Destiny

It’s 4 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 who passed away on January 25, 2016 due to bilateral renal agenesis, a fatal birth defect when a baby lacks kidneys. 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, stillbirth, 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!

Destiny paragraph jakes

Currently reading, Destiny: Step into Your Purpose by T.D. Jakes to try to make sense out of my past, my present, and my hope for the future. I’ve never been into T. D. Jakes’ teachings and sermons as much as I have been during my current grief journey. Grateful for The Bishop.

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!

How to Have a Great Day

Maybe most of you are so positively optimistic & powerful that you have a fantastic day every day. That is wonderful! You deserve a round of applause and a warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie because I don’t know how you do it! You need not read any further. Just leave comments on how you manage to radiate rainbows and sunshine all the time because the rest of us would love to know!

For those few people, like me, who have to work hard at getting and keeping those positive vibes going, I want to share with you a few things I’ve noticed about my best days. Please do share your own tips in the comments or on Facebook because I could always use help here!

  1. Get rid of your expectations.

This one is huge for me. I realize that when I am able to let go of all of those expectations about what someone else should do, how an event should turn out, or how I’m supposed to look in that dress, I feel so much better about life! Expectations that are too high, unrealistic, or simply out of our control do nothing while we’re on our quest to have a great day. They only cause us to feel disappointed when things don’t turn out quite as we planned. Get rid of those expectations!

2. Refuse to say anything negative or refuse to “have words” with anyone else.

I swear on those days that my husband and I say to each other, “Look here. No bs today. We’re gonna have a good day,” we actually don’t have bs and really do have a good day. Sometimes it just takes being aware of our not-so-great habits and making a conscious effort to change them to make progress. We can’t always control the random thoughts that pop up in our heads, but we can control the words that come out of our mouths. By choosing to only say the positive things that we think, we just end up spreading positivity everywhere and keep those good vibes flowing.

3. Be grateful.

A few people I'm grateful for :)

A few people I’m grateful for 🙂

Yeah you hear it everywhere these days and it kinda sounds hokey, but I absolutely can’t deny that reminding myself to be grateful for the things that are going right instead of harping on the things that are going wrong really helps me stay in my p.o.p. zone. When we’re complaining, even if it’s only in our heads, we forget that there really are people that are praying for the things/situations that we consider problems. Although it’s the last thing I want to hear when I’m having a moment, it’s true that it really could always be worse. If simply thinking about the things you are grateful for isn’t enough, try writing a list or actually saying aloud to yourself or someone else what you’re grateful for. It really can do wonders.

Just a little something I’ve been thinking about as I strive to have as many great days as I can. Sometimes we just have to let ourselves feel the weight of whatever we’re going through by venting or being in our feelings for a minute, but other times, I think these three tips can come in handy for the day-to-day funkiness that can try to steal our joy. Remember to share your tips! Have a great Monday and an even better week 😉

***And if you haven’t read the previous post, be sure to check that out here: The New PBWB: Getting Your Mind Right***

The Blessing of Rejection

all things work together for good
I imagine it would be hard to find one person on earth that has never been denied anything that they wanted, whether it was a person, organization, group, position, or situation. Most of us have been denied something at least once in our lives but more than likely it’s been numerous times. If you are in that slim minority of people that have no idea what it feels like to be rejected, this post is not for you so you can keep it movin’.

For the rest of you, doesn’t rejection have a way of stopping you dead in your tracks? A way of making you second-guess every single thing that you once believed in—even making you question yourself. It makes you wonder if there is something inherently wrong with you that caused the rejection. If it was a major rejection, it make even trigger a bout of depression and make you want to give up.

A few minutes ago, I was surfing the web to find a little inspiration for a blog post. I’ve been having a bit of writer’s block lately as you may have guessed by me skipping my usual Sunday night post. During this web-surfing inspiration-hunt, I stumbled on an article that reminded me of a rejection I experienced within the last 5 years.

It was an interview featuring a popular blogger, she-who-must-not-be-named, who I briefly worked for. Although the work I did was nothing fancy—just some editing and affiliate marketing work mostly—it was huge for me. The opportunity first came during a low point in my life (shortly after college) and it gave me hope.

Growing up, writing was as easy as breathing. I wrote poems, stories, song lyrics. I didn’t have to try to write or force it. Writing and reading came naturally and were even coping mechanisms for me during tough times. But during college, I started having severe writer’s block and began to question my writing abilities and even my passion for all things literary.

The part-time work I did for this she-who-must-not-be-named blogger gave me hope again because it showed me that it was possible to do work in a field that I loved and that success was possible (based on the founder of the blog’s success). When this blogger told me that my work was great, but that I wasn’t needed anymore, I felt crushed. I wondered what the real reason for terminating our working relationship was. This blogger had other people working for them, why was I cut?

