Ushering In A New Season

I’m usually super meticulous and wait until the actual first day of the new season to decorate. I have a major work event on Saturday and know that I will not have the time or the energy this weekend to devote to changing things over so I spent a little time all week putting away my summer decor and putting out my Fall Decor. Fall is my favorite season, so I always do the most! 

Here is our Fall 2018 Decor outside of our home: 

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I actually plan to put one of my favorite crystals in the bowl the Buddha is holding on the porch. Although maybe not because if someone steals it I’m going to be upset!

Here is our Fall 2018 Decor inside of our home: 

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We moved in our house in 2012, and every year I’ve collected things to add to our collection. I usually get my goods from these places: Homegoods, TJ Maxx, Marshall, Target, Pier 1, Crate & Barrel and Michaels. Each year I add 1 – 2 pieces from the collection. I am looking for a sign to hang above our stove as well as an additional fall themed towel for our 1st Floor bathroom.

This Fall I will accomplish the following things:

(1) Scrapbooking some of the events from 2018 including our Family Reunion and our time in California.

(2) Finish my home organization project. The only other spaces I have to do are our bedroom closet (which currently houses our travel stuff), our basement backroom and our basement storage, our dining room built in. The list was double what is currently! Super excited to be over halfway done with this project. I truly believe that in order to make room for new things we have to clear out the old. I also believe that we have to literally make room in our lives for the things we want. This includes physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally making space. Longer post about that coming soon!

(3) Organize my digital photos and videos. I have over 20,000. I tried to start his project this summer and abandoned it after about 100 photos end. My goal is to get this project done before the end of the year.

(4) Host a few Vision Board Parties! I will have more information available the first week of October if you’re interested in booking me to host a Vision Party for you individually or for a group of your friends.

Those are my four major goals for this new season. New seasons always feel like a fresh start but especially Fall. Fall has traditionally been considered the season of Harvest. I’ve already started switching my Summer and Fall clothes out (although it was 90 degrees today in Chicago). I even purchased a few Fall colored Apple Watch Bands. I purchase most of my bands from Amazon.com. If you’re interested in which brands specifically I buy comment below or shoot me an e-mail donnienicolesmith@gmail.com and I’m happy to get you that information.

What are you looking forward to this Fall?

Currently I’m…

It’s been a while. Before diving in to a topic, I wanted to catch you up on what I’ve been up to. I’m planning to get back into my weekly routine again. As you will see below this Summer has been intense!

Reading… I’ve been reading social media primarily and spiritual books. I created a list on Twitter called Sources of Light. Here are the Twitter Handles currently included on that list in no particular order:

  • @TheSerpentCast
  • @MillennialTarot
  • @OshunsM
  • @Neptunebbys
  • @AmeliaQuint
  • @thejessicadore
  • @blackgirlinom
  • @LalahDelia
  • @drcrystaljones
  • @blksoltheory
  • @TatiannaTarot
  • @jessicalanyadoo
  • @moonandquartz
  • @thehoodwitch
  • @TheMidheaven
  • @oldewaysbrujo
  • @ashleighdjay
  • @graphicMedium
  • @starsmoonandsun
  • @angelicabastien
  • @JSoAbove
  • @TheMeccanism
  • @heymysticmamma
  • @chaninicholas
  • @GabyHerstik
  • @YungKundalini
  • @amberjfinney

The nice thing about the Twitter List Feature is that you can name your list whatever you want and then you can add whichever handles you want to it. When you click on the list, you will only see the timelines of those who have been added.

Playing… More than last Summer, I have been really being intentional about getting out in Chicago. I attended Pitchfork Festival to see Chaka Khan, Dram and Lauryn Hill, and I also have gone to a few social events including Sophistiratchet Radio’s Brunch-n-Trap Event (thanks to my Bestie Jamila for the invite).

Watching… My favorite TV Shows currently on the air are Queen Sugar, Love Is, Insecure & Power. The season finales of Queen Sugar and Love Is aired this week, so they won’t be back until 2019, but one of my other favorite shows Greenleaf comes back next week. Most of my favorite shows are on OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network). It is so encouraging to see a black woman be able to green light and provide a platform for such rich, beautiful content about black people. I pray that as I pursue and achieve my personal goals that I can continue to make room and create opportunities for others.

