Remember That Little Girl (Or Guy)?

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Caption: Photo Courtesy of Boss Babe’s Instagram: http://www.bossbabe.me/

When I was a little girl, I believed that anything was possible…

My cousins and I used to make up dance routines because we were going to grow up to be professional dancers. Our routines were complete with costumes, grand entrances and exits and props – including chairs and stools.

I used to do competition double dutch because I believed that I was training for the Olympics. My brow furrowed, my hair flew all over the place, but none of that mattered, because I was willing to do whatever it took to win!

I used to try on careers like costumes… using my day dreams and my imagination to try things on for size… the secretary… the assassin… the professional poet…

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Caption: Me trying on ballet as a little girl!

Something happens to little girls & little guys. We put on the coat of fears handed to us by other people.

“Do you know how much money that costs?”

“It’s dangerous…”

“I don’t think you should do that…”

We walk in the shoes of doubt, sometimes following in the exact same steps of the original owner. Walking toward a path of mediocrity, disappointment and regret.

I want to remind you, right now, that the little girl or little guy in you is still in there. Waiting for you to give him/her permission to dream.

As adults, we don’t have the barriers that we had as children. We create the life we want based on our habits, decisions and executing our goals! Don’t disappoint him or her. S(he)’s waiting for you to make her(his) dreams a reality!

 

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Beyonce’s “Lemonade”- A Love Letter To Black Women

 

beyonce-project-lemonade-compressedI just finished watching the HBO Special “Lemonade” which premiered Beyonce’s new visual album.

My favorite feature of the visual album was the range of emotions displayed before each scene including words like “denial,” “reformation,” and “forgiveness.” Black women stereotypically are limited to certain emotions, with the most recognizable being the “angry black woman,” but we too experience a range of emotions.

There is a line in the film that features an older black woman, assuming that it’s Beyonce’s Grandmother Hattie’s 90th birthday saying, “I was served lemons, but I made lemonade.”

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The artists that stand the test of time are those that stand alone. Those who create music that doesn’t sound like anyone else. Those who tap into the cypher of human emotion. Those who sing the words, dance the dances and walk the walks that we imagine. Those who are not so caught up in their own lives to listen to and translate the experiences of everyday people.

 

“What a time to be alive…” A time where my first lady shares the same complexion as me. A time where the first Black President of ABC is a woman (Channing Dungey). A time where a black woman can make a cable network free for a weekend and premiere a one-hour, commercial free Visual album!!!

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Black women have a history of making the world stop. Ida B. Wells stopped the world when too many of her brothers were being hung from trees. Phillis Wheatley stopped the world when she published her first book of poetry. Madame CJ Walker stopped the world when she became the first self-made female millionaire in America. Bessie Coleman stopped the world when she became the first American to hold an international pilot license. To be a healthy, happy, successful, loving, courageous, wealthy black woman in America is to make lemonade. Beyonce represents that sweet tangy flavor with her new album & with her brand, and it is SO REFRESHING that we can all collectively take a sip!

The full Visual Album and the audio are available on Tidal!

Check out my other pieces on Beyonce (in no particular order):

15 Years of Beyonce…and counting: https://donnienicole.com/2013/12/13/15-years-of-beyonce-and-counting/

Beyonce’s Workout: https://donnienicole.com/2011/04/26/beyonces-workout/

Beyonce’s New Website: https://donnienicole.com/2012/04/06/beyonces-new-website/

Why Your Team Is More Important Than You: https://donnienicole.com/2016/02/06/why-your-team-is-more-important-than-you/

Hello Baby Blue Ivy: https://donnienicole.com/2012/02/12/hello-baby-blue-ivy/

 

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My Trip To Abu-Dhabi – Part 1

I spent the last 8 days in Abu Dhabi, which borders Saudi Arabia & Oman, and it is directly across the Gulf from Iran. I also spent one day in Dubai, which is about 90 minutes away from Abu Dhabi. See map below:

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Ever since I traveled to Kingston, Jamaica in High School, I’ve been addicted to traveling. My trip to Abu Dhabi is the 3rd trip I’ve taken across the world on my own. My husband and I travel frequently together, but we are also fans of solo trips, because it is important to spend time alone reflecting, planning and growing. Che took a solo trip to Colombia about 3 weeks before my trip to Abu Dhabi.

The first time I took a trip alone across the world was to Mumbai, India and I was terrified! I was nervous about the super long flight (over 15 hours) with multiple stops and afraid of how I would be treated, specifically as a woman. My response to fear has always been to push myself. Rather than run away from the things that I fear, I find myself running, full speed ahead toward whatever I’m afraid of. Although it makes me uncomfortable, I have experienced tremendous growth in those moments.

I’m going to share some of my favorite photos from my trip over the next week. I was able to spend some time with my friend who teaches there. For us, it was basically a week long slumber party! We’re already planning our next visit!

I’ll start with my pics from the Al Ain Zoo, which is rated as the best zoo in the area. Essentially, Al Ain is like a suburb of Abu Dhabi. Please do not repost pics without giving me credit!

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Caption: This is the closest I’ve ever been to a lion. H was behind a glass, but we were pretty close to him. He was so beautiful that he looked fake. I also captured some great shots of him moving around. 

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Caption: I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many giraffes up close. The mountain in the background was a beautiful backdrop. 

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Caption: My friend captured this shot of me in front of the Giraffes. 

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Caption: I’d never seen Giraffes eat and it was almost like he didn’t have any knees because he stretched his front legs out as far as possible and then bent over from the neck to eat. A man dropped the food off using a wheel barrow. I think it was kale. 

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Caption: THIS was hilarious! This little monkey kept sticking his arm out to steal berries that had fallen off of a tree. He would look around to see how as looking and then quickly stick his arm out to get the berries and eat them. It was the cutest thing!DSCN2622

Caption: I’ve definitely never touched a camel before. He let me rub him, and then he nibbled on my fingers a bit. His mouth moved like a sock puppet and I was amused. It didn’t hurt at all. DSCN2632Caption: My favorite animal in the world is a peacock. This guy was caged, but I still had to capture a photo of him!

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Preparing to Pitch: How Nike Lost Steph Curry To Under Armour 

  
I’m obsessed with studying business trends. I’m always looking for little nuggets to try to improve! I came across this article regarding how Nike missed out on Steph Curry & it’s interesting. Read the rest of the article here. When pitching, it’s important to:

1. Personalize the pitch. Whoever you are appealing to should feel like the opportunity, product or service was individually made for them. This means you have to do research in order to prepare a personalized experience. 

2. Make sure you know how to pronounce names & spell check! When you first sit down with someone, ask how to pronounce their name! You have maybe twice to make corrections before you start looking like you just don’t care. If you’re giving a PowerPoint presentation or you have handouts, double check the names. 

3. Be prepared to compromise and to ask the other person what are their wishes or expectations! Don’t assume that you know.

4. Industries are small! People talk! It’s important to be fair, equitable & intentional about your deals. You don’t want to have a reputation that you try to take advantage of other people. You may win initially, but word gets around quick. 

Read the article here! You don’t want to lose out on your own MVP! 

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Is Your Relationship Distracting Or Hindering You?

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Caption: Mr. & Mrs. Smith Suited & Booted – Photo by Juan Anthony Images!

My hubby is on an amazing trip to Colombia right now. While he’s away, I miss him terribly! One of my friends said “it must be so hard for you,” referring to my hubby’s trip. I replied “actually it’s not” and my friend looked confused.

It’s not hard for me, because I understand that we both have a purpose and an assignment to fulfill while on this earth.

Too often, people treat romantic relationships like its the purpose/assignment. While I do believe that God intended for me to be Che’s wife, and Che to be my husband, I don’t believe that is the extent to his purpose and plan for our lives. I believe that our job as spouses, is to hold each other accountable, to support and encourage each other and most of all, to remind each other of what really matters – our life’s work.

I have been in relationships that supersede the life’s purpose and mission and it never felt right. It felt stressful, it felt overbearing and it felt like being trapped. I remember feeling guilty for wanting to study abroad because of fear of leaving a partner alone. I remember feeling silenced, for wanting to do something about an injustice I’d experienced at work. I remember feeling bored, because I knew that I wasn’t living up to my full life’s potential. I take ALL of the credit, because I had made a choice to be in those types of toxic relationships, but eventually I made a decision to leave.

We cannot allow relationships to distract or hinder us from our assignments. The sum of these assignments being our life’s mission.

A marriage can only work, when you invest the time and energy into it to make a healthy! Don’t get it twisted! I like my date nights, my vacations and my undivided attention like the next person… but I also understand how sacred our individual work & time is. If you don’t have individual & solitary time in a relationship, you can set yourself up to lose yourself. In losing yourself, you begin to resent both the other person and yourself. That’s when the relationship becomes toxic, because out of resentment, you start to “act out.” Acting out looks like passive aggression, infidelity, verbal- emotional – or physical- abuse. All of the UGLY things that manifest in toxic relationships.

We have certain assignments that require the both of us, and we have others that require us individually. I’m without a doubt counting down the days until my love returns while simultaneously celebrating the impact that this trip will have on his (which also means “our”) life.