My mind went straight to questioning my abilities, work ethic, my very being. What did I do or did not do that caused this to happen? What’s wrong with me? But looking back, I’m (mostly) at peace with the way things turned out with that situation and with other situations when I felt rejected.

If I had continued to work for that blogger and gained more responsibility, would I have had the desire now to blog for myself and stick with it no matter if I get 1 view a month or 1,000,000?

The same question can be asked for every situation or person that made me feel rejected or less than. If that person had not turned their back on me as a friend, would I have missed out on learning the importance of loving myself no matter how other people treat me? If that company had hired me full-time as soon as I graduated from college, what other experiences would I have missed out on? If that professor had not told me who I wasn’t, would I still have this burning desire inside of me to prove what type of person I could be?

Although rejection hurts, we should thank God for it. If the door of mediocrity never closed in our face, we would miss out on finding something of greater value through a different door down the road. So the next time you want to throw a pity party over being denied something you really want, remember that every obstacle strengthens your backbone and changes who you are for the better.

Although it may get dark and lonely as we go through those valleys in our lives, we have to remember that all of it works in our favor in the end—to mold us into people that can truly appreciate not only the moment when we reach the mountaintop, but most importantly, the climb as well. It’s the climb that really shapes who we are and really makes us savor being on the mountain top when the day comes. And if we keep going, that day will come.

Let me know why you’re grateful for rejection or tell me about all the haters you plan to prove wrong in the comments or on Facebook 😉

Fearless Friday 5.22.15 (Being)

Happy Fearless Friday Folks!

I would like to congratulate Dee from The Understanding of Dee blog for winning On Becoming Fearless by Arianna Huffington! Thanks so much Dee for reading my latest “Popped Books” post and participating in the giveaway! If you all haven’t checked out her blog yet, get your life together and see what she’s up to! I’m lovin’ her “30 Things by 30” series!

This week…

I’ve been thinking a lot about appreciating the tiny joys of life. I think my daughter helped me learn this.
london with her stick backyard
Right now, she’s really into sticks…more specifically, tree branches. I love the excitement on her little face when she finds a stick and how she just can’t stop saying, “Stick” over and over again as if she loves to say the word just as much as finding one.

The things that adults consider ordinary or even trash, toddlers find awe-inspiring. They appreciate the so-called “little things” and they live in the moment. They don’t carry the burden of obsessing over the future like most adults do.

Of course, there are times to put your big girl pants on, be serious, and take care of business, but I think that most of us could use a little more childlike wonder and joy in our lives.

I’ve been channeling my inner Little L this week, learning to just be…and be grateful; learning to be content in the moment and grateful for every part of the journey instead of obsessing over the next phase. It really hit me this week that if I don’t appreciate what I have at this moment, nothing else that I do or receive in the future will ever be enough.

Today…

Just be. That’s enough. There’s nothing wrong with striving and climbing, but it can’t hurt to stop and reflect on the view from where you’re at every now and then.

Cheers to being both aware and grateful for each moment, especially those with our loved ones!

Stay fearless…and popped 😉

Popped Books: “On Becoming Fearless” by Arianna Huffington (Thoughts and Giveaway!)

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Source Athena Letrelle via Flickr 10/13/08 CC BY-ND 2.0

I’m very happy to announce that I’ve just finished an entire book. Yes, I actually read it from beginning to end even though it took me several months to do so! It’s so hard to buckle down and read in our world of “go, go, go.” It’s so much easier to waste my spare time checking my news feed on Facebook.

On Becoming Fearless…In Love, Work, & Life is written by Arianna Huffington, founder of the wildly popular Huffington Post. After the online blog was acquired by AOL, she became the President and Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post Media Group. She’s also known as a prominent political figure and ran for Governor of California in 2003. Huffington reflects on fearlessness in relation to her professional experiences as well as from the lens of being a mother of two girls.

Shout out to Shahidah from Properly Improper for sending me her copy of On Becoming Fearless. It was on my “Boss Books” Pinterest board after I read an article about it so I jumped at the chance of winning it via a book giveaway that Shahidah had on her blog. I feel that it’s only right that I pay it forward to my positively optimistic & powerful readers! If you would like the Shahidah-Carla special edition of this book after reading my thoughts on it, peep the giveaway instructions at the end of this post.

So…Shahidah wasn’t in love with this book when she read it and I have to admit that it was a struggle for me to get through the first half of it. I think the primary reason why it was a struggle to keep reading it is because there were so many other things competing for my limited entertainment time–reading blogs and blogging, watching Being Mary Jane, Scandal, and Empire, and the greatest distraction of them all, Facebook.

