Innovation Needs Incubation…10 Ideas To Take Your Business To The Next Level

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I just finished taking CiCi’s (The Six Figure Chick) free masterclass “How To Build An E-mail List From Scratch.” The class was a free webinar that I signed up for earlier this week. Cici provided amazing content that will be incredibly helpful for me as I build my business.

At the end of the course I was so happy that I had signed up for it and it was a reminder for me on how important it is to invest in ourselves as entrepreneurs. It was also a reminder of how important it is to devote time to innovation.

Most companies invest money into their businesses via a line item called R & D which stands for Research and Development. According to Statista in 2017, Amazon spent 16.1 Billion, Alphabet spent 13.9 Billion and Samsung spent 12.7. You can view the remainder of the companies listed here. It is no wonder why these companies continue to grow and bring in record profits.

Here is a working definition of R & D Activities based on getting tax credit for R & D from Swanson Reed, an R & D Firm:

  • New Product Development
  • Incremental Product Development
  • New Process Development
  • Incremental Process Development

Additional Examples:

  • Design and development of new products – particularly products that are safer, more effective or have increased functionality, better performance or longer shelf life;
  • research of new applications for existing products;
  • testing for compliance with domestic or foreign regulatory requirements;
  • design, development and implementation of new reagents, testing methods or protocols;
  • product experimentation and modification to increase yield or decrease reaction times;
  • improvement of manufacturing or production technologies, processes, techniques or procedures to increase yield, reduce waste and byproducts, improve safety, improve energy efficiency or comply with regulatory requirements;
  • design and development of scaled-up manufacturing processes;
  • development of prototype pilot batches of new product candidates for testing and validation;
  • implementation of automated processes or robotics to increase production efficiency;
  • Software development or information technology initiatives related to product or process improvements; and
  • research to receive International Organization for Standardization certifications, fertilizer safety or other similar certifications.

While we may not have billions of dollars to devote to R & D, we should allocate some of our time and resources to this very important area of our businesses. Here are some ways as a small business owner that you can do your own R & D:

(1) Take a class or a workshop. I’ve taken classes from Coursera in the past. You’d be surprised how much free content there is on YOUTube. Do a Google Search about the topic you’re looking for + free classes, or + interviews. Get a pen and paper and take yourself to school.

(2) Attend a conference. Conferences usually cost money but can be a great way to learn and make connections. There are conferences for everything. Save your money and attend the conferences that are standard to your industry. On Twitter The Plug released an infographic of Black Tech Conferences:

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(3) Do an informational interview or have a meeting or phone call with someone. I am working on an event for February and a quick conversation with my best friend helped me figure out what to call it. Have regular conversations with people about what you are trying to do, and you’ll be surprised at how many great ideas or suggestions will come up.

(4) Join a professional organization. You need a tribe. You need your personal tribe but you also need your business tribe. The people who you can go to that will help you solve problems that come up. The people who have literally walked the road you are walking and can forecast what’s coming up and help you avoid the potholes that they hit. The people who are as excited about what you’re doing because they know why it matters. Join at least one professional organization and actively participate.

(5) Spend some time developing a business plan. Getting things out of your mind and onto paper is one of the best ways to hold yourself and your team accountable. It is also important because it will help you to relieve stress and manage expectations. Think of your business plan as your road map. It helps you to articulate why you are doing what you are doing and the growth you hope to achieve.

(6) Spend some time doing strategic planning (long term planning for your business). Strategic planning is like a business plan. Think of the business plan as the bird’s eye view of your business. Think of strategic planning like the GPS instructions on how you are going to get there. To be able to achieve your customer reach goals, your financial goals, etc., you have to be intentional and strategic about how you are going to achieve those goals.

(7) Read industry publications. Similar to joining a professional organization but a little more passive. If you’re in marketing, you should be reading AdWeek. If you’re in music, you should be reading Billboard, Playback Magazine. Then there are general business publications that talk about all industries: Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Forbes, etc. Make these a regular part of your R & D diet. Many of these publications have robust online platforms as well, but I strongly encourage you to subscribe. One way that I access many of these publications is through an app on my iPad called Texture. For $9.99/month, you have access to hundreds of digital publications. Click here for more info.

(8) Follow industry leaders on social media and pay attention to what they are doing! People drop gems on social media. It’s like literal gold. Find the people who are at the top of your industry and follow them. Learn from them. When appropriate, interact with them. Before you know it, you will be invited to the same panels, and they may eventually come to respect you as a peer.

(9) Hire a coach. If you are having trouble with an area of your business consider hiring a coach. I will forever have an accountant and an attorney connected to my business because those are two areas that I am not comfortable making decisions on my own. I am strongly considering hiring a communication coach to help me become a better public speaker. Be sure to check references and make sure you’re working with someone that will actually help you achieve your goals. There are a lot of people out here fronting and taking advantage of the good will of other people.

(10) Create operation manuals or other protocols for your business. When I had to start bringing on additional help for our social media management, we created a manual. It’s super short, maybe 3 – 4 pages but it was incredibly helpful in getting this new person acclimated. In the event that you get sick, need to go on maternity leave or anything of that matter, if you have manuals for people, ideally they will be able to just pick up the manual and run your business in your absence. This is also important for succession planning if you ever decide to move in a different direction. I’ve had so many colleagues that have stepped down from leadership roles at businesses or organizations they founded to go do other work. Writing things down also helps you to see where breakdowns may be occurring and to problem solve to grow your business.

It was nice to devote an entire morning to R & D. I will now take some of the lessons and recommendations from CiCi and apply them to my business. Feel free to comment below any resources that have been helpful for you to help you innovate and grow your vision.

Next step: Take out your calendar and schedule at least one hour per week to R & D for your business for the month of November. You can do any of the recommended activities above during that time. I’d love for you to send me a note in December to let me know how it impacted your business.

 

My Weightloss Journey – Down 21 Lbs.

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Caption: The picture on the left was taken this week. The picture on the right was taking the first week of August of this year. 

In August while at my family reunion, I was looking at photos of myself and quickly realized that I was largest I’d ever been. For the first time ever in my life I felt embarrassed about the way that I looked. I was instructing people taking pictures “get a close up.” Motioning for them to only capture me from the chest up. It was bad…

Add to that, earlier in the summer while getting up to walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night I felt dizzy and had to hold on to the wall. My mind was telling my body to move… and my body wasn’t moving. It was so scary that I ended up going to the hospital. My blood pressure was through the roof. When they were able to get my blood pressure down, I was instructed explicitly to take medication 3 times a day to help regulate my blood pressure.

That health scare along with how I felt about myself led me on a journey to becoming healthier. I was an athlete in High School. I ran track and that was the period in my life where I was the healthiest. At the age of 12 I actually got diagnosed with high cholesterol! On the outside looking in at that time I was “healthy.” It was then that I learned that a person’s physical appearance doesn’t necessarily correlate to what’s happening on the inside. At that time I stopped eating pork and beef, and never added it back to my diet and my cholesterol dropped significantly.

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Caption: I try to be super intentional about eating enough veggies and balancing out the type of meals I have each day. If I know I’m going out to a bar at night, I’ll drink nothing but water the entire day. 

So back in August I made a decision to make better choices as it related to my diet and as it related to my fitness. Here are 10 things that I’ve done that have worked for me:

(1) Invest in workout equipment at home. I am just not a gym person! My husband and I took some money and invested it into a treadmill purchased on Amazon. My phone cost more than the treadmill. [Insert angry emoji]. We also invested in a weight bench, free weights, resistance bands, jump ropes, kettle bells etc. We basically created a gym in our basement. This has been helpful for me because all I have to do is go in the basement to get my workouts in. Before we had the equipment it was a struggle for me and often became an excuse for why I couldn’t or wouldn’t work out. I had to remove the opportunity to make that excuse.

(2) Keep it simple. My approach has been to work out for 30 minutes, for 5 days a week. After I do my cardio on the treadmill, I do conditioning workouts. I have watched my waist get small, my arms get smaller, everything is firming up!

(3) Don’t totally deprive yourself when it comes to the diet. I love ice cream. At this point, I’m not going to give ice cream up! Maybe once a week or so I have a root beer float. I try not to beat myself up over it. The key is just moderation. At some point in the future that may change. Despite having an occasional root beer float, or cupcake, or cookie, I have still lost 21 lbs!

(4) Press play. Music helps motivate me. I turn it all the way up! Give me a jungle or tribal beat and lots of bass and it feels like the workout just does itself lol. Spotify actually has really nice curated playlists organized by genre and Beats Per Minute. You can check out my very eclectic Work Out Playlist here.

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Caption: This is my “eating calories” face lol. 

(5) Do it first thing in the morning. I am much more likely to work out if it is the first thing I do every morning. Plus, I get good energy and I can start the day with being proud of myself. Sometimes I can’t work out in the morning due to other obligations but my good weeks are those where my workout happened first thing in the morning.

(6) Make substitutions. I read the back of labels now more than ever and check for the sodium and the sugar. Too much sodium raises my blood pressure and too much sugar makes me fat, and often leads to an energetic crash. Instead of eating so many cookies I now eat graham crackers. My max is usually two rectangles but often one is all that I need to feed my craving. Read the labels. Instead of telling yourself no sugar and binging out when you have a bad day, say yes to sugar but just eat a healthier kind. I’m also a big fan of smoothies so if I’m having a sweet tooth as a meal replacement I’ll have a smoothie.

(7) It’s ok to mess up. There have been some weeks where I have not worked out all 5 days, but if I was able to do 3, I was ok with that and said I’ll try again next week. The thing about this journey is that as long as we are living, we have the opportunity to make better choices. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t meet your standard for the week or for the day. Go to bed (my solution to most things lol) and try again tomorrow.

(8) Celebrate the small victories along the way. I initially set a goal in August of losing at least 35 lbs before my birthday (January). After about week 6 or 7 I was down 13 lbs and I celebrated that with some new workout gear. If I have a really great workout I will post it on social media as a celebration that I did it! I made it through! Today, I am down a total of 21 lbs! I have not yet my goal, but the sheer fact that I am over halfway there is something to celebrate. These micro-celebrations are the motivation and the carrots that you need to keep going.

(9) Address your emotions. Overeating and eating unhealthy things for me is directly connected to my mood. Now, when I’m feeling a certain type of way instead of reaching for a Pepsi, I reach for my journal. Instead of visiting a Sweet Shop I’ll text or call my bestfriend to vent to her. Our emotions are very powerful and are often the reason we make poor or unhealthy decisions.

(10) Do what works for you. Every body is different. What works for me, may not work for you. Someone may go on a particular diet that works for them, the same diet may make you sick! Some people give up dairy and meat. Some people eat more dairy and more meat. Your journey to better health and weight loss is your journey. Experiment with different things until you find the formula that works for you.

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My next doctor’s appointment is on 10/29. I’m excited to see how this weight loss has impacted my blood pressure and overall health. This has not been easy, by a long shot. I do not like working out and I’d love to be able to just eat and drink what I want, when I want. But that’s not my reality. I take it one day, one meal, one workout out at a time. Incrementally over time, I’ve been more consistent than not, and I am seeing results.

Feel free to comment any questions, suggestions or resources you may have below! Sending you encouragement if you are on a similar journey. You can do it!

How To Create Room In Your Life For What You Really Want…

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Caption: Earlier this week my husband & I wrote down five intentions, tied them on sticks and then stuck them in our plants. Whenever we water our plants, it is a physical reminder to water our intentions. 

When you ask yourself what do you truly want, what comes to mind?

Perhaps you want to be a full-time entrepreneur. Maybe the photo of a lifetime love popped up. It may not be that deep for you. Maybe you’re up for a promotion at your job? You’re trying to muster up the courage to ask for a raise? Perhaps life is good and you’re looking for less… less stress… less pain… less struggle.

Either way it goes, I truly believe that if we are to get the things we want (or remove the things we don’t want) we have to create room; literal space to welcome the thing, the person and/or the energy into our lives.

PHYSICAL SPACE

If your physical space is cluttered, you don’t have room to add anything. I’d strongly suggest doing a deep clean – physically removing trash, papers you no longer need and dust to give whatever you are looking for a landing strip in your life. Have you ever lost something and went on a rampage to find it only to discover that it was hiding in plain site? Here are some additional ways you can make room physically for what you want:

A. A dedicated journal or notebook. – Writing things down takes it out of your mind and brings it into the real world.

B. Space on a shelf. – The simple act of creating space on a shelf, is a dedicated action to your desired outcome.

C. A basket or container – Similar to the idea of creating space on a shelf. This may be an option for those who are limited in space. This is also great if you find you need to be mobile. I have containers for my scrapbook stuff, containers for my jewelry making, and even containers for my spiritual tools – incense, essential oils, etc.

D. A Room – I know people who have prayer closets or prayer rooms. Craft rooms, etc. Dedicating an entire room to your work, or to something else that you care about is symbolic of how much something means to you and the priority it has in your life.

MENTAL SPACE 

The human mind is powerful. Did you know that your body cannot tell the difference between an action it performed in real life and an action it simulated or visualized. It is what made Muhammad Ali one of the greatest to ever do it. Our minds are the gardens that either grow (or kill) our seeds. Here are some ideas to create mental space for your desired outcomes:

A. Time on your calendar. – Dedicated 15 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour a day, a week or a month to your dreams. Protect that sacred time and honor it. Even if you are just spending time with yourself, add it to your calendar like you would any other appointment. Show up for yourself. Show up for your dreams.

B. Mastermind conversations – A mastermind conversation is strictly focused on meeting your goal. Meet with your mentors. Meet with the experts. Spend some time with the people who can help you move the needle.

C. Seminars/Workshops – If you want to start a business, attend workshops and seminars. There are SBA’s in every state that provide free programs and workshops that can help you actualize your dream. Go on Eventbrite and search for free events connected to your dream. Find others who share similar passions, subscribe to e-mail lists, etc.

D. Read books & listen to podcasts – The time you spend reading a book and listening to podcasts can really make the difference in helping you to “level up.” You can often filter podcasts by topic – lifestyle, business, etc. Often the people who are the leaders of a particular field host podcasts.

EMOTIONAL SPACE

Moods are magnets. If you feel motivated, you will attract more motivational energy. If you feel like a loser, you will attract loser energy (be careful with that one, because the energy may come in many forms – personal or professional). Do whatever you can to manage and move your moods. Here are my recommendations:

A. Affirmations – write your own or find them online. Repeat them at least a few times daily. Carry them in your purse. Say them when you first wake up or before you go to bed.

B. Mood Boards or Vision Boards – Create a visual of your desired outcomes and display the board somewhere you’ll see it everyday. I’ve written extensively about vision boards. Start here. I collect things all year that resonate with me and that represent what I’d like in my life the following year. I spend New Year’s Eve (or the last week of the year) taking down last year’s Vision Board, and putting up my new vision board before midnight. I also keep the contents in my old board in a scrapbook, because I believe that even when I take them down, I am still holding space for those things to come into my life.

C. Convos with loved ones. My best girlfriends and my husband are my greatest cheerleaders. When a seed starts to sprout I speak to them because they share in my excitement and my joy. Most of all, they encourage me to go for it, and that’s the kind of emotional energy you need when your goals and dreams and ideas are in their infant stages.

D. Remove the barriers. Get rid of the excuses. Turn down the volume of the naysayers (not those offering constructive criticism, but those who are just negative and haters for no other reason than to be petty, shady and ugly). When I decided to start pursuing a healthier lifestyle 9 weeks ago, I knew that if I had to leave the house I’d be less likely to work out. I purchased a treadmill and set it up in the basement to remove that barrier or that excuse.

SPIRITUAL SPACE

I believe that our desired outcomes must align with the energies and the realities of the universe. We work in collaboration with the universe and all of the things and the beings that are a part of it. For example, if you are pursuing a promotion, you often aren’t the only one being considered for that promotion. It is usually you and at least one other person. If you don’t get it, it just means that it wasn’t for you and it was for the other person. You are not lacking in any way or wrong in any way or undeserving in any way. Your path is just different and that particular thing was not for you at least not at the moment. If you get the promotion, the other person has to remember that same. Entitlement is a helluva drug. The more that we can detach our personal egos, feelings and lives from something, the happier, freer and lighter we become. The only thing that belongs to you is your body. Anything else that you receive is a gift from the universe. Here are my recommendations for how you can be in better collaboration with the universe.

A. Prayer – Prayer is the language that spirit speaks. Write your prayers. Say them out loud. Send your desires and your hopes and your dreams to the spirit world with love and humility.

B. Meditation – I see prayer as sending messages to the universe, to God, to our ancestors. Meditation is for them to speak back. Meditation is when we focus ourselves. It is when we are still enough to align and realign our energy with the flow of the universe. Guided meditation is super helpful when you’re just getting started. There are tons of apps that can help you with this if you need assistance. Also if you are on Spotify, they have a host of meditation playlists and guided meditations that you can listen to.

C. Open your heart and open your mind. – Open your heart to the gift of friendship, the gift of love and the gift of abundance. If you are feeling paranoid, distrustful, bitter or fearful – you need to process that. Talk to a counselor or therapist. Write in a journal. Release those energies. It is said that fear and faith cannot occupy the same space at the same time. The same goes with your mind. If someone is sharing information or resources for you and all you can do is interrupt them or think about the millions of ways of why you can’t do it or it can’t be done, your mind needs to be opened. I am not saying that any of this is easy. When I first met my husband as my boyfriend I had a laundry list of the reasons that marriage was a mistake and a bad idea… and I shared it with him! I was carrying the baggage of abuse and of a failed marriage and thank God that he saw past all of that fog to my heart and true desires. He and I will be celebrating 9 years of marriage next year!

Every day I try to remove those things that are no longer serving my highest good out of my life to make room for those things that I truly need and want in my life. I hope this was helpful and I hope that your dreams are a little closer to being real today than they were yesterday! You are a powerful being with the capacity to transform your life. Transformation is not easy and it is certainly not always fast. Be patient with yourself. Give yourself some grace. Take it one action at a time and before you know it, it will be done!

New Moon in Libra: Insight, Rituals + More

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Caption: This beautiful image is by Sheeba Maya Art.

Today is a new moon in Libra. Happy New Moon!

Here are some of my rituals:

  • Clean my altar (I use Method’s All Purpose Honey Crisp Cleaner).
  • Put crystals on my altar that correspond to the new moon. I decided on:
    • Bloodstone
    • Citrine
    • Rose Quartz
    • Black Tourmaline
    • Sapphire
    • Tourmalinated Quartz
  • Write new moon intentions connected to the energy of the sign
  • Sweep & mop floor with boiling hot water (I actually boil the water on the stove for 30 minutes before putting it into my mop bucket) plus a few capfuls of Florida Water + Cleanser (Fabuloso is my favorite – it smells divine).
  • Smudge by body & all entrances to my home including the doors and windows on the first floor.
  • Take a bath with herbs, florals & essential oils.
  • Burn a candle. Tonight, as close as possible to the time the new moon actually starts I will be burning an Air Element candle from Unicorn Manor.
  • I shifted my furniture around to put my longer couch (comfy for sleeps and naps directly in front of my tv, and moved the love seat to it’s place). Shifting furniture shifts energy.

Here is some of the insight from from my favorite astrologers & energy workers:

“…transmute your Sh$t into compost, my love.” – Jessica Lanyadoo

“New moons happen when the sun (your identity) and the moon (your feels) are exactly aligned. This marks a time for openness, beginnings and clarity.” – Jessica Lanyadoo. Read more from Jessica here.

“Sometimes it’s safer to repress our pain than to witness it. In order to survive we push it down for days. Decades. Lifetimes. