Friday, December 27, 2013

2013 Reflections

This year has been a roller coaster of great things and utter craziness at times. I have stepped out of my comfort zone, decided on a career change, got into grad school, got closer to some cool ladies, and had friends get new jobs and exciting opportunities--I even ventured out and interviewed and got a new job (even though I didn't end up taking it).

I finished my first semester of grad school with straight A's. I had a sweet second birthday party for my son, had my mom help me redecorate my house, and I got to spend the holidays with my brother. In the same vein though, I have also been hurt and talked about behind my back by so-called friends, robbed, and let down. Friends have had to quit jobs, had their homes broken into, and had important deals that didn't go through. I have seen people overcome with jealousy and selfishness in places where I would least expect it.

But, because I know that life is such a roller coaster of amazing highs and brutal lows (and I believe that all things ultimately work out for good because I do serve an awesome God), I have decided to actually write down a game plan for 2014.

Here are some things I plan to do in 2014:
  1. Set limits (even with"good people")
  2. Reduce my credit card debt by at least 50%.
  3. Save Money (and not dip into it for any reason)
  4. Try some new things (different foods/different places).
  5. Read the word every day…a few times a day.
  6. Read books for fun again (I have a ton from a friend that I have barely dipped into).
  7. Keep in better touch with friends that don't live close. 
  8. Enjoy the fruits of my own labor.
  9. Do some girly things (new make-up, nail polish, etc). 
  10. Celebrate (holidays, birthdays, random days, etc).

We are are called to greatness in our own ways. I will not let my light or calling be dimmed by anyone especially people who think small. I pray that I will remain humble and able to love others even when they don't show love back (and even if I have to do this from afar). I don't need any one else to understand my plan or how I will execute it but me.

Do not explain. Do not repeat. 

Here is a snippet of a great article about What Beyonce's New Album Release Has Taught Me by Afrobella that I also want to test out in 2014.
  1. Don’t talk about it. Just be about it. In fact, shut up about it until you’ve got something to actually talk about.
  2. Never be afraid to step your game up and take your craft to a higher level.
  3. Keep a close counsel and protect your vision.
  4. Leave procrastination in 2013.  
  5. Switch things up and keep the people guessing.
  6.  Be ambitious. You set trends that way.
  7. Let them talk. They’re gonna talk anyway. Your best response is in the work you produce.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Grinch Exists

As you read a few days ago, I wasn't really getting into the Christmas spirit like I normally do. I was just so busy with life and people and then I had someone--most likely a child--steal my hard earned cash less than an hour after I got it from the bank to go on a trip with my family.

I called myself getting ready for my trip to Hershey (see my post The Sweetest Place on Earth). I was being fiscally responsible---putting credit cards away and making sure I had ample cash and change for gas, the events we were going to, random cash only spots, and anything else we might want. Then BAM I get ripped off in a short one hour window at work---when I went back in for secret Santa nonetheless at the end of the day.

This makes me sad for humanity for a a lot of reasons. Here are a few: one, in my 6 years in Newark, no one has ever stolen from me expect for maybe office supplies or candies. Two, I was just telling one of my fellow classmates that while Newark can be rough but it's actually not that bad. Three, what is going on in people's lives that they are compelled to go into someones purse and empty their wallet? Even though it is still wrong, I understand a person swiping something from a store or taking money that is just lying around but to go into someones purse, house, or to rob someone on the street--why? Not only did I get robbed, but a close friend of mine also had her house broken into a day later. Thank God she wasn't home but what if she had children and what they stole were their belongings and gifts? I am sure this has happened to someone and their family. Lastly, this small incident is a reality for so many more on a more frequent basis. What is happening?

When did people become so hopeless and/or greedy that they have to steal? Are parents no longer teaching their children to strive for better or to simply not to take things that don't belong to them? Once children reach an age at which we feel they should be independent, why do we think that we no longer monitor them and check on them? Children are not grown once they can dress themselves or make a meal or two. The child who probably stole my money most likely wasn't flashing it around but my initial thoughts are geez her parents didn't notice a hundred dollar bill and other extra cash with them? Are they not making more trips to the store or surprised that their child has extra money that they know they didn't give them?