IMG_2079Once I actually pushed myself to sit and read after Little L was put to bed for the night, I felt like I couldn’t really connect with the book because there were so many stories being told at once. Huffington includes A LOT of quotes and short essays from other prominent women on being fearless in relation to specific topics. This annoyed me at first. It read more like a research paper than a self-help book. However, after I got used to the writing style and forced myself to stick with it, I gathered quite a few inspirational nuggets from Huffington and the accomplished women that she quotes.

I’m just going to share with you all some of my favorite quotes and thoughts from the book by section.

From the “Introduction…”
“Trapped by our own fears, we then pretend that we’re incapable of having what we want, forever waiting for others to give us permission to start living” (Huffington 7).

This made me want to holler and throw up my hands because sometimes I feel stuck or limited because of my situation in life, thinking that being a wife and mother restricts me from pursuing certain passions. Inwardly, I feel like I’ve been waiting for someone to tell me it’s ok to try new things that are just for my own well-being that aren’t necessarily related to fulfilling my role in the family. But, the only restrictions are the ones I set in my mind. I have to stop waiting for someone else to give me permission to pursue my goals.

From “Fearless About Money…”
“The point is that my mother’s real wealth was the fact that she never made decisions from a place of lack..she always radiated abundance” (125).

This is another point that I’ve been trying to stay mindful of. If I approach life from a state of lack or not having enough, I will never have the fearlessness it takes to make big things happen. Instead of approaching a situation from a negative place, from a “I can’t afford/do that,” I want to ask, “What do I need to do to obtain/do X,Y, or Z?”

From “Fearless About Aging and Illness…”
“But when we stop holding on to things we’ll never use and stop struggling to be who we are not, we discover newfound energy and strength” (143).

For way too long, I’ve let myself feel bad for not being more like this person or that person when all I needed to do was accept and embrace who I was in order to have real power to create a life that I love.

From “Fearless About Leadership and Speaking Out…”
After describing how her mother took a job as a “house manager” for a family in Santa Barbara, Huffington writes, “She had taken the job with no sense of inferiority, and so it never occurred to the family to treat her as inferior” (191).

This passage really made me reflect on how my attitude towards my position in life matters more than how I feel others perceive me. In fact, my opinion about myself affects other people’s opinion of me. This idea makes me think about several jobs I’ve had in the past where I felt really small and insignificant. Looking back, I know that my negative attitude was just as much to blame if not more to blame for my unhappiness than actually having what I considered crappy jobs.

Overall, I’m grateful to Shahidah for sending me this book. It was definitely worth all the energy it took to read it from cover to cover. This edition also includes a reading group guide at the end.

In order to receive your copy of On Becoming Fearless by Arianna Huffington:

1. “Like” the Popped Black Woman Blog Facebook page and follow yours truly on Twitter.
2. Write a comment on this post about your thoughts on what it means to be fearless, how you act fearless in your daily life, or simply write, “Gimme that book” below.
3. If there’s more than one person interested, I will draw names randomly out of a hat (or wine glass) and announce the winner Friday in my weekly “Fearless Friday” post. Therefore, the deadline to enter the giveaway is Thursday morning, May 21st. Unfortunately, I’ll only be able to ship the book to a shipping address in the U.S. Good luck! 

Growing Some Ovaries (101 Things in 1001 Days Update)

I have a “101 Things in 1001 Days” update for you all! I was reluctant to publish this because I thought that I only had 2 things to check off, but I do indeed have 3 whole things that I consider DONE!

For starters, I am beyond grateful to say that I can check off #63, “Reach one hundred followers on this blog!” This goal was actually met back in March of this year! In fact, the blog has 148 followers to date! WOOT WOOT! YAY!!!!! I am so happy about that! It may be small beans in the ginormous world of blogging, but it means the world to a little blogging novice like me! Thank you all so much for supporting the Popped Black Woman Blog!

Secondly, the next item that I can check off (the one I almost forgot about) is #60, “Learn how to enjoy working out without listening to ratchet music.” You may laugh, thinking what’s the big deal, but it was hard to let go of that twerk and “Run Up Get Done Up” music, even for a peacoat-wearing, motivational book-reading, Downton Abbey-watching gal such as myself.

Peep this quick video to see the kind of music I used to listen to at the gym:

Even though a good beat helps get that blood flowing in the gym, I believe music has a huge influence on our thoughts and outlook on life. I think that negative song lyrics can make it a lot harder to stop thinking negatively in general. I listen to pretty positive music during the day-to-day. Specifically, the Janelle Monae station on Pandora is one of my favorite stations ever right now! But, letting go of my DMX and “Knuck If You Buck” stations on Pandora during my workouts has been hard. (Yeah, I luh the old school even when it comes to rap, which crazy enough can now be applied to music from the early 2000s!)

All of the drop it low hooks and talk about whoopin’ somebody’s a$$ used to make me go harder on the treadmill. But, I’ve noticed that the songs that used to get me turnt up, hurt my spirit a little bit now. I no longer can listen to music that calls women hos and still feel empowered. I’m in a different frame of mind now, which is wonderful! I don’t think this means I will give up the old stuff entirely. I mean, music like the “Regulate Jammin’ Remix” by Warren G and Nate Dogg will always be a classic in my book and the lyrics aren’t so bad, but I don’t need to feed my gangsta alter ego to enjoy my workout anymore. Won’t He do it! 😉

Lastly…drum roll please…I got my nose pierced again (#35)! As I said in one of my introductory “101 Things in 1001 Days” posts, the first time I had my nose pierced was my freshman year of college. I had freshly turned 18 and nobody could tell me nothing. I wanted to do it and I did it. This time around, I was so nervous! Not nervous about the pain because I knew what to expect, but nervous about what other people would think about it. It reminded me just a little of the dread I felt over the negative reactions I knew were coming from a few old school family members when I cut my relaxed hair off back in the day, which also happened right after I turned 18.

Um...disregard all that shine #oilyskinproblems

Um…disregard all that shine #oilyskinproblems

Where was that “I don’t care” attitude that I had when I was 18 this time around? I’m a hellava lot grown-er now than I was then. It’s been almost 10 years! I’ve experienced life in the “real world”—had several jobs, had my own apartment and my own bills, got married, had a child. Who or what was I afraid of?

I questioned if it would be appropriate now–whether I would be setting a good example for Little L. Yet, the more I thought about it, the more convicted I became to GROW SOME OVARIES & DO IT! By expressing myself in this way, I felt like I was showing my daughter that she is free to be who she is, which may not be popular and celebrated by everybody, but it’s worth it to be herself in the long run because she’s in charge of her own happiness. I never want to discourage her from doing something simply because everybody won’t like it. If it doesn’t hinder her personal and professional goals, why not do it?!

I stopped worrying about the what ifs–what if ish hits the fan and I have to go back into the workforce and it’s not acceptable to have a nose ring? I’ll cross that bridge later if it gets to that point. It’s only a tiny little piercing that can close at anytime if I take the stud out. It can be pierced again just as easily! It’s crazy how we can turn the smallest things into much bigger issues than they really are. I feel free. Free to be whoever I decide to be at any moment and it feels great!

Have any of you checked off any items from your 101 Things in 1001 Days/Bucket Lists lately? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook! Keep it poppin’ as always 😉

Happy Mother’s Day from PBWB!

It’s Mother’s Day! Woot woot! I hope you all enjoy loving on all the mothers or mother-figures in your lives today by sharing something that’s more precious than anything you can buy: time.

Kind of in honor of Mother’s Day, but not really, I decided to treat myself to something that I’ve been wanting for a long time. No, it’s not a necklace from Tiffany’s, but hopefully I’ll make that happen one day.

Jar of cream sunshinecity via flickr

Image by SunShineCity via Flickr, CC By 2.0

I decided to take the first step towards making my own lotion by ordering a few supplies from Amazon. This is a huge deal for me because as a stay-at-home mom, or maybe just as a mom in general, it’s so hard to not be overwhelmed with guilt when I buy something just for me.

I’ve been wanting a new hobby for some time and I think lotion-making will definitely get my creative juices flowing. It doesn’t seem too difficult, judging from the recipes I’ve found on Pinterest. Yet, it seems to involve just the right amount of chemistry and experimentation to put my brain to work. Also, maybe this can lead to that profitable business I want to start or at least a nice little side hustle! (Remember #’s 1 and 45 on my “101 Things in 1001 Days List?”).

At the very least, this may be a way to ensure my family is exposed to a few less potentially harmful cosmetic ingredients on a daily basis. Often, I’m  disappointed with the cosmetics I find on store shelves, even the ones for babies. Most cosmetics have questionable preservatives and too many chemicals with long names. The products with ingredient listings that I like tend to cost too much to buy on a consistent basis. I can’t wait to make products how I want them at a fraction of the cost of quality store-bought products! I’ll be sure to keep you all updated once I make my first batch.

On another note, I would like to leave my popped mothers with just a little something I wrote for Little L that I’m sure many of you can relate to.

To my Poo on Mother’s Day 2015:

I think of you even when I’m not thinking of you;
We are so entwined that I could never not think of you.
No longer attached by a cord, but tied by spirit,
I feel you when I can’t see you.
Hear you before you even make a sound.
Your laugh is the music that makes my heart beat;
Your smile dances in my dreams.

Me and London at Pepe's

Happy Mother’s Day! Have any of you mothers out there decided to treat yourself to something special this weekend? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook!