The Silver Lining | Travel Destination, Jamaica

There is always sliver lining even in the gloomiest moments life can offer.  Early February, I went on a family trip to Jamaica. Which was long overdue since the last time I went to Jamaica, I was 13 or 14 years old, and at 26, my first time going back was for a funeral. 

Therefore my intention was set, to meet as much family as I can, take pictures with them, and get their contact information.  I didn't want for the next time we connect to be for another funeral arrangement.  So I did just that!

Though, not the ideal circumstance, it was the best one! For me, this trip was a celebration of life and a family reunion all in one.  I literally met family members for what felt like the first time because so much time had passed. 

During the funeral, I learned of a trait that me and late aunt shared, it was the passion to bring people together and sharing moments.  As for me its always been capturing moments through my camera lense. 

I will admit, I have a very immature and inaccurate reality as it relates to death. I am not afraid of death and I am well aware that death is apart of life. But when it comes to family and close relatives it is hard for me to phamton thier presence no longer existing. No more conversations and no more memories to be shared. Therefore, I made a promise to myself, to not let soo much time pass until I connect with my family that live outside of U.S. and also to connect with my father side of the family. So I am proud to say I already have a second trip to Jamacia planned for the summer, and plans to hangout with my cousin (Father-side) when she visit Florida. 

This short trip reaffirmed the importance of family. Regardless of how often we communicate, the distance that seperate us, family is family and I am beyond blessed to have such a large family. 

Rest In Peace
Maxine "Ann" Graham 

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Triggers | Why You Aren't Accomplishing Your Goals & Ways to Get Better

Triggers

We are almost into the third month of the New Year. Have you fallen off track already? If so, did you already give up on yourself? Do you believe you gave yourself a fair chance? 

I randomly picked up a book at my sister -in-law house called Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith, literally on the first of January.  Which is ironic because the book is about factors that debilitate us from making positives behaviors we seek to change in ourselves. The perfect book to read at the beginning of the New Year right? 

I wanted to touch on some of the take aways in hope that you can apply them to the goals you have set for yourself this year. 

Your Environment Will Not Cater to You!

Unfortunately, we do not have control over our environment as much as we may like to. Not to say that the Universe is actully out to get us, but rather the enviroment doesn't know your goals. The environment doesn't pick you out of the bunch  and decides to cater to your needs, and your needs only.  Instead you have control over how to respond to your envrioment. 

We are Superior Planner and Inferior Doers

We tend to plan for the future with so much detail and precision yet not follow throught, even when the instructional manual is handed to us.  For example, losing weight and getting fit. We alrealdy know what to do, eat healthier and exercise. Simple! But yet we fall short and skip out on going to the gym, and choose to buy not-so healthy lunches even when we packed our lunch for the day.

Identify Your Triggers

Self-discipline refer to achieving desirable behaviors and self-control refers to avoiding undesirable behaviors.  We are good at making the nessecarry steps to achieve a goal, but it is hard not submit to temptations. Learning your triggers will help you build your self-control.

You Need Rules

Quoted from the book, "We do not get better without structure." A major key to building structure is repetition.  Structure is helpfull because it limits your options so that you are not thrown off track. This is how we can take control of the otherwise uncontrollable environment. 

Overall, the book is great and it goes into details of strategies and reflections activities that you can use to fianlly make the postive changes to become the person you want to be. 

Let me know in the comments if you read this book and your thoughts about it. 

She's Gotta Have It | Nola Vs. Nola

 Photo Courtesy of Netflix

Photo Courtesy of Netflix

So I finally finished watching Netflix's Series of "She Gotta Have It", well actually I finished it a while ago and decided to watch it again. If you haven't seen it I would recommend you indulge but only after you watch the original She Gotta Have It (1986).  

I watch the film a long time ago probably before I was of age to grasp the message but I've seen many times and it is one of my favorite Spike Lee movies.  I love that majority of the movie is in black and white except for Jamie's birthday gift to Nola which was the only scene in color.  I honestly don't think the movies would have registered the same way in full color. 

 Photo Courtesy Everett Collection

Photo Courtesy Everett Collection

I love the series thus far and I am thrilled it got picked up for a second season.  I enjoyed the musical scores and the placement of the album cover throughout. While it may be distracting to some, I was ecstatic to update my music library.  Also, I hollered in agreement with every anti-trump, anti-gentrification, anti-misogyny, feminist monologue, and dialogue. 