I know that stealing is common for children in certain age ranges. But dag did they have to steal my money? I have seen and read stories about kids stealing from their parents for games, candy, cars, etc. Some of these same kids, will turn into young adults who will go on to steal as well on a larger scale. People are losing their lives because they won't give up their Jordan's to thieves. Why are shoes more valuable than life? My son is growing up in this world. And even though I am try to teach him that less is more, eventually he will want to fit in and be able to buy his own things so then what?


This "now" generation is killing us softly. Gone of the days of working hard and enjoying the fruits of your labor at the end. People want what they want and they want it now even if they have to take it. UGH

The Grinch does exist and not just around the holidays either.

Maybe we need to take a page out of this guys book and let these kids know that we are not playing and hopefully they won't be compelled to steal and will appreciate what they have.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Eats

Christmas is probably my favorite holiday hands down. This year though, I'm not really in the spirit the way I normally am. There has just been so much going on. It seems like yesterday was Thanksgiving and now BAM here we are only two days away from Christmas. My gifts are wrapped/shipped off, Christmas music is playing, all my dinner items have been purchased but I am just not into it yet. Hopefully, once I start cooking things will start to turn around. How can you not get excited about Christmas right?? Wrong. Now I kind of wish that maybe I did go to Florida to spend Christmas with my husband's family. Maybe I just need a change of scenery. When I was at Hershey, I definitely felt more in the spirit. 
Anyhow, here is my menu. Most of which is the same as Thanksgiving but I opted to try a few different things. You can check out some quick fixes and tips to make dinner prep easy breezy here.  



Smithfield Crunchy Glazed Ham (it doesn't feature Paula Deen any more but Smithfield brought it back!!)
Homemade Cornbread Dressing*
Sweet Potato Casserole (without the topping…I use marshmallows instead)
Collard Greens with/Smoked Turkey (my recipe is similar to this but w/o the hot sauce)
Homemade Potato Salad*
Macaroni and Cheese (see my Thanksgiving post for how I make this quick and easy)
Dinner Rolls

*My mom is making these this year so no recipes. She does her own things.

Cinnamon Chip Applesauce Coffeecake (cinnamon chips are a thing…who knew?)
Apple Streusel Cheesecake Bars (This is the only one I have actually made before and it is awesome. I am using the recipe in the link but I got caramel apple filling this time instead.)

**More Pics coming later as I start to get this dinner together.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Sweetest Place on Earth

I've been wanting to go to Hershey, PA forever. This year I finally made it happen and I was not let down (except for the fact that only 2 hours before my trip, someone--most likely one of my student stole cash from my walled but we'll talk about that later though). There were so many yummy things to eat and relatively affordable things to do; we definitely got our monies worth and the people were awesome. I almost didn't want to leave.

My own little chocolate drop had the time of his life trying all the chocolate treats, hanging with Santa, and we got to spend some time with my big brother too (lots of Jay's in one room). I highly recommend this place to any and everyone, especially if you have a little one. I bet every holiday season brings a new adventure in chocolate world. I will definitely try to take it all in during this lifetime.

I plan to go back but next year, Philly here we come! (Maybe we can do both...hehe)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Imperfectly Perfect

I need this framed in my kitchenSo y'all know I love Beyonce. This album really has me going through so many different emotions and thoughts. I would hardly call myself a feminist but I often love the messages she often sends to women. She often talks about the struggles she's had in her documentaries and the clip below really spoke to me. I share her sentiments about always having worked so hard that I have missed so many opportunities to truly enjoy life.

