Free Mother’s Day Gift Basket Giveaway!

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As many of you already know, the POPPED family includes this blog and Popped Handmade, my up-and-coming natural skin care business. I encourage all of my POPPED ladies to enter Popped Handmade’s Mother’s Day Gift Basket Giveaway! It’s completely free, but it is only for lovely ladies living in the Chi or the surrounding areas because you will need to pick up your basket if you win. The basket will include Popped Handmade luxurious, whipped body butter and some yummy treats for your sweet tooth, including Treasure Corn Oreo-flavored popcorn and Mickii’s Sinfully Semi chocolate chip cookies. Check out the Popped Handmade Facebook page for info on how to enter and for more details! Good luck!

Walk Day: March for Babies 2016 Recap

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Izzy’s big sis sporting her fly “Proof that miracles happen” cape!

 

Sunday, April 24, 2016—the day of the March of Dimes March for Babies—was a perfect day. The sun was shining bright and the temperature was probably somewhere in the 60s-70s in the Chi—warm, but breezy. As we walked on the lakefront downtown, the sun sparkled like diamonds on Lake Michigan and the sail boats gently swayed in the wind. We walked in solidarity with countless other families who have either experienced the anxiety of taking care of a premature infant or families, like us, who were there celebrating the life of an angel baby that is no longer on earth. My husband and I felt part of a larger community of parents who have been through the fire and have come out not only alive, but refined. We were grateful to know that we weren’t alone.

Everything was perfect, not solely because the weather was nice or because we had a great group of close family and friends supporting us or even because we were able to do something to help others in honor of our son, Izzy. (Our team, Fight4Israel, raised $1,943 for babies!) It was perfect because we chose to focus on the things that were going well instead of the things that weren’t. We chose to be grateful for the people who came out to walk with us instead of the people who didn’t. It was perfect because it was symbolic of us choosing life instead of choosing to spiritually die because our hearts were broken from losing Izzy.

 

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The majority of the Fight4Israel team. Thank God for them!

 

It was just one day. As long as we’re on this side of heaven without Izzy, we know that there will be both sunny, breezy days when we’re walking in hope and cloudy, dismal days when we have to look hard for meaning out of everything that has happened. Regardless, we will look back on Sunday, April 24, 2016 with joy and gratitude because it was at least one day of victory over grief!

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Cousins! One walked for her little bro, a preemie in heaven. The other walked because she was a preemie and is thriving!

 

 

 

Ms. Jackson If Your Nasty

It’s 21 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!

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So I am a huge Janet Jackson fan! I love her classics and I can play many of her newer albums all the way through without skipping a track. When I heard that she was stopping through Chicago on her Unbreakable tour on November 4, 2015, I had to be there. The tickets were purchased months before we found out that there was any trouble with Izzy. About 3 weeks before the concert we found out that Izzy had a fatal birth defect, bilateral renal agenesis. I’d nearly forgotten about the concert until receiving an email reminder about it in my inbox. Neither I or my husband really were in the mood to go and I thought about trying to sell the tickets, but I’m so glad we decided to go in spite of how we felt. Ms. Janet put on a great show and even hubby wanted to hear her new album after seeing her perform. Thank God for those little moments of joy amidst the pain–as well as for distractions. Sometimes we all need a little escape!

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!

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! 😉

Until next time…

Until Next Time

I’m going to take a little time…a little time to get myself in order.

Lately, I’ve been feeling myself slipping. One of the biggest ways I’ve been slipping is on getting enough sleep. And it’s not like I’ve been staying up late for a particular reason. Earlier this year, I was so excited about starting this blog that I would stay up well until midnight or sometimes later to have a post ready for the next day. This wasn’t a huge deal because I would just take a nap the next day while my daughter took hers.

However these days, my staying up has nothing to do with being what I consider productive. I just find myself staying up web-surfing or lurking on Instagram instead of tossing my phone aside and trying to get some sleep. But even on those nights, like last night, when I put my phone away and get to sleep, I wake up in the middle of the night to tinkle and can’t manage to get back to sleep. I find myself lying there with my mind racing. Or falling in and out of sleep and having crazy dreams that scare me enough to have me running back to the bathroom. (That’s when I know I’ve been watching one episode of Criminal Minds too many.)

So I’m going to take a little time to work on me—to figure out my sleep/anxiety issues and to work on getting out of the writer’s block that’s been creeping up on me these past few weeks. Don’t worry, I won’t completely fade away because I’ll still be lurking on other blogs and commenting. But, I will be taking a much welcome break from Facebook so the best way to reach me will be emailing poppedblackwomanblog@gmail.com if there’s something my popped people want to tell me.

I’m planning to only be away from the PBWB (as far as writing posts are concerned) for a few weeks or so, but once I return I should have a ton of things to share with you. I should be able to check a few things off of my 101 Things in 1001 Days list like:

  • #2-Travel to a city/location in the U. S. and outside the U.S. that I’ve never been before (at least the city in the U.S. part)
  • #3-Have a reunion with my besties from college
  • #52-Go to a concert

I’m also getting low on that homemade lotion I made Memorial Day Weekend so I should be trying out a new recipe within the next few weeks. I’ll be sure to share that with you all when I come back from my hiatus. Wish me luck!

Of course, if there’s something I just have to share with you all whether it’s on the blog or on the Popped Black Woman Blog Facebook page, I will. I’m gonna try to lay low though and live life a little so that I have more to blog about later 😉

Until next time…keep it poppin’ 😉

Fearless Friday 6.12.2015 (The Bawse Follower)

I like to think I'm the leader when it comes to this one, but sometimes I don't know...

I like to think I’m the leader when it comes to this one, but sometimes I don’t know…

It takes courage to follow.

Everybody knows that it’s great to be a leader. We applaud leaders for their vision and courage, but like Derek Sivers talks about in the TED talk below, starting a movement is really about the first follower. A leader isn’t a leader if no one is following. Once that first follower believes in the leader’s vision and jumps on board, the other followers come soon after.

Know that there’s nothing wrong with being a follower when you’re trying to create change or do something positive. Sometimes we might want to get involved with something, but our ego tells us that we don’t need so-and-so to show us how to do something or we want to do our own thing instead of having to compromise with someone else’s way of doing things.

This concept makes me think of how there are almost too many churches to count within a 5 mile radius of where I live. I wonder how much more effective they would be in having a major presence in the community if people united together as one body to start a movement. As the saying goes, “too many cooks spoil the broth.” Just my 2 cents.

Following humbles us and forces us to put our egos in check so that we can be leaders ourselves. On this Fearless Friday, have the courage to follow a leader for the sake of a great cause. Then tell me about it in the comments or on Facebook 😉