maybe some music and/or wine to get you excited about visually planning out your new adventures for the year and beyond.

Don't worry. I didn't touch the Obama section.

Don’t worry. I didn’t touch the Obama section.

Here’s how to get started:

1) Use what you got.
There’s no need to go out and buy a fancy poster board. We’re all watching our pockets these days after all. I cut out the side of a cardboard box that I had laying around the house to use as the actual vision board.

It was waiting to be trashed.

It was waiting to be trashed.

2) Cut pictures and words/quotes out of old magazines.
I love Essence magazine for this project. There was a time not too long ago when I had boxes of old Essence magazines from years ago stored in a closet in our apartment. Eventually, my husband convinced me to throw most of them out, but I still had a few to use for inspirational photos and phrases.

You can choose pictures and words that may not have obvious meanings, but they could represent certain things that only you can understand. You can be as candid as you feel comfortable.

3) Tape the photos and words to your board.
I fold regular off-brand “Scotch” tape to the back of the paper so that you can’t actually see any tape when looking at the board. That’s just a personal preference since I think it would look kinda elementary school-ish to see pieces of tape everywhere. Also, I like to layer the pictures close together at different angles so you barely see any card board in the background. That’s just a personal preference as well.

Partially finished. Can I just say that Ms. Serena is looking fierce as usual?

That’s all folks! It’s really that simple. Take pics of your vision boards and send them my way via Twitter or share your thoughts below. Keep it p.o.p.in! 😉