It all started when I was a child with my grandfather always pushing me to do better and be the best at literally everything academically. I had to be a lawyer or doctor. In fact, he was so serious about this that I didn't even realize there were other career options for a very long time. Shoot---I didn't even know that there were grades lower than a B. While I do think that pushing kids to do their best is important, I think we should be careful that we don't push too much. I can rarely remember fun childhood activities because I was always studying, competing, or working. Again, I think that we need to instill work ethic in our children but there has to be a mix and you shouldn't be burned out by 19.

In the video, Part 2. Imperfection when Beyonce says that she looks at all her trophies and just wants to blow that shit up--that is me. I look at all my straight A report cards and medals for whatever and at times I wish I could burn it up too. I wish I had more time to just be a kid and really enjoy just having conversations with my grandfather. He had so much wisdom and I wish I could of got more of it from just having time to talk. I am grateful for the drive he instilled in me but I couldn't tell you things like his favorite foods or movies even if I tried. I feel like I have always been working on something or striving for something but I am grateful that these season is passing and I am able to take in moments with my son and husband and really enjoy them. I want to be good at what I do but, accolades won't matter at the end of the day.

via | live life happyIf it wasn't for Howard University, I would probably be in some one's corporate office going crazy. I remember so many late nights prepping for mock trial team competitions (that I loved) and realizing that if I was really defending someone in a real life or death situation, I couldn't handle it.  I was stressed working with fake cases and trying too maintain straight A's. It wasn't until I was a college junior/senior that I realize that life goes on if you miss a class or don't get an A. And now, I realize that people often change their careers two or even three times in their lifetime so to think that I have to be one thing forever is ridiculous. As Beyonce mentions in the video, there will be times  when we work extremely hard and give our very best but we will still fall short and fail at times. So why be hard on ourselves? Her song Pretty Hurts speaks to this as well. We always tend to shine the light on whatever is worst in ourselves. Why not highlight something that is going well each day? There will always be something that could be better or something that we could have fixed...ALWAYS.

As a recovering perfectionist, I know I won't change overnight but if we don't stop and smell the roses each day, it will be too late. I don't want to give my son the curse of perfectionism so I need to continue to make baby steps each day. I definitely don't think that I will be a free spirit so to speak but I will stop to smell the roses each day. I will continue to strive grow and have joy but in ways that are healthy. I am not in competition with anyone.

I am not perfect and that is okay.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Is it Break Yet?

Is it break yet? Is it break yet? I am ready to be at home enjoying the holidays and basking in hours of nothingness and egg nog/cookies. I feel like Christmas was coming and now it pretty much here.

YIKES! Why is time going so fast?

I am so happy that I only have one more day of work left in 2013. I am slightly annoyed that my break isn't a full two weeks but I'll take it. I have a dinner tonight with some friends that I am super excited about and my secret santa at work is keeping me going. I swear though, I am one more "sorry we didn't catch this earlier but can you _____" before I have to go off on someone. Usually I just roll with the punches, but for once I am ahead of the game so I have no time to be re-doing stuff. 
Pray for me saints.
My Christmas dinner ingredients has been purchased (except this prime rib my mom wants to make). New dessert recipes secured. I'll have to post my Christmas menu this weekend.
I am ready for some rest and relaxation for sure.
I hope that all of you are getting ready for some type of winter break. What are some things you all are up to as you get ready for the Christmas?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Feelin' Like A Woman

This weekend courtesy of a snowstorm, I was at home all day with my family. With the first semester of grad school out of the way and no reading to be done, I felt like a kid in a candy shop. I had time to make pancakes, wrap gifts, and do pretty much whatever I wanted. I did three main things--spend time with my sweet baby boy and husband, listen to Beyonce's new album, and play candy crush (my whole family is now hooked). I can't get over how fast my son is growing. He says the most random things. Like Daddy are you playing Candy Crush or Mommy do you want an iced latte from Dunkin' Doughnuts…WHAT?!? iCan't!

Anyhow listening to this Beyonce album really made me think more about  being a woman, taking care of myself, and bringing sexy back if you will. I mean if you see the way she is twerking in these video's, how could you not want to be a little more fierce?!?! It is really starting to sink in for me that I am really a woman…like really. This weekend was the first weekend that I actually did my own hair (see this blog post for some for tips) and nails at home on the same day and felt good about it. I've also started doing my makeup recently and I actually like it too. I also finding that I am enjoying spending just a little more time picking out clothes (on some days) or planning dates with my husband as well.

Now, I don't think you have to do any of these things to be a woman but for some reason these things are making me feel more "womanly" if you will. You would think birthing a child would have done it for me but it didn't. There was nothing cute about being pregnant for me. Anything that was, I didn't see it at the time because to be honest, I was just trying to make it through each day. And because I didn't have too many friends that had kids at the time, I had very few to really share the experience with. Now though, I am happy to get dressed up and embrace my inner flyness. Being a woman is such a blessing. Why not embrace things that make us who we are?

I can't say that everyday I will do all these things but I really am starting to feel like a woman in more ways than one.

To all my ladies, when did you start to really "feel like a woman"? What are some things you do to get in touch with your inner fierceness?

Here are some of my favorites from Beyonce's new album. *I couldn't get videos for all of them but below are what I found that weren't reviews.* This isn't really a top ten because I love every song. Trust me every song on the album just makes you want to be cute, dance, and cuddle up with your boo so be warned.

Mine feat. Drake


Drunk in Love
Superpower feat. Frank Ocean

Not pictured but I highly recommend you check out Partition and Rocket as well. You'll thank me later…trust me.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Praise Out Loud

I have to confess that complainers touch my last nerve. What is even worse than a complainer is someone who is always compalining but when they finally get whatever it is that they want or whatever they were complaining about subsides, they never utter a word of thanks or tell people the good things.

So today, I am giving praise to God for his continued favor. I am thanking him for giving me everything that I need and a lot of things that I want. I really believe that even if you stuggle (and by struggle I'm talking about bank account at $3 or less, not driving anywhere because you don't have gas money struggling) you will be blessed.

Here's an example, I am pretty serious about paying my tithes. I hadn't been to church but I made sure that my check was written and those funds were tucked away. In the one week that I was holding on to my tithes, so many random financial things kept popping up. The temptation to dip into my tithes was so real but I didn't. I made it to church and happily dropped my tithing envelope in the basket. I was even able to bless a few people with random acts of kindness even though my bank account was telling me "girl have a seat". Then fast forward a week and BAM I was blessed with extra (my tithes and them some). This was so unexpected that I almost cried.

You never know when God when sprinkle favor on your life and the most unexpected times. We should not complain louder than we offer praise. Praise for the big and praise for the small.

Another example, I am grateful for Beyonce. Laugh if you want to but waking up to a new Beyonce album was a blessing to me today--a "girl you just finished your first semester of classes and handled your finals" gift if you will. I give praise as I groove in my seat doing work.
This comment tickled me to death y'all! LOL

I give praise for husbands and mamas who cook, help out with babies, and housework.

I give praise for being able to be a blessing to other people even when I don't think I can.

I give praise for being able to survive four grad school courses and 1.5 jobs with a husband and a toddler and get all A's.

I give praise for renewed relationships and girlfriends to watch Scandal with.

I give praise for students who love me even though most of the time I feel like I don't want to teach.

I praise God for a vision.

I give praise for a moment to breathe and reflect.

I give praise for a day with a slower pace and a laughing toddler in the morning.

I am grateful.  There is too much haterd, death, and uneasiness in the world to not be.
Jesus didn't die on a cross for us to complian all the time. As Christmas approaches, we should all strive to give a little more praise.
You never know who is watching how navigate your journey. Does what you do and say uplift another sister or brother? You never know. Strive to be reflections of Christ's love and sacrifice.

I will always give praise.

Be blessed my friends.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

So You Want to Be Rude?

I am starting to think that manners are extinct.  Too many people I keep coming into contact with are straight up RUDE! I don't know when it became okay to not have manners and to be passive aggresive, but it is real out here in these streets. The lack of manners is rampant. I don't know if it is an east coast thing--people are way nicer in least when I was growing up--or a change in the times but I feel like if I encounter one more rude person I may snap.

Soemtimes I think it is cultural. Sometimes I just don't know. I know I shouldn't expect people to do anything but does it really hurt to say good morning or hello when someone speaks to you or when you enter a room? Are we so caught up in the hustle and bustle of whatever it is that we have to do that we think it is okay jump into people's conversations without saying excuse me? If I am talking to someone, you don't interupt me without saying excuse me (see Do Not Explain. Do Not Repeat before you feel like you even ask me why).
This is all kinds of wrong but it really brings home my point!
Here it the problem though. I would love to call out these rude mamajamas on site but I don't want to come off as the rude person myself. But lately, I have had enough. Is there a polite way to say "I said hello" or "we were in the middle of a conversation"? I don't even know. I'm going to try it out though because I think the reason so many people think it is okay to have bad manners is because no one calls them out. I am so not confrontational, but I have to get better because in a sense, I am a part of the problem as well.  We train people how they can treat us by what we allow them to do.

I'm going to try it out. The next time someone doesn't say hello or is just down right inconsiderate, I'm going to have to let them know (in the most loving way possible...Lord help me with my words here). Maybe it will teach them a lesson. Most likely it won't. But at least I did my part in letting them know that bad manners is unacceptable at least when they are interacting with me.

I will also do my part to make sure that my son has good manners because I really believe good manners starts at home. I wish I would've walked past my granny without saying hello. Shoot I remember my first trip to the south and how not saying "yes ma'am" almost got me smacked down.  Therefore, I commit to doing my part at home as well because it is essential.

We have to take back the reigns on good manners people.We are all busy, tired, over worked, *insert whatever else here*. That does not give us an excuse to put our manners on the back burner. And if we do slip up, APOLOGIZE. I am not asking for perfection people! Didn't your grandmother, mother, somebody important in your life teach you the golden rules? If not, I plan to school you.

Do you think people are getting ruder or is it just me?

Here are some articles about the untimely death of manners (some funny/some serious):

11 Reasons Your Co-Workers Hate You by  Aaron Gouveia

7 Signs You Have Bad Ettiquete by Lisa Gache

I'm Good with Being Called "Ma'am" by Ann Brenoff

I Say Hello; You Say Nothing by Elio Leturia

Monday, December 9, 2013


Keep calm and take a break. You probably need it.

This weekend I did a few things I love to do (except sleep hehe). I made a good pancake (chocolate chip...get the recipe here. If you have a little more time though, use this one--it's sinfully delicious.). I took a cupcake class, wrapped Christmas gifts, looked at pictures…the list goes on. Most of the time, I kept thinking about the finals that I should have been studying for or the work I should have done, but I just couldn't get focused. I needed some time to chat about random things with my friends and just be silly with my son. I am in vacation mode two weeks early but some times you just have to do what you love. I'll study today though. I'm focused now. Breaks are okay. I feel like I can get more done now that I took some time off.
Do you need a break today?
Take one because no one is going to give it to you.

Photo Credit: Kristen Sigler

Photo Credit: Kristen Sigler



Friday, December 6, 2013

Belly Laughs

I love to laugh. I really believe that love and laughter cures all things. Last night I had some hilarios conversations during Scandal. That really lifted me up from a gloomy day. I don't usually watch it live but it was awesome.

Me after the was bananas!

Yesterday, I had a very serious situation during my class so today after we processed our feelings and I answered their questions, we told yo' mama jokes to lighten the mood before we got into our reading for the day. Don't worry I made sure to preface it with these are just jokes...not literally about your mama.

Here are a few good ones:

Yo mama so fat by the time she turned around, it was her birthday.

Yo mama so stupid, she got locked inside a grocery store and starved.

Yo mama so stupid, she thought a quarterback was a refund.

And because I love ecards/memes:

Always thought that was twisted

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Equipped to Win


Yesterday, I finished the first final exam of my MFT program. It felt great. I felt prepared and everything made sense. The day before, I got some excellent results about my reading students--yes I moonlight as a reading teacher each day for those who don't know and according to the results, I'm not half bad lol--another instant high.

What I am finding though, is even though I wake up ready to take on the world most days, by the afternoon I'm pretty much toast. I'll get another glimpse of happiness or a moment of peace only then to be knocked down again. Why are days like this? Can't we just stay in our own happiness/positivity bubbles? Not really. So, I think I need to start having midday prayer. This is one practice I think I'll borrow from Islam. Did you know in Islam, it is mandatory to pray 5 times a day? Now I definitely pray a lot of quick prayers throughout the day but really hitting the pause button 5 times a day to pray and really talk to God--now that is powerful. Side note: I love learning about other religions. Y'all know I love Jesus but I'll borrow practices/pray with anyone. Anything that brings me closer to Christ is a win.

Anywho, I think afternoon prayer is my solution for remaining centered and not let my days get derailed. I saw the prayer below a while ago. I think this is a great way to start my afternoon prayers for the rest of this year and into probably next year to. 
Dear Lord,

Give me what it is that I need to completely fulfill your purpose, so that you won’t have to find anyone else to do your/the work assigned to me. Order my steps. Allow me to hear your voice clear. Strengthen me to love harder and forgive people and their past. See yourself in me. I know you aren’t a forceful God but father I give you the permission to force me into your Will when it seems like I’m drifting away from you. Force me back into the right position, even if it hurts. Sometimes I want to respond to people and their ignorance/heartlessness but I understand that it may be a waste of every ounce of time, as well as, having nothing to do with helping me to get into heaven. As I grow and mature I learn that there are so many other things to life that have such greater value. Having the “heaven mindset” also helps me to prioritize better. I do want your will.

-Kierra Sheard (You can read Kierra's full prayer here.)
I pray this prayer for each and every one of us. We are working, striving, struggling, and triumphing every day. It is one every talks about how hard it I pray that the Lord keeps us all everyday. We already have everything we need to win inside of us--we just have to remember to let it out.

Love this

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Endless Hope

Well last night, I finished Colliding with Destiny. This devotional was awesome. It clearly took me longer than 30 days, but I did it. I was going to write a book review but instead, I decided to share two excerpts from the last few devotionals that really spoke to me. I feel like this is a season of struggle and heartache. As I mentioned before, when we have big goals, we have bigger problem.

But alas, there is hope.

My pastor always says that instead of being hopeless, we should always have an endless hope. There is always a reason for whatever trial, devastation, or growing pain that we endure. In those moments, my prayer will be something like this:

This book is definitely in as my new gift giving devotional. If you need a new devotional to try or are just trying out a devotional for the first time, this one will bless you. Here are a few of my other favorites; some of the firsts that I was able to read cover to cover (and have since passed them on to all of my friends too). Now I have to find an new goodie so stay tuned!

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Christmas is definitely my favorite holday hands down. I am excited to delve in and learn/re-learn things about the advent season as I read books to my son this month. I'll let you know if I find any really good ones for little people.

Here are some of my favorite Christmas jams to get you in the spirit. Enjoy!

1. Mary Mary-Tis the Season

2. Kierra Sheard-This Christmas:
This Christmas
3. Andrea Bocelli and Mary J. Blige-This duet will make you cry/jump out your seat be ready.
4. John Legend -Jesus, What a Wonderful Child
5. Destiny's Child-Opera of the Bells....these melodies yes lawd!
6. Beyonce- Silent Night
7. Mary Mary-O Come All Ye Faithful
8. The Temptations-This Christmas
9. Mariah Carey-All I Want for Christmas-I mean you can't have a Christmas playlist without this song!
10. TLC Sleigh Ride-I had to throw this one in for fun :).