Given I had some exceptions when I heard that the movies would be turned into a series.   The only hard negative I have so far is that I wished they would have explored more into the realities of black polygamous relationships. Nola quotes "I am a sex-positive, polyamorous pansexual".  When I compare the original film and the series Nola (1986) didn't hide Jamie, Mars, and Grier from each other, they all knew they had a separate relationship with Nola and they stayed regardless of their destain for her choice. She was straightforward in her actions, firm and true to herself.

While Nola (2017) wasn't as forthcoming, yes she spoke boldly in her monologues, her actions did not portray the same message. She contradicted herself, a lot!  Each guy suspected Nola was dating other men, but she didn't confirm or denied instead she floated around and deflected with sugarcoated responses. Nola (2017) was avoiding commitment altogether. 

Nola (1986) and Nola (2017) are two different women in my opinion and it didn't sit well with me. But I get it, Nola 2017, is more relatable, maybe not in the sense of dating three men at the same time (for me at least) but a young black woman coming into her own and getting her shit together. Thanks to the series you can watch and learn from her trials and triumphs and find pieces of yourself in the modern version of Nola Darling as compared to Nola 1986 where there isn't much backstory so you are forced accept her as is. 

 Photo Courtesy Netflix 

Photo Courtesy Netflix 

Just like any book turned movie scenes will be missing an or not fully captured. But I get that also, you gotta stretch it out and create a storyline for seasons to come.  But I question if the rape scene with Jamie and Nola(1986) was completely replaced by the sexual assault scene in the series.  Regardless it serves itself as a catalyst into the important topic of sexual assault/harassment. Maybe the writers decided the rape scene would be insensitive and gory and played it safe, maybe they are saving it. What do I know? I'm anticipating the turn of events that will take place next season. Will Nola ditch all three men, and date Opal? Will new suitors come into her life? Or will we get more of the same run around between Jamie, Grier, and Mars. 

Overall, the show is great in my opinion and I will probably watch it again for the third time. I would like to share two articles, one an interview with Spike Lee about the creation of the series and an academic article I randomly found.

Let me know your thought on the series or the original film in the comments. Also, what are you watching on Netflix currently?

 

Vulture - Spike Lee on She's Gotta Have It (Interview)

Happy Birthday Nola Essay Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of Spike Lee's She Gotta Have It.

Foote, Thelma Wills. “Happy Birthday, Nola Darling! An Essay Commemorating the Twentieth Anniversary of Spike Lee's ‘She's Gotta Have It.’” Women's Studies Quarterly, vol. 35, no. 1/2, 2007, pp. 212–233. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/27649662.

 

My Four Favorite Bloggers

As a writer, I enjoy reading what others have to say, how they say it, there tone and what is important to them. I follow many bloggers that write about different topics from fashion, travel, business, creative writing and wellness so below you can discover the four bloggers I am avidly reading right now.

*Yes they are all women of color because representation is important.

 Photo Courtesy of TheBWerd.com

Photo Courtesy of TheBWerd.com

Courtney Brand

I stumble across TheBWerd.com after liking one of  Courtney's pictures on Instagram almost a year ago. She curates a lifestyle blog with a niche for women's empowerment, focusing on branding.  I love her delivery, when reading her posts I feel like I'm getting advice from a friend that won't sugarcoat the message. In addition to that, I admire her style and traveling adventures. 

 

 Photo Courtesy of MattieJames.com

Photo Courtesy of MattieJames.com

Mattie James

I honestly cannot recall how I found out about Mattie James, but she has a true lifestyle blog. With a motto "Balancing life stylishly" sharing all aspects of life from style, beauty products, recipes, tips on productivity. She talks about it all!

 Photo Courtesy of Oneikathetraveller.com

Photo Courtesy of Oneikathetraveller.com

Oneika the Traveller

I discovered Oneika blog after attending a panel at BlogHer2017 in Orlando. She gave great tips on traveling on a budget and working with a travel agency. So far she has travelled to over 100 countries. Travel goals!

 Photo Courtesy of Jchavae.com

Photo Courtesy of Jchavae.com

J. Chavae

Exploring self-care and everything wellness J. Chavae is one of my favorite  holistic / ayurvedic health advocates.  I appreciate that she practices what she preaches and shares her experience in a way that is informative and honest.

That is all, please share some of your favorite bloggers and online content creators! 

 

Holiday Gift Guides for Him & Her

With only a week away until Christmas some of you maybe in a frenzy trying to figure out what to get your mothers, sisters, and girlfriends. So I pulled together some of my favorites at the moment and hopefully you find them as suitable gifts for your loved ones. I am currently loving the scent of grapefruit, you can find very fragrant candle at Bath and Body Works.  Also, I've upped my fitness routine and have been working out every morning at 5am for the past 3 months, with that comes cute gym clothes and sneakers. Also, I recently bought an Apple Watch to track my fitness progress and there isn't a day I go without wearing it since I got it.  You can't go wrong with a new purse, and a cute pajama set. Lastly, you can blow her mine with an item from everyones new favorite makeup line, Fenty Beauty.

Holiday shopping can be stressful and shopping for guys isn't always that easy. Therefore, I pulled together some items that would be perfect gifts for your brother, father, and boyfriend. 

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or none of the above.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS.

Why Wait Till January, When You Can Start Now.

Laptop work

There are two months until the new year and I've already started working on my goals for 2018.  Last year I decided to start on my New Years resolutions early and it honestly was a major key and and helped me accomplish nearly all my goals. If you can get a head start on building new positive habits  before the new year begins,  you will be on the road to accomplish your goals sooner than you think. So with two months left I'm trying to end off with a bang!

"You will never change your life until you change something you so daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine. " - John Maxwell

Discipline and consistency are critical to success, yet it is the most challenging and where my flaw tend to surface. When temptation presents itself, motivation is not enough. Motivation gets you excited, motivation gets you planning and motivation helps you start. Unfortunately motivation doesn't keep you on track. 

"Either you run the day, or the day runs you" - Jim Rohn

I recently found a journal called Self Journal created by a Best Self. It is a 3 month productivity daily organizer. It provides prompts that allow you to break down your goals into manageable tasks that you can visually track daily, which will ultimately lead you to reach your goal in a matter of three months. In addition, it includes daily morning and evening reflections that give you a minute with yourself to ponder on our successes and setbacks, so you can make changes to do better the next day.  

"Nothing will work unless you do" - Maya Angelou

I've been using this journal for a week, and so far so good. I really like the daily reflections an the visual tracker. I like the feeling I get when I check tasks off knowing that it helping me get closer to my goal.  To keep myself accountable I keep my journal on my dresser so I can't miss it.  If discipline is something you want to work on I suggest getting this book or anything similar to it and start early. Comment below and share some goals you have for the remainder of 2017, or for 2018. 

Travel Destination | Afropunk, Atlanta

A weekend getaway that was much needed! In December of 2016, I decided I would attend Afropunk, Atlanta. Once the tickets went live I bought a ticket and I told myself I would go alone if I had to.  As a new years resolution, I wanted to travel to at least two places in 2017, thankfully I was able to surpass that goal and hit three with Atlanta being the last destination. 

Thankfully, my best friend Persephanie was able to tag along. Months prior we secured our Air B&B  and travel arrangements.  I decided to take the Mega-bus to Atlanta because the airline cost was outrageous, so for $17 and 8 hours I arrived in Atlanta, Georgia at 9:30 am on Friday.  Persephanie drove from South Carolina so I had a couple hours to spare before she picked me up.  I decided to grab breakfast at Atlanta Breakfast Club, slightly overpriced but still great food. Apparently this is a really popular place amongst locals and tourists because the wait was out the door. 

After breakfast, I decided to check out the The Center for Civil and Human Right Museum. I was able to sneak into a group that booked a tour guide, so getting detailed history while observing all the pictures and artifacts was a plus. 

Friday night Persephanie and I decided to go to The Basement for Rock The Boat: Afropunk Edition club night. It was great since we got a chance to hear some of the Dj's that would be performing at Afropunk. 

Saturday &  Sunday at Afropunk
Honestly, the vibe was amazing as soon as we passed security and made our way through the entrance. Initially, we expected to be waiting in a long line for a few minutes, but that wasn't the case at all, we literally walked right in. The first day was kinda gray in regards to the weather, but it was welcome as it kept the heat at bay. While Sunday was HOT for no reason. 

There were two stages, the green stage, and red stage. The green stage seemed to be R&B and Hip-Hop, while the red stage played  Rock music. The artists and Dj's were lined up back to back, which was a bit frustrating since it meant running back and forth between stages. 

There was an underlying theme of celebrating Black Women and Black Women's health, this was very noticeable throughout the vendors, the panels, and the host of the green stage.  The panels were informative, capturing, and entertaining.  The panels were titled "Solutions Session" I especially sat on Freedom on Tap with Melissa Harris-Perry, and Dorian Warren featuring  Yvonne Orji, Molly from HBO's Insecure. I'm honestly even more obsessed with her, she was brilliant, funny and well versed.  I literally recorded the whole segment, I was beyond starstruck. Did I mention I got a selfie with Yvonne Orji and got my whole life!

Everyone we met was so nice and welcoming, like lets take a moment and talk about POSITIVE VIBES.  Genuine compliments, meaningful conversations, making new friends in a matter of seconds. It was beautiful! 

Thanks to google I found some quality photos of some of the artist's sets I attended. Outside of Solange being my favorite performance, I honestly wasn't disappointed with anyone set...actually I lied, Mykki Blanco did nothing for me, given I wasn't familiar with their music beforehand  I still wasn't sold seeing them in person, sorry.  I also saw Flatbush Zombies which was awesome considering I missed them twice when they toured to Orlando, Willow Smith, who brought our her mom Jada Pinkett Smith to perform a rock song together, Danny Brown, Sam Dew, Oshun, The Txlips, Jsport, Martina McFlyy, Decoteau, and  other lit Dj's. 

Overall to end what could be an extremely long post, I had a great time in Atlanta, at the Afropunk Festival. I already have plans to attend next years festival in Brooklyn, New York. Comment below if you've ever been to Afropunk or any other music festival and share your experience. 

Travel Destination | New York

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Some time has passed as I settled back into my normal routine. On September 8th I hopped on a flight to New York City, to attend the Well-Read Black Girl Writers Conference & Book Festival. What was intended to be a weekend trip extended itself, thanks to Hurricane Irma, no really! Thank you, Irma. 

By luck I escaped Hurricane Irma, leaving Orlando 8AM on Friday morning whilst Irma set to land Sunday.   I was hesitant about my return, not knowing what damages would take a toll during Irma's visit having what is my home left in disarray.  Yet, as we know there is nothing I could have done to disturb her wrath. 

As I leave my cares behind, I promised myself just to go with the flow and enjoy the wonders of New York City. I've been to New York many times, yet this was my first time as an adult and was also my first solo trip that didn't encompass anything work-related. Because my trip was extended and I originally only had plans for the weekend, I was clueless as to how to spend my time so I literally went with the flow and said yes to everything. Because I was born in Brooklyn, New York, it was important for me to get around on my own, I didn't want to feel like a tourist in my birthplace (I was raised in Florida).

Upon arrival, I had lunch with my friend Fatima, I was so excited for this lunch because it was the first time we met in person. We met at Mediterranean styles cuisine restaurant and just talked about everything. 

Saturday was the WRBGFest, you can read about my experience here.  The event took place at BIRC House in the heart of Brooklyn Culture District, inside was an amazing gallery. 

Sunday my cousin invited me AfroCode Hip Hop Day Party at Hudson Terrace Sunday needless to say that party was LIT! The music was on point from the start and end of the party. As soon as I walked onto the rooftop with my cousin and her childhood friend we pretty much stole the show. 

Afrocode

Monday, was a pretty chill day I roamed around Downtown Brooklyn aimlessly and met with my friend Adrian for Dinner. We found a small lounge called Eve's which was amazing from the atmosphere, the music and the food. Given Brooklyn, is undergoing massive gentrification the mere fact that we stumbled on this gem was reassuring. 

During the remainder of my stay I went to many different museums and galleries. Tuesday I decided to go to the Modern Museum of Modern Art, which was absolutely amazing. Wednesday I took a trip to grounds zero and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, after that I headed to SoHo and roamed aimlessly into some other galleries and met a few locals. 

I can't end this post without sharing some of the food I ate while in New York. When I left the Museum of Modern Art and ended up in Time Square pondering about what I wanted to eat, I was starving and I couldn't make up my mind. I walked passed a resturant called Burgers & Lobsters. Which is fitting for an indecisive person like myself and $35 for a pound of lobster, a 5oz burger, french fries and a side salad is definitely more than worth it and it was delicious. I will for sure be going back on my next visit to NY. 

On my last day in NY, a few hours before my flight back to Orlando,  I roamed around my dad's neighborhood, East Flatbush, looking for a spot to get a mani-pani and next door was a black-own vegetarian juice and patties shop cleverly called Veggies. I was so impressed that they used real raw fruits and veggies to make the juices, I chose green lemonade made with apple, lemon, ginger, cucumber, pear, and spinach. 

Overall, I had a mini vacation/escape from Hurricane Irma was more than I could have anticipated, and going with the flow proved to be the best way to explore New York.  Whether you been to New York or not, what are some places you are eager to visit? Post a comment and share.