Trying… Honestly I’ve been removing the word “try” from my vocabulary. I believe that “try” is like a chicken exit to not do something. Either it is… or it isn’t. If I am still in “try” mode there is usually something else there to unpack… fear, reluctance, etc.

Cooking… My hubby was away more often than he was home for most of 2018. He has been home for about a month and I have been practically living in my kitchen. This week alone I made 3 new recipes – Spinach Enchiladas, Chicken Gumbo (I bought boneless or filet chicken thighs and non-pork Chicken Andouille Sausage). and Tonight I’m making Teriyaki Wings. I won’t link to the recipe until I taste it to make sure it is actually good! The first two recipes will definitely be in regular rotation.

Eating… I’ve been eating well. Drinking more water and cutting out sugar. I’ve set some health goals for my birthday in January and eating well is a big part of my ability to achieve those goals.

Drinking… Since I’ve been hanging out more socially, I’ve discovered that my favorite alcoholic drink besides Moscato Di’Asti, and Prosecco is a Mai Tai.

Calling… my bestie more often. We have the best conversations…

Texting… using lots of Emojis and GIFs.

Pinning… I’ve been thinking a lot about my Fall Wardrobe. The weather today felt very Fall-like. Fall is also my favorite season. You can check out my latest Pins here.

Tweeting… I’ve been super active on all of my social media platforms. My favorite thing to do is watch TV and Tweet at the same time. You find the hashtag for the show to see what everyone else is saying and you can contribute to the conversation. Most of the time I’m laughing and having super insightful and reflective conversations with people who are taking in the same content. It’s pretty amazing.

Crafting… I’m working on a major craft project that involves crystals and gemstones. I’m hoping to have some things to unveil no later than the beginning of October.

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Caption: Beads for an upcoming project. 

Scrapping… My honey and I took the most epic road trip. We drove from LA to Tucson, AZ, to Marfa, TX, to Dallas, TX to my family reunion in Atkins, Arkansas, and back home to Chicago. We drove 7 – 8 hours during the day and then would hang out in a different town each night. We had a chance to see places in America that we’d never see, catch up and spend some good quality time together. I’m excited to scrapbook that trip. My husband jumped out of a plane for the 60th Annual Air and Water Show with the Golden Knights. I have of ton of pics. I have to order prints from my favorite Printer – Persnickety Prints and then I can get busy.

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Doing… Exercise. I’ve been back in the saddle for two weeks now and it feels great. Someone asked me if I’d gone Vegan recently because my skin looks so good. I said no, but have significantly increased my water intake and I’ve added exercise back into my life.

Going… Connected to my craft project I’ve found a wholesale Bead Store in Downers Grove that I’d like to go to. First I need to make a list of the beads I’d like to purchase.

Loving… Life. This has been a great summer.

Discovering… myself. I finished up a journal that started in April of 2017 recently. I started writing in new journal today and look forward to continuing to work on and with myself.

Enjoying… So every night before I go to bed, I usually watch my two favorite Instagram Comedians – @iamzoie and @yep_im_kajun. I really enjoy falling asleep laughing every night and the first thing I remember when I wake up is going to bed laughing!

Thinking… As the organization I’ve founded Art of Culture Inc. has been undergoing a rebrand from Donda’s House Inc. it has given me the opportunity to really comb through our business model, our infrastructure and our future. I can’t wait to share publicly some of the things I’ve been thinking about! Stay tuned…

Feeling… productive! The sun is in Virgo, and since my Moon is in Virgo, this feels like a really good time for me. Eclipse season really tore me up! I’ve been feeling grounded and rooted and I am certain that is because of the energy of the earth sign!

Hoping for… I’m doing some consulting work and I just put in a bid for a major client. I am hopeful that the contract will come through as I am super excited about what I can bring to the table for them!

Listening to… my Spotify workout playlist almost daily and “Whipped Cream” by Ari Lennox. I’ve also had “Mood” by dvsn on repeat and “Ooh Nah Nah” by SiR featuring Masego.

Celebrating… my company’s 5th year Anniversary was 8/1! We’re planning a super cool Pop Up Event on 9/30! We’re also planning for our first gala in February.

Smelling… I burn a Frankincense and Myrrh Incense Stick every morning when I first wake up and I believe that is my favorite scent right now. I’m also loving the Black Cherry Merlot candle from Bath & Body Works.

Thanking… God, my ancestors and my loved ones for holding me down and making me feel so loved.

Considering… Halloween Costumes. Think I’m going to take a trip to NOLA with the hubby for Halloween. I haven’t been since Mardi Gras and I usually go every 3 – 4 months! It’s been 5 months and way too long.

Finishing… our rebranding work. My amazing team and volunteers have been meeting with me weekly for 90 minutes – 2 hours to discuss updating our documents, policies, mission & vision, etc. We present our work to our larger community on Saturday and have an internal deadline of September 1st for everything to be done.

Starting… two new Media Projects. Hubby and I are starting a podcast together soon and we’re working on a book. More details coming soon about both!

Spring Decor

I put away all of my Valentine’s Day Decor today and put all of my Spring Decorations out. I will likely leave my Spring Decor out until late May or early June. It’s still too cold to plant real flowers so from about October – May, I decorate with artificial flowers.

Here is what I did:

Everything I purchased came from either Michaels or Homegoods. The glass jars holding the eggs were purchased at either Amazon or Michaels! I try to plant my flowers the weekend after Mother’s Day & those flowers will stay outside/bloom through the Fall until we get our first deep freeze.

SPOILER ALERT: Wakanda Action Plan – A Guide To Manifesting Wakanda

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Caption: My sister Laurinda & I after we saw the film this past Friday for the first time.

NOTE: Please do not read if you have not seen the film Black Panther! There are spoilers!!!!

Why Black Panther The Film Matters

The best part of Black Panther was seeing all of the little kids walking out excited.

In addition to the customary:

What’s your favorite color?

What’s your favorite food?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Another ice breaker for little people is “who is your favorite superhero?”

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Spiderman, Superman, Batman and Captain America when unmasked are not reflections of little brown boys and girls.

There is Miles Morales, who is to replace Peter Parker as Spiderman, and he’s Black & Latino:

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In many cases Black Superheroes on film have been a part of the ensemble… they contribute to the overall mission but they are NOT the leader or the focus of the storyline.

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Check out this list of 35+ Black Superheroes, ranked by fans.

Imagine what it meant for women and girls when Wonder Woman was introduced in December 1941. It brings me to tears to think that when asked, black children can now say that their favorite superhero is “Black Panther.”

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Wakanda Action Plan + Lessons From The Film

Black Panther as a film is important because (Note: Spoiler Alert!)

(1) “It is the first major superhero movie with an African protagonist; the first to star a majority black cast; and in Ryan Coogler (“Creed,” “Fruitvale Station”), the first to employ a black writer and director.” (New York Times)

(2) Africans and African Americans are often portrayed as primitive, second-class citizens, slaves, ignorant, ghettoized, etc. I’ll never forget my mother sharing stories about her education about Africa. She talked about seeing Tarzan, and learning nothing but limited and negative portrayals of the continent.

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(3) Women are strong, intelligent and assertive. In Black Panther black masculinity is not challenged by black femininity. The male characters express vulnerability – they cry, they show affection to women. In the council of elders, women are represented & play an equal role. The most intelligent character, who is a scientist is T’Challa’s younger sister Shuri. The leading general of Wakanda is Okoye (played by Danai Gurira) who ultimately brings peace by threatening to murder her lover W’Kabi, challenging the stereotype that women make their decisions emotionally.

(4) The film addresses colonialism and white supremacy. The black characters are allowed to express their fear and apprehension of white supremacy & colonialism in ways that are reflective and honest. There are parallels between the most important natural resource “vibranium” with Africa’s actual natural resources – gold, diamonds, etc. Check out this article 12 Ways To Be A White Ally, and this comprehensive tool with tips for being a Strong White Ally. I also wrote a blog about different actions that can be taken to combat racism here. Also if you are a parent, here is a curated list of books that you can read with your children to begin teaching them about racism.

5) The black people in the film are diverse. There are those that live in the “urban” city of Wakanda, those that live in rural areas W’Kabi (played by Daniel Kaluuya) and M’Baku (played by Winston Duke) who lives in a snowy, mountainous area. Then of course you have Erik Killmonger who was an African raised in America.

(6) The tension between individualism and collectivism. T’challa has to wrestle with protecting the safety & security of Wakanda, vs. sharing resources and information for the black diaspora around the world.

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(7) The promise of intergenerational unity. The elders are held in high regard and contribute in meaningful ways to the society. In order for the King to rule, he has to seek council of the ancestors through a ritual. It is the elders that facilitate the challenge rituals.

(8) Hip Hop is the soundtrack. Kendrick Lamar’s voice is heard periodically throughout the film. The film opens with Too Short’s “In The Trunk” and Oakland, an homage to Ryan Coogler’s roots, as he is from Oakland. Oakland also has significance to Black Americans because it is where the Black Panther Party for Self Defense was created in 1966. Notice the symbolism between the classic Huey P. Newton photo, founder of the Black Panther Party and T’Challa:

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Check out the music video Kendrick & SZA did for “All the Stars” which is on the Black Panther Soundtrack:

(9) The film offers a solution at the end – collaboration and cultural exchanges as King T’Challa sets up a center in Oakland where his genius sister will lead a STEM Program for the kids in Oakland. It is a pan-African approach that many African & African American thought-leaders have explored. According to Wikipedia, Modern Pan-Africanism began around the start of the 20th century. The African Association, later renamed the Pan African Association, was established around 1897 by Henry Sylvester Williams, who organized the First Pan African Conference in London in 1900. For further study about Pan-Africanism read the writings and listen to speeches by the following individuals. When it comes to this study I recommend first looking for primary sources where the individuals are speaking directly about their philosophies and then you can read interpretations and second-hand accounts to draw your own conclusions.

(1) Malcolm X

(2) Kwame Nkrumah

(3) Haile Selassie

(4) Marcus Garvey

(5) Muammar Gaddafi (who was pursuing a new currency that all African countries could use prior to his death)

The University of Chicago hosted a Pan African Conference last Fall and created a library with useful articles here.

Here is a list of the top 25 African American Conventions. If you are aware of others that you’d recommend for others to attend please drop a link in the comments section below.

I am on the local advisory committee for Policy Link’s Equity Summit and encourage you to attend the convention in April if you’re in or near Chicago. We are anticipating 4,000+ attendees.

Other things you can do to advance the themes of Black Panther in addition to increasing your knowledge and linking up with other black people (and allies, as the CIA Agent in the film was an ally & we need people of other races to advocate, speak-up and in some cases literally fight against oppression with us)

(1) Donate to an organization that is doing great work in the community. (Donda’s House is always in need of support and I encourage you to learn more about our work with young creatives here or make a contribution to support the work here. Imagination is one of the most important and underutilized tools that we have to fight oppression and our work at Donda’s House is about cultivating the imagination so that we CAN have more Ryan Cooglers, Chadwick Bosemans, Lupita Nyongo’s. Feel free to drop a link to your own organization or favorite organization in the comments below so that more people can learn about you.

(2) Support black-owned businesses. Check out the Brij Embassy (it is an economic approach to creating Wakanda). Also Saint Heron (Solange’s company) has curated lists of Black Owned Businesses in multiple cities available here.

(3) Donate & support black candidates. Shout to my brother Michael Tubbs who is Mayor of Wakanda Stockton, California. Learn more about him here. Follow him on Instagram here. Follow him on Twitter here. I can’t even describe how proud I am as we met through our connection with the Children’s Defense Fund and our mentor Marian Wright Edelman. If you can’t donate volunteer to collect petition signatures, make phone calls, etc. for candidates.

(4) Support black artists & black content creators by purchasing their art, attending their concerts, gallery showings, sharing their work on social media and sharing articles written about them and their work. In 2018, Metrics are super important and it doesn’t cost anything to “like” or “share” content.

(5) Learn more about Afrofuturism. Check out this article here. This article here and finally this article here.

(6) Support the past, present & future of those involved with the film.

Director & Writer- Ryan Coogler – Profile here. On instagram here. Ryan Coogler is not on Twitter.

Writer – Joe Robert Cole – Profile here.

Original Comic Book Writers – Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (now deceased).

THE CAST:

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T’Challa – Chadwick Boseman – Profile here. On instagram here. On twitter here.

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Eric Killmonger – Michael B. Jordan – Profile here. On instagram here. On twitter here.

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Nakia – Lupita Nyong’o – Profile here. Instagram here. Twitter here.

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Okoye – Danai Gurira – Profile here. Instagram here. Twitter here.

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Shout out to the entire Dora Milaje! #squadgoals #tribegoals

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Everett K. Ross – Martin Freeman – Profile here. Not on Instagram or Twitter. There are a couple of fan sites for Martin available.

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Wakabi – Daniel Kaluuya – Profile here. Instagram here (it’s him but he has no posts yet). Twitter here. (Fun Fact: Daniel was also the main character in Jordan Peele’s “Get Out”)

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Shuri – Letitia Wright – Profile here. Letitia is not on Instagram. Twitter here.

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M’Baku – Winston Duke – Profile here. Instagram here. Twitter here. (Apparently this brother has women barking like dogs and willing to move to the snowy mountains lol, at least according to my timeline…)

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N’Jobu (T’Challa’s Uncle & Killmonger’s Father) – Sterling K. Brown – Profile here. Instagram here. Twitter here.

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Ramonda – Angela Bassett – Profile here. Instagram here. Twitter here.

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Zuri – Forest Whitaker – Profile here. Not on Instagram. Twitter here.

For the remainder of the cast click here.

THE CREW:

Music – Ludwig Goransson. Instagram here. Twitter here. Check out this interview of Ludwig discussing the soundtrack here.

Director of Cinematography – Rachel Morrison. Instagram here. Twitter here.

Casting – Sarah Finn – Instagram here. Not on Twitter.

Production Design – Hannah Beachler  Website here.

Set Decoration – Jay Hart –  Not on social media.

Costume Design – Ruth E. Carter  Instagram here. Twitter here.

To view the remainder of the crew click here.

This is resource. Please feel free to list any links to articles, black owned business directories, articles, etc. that would be helpful for others as we all collectively pursue manifesting Wakanda, as it was represented in the film.

Couple’s Field Trip: Oriental Institute

“And as an mc you will study verbal magic
But watch what you say ’cause you’ll attract it
Control your subconscious magnet from pullin in havoc” – KRS-One

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Che & I decided to visit the Oriental Institute to check out the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead Exhibit. One of the pillars of our marriage is learning together. For the last year or so, I have been studying Metaphysics, Reiki and Energy pretty heavy. As I get older I am concerned with alignment of my mental, physical, spiritual and emotional energies as well as growing my capacity to be a better human being in all ways. I’ve had glimpses of experiences where I’ve been in total alignment and I’d like to make that my norm. I also have high blood pressure. In addition to changing my diet, increasing my physical activity and transforming my relationship with stress, I have been interested in holistic approaches to addressing.

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The Ancient Egyptians basically used the Book of the Dead to guide the deceased person into the afterlife. They believed that if a person could navigate the afterlife, pass the judgement of Osiris and the other Gods, then they could attain immortality.

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Here are some of the notes from the exhibit

“Osiris, his sister wife Isis, and their son Horus, formed one of the primary divine triads of ancient Egypt. The trio evokes the epic myth of Osiris involving his murder by his brother Seth, his mummification by Isis, and his redemption by Horus. Through the spells in the Book of the Dead, ancient Egyptians sought to emulate Osiris by triumphing over death. They assumed his identity in spell 69 by reciting: “I Am Osiris, brother of Isis, while my son Horus with his mother Isis, saved me from my enemies who do everything evil against me.” The dead gained their Osirian form as a result of the appropriate funerary rituals, which ancient texts described as “giving an Osiris to” someone.

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“They believed that language and writing were imbued with magical power and that reciting and recording such declarations would make the statements come true.”

“Like all of us, the people of Ancient Egypt wondered what would happen to them after they died. to alleviate the anxiety about our human mortality, a life-affirming religion developed in ancient Egypt that emphasized the possibility of immortality – an everlasting life in the hereafter among the gods. Each Egyptian needed to undergo the proper rituals of embalming and burial to ensure their continued existence in the next world. Magical spells of ritual power accompanied these rites. So powerful were these words that Egyptians wanted to take the spells with them to the grave. To do so, they gathered the spells into a compilation we now call the Book of the Dead.”

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In addition to using papyrus, “spells” were also inscribed on other items including linen bandages, amulets, coffins, sarcophagi, statues, stelae and the walls of the tomb.

“To the ancient Egyptians, these spells were called the ‘spells of going forth by day,’ a reference to the ability of the soul to leave the tomb at dawn.”

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“The Book of the Dead, then, is a grimoire of magical incantations intent on resurrecting the deceased, and turning them into a powerful immortal spirit, called an akh in ancient Egyptian. As an akh-spirit, the dead joined with the sun god Re as he sailed in his solar barge across the sky during the day and with Osiris as he ruled the netherworld at night. Living relatives often petitioned the akh-spirits of their ancestors to intercede on their behalf in earthly and spiritual matters, for akh-spirits were divine entities like other gods.”

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“The ancient Egyptians sought to change reality by speaking words out loud while performing accompanying ritual actions. Through the power of magic, they believed that saying it made it real.”

IMG_7896“The heart was the seat of thought for ancient Egyptians and carried with it the memories of the individual. In the afterlife, the dead recited spells against their own heart, using magic to maintain control over it to prevent the revelation of any misdeeds in the tribunal before Osiris.”

“Ancient Egyptians employed Book of the Dead spells for over 1,500 years from the Second Intermediate Period (ca. 1700 BC) down to the Roma Empire (ca. AD 200). Afterward there was a rise in a new set of texts called the Books of Breathing. These Books of Breathing represent the las stage of Egyptian funeral literature before the Christianization of the country in the third and fourth centuries AD.”

The thing that I will take away from me from this exhibit is the power of the written and spoken word, and the importance of documenting culture in a sustainable way. My fear is that as we rely so heavily on technology that future generations may not be able to easily access our cultural artifacts. I also think that one can and does achieve immortality through legacy. Lastly, there is nothing more humbling than standing in a room of artifacts that predate not only your existence but that have endured for thousands of years. I can only hope that something that I, or that we create lasts that long!

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We were also excited to see the Ancient Nubia Exhibit with CRYSTALS!!!! Nubia was originally called Kush.  There was lots of jewelry that included Carnelian, Quartz, Shells & Rose Quartz.

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Vision 2018

What a blessing to wake up to see a New Year. What a blessing to be alive!

I spent my New Year’s Eve hanging with my family. I did something I’ve never done before, I brought the New Year in with a good physical cleaning – a hot bubble bath filled with all of my favorite aromatherapeutic Lush products and a guided meditation.

In 2018 I really want to focus on growing and elevating my spirit and my internal world. Once I finished my meditation I did some journaling and then I finished my Vision Board:

Here are pieces of the board:

Full Board:

Take some time to think about who & what you are calling into your life. I hope that this is your best year ever and that it brings you the things your heart desires!

Happy New Year!

How To Make A Tea/Hot Drink Bar

My husband recently got back from a World Tour with DJ Jazzy Jeff. One of the things that he brought back home was lots of organic tea from his journey throughout Asia.

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I purchased mini glass Ball Jars from Amazon. In terms of size, they are about the size of Gerber Baby Food Containers. I didn’t want to run the risk of purchasing jars that were too big, and then the tea jars would look empty. I’d rather go small and then just refill as needed. Not to mention the teas are pretty potent and usually only need one teaspoon per cup.

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“I sing a song from Sing-Sing, sipping on ginseng…” – U-God of WuTang Clan in “Triumph” 

I swear I rap that line to myself everything I have a cup of Ginseng tea lol!

Finally, I added my other favorite hot drinks including Green Mint Tea, Chai Tea and White Hot Chocolate. The countertop shelf that I purchased I was also from Amazon, available here. The shelf came preassembled.

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I used regular mailing labels, and wrote the jar contents using a skinny Sharpie marker. Both the labels and the Sharpie were items I already owned. This project cost a total of $31.00, and it took about 30 minutes to fill the jars.

Happy organizing!!!

How Not To Freak The F*** Out In Times Of Crisis

A little over a week ago, my car was stolen while I was moving groceries in. To add insult to injury, it happened the night before my entire family was coming to Chicago to celebrate my grandmother’s 80th birthday. I was supposed to meet my mom at the airport at 8:00 a.m., and the remainder of the family members at the train station later in the day.

I immediately felt my heart rate increase, and then I felt incredible overwhelming sadness… but then I went into DC (Damage Control) Mode.

Step 1: Call The Police – When theft, or other criminal activities take place, if you can’t handle it on your own, you may need to call the police. Not to mention that a police report is often required for insurance purposes.

Step 2: Call The Insurance Company – The first thing the Insurance Company wanted to know was were the police called. I gave them a report number. Then I asked “What is the process.” I was informed that in 48 hours, I’d be eligible for a rental car, and in 14 days if the car wasn’t recovered, it would be considered a loss. In times of crisis, the best thing that you can have is information. That way your brain (and your heart) don’t have the opportunity to dream up ridiculous scenarios. Keep the foolishness in check by getting informed on your options.

Step 3: Create an immediate/temporary plan. – I have Uber & Lyft on my phone. I’ll take that to meet my mom at the airport, and then we’ll uber back. I spoke to my sister-in-law who lives across the street from me, and made arrangements to use her car later that day to pick up the rest of my family members from the Amtrak Station. She was also going out of town for the weekend, and said that I could use her car while she was away. Temporary crises of stranded family members – averted.

Step 4: Work The Plan. Once you know the steps to rectify the situation, you just work the plan. Be sure to record the names of the people who give you the information just in case there is a discrepancy later. Follow up & follow through with any additional paperwork and follow the process.

BUT WAIT… A FEW THINGS HAVE TO BE IN PLACE BEFORE THE CRISIS ACTUALLY HAPPENS!

PRE-CRISIS STEP 1: Get your paperwork in order. When it comes to property, purchase the extended warranty, the insurance, etc. All of these items seem expensive and unnecessary and the truth is that you likely won’t use it most of the time… but the one time you do need it, the peace of mind & the fees to repair or replace your product or device make it worth it in the end. I think of these things as pay now, or pay more later. In our household, anything that is over a certain amount (around $300+) gets insurance. This includes electronics, vehicles, appliances, etc. Remember to keep copies of all of the warranties and policies. I actually digitize all of my files using this and I keep all of my files organized in my Dropbox account. That way my files are easily accessible & searchable.

PRE-CRISIS STEP 2: Have a vent-partner. One of the best parts about being married is that you have a built-in vent partner. If you are not married (and even if you are married) be sure that you have someone that you can call to complain, cry, reason, laugh, etc. with. Often in times of crisis, my hubby and I bounce the responsibility back and forth so that neither of us gets burned out or overly frustrated. When it came to the first few steps of addressing the stolen vehicle, I handled the initial stages of contacting the police and the insurance company etc. Once our vehicle was recovered (thank God!) he took care of getting the estimates and dealing with the dealership to have the car serviced. My sister-in-law was instrumental in serving as my co-PI as my keys have a tracking device (TILE) which alerted me that my keys were in the area, leading to us searching the area and ultimately finding my stolen vehicle parked on the street.

PRE-CRISIS STEP 3: Copy the front and backs of all of the contents in your wallet. In the event that your purse or your wallet is stolen, you can quickly contact all of your banks and loyalty cards to get replacements. Most cards also have the phone number on the back that you should call, in case of emergency.

PRE-CRISIS STEP 4: Back up all of the contents of your computer into the cloud AND onto a hard-drive. I’ve endured at least two hard-drive crashes in my life. I’ve known friends that have been robbed at gunpoint of their briefcases and laptop bags. I have a little piece of mind knowing that all of my music, photos, important files and documents etc. are backed up using Dropbox, Google Drive, and iCloud Drive.  I’m a fan of all three systems because they are super easy to use, accessible anywhere you have the internet (let’s say you forget your laptop at home) and in many cases, other people can be given easy access to the files.

PRE-CRISIS STEP 5: Travel with a copy of your passport AND travel with at least two credit/debit cards. Anything can happen with your passport. I always keep a copy or two of my passport in different areas of my luggage. My husband recently finished a world tour with DJ Jazzy Jeff. While in Japan, an ATM machine ate his debit card. It’s important to have at least two different credit/debit cards in the event that something happens to one. One of these days I’ll have to write a whole post about crisis and travel! It really does deserve its own blog post!

PRE-CRISIS STEP 6: Learn how to use Find My iPhone and Find My Device (For Android). This has saved me so many times. Especially in situations where there was a large group and my phone or iPad went missing.

PRE-CRISIS STEP 7: Make a habit of cataloguing and keeping lists of things. This is usually a standard for home owners insurance, but you may want to get in the habit of keeping receipts and logs of your valuables so that if you need to file a claim, or if you need to replace the items, you can do so quickly and effortlessly.

PRE-CRISIS STEP 8: Write down key emergency contacts and have them easily accessible. Set up your Emergency SOS in the settings of your phone, if you have iPhone. Keep emergency contact phone numbers in your wallet, just in case you are unconscious so that members of your family can be reached.

PRE-CRISIS STEP 9: Get your car Emergency Ready. Keep your own jumper cables, and spare tire (if it can fit) in your car. Consider a membership to AAA or another road-side assistance service. Check out this article for tips on how to prepare your vehicle for Emergencies.

PRE-CRISIS STEP 10: Get your home Emergency Ready. Be sure you have a smoke detector & Carbon Monoxide Detector in your home, as well as be sure to check the batteries regularly. Do an annual fire/emergency drill in your home. Be sure that your door is labeled correctly so that people know that you have pets. Most pet stores and vets carry stickers to alert emergency personnel.

Last but not least, stay prayed up! Having a calm and faithful spirit is the best thing that you can have to regulate stress and address problems that inevitably come up in life. It is also helpful to have mechanisms for addressing stress – a healthy fitness routine, an active social life, appropriate medication and therapy where appropriate, journal writing (one of my favorite methods for processing stress and thinking through problems). If you have any helpful resources or advice, please drop them in the comments below!

NOTE: Shoutout to my sister Linedda for always encouraging me to write a book. If it be God’s will, one of these days I’ll be a New York Times/best-selling author. Writing was my first love!

Everything in It’s Place… Organizing The Closet for a New Season

A couple of years ago we converted one of our bedrooms to our closet. This past weekend I started putting away the pastels, bright colors and sandals of Summer, in order to put out the earth tones, warm colors and boots of autumn.

I have a small dog whose favorite thing to do is to eat my shoes! So I needed to find a solution that would protect my shoes from her teeth, while also displaying my shoes in a way that makes getting dressed effortless. In all of my years of organizing, the most important thing to consider is that the system be easy to maintain, otherwise you are likely to revert to whatever is easier. For example, if you find yourself leaving clothes on the floor in your living room, why not put a beautiful lidded hamper that disguises the mess. Your brain will be happy because it will have a place to unload the clothes based on your natural behavior and your eyes will be happy because you won’t have to witness the mess. Similar, I like to keep blankets and pillows in my living room but instead of leaving them laying around, they live in a basket hamper where we can grab them when needed and put them away with ease.

Here is our shoe situation before I implemented our new storage solution:

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Whenever I need a storage solution, the first place that I go is to The Container Store.

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Here are the storage solutions I used:

Men’s Drop-Front Shoe Box. Available here.

Women’s Drop-Front Shoe Box. Available here.

Both the men’s and the women’s drop-font shoe boxes come in a bulk package for a discounted rate.

Finally, my husband loves a good hat, but he wasn’t storing his hats in a way that protected them and in a way that he could easily find whichever hat he was looking for.

Here is the before picture:

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Here is the photo with the storage solution implemented:

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I used the

Grey Drop-Front Sweater Boxes, available here.

About a year ago, I purchased this shelving unit from Amazon, and we use it to display our boots and oversized shoes that won’t fit in the boxes:

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Before the shelves were kind of all over the place, as my only motivation was keeping my “good shoes” high up enough so that my dog couldn’t get to them. She never goes after my boots. So now the tall boots are on the bottom, the booties are in the middle and and the top, and a few of my favorite handbags are in the top shelves.

The top of the shelf is still used for the same purpose. Displaying our jewelry and other accessories.

I store out of season clothing in bins in our storage room, as I like to swap my clothes out (once in the Spring, and then in the Fall).