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Validation Is A Form of Empowerment – Thank You Swizz Beatz & Canon

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Caption: Swizz Beatz & Canon Team Up For “The Unknowns” Rebel With A Cause Project

I have so much respect and admiration for individuals that empower others. To me, empowerment is giving someone an opportunity, some training or some information that increases their ability to be successful… without you! Though I have been out of the classroom for going on two years now, at the center of my pedagogy was this quote:

“A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary.” ~ Thomas Carruthers

When I was in High School, I had the chance to participate in a Voyager Outward Bound Course through a program called Upward Bound. Voyager Outward Bound is basically survivor with safety measures. Essentially, you are dropped off with a small group, in the middle of nowhere, and you are your group have a certain number of days to navigate to your pick up location. You are not allowed to bring ANY technology. As a 16 year old, it was the scariest thing that I’d ever done. I learned so much, but the thing that stuck with me the most is:

“Do no harm.”

When we created “trash,” we had to bring it with us. When we saw animals, we were taught not to disturb them. We were taught to either leave the environment as we found it, and if we could better than we found it. If we came across a piece of trash that we didn’t create, it was still our responsibility to pick up the trash. Essentially, Voyager Outward Bound made the word ecosystem, come alive for me.

I’m obsessed with all things hip hop, so when I came across the article “Swizz Beatz and Canon Teamed Up To Bring Unknown Artists to New York’s Biggest Museums” my heart skipped a beat. In the last 10 – 15 years, Hip Hop has been so hallow! Excessive, dangerously materialistic and selfish… So anytime I come across an artist who is minimalistic, idealistic and generous, I am encouraged & inspired.

“We came up with the concept of—what if we could do a bunch of unknown artist I probably would never have a chance, and probably will never be seen in a gallery or in a museum or in an auction house,” Swizz says.

In most cases, all someone needs is an opportunity. Traditional institutions often reinforce class, gender and racial barriers and stereotypes. There doesn’t seem to be room in them for regular people because of barriers to access. Sometimes those who achieve that access create too much distance between those who don’t have access. Even more problematic is those who don’t have access are often blamed or shamed, but that’s another blog for another day.

What they were doing was holding a gallery showing, using a giant projector, on the exterior of the Brooklyn Museum and the Bronx Museum of the Arts as part of a campaign called #TheUnknowns, as well as filling the walls of Sotheby’s with the work of those unknown artists.

Swizz and Canon partnered to create a platform for unknown artists. Swizz was willing to use his social capital to validate a platform for lesser known artists & Canon was willing to use its corporate assets to support the platform. Read the full article.

We all have social capital and even if it’s just for one individual, we can validate them. Validation is a form of empowerment. For those of us in organizations (both for-profits and non-profits) it is our responsibility to not only pick up and carry our own trash, but to do no harm and try to leave people, communities and the organizations we find ourselves with and in, better than we found them. #TheUnknowns #Empower

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The Quest for the Perfect Carry-On

I do a lot of travel and have yet to find the perfect carry-on bag! Here are the bags that I’ve tried so far:

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Longchamp ‘Le Pliage Neo Large’ Tote

Retailer: Nordstrom

PROS:

(1) Beautiful Color

(2) Durable External Material

(3) Versatility – Can be dressed up or down .

CONS:

(1) Straps are too short (bag often slips off shoulder during travel)

(2) Shape prevents the bag from standing up

(3) Difficult to get to things at the bottom.

Lo & Sons – The O.G.

Retailer: Lo & Sons Website

PROS:

(1) The bag holds a lot, but still maintains its sleek look.

(2) Nice long shoulder strap.

(3) Padded laptop compartment, keeps machine safe and separate.

CONS:

(1) Started having zipper trouble pretty early on.

(2) Heigh of bag doesn’t allow it to slip easily under seats on the airplane.

(3) Longer should strap isn’t comfortable.

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Coach Turnlock Tote in Crossgrain Leather

Retailer: Coach and Macy’s

PROS:

(1) Zippered bag. Many of the totes in this style have a button closure. The zipper totally sold me, as I like to have security AND in case the bag falls, I don’t want my stuff falling all over the place.

(2) Perfect everyday bag that pairs well with in both business and casual settings.

(3) Shoulder length allows you to throw the bag on your shoulder and go.

CONS:

(1) Coach bags in light colors stain easily.

(2) Shoulder straps have some of the seams ripping. Coach usually repairs bags free of charge, but the life-cycle of my Coach bags usually last much longer.

(3) No feet!

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I just picked up the Eagle Creek Emerson Carry-All (above) today and it will be joining me on an upcoming trip to Abu Dhabi. I’ll share my review upon my return!

The Quest for the Perfect Carry-on continues! I know the perfect bag is out there!

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