Essence Fest 2016 (What It Is)

I had the privilege of experiencing Essence magazine’s Essence Fest for the second time this past 4th of July weekend. It was simply everything. I saw some of my favorite artists perform like Mariah Carey, Babyface, and a new favorite, Jidenna. Yet, anybody who really knows me knows that seeing the one and only Maxwell perform again (my first time was back in 2009) and posing next to him for a picture just made not only my weekend, but my entire life. He epitomizes real musicianship, style, class, soul, and individuality in a way that is breathtaking to me. I’m still in shock that I was standing right next to him even if for only a few seconds!

Even though I’m a huge fan of Essence Fest and hope to attend as many times as I can while there is breath in my body, I understand how it could look to the highly critical among us, being that I’m one of them. There were times when I waited in line after line at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center during the humid, NOLA days when I wondered if it was all worth the hype. Was it all just a series of marketing ploys and self-promotion? There were celebrities autographing recent book and CD-releases. There were vendors selling all types of wares and southern-styled meals. There were major hair and beauty brands giving away samples—ranging from small trial-sized packets to full-sized bottles of products. Sure, there were various empowerment stages, speeches, and sessions but were all of those amazing messages drowned out in a sea of marketing and consumerism? Was there really more lying beneath the surface of superficiality?

You bet your bottom dollar there was! Let me breakdown exactly what Essence Fest is…

Essence Fest is drinking a cool glass of lemonade on a blazing summer day (the Beyoncé brand).

It is that gentle breeze underneath your sundress when you’re drenched in sweat.

It is what it feels like to come home (the Diana Ross in “The Wiz” version).

Where else on earth can you go to find hundreds of melanin-drenched people in one place where it’s not only acceptable, but required to embrace the uniqueness and beauty of African American culture? Where you can eat as much fried chicken, collard greens, and peach cobbler as you want without the guilt of feeling like a stereotype? Where there is no doubt that black lives always and will forever matter? In fact, the question is redundant because it’s a given. Essence Fest is a type of nirvana for African American women where everything about them—their unique experiences, interests, goals, passions, and beauty—are all validated, celebrated, appreciated, and understood.

Although I left Essence Fest 2015 rejuvenated as well, I experienced a whole other level of appreciation for the event this year because of the many changes in my life and in my own personal development over the past year. I have been brought down to the ashes of the person I once was after losing my son and dealing with other struggles in my personal life, but Essence Fest 2016 has given me even more courage to hand my ashes over to God in order to become reborn like a golden, blonde-haired phoenix (check out the new “do”).

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Chilling poolside on the rooftop of the Ace Hotel and having some amazing conversation on a day off from the hustle and bustle of Essence Fest events!

 

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What do you say to someone whose concert may be the reason why you and your spouse got married? You say the obvious, “I love your music so much!” and just cheese really hard.

 

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Uncle Charlie never disappoints and he almost bought me a $400,000 car! :-O

 

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The “My Black is Beautiful” booth gave away full-sized hair products, t-shirts, and printed photographs for those patient enough to wait in line for them.

 

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I loved everything about Jidenna when the “Classic Man” first came on the seen, but I have an even greater appreciation for him and his music after seeing him live in the intimate Ford “Hot Right Now” superlounge at the Superdome!

 

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Bishop T.D. Jakes talked about his upcoming talk show and almost started preaching before he stopped himself short! I don’t think anybody would’ve minded him going on, especially me. His ministry kept me going on many’a rough days recently!

 

 

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I loved the random celebrity sightings at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Eric Benet just strolled through with a few members of his crew/security.

 

 

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I grew up loving Mariah Carey’s music and Mimi did not disappoint. There was nothing like singing along to her hits and watching her in all her “diva-ness.”

 

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Another take-away from my Essence Fest weekend was a determination to finally check out Omari Hardwick in “Power.” The show was highly recommended by a new NOLA friend and even compared to “The Wire” so I’m intrigued.

Turn LOSS into LEGACY

It’s 22 days until my husband and I will participate in the March of Dimes March for Babies in honor of the life and death of our son Izzy. I’m pushing myself to write and post on the blog each day until the walk—some days a little and maybe some days a lot—in hopes of shedding light on issues like miscarriage and infant loss so that other women who go through these types of things know that they’re not alone. Please share this post generously to spread awareness!

In Your Loss Think of the Legacy Quote

Izzy taught me that every life is valuable and that we all have a purpose. He taught me to appreciate each moment that we have because the next moment is not guaranteed. He motivates me to keep fighting through the obstacles of life because if I can endure the pain of losing him, I can handle anything.

What did your lost loved one teach you by the way they lived their life? Focus on what you learned from their life to help you cope with the loss.

My family and I would love for you to donate to our March for Babies campaign! Any amount no matter how small may help other families of premature infants. Click here and know that we’re so thankful for you!

New Dreams

It’s 24 days until my husband and I will participate in the March of Dimes March for Babies in honor of the life and death of our son Izzy. I’m pushing myself to write and post on the blog each day until the walk—some days a little and maybe some days a lot—in hopes of shedding light on issues like miscarriage and infant loss so that other women who go through these types of things know that they’re not alone. Please share this post generously to spread awareness!

After I received the terminal prognosis for Izzy when I was about 19 weeks pregnant, I not only started to mourn the loss of a child that I desperately wanted, but also the loss of a dream. I imagined that I would be the mom at the park pushing a stroller with a newborn, while a preschooler and a toddler tagged along on both sides. I wanted stair-stepper children—one right after the other. I wanted to just push them all out now so that I could focus on myself later, professionally and personally.

But after a first trimester miscarriage and Izzy being diagnosed with bilateral renal agenesis (Potter’s Syndrome) right after that, I began to wonder if my dream of a swarm of little people hanging on me would come true. That’s when I started to dream a new dream—the dream of myself as a small business owner doing something creative that would eventually impact the lives of others someday through providing jobs and philanthropy programs.

On November 6, 2015 when I was about 22 weeks pregnant, Popped Handmade made its debut. It’s a luxury, yet affordable, line of natural skincare products for the everyday positively optimistic and powerful person. So far, I’ve only been focusing on whipped body butters, but my goal is to have a comprehensive line of moisturizers, scrubs, soaps, and more. Popped Handmade has kept me sane through all of the disappointment I’ve felt over the past few months. It’s a work in progress, but I’m so grateful for it. It has shown me that there are always new dreams to pursue even when one particular dream doesn’t seem to be working out. 

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The top picture is my table set-up at my very first vendor fair for Popped Handmade on November 6, 2015. The picture at the bottom is my set-up at a recent vendor fair on March 16, 2016. It’s only been 4 short months, but I feel like I’ve learned so much and have made so much progress. I’ve come a mighty long way 😉

 

My family and I would love for you to donate to our March for Babies campaign! Any amount no matter how small may help other families of premature infants. Click here and know that we’re so thankful for you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year from the PBWB!

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Happy New Year from the Popped Black Woman Blog!

Don’t you love the sense of promise and hope that’s in the air at the start of a new year. Yet, we all know that mid-January/February rolls around and many of us still feel stuck in a rut and forget about all the new habits and plans we had for the new year. Let’s not let that be us this year. Let’s make a realistic ambitious plan for 2016 that includes deadlines and monthly/quarterly goals to help us stay on track.

For me, my biggest project will probably be setting a solid foundation for by new business, Popped Handmade, and really turning it into a “business” (as in having profits and such lol). It’s only been about 2 months since my first vendor fair when I burst out my handmade whipped body butters at a school where I used to work. It seems like ages ago because I’ve learned so much since then. But, at the same time the amount of work that needs to be put in, the knowledge and experience that needs to be gained, and the contacts that need to be made in order to turn this thing into something that really makes an impact for my family and for social causes that are important to me are almost overwhelming at times. However, that overwhelming feeling lets me know that I’m going to have to grow in faith in order to surpass the challenges in front of me.

In fact, 2015 has been so challenging as far as believing in myself and trusting God’s plan for my life that I’ve declared 2016 to be the year of belief. I refuse to have limiting beliefs that limit my joy and personal success this year. Last year was a year for the history books in many not-so-good ways, but it’s clear now more than ever that we grow the most when we go through some things.  

A Few Things 2015 Taught Me

 1.      Bad things can happen to anyone. An unfortunate situation can leave us paralyzed or propel us forward. It all comes down to our response.

2.      Sometimes your dreams have to be denied (even if for a short time) in order for you to realize your full potential.

3.      You have to decide to win even if you don’t have a fan club to lean on.

4.      You have to find ways to encourage yourself on a daily basis. This is true especially if you don’t have a strong support system. Motivational podcasts have really carried me through the low moments of 2015.

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing, that’s why we recommend it daily.”-Zig Ziglar

5.      Accept when you don’t fit in or feel like the oddball. That should let you know that you’re on the right track. You’re called to be the agent of change, not to conform.

6.      If you have the ability to inspire others, you’re a leader—even if you don’t have any titles or don’t feel like it’s true. We all have the ability to lead.

7.      Growth requires expanding your knowledge, experience, and network. It can’t happen with you staying stuck where you are.

8.      Just show up. You may not feel prepared. You may be running late. More than likely, you will be glad that you showed up and will learn a thing or two.

9.      Life is happening now. It’s the struggle/the process/the journey. Life is not waiting until you have accomplished all of your goals; it’s what’s going on while you work at your goals. Don’t wait until sometime in the future to enjoy the life you have right now. Only this very moment is guaranteed to anyone.

10.   We have to change our mindset in order to change anything that we’re dissatisfied with in our lives. No change in circumstances can take place if our thoughts and perceptions don’t change. The change starts inside before it’s manifested outside.

Honestly, I could go on and on about the little nuggets of wisdom that I’ve picked up from my experiences and observations in 2015, but I’d love to hear about your mantras, goals, and affirmations both that you’ve gained from 2015 and that you hope to ring true for 2016. Do you believe that 2016 can be your best year yet? Do you have a specific plan for how to make that happen? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook. We got this!

Review: Lush Cranberry Festive Face Mask

Greetings all my Popped Ladies & Gentlemen! You all have been on my mind more than you know. It’s been a while since I’ve published a full blog post. I’ve been preoccupied with launching my handmade, natural beauty product business, Popped Handmade, so I’ve been out at various vendor fairs or hunting for my next one via Facebook.

One cold Sunday evening after one of these vendor fairs, my husband decided to be spontaneous and suggested that we take our little family of three downtown to have dessert at Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. Now since we hadn’t chilled downtown as a couple or family since 19-hundred-insert-a-year-a-long-time-ago, I closed my mouth (because it was hung open) and said, “Most definitely!”

After our delicious and diabetic-coma-inducing brownie sundae, we walked to Water Tower Place where I stumbled on the most beautiful display window I’d seen in a long time. There were handmade soaps of different colors, fresh face masks sitting on top of ice cubes in a long cooler, and people inside who were smelling beauty products and trying creams on. I was in front of the Lush store (Lush Handmade Cosmetics). My husband encouraged me to go in and I assured him that I wasn’t buying anything; I was only going in to get a little inspiration for new products and recipes to try out for my new, little side-hustle.

However, this incredibly gifted saleswoman of a sista got a hold of me and started rubbing different face and body scrubs on my hands and I walked out not only inspired to make my own beauty concoctions (and maybe even apply for a job at Lush), but also with a little red and white Lush Handmade Cosmetics bag with their Cranberry Festive Face Mask (and a few free samples of other products!) inside.

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I must say that I really had no interest in buying a face mask. My skin is in better condition now than it’s probably ever been (except for maybe pre-puberty). I used to struggle with managing acne as a teenager and even in my early-mid twenties, I dealt with a few flare-ups around that special time of the month that all of us ladies love. But now, thanks to a few different things that I will share in a separate post, my skin is doing great in my opinion. It looks bright, soft, and smooth with the exception of a few acne scars. However, because my Lush homegirl was so great at her job, I decided to buy something so I chose the Cranberry Festive Face Mask.

Things I Love about the Lush Cranberry Festive Face Mask:

  • Love, love, love the SMELL of this stuff. It has a floral and kinda fruity fragrance. It has a very feminine and pampering scent.
  • Liked the thick, mud-like consistency of the mask. This made it easy to put on and spread without making a mess.
  • Really liked how my face felt after rinsing it off. My skin felt soft, but clean. I didn’t have that really tight feeling that I’ve had with some facial masks in the past.

Things That I Wasn’t Too Crazy About:

  • My face felt a little too tingly when I first put the mask on. I felt a somewhat burning sensation for a few seconds, but the sensation went away after a while. I know that my skin has been very sensitive lately, even after washing I get some redness on my cheeks every now and then, so I don’t think this necessarily says anything bad about the product.
  • As the mask dried, little powdery crumbles of the mask fell off of my face every time I moved my facial muscles. This wasn’t a big deal because I was able to brush it right off my shirt and I was only in PJs anyway but I just thought I’d mention it.
  • However, the major concern that almost stopped me from buying the mask in the first place is the fact that “talc” is in the ingredient listing. Talc has been under scrutiny by a few organizations in the natural cosmetic industry for sometime because it can possibly be contaminated with asbestiform fibers, which has definitely been linked to cancer. While the FDA considers talc safe in cosmetics, talc is restricted/prohibited in Canada because of organ system toxicity concerns. According to an article by the American Cancer Society, talc used in U.S. cosmetics has been asbestos-free since the 1970s. However, there is still a possible connection to ovarian cancer for those ladies that still put talcum powder (baby powder) in their underwear (if it were to travel up the vagina).
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Overall, I love that for the most part Lush tries to use all-natural ingredients that are good for your skin and overall health (the fact that my mask needed to be kept in the fridge shows that it wasn’t loaded up with synthetic preservatives), but the company does use a few questionable ingredients from time-to-time (parabens come to mind here).

Yet, as someone who continues to research ingredients and create recipes without any of the questionable stuff, I can see their dilemma. They produce mostly natural beauty products on a mass scale so it has to be extremely difficult to keep products free of bacteria/yeast/fungi, aesthetically appealing, and convenient to use while still making enough profit to grow the business, use fair-trade/ethically-sourced ingredients, and keep people employed. I applaud them for what they’re trying to do and have been doing for the past 20-plus years.

Have any of you tried the Lush Cranberry Festive Face Mask? Let me know your thoughts in the comments or on Facebook 😉

Make Sure YOU Win

Hello all my popped loves! I hope that you haven’t forgotten about me! I know that I’ve been a bit M.I.A. but Lord, if you knew what I’ve been going through…I had some really bad news a couple weeks ago that really threw my world upside down. I’m sure that one day, I will share more details about it, but all that I have the will to say right now is that it was news that shook the very foundation of my vision for the next few years of my life. You see, I had a plan, but of course, it’s often said that God laughs at our plans and does what He wants to do anyway! Have you ever been there? Have you had something happen to you that shook the foundation for your future or maybe even made you question your identity?

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“Don’t let disappointment or tragedy be the end of your story. Use it to make you even more determined to win.”

If so, I want you to remember something, no matter how bleak things may look right now, your story doesn’t have to be over. You may not be able to control everything that happens to you or around you, which is frustrating to the control freak in us all. However, we have full control over our reactions to whatever does happen to us. We can let something defeat us and make us kiss the game goodbye. Or we can use the disappointment, frustration, or [insert expletive here] to propel us forward. Don’t let disappointment be the end of your story. Use it to make you even more determined to win.

The inner pain I felt due to my situation made me want to crawl under my bed and stay there forever. But, I realized that if not anything else, I have a family—a daughter—that is relying on me to keep my ish together to be there for them. Instead of focusing on the things I couldn’t control, I decided to throw myself into starting Popped Handmade—a luxury, handmade, natural beauty product line for the everyday positive, optimistic, & powerful woman or man like yourself. Do I feel completely ready to take on this venture? No. Do I feel a bit overwhelmed at the mere thought of it? Yes. Will those fears stop me from giving it a shot and doing the very best that I can to perfect my products and grow my business knowledge? Hell no. The thing about feeling like you’ve hit a rock bottom of sorts is there’s nowhere to go but up. If this project fails, I will be right back where I started in the first place, yet I will have gained knowledge about business and myself that I would never have acquired otherwise.

If you, like me, are going through a valley in your life right now, use your experience as motivation to flip the script and make your story have a better ending. Don’t let the struggle win; make sure YOU win.

Check out the Popped Handmade Facebook and Instagram pages and let me know what you think!

3 Motivational Podcasts You Should Be Listening to Right Now!

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Okay so I don’t know if you all are into podcasts, but if you aren’t, you’re missing out! I’ve found that motivational podcasts are great for building myself up and providing a positivity boost when I start feeling discouraged. There’s nothing like the testimony of other people that have achieved things that you’re hoping to achieve to keep your eyes on the prize. The best part about podcasts is that you can listen to them while you’re doing almost anything–cooking, doing laundry, working out at the gym, or commuting to work. Even though I consider myself a podcast newbie since I’ve only been listening and researching podcasts for about a year, I’d still like to share three podcasts that I’m loving right now that I think my positively optimistic & powerful readers will love as well.

3 Motivational Podcasts You Should Be Listening to Right Now!

  1. Happy Black Woman Podcast with Rosetta Thurman

I just discovered this new podcast today and I am already in love! The Happy Black Woman website has been on my radar for a little while now, but I had no idea that the website creator, Rosetta Thurman, recently started a podcast. The Happy Black Woman Community is all about helping women change their mindset, leave their 9-to-5 jobs for their own location-independent businesses, travel the world, and pretty-much “live their ideal lives.”

The latest Happy Black Woman Podcast episode that still has me on a motivational high is Episode 001: Changing Your Story and Breaking the Lies featuring Dr. Venus Opal Reese of Defy Impossible, Inc. Dr. Reese went from being a homeless teen on the streets of Baltimore to a formidable millionaire motivational speaker and mentor. You will definitely end up taking notes by the end of this episode. I know I did!

2.  Black Entrepreneur Blueprint

This is one of the very first podcasts I discovered when I really started listening to podcasts about a year ago. It has definitely been the main one I turn to for inspiration on becoming a black entrepreneur. The podcast creator, Jay Jones, is a serial entrepreneur who loves sharing his knowledge to help aspiring and current entrepreneurs “launch, build, and grow successful businesses.”

I have many favorite episodes of Black Entrepreneur Blueprint, but one of the latest ones that really got my juices flowing was Episode 61: Battlefield of the Entrepreneurial Mind, in which he talks about many of the internal and external influences that may hinder us from success as a black entrepreneur. Check it out and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

3. The Ash Cash Show

The Ash Cash Show is another recent discovery of mine. (I swear I prayed and hoped to find more motivational podcasts and they just started popping up for me.) I actually stumbled on this podcast through the creator’s Instagram page (who says social media is all bad!). Ash Cash, a banking professional for over a decade, personal finance expert, motivational speaker, author, among other things, along with cohost Tashima Jones, discuss everything relating to financial advice and motivation. I especially love that just from the very few episodes I’ve listened to so far that it’s clear that Ash has a holistic approach to financial success; his slogan is “change your mind, you change your life.”

Recently, I really appreciated Episode 14: Millennials Revealed with empowerment speaker and millennial expert Tru Pettigrew seeing as how I’m a millennial (hey what’s up with the bad rep we’re getting nowadays?). Yet, this podcast is not only great for helping millennials understand ourselves in relation to our spending habits and professional engagement (amongst other areas), but it’s great for helping other generations connect with us a bit better.

Do you currently listen to any of these podcasts? Do you have others that you’d recommend? I’d love to know in the comments or on Facebook!

Image by I’sha Gaines of HoneyBeNatural Magazine. Location: Dallas, Texas at Main Street Gardens. Courtesy of CreateHER Stock. Licensed under (CC BY-SA 4.0)

A Little Rain Never Hurt Nobody

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass… It’s about learning to dance in the rain. – Vivian Greene See below for image source.

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass… It’s about learning to dance in the rain. – Vivian Greene. See below for image source.

Growing up, I was taught to avoid the rain and stay inside on rainy days. Whether it was because I wasn’t supposed to get my hair wet or because it was feared that getting rained on could cause a cold, I’m not sure—probably both of those things. However, as an adult, I’m learning not to fear the rain. The “don’t want to mess up my hair” reason doesn’t work since I’ve been #teamnatural for the past 7 years. Seriously, shrinkage is as normal as breathing and nothing to get worked up over anymore. Plus, now I understand that a little rain can’t hurt as long as you’re prepared for it (Isn’t that true for anything in life?).

In a light drizzle, all you might need is a jacket to keep you warm and a hood to cover your head. Of course you’ll need a bit more in case of a downpour like a warm raincoat/water-resistant jacket with a hood, umbrella, and rain boots. Preparation makes all the difference. It allows you to go out singing in the rain, instead of cursing under your breath.

We had one of those gray, rainy days in the Chi yesterday. Despite the grayness of the sky and the light drizzle outside, I took L-Boogie out for an adventure to the biggest library in the city via public transportation. We’d been cooped up inside for the past few days and simply needed to get out.

When we first stepped outside and I felt the small raindrops, I thought about taking her back inside. I thought about how we would have to take the bus and the train. I thought about the fact that I couldn’t find an umbrella in the house. I thought about how I wouldn’t want us to get caught in a major downpour that would cause us to both get soaked and God forbid…sick! But, I stepped out on faith—faith that even if the rain came down harder, we could find shelter or buy an umbrella from a drugstore, faith that even if one of us got the sniffles from being cold and wet that it wouldn’t be the end of the world. We would drink orange juice and eat soup; we would be ok.

And whaddaya know? The light drizzle stopped and we returned home bone dry; we were completely fine. We had lunch at Panera. We picked out new books at the library and L-Boogie played with giant Legos and blocks. I have to say it was a good day. I’m definitely glad that the gray sky and a little rain didn’t stop us from getting out and having a little adventure. Neither should you 😉

Photo credit: “Jumpin’ in the Rain” by Tony Fischer. Taken on ‎June‎ ‎27‎, ‎2008 Flickr via Creative Commons CC BY 2.0 I have no rights to this photo. No changes were made.

Are Girls Sexualized Too Soon?

I don’t know if you all have read Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self by Danielle Evans, but it’s been on my “to-read” list for a while. (It was released back in 2010.) I’m still working through it, but the first short story, titled “Virgins,” really engaged me because it made me think about how sad it is that in most cases, it’s very hard for our children to not only hold on to their virginity, but to hold on to their innocence, for as long as they desire to. It seems that they are pressured from an early age to grow up as soon as possible—casting away things of childhood for more adult things.

In “Virgins,” Evans portrays a pair of 15 year-old girls in Mount Vernon, NY who are coming of age in a world where peer pressure and sex surround them in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Even though the narrator desires to make losing her virginity special, she avoids one situation of carelessly giving it away (and possibly being passed around to a few random guys she and her friend meet at a club) only to find herself in another random situation shortly afterwards when losing her virginity seems inevitable. I love the sad, but deep line, “…I did understand then that there was no such thing as safe, only safer; that this, if it didn’t happen now, would happen later but not better” (Evans 25).

The story really makes me think of how hard it is for young girls to hold onto childhood and innocence for as long as they desire to; instead, they are almost forced to let go of childish things when society or their peers tell them to. This is not to say that there’s anything wrong with maturing. We all have to grow and mature. This never stops. However, it seems more of a problem to me when we have kindergarteners wearing as much weave as 30-year-olds and preteen girls wearing clothes to their school dance that are more suitable for a 21+ club. What’s happening here? Why is it so uncool to look and act like a kid anymore?

Yours truly at 9-years-old

Yours truly at 9-years-old

I’ll never forget the moment when I first realized that it was no longer cool for me to play with dolls. My mom and I were in a hole-in-the-wall storefront fast-food place on the Westside of Chicago. I can’t remember how old I was, but I know that I definitely was not in my junior high years yet. Honestly, I don’t think that I was even 10 years old yet. If so, I was a fresh 10, but more likely 8 or 9-years old. I was standing next to my mom with my favorite doll in my hand when this perverted old man walks in looking at me crazy—with a slight hint of lust in his eyes. (I think every young girl knows that look that you can’t quite put a finger on, but you know it’s a look that a grown person shouldn’t be giving a child.) He makes a comment to my mom about how pretty I am and how it’s good she’s got me still playing with dolls.

I stood there thinking, “Wait a minute. What’s he trynna say?” After that moment, I felt a little more hesitant to take my doll places. I wondered if there was something wrong with me. Was I too old to play with dolls now? Did that make me a baby? At that time, I knew what sex was. I knew that I would get a period soon. I knew that my classmates would touch each other behind the coat closet in our classroom when the teacher wasn’t paying attention. I knew there were other girls that were more into boys than I was. Yeah, I had crushes, but some girls were more serious about boys, if you know what I mean. But, it wasn’t until that moment in the dingy-looking fried chicken spot that I started to really question if I was too far behind.

It’s a feeling that I dread for my daughter to have, but I know that it’s probably inevitable that she will. I just hope that when she’s ready to trade her dolls for nail polish and tinted lip gloss that it’s because she wants to and not because some stranger told her it was time.

Do you think there’s anything we can do about our kids growing up too fast? How do you think we should prepare them to confidently into their preteen/teenage years? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook! 😉

Do I Have an Enemy Within? (Am I My Own Hater?)

”When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.” – African Proverb (courtesy of happyblackwoman.com)

”When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.” – African Proverb (courtesy of happyblackwoman.com)

A few days ago, I found the African proverb above on the Happy Black Woman website (the post “67 Inspiring Quotes by Black Women on Happiness, Perseverance, Fear and Success”) and it just immediately stuck out to me. It seemed like a lightbulb went off in my head. Do I have an enemy within?

Many of us have a little voice inside of us that we constantly have to silence. It tells us all the things we can’t do or all the reasons why we aren’t good enough. More often than not, we probably can call those nagging thoughts into question and continue about our business. But, sometimes those little, lying voices may win in casting a cloud over us.

I’ve been a bit down in the dumps off and on for some time now and the proverb above made it clear that I have to cast out my enemy within.

It’s true that sometimes we really do have haters, but we have to be careful that the hater in our heads is not making us believe that someone on the outside is a hater when they really aren’t. I’ve realized that it’s very possible that a lot of the rejection we feel from others could be the projection of our own internal enemy out into the world.

It can be tough being a stay-at-home mom. Yes, I don’t deny that it is a privilege, honor, blessing, and pretty much every good thing that you can think of. When I went back into the workforce when my daughter was about 7 or 8 months, I immediately dreamed about the day when I could get back home to see her go through all of her major milestones without missing a beat. That day came sooner than I could’ve imagined and I was thrilled. Yet, every stay-at-home mom knows the challenges—isolation from the adult world, the blow to your ego and maybe even your self-esteem when those checks stop coming in your name, and the misperception about what you do on a daily basis (and don’t forget the misperception about your financial situation) from the outside world. It definitely can throw your sense of value and confidence threw a loop. Living simply and valuing other things over fortune, fame, and independence (gasp!) is so contrary to what society tells us we should want that we tend to look at ourselves sideways when we don’t live according to society’s standard of success.

However, the proverb above made me realize that if I have an enemy within that thinks very little of myself and my place in the world, every glance and remark from others—no matter how unrelated to me personally—will be filtered through the beliefs of my enemy within. If I’m my own enemy, I have no chance in the world no matter what endeavors I pursue. We all have to be our own biggest fans. We have to cheer ourselves on when the going gets tough and know that we can make it even if we are the only fan that we have.

So to all my positively optimistic & powerful people (in process) cast out the enemy within and build yourself up daily. You may use affirmations, inspirational podcasts, scripture, or self-help books. Whatever you need to do to get that enemy within out of your mental space and spirit, do it as often as you need to. This is oh so necessary in order to keep it poppin’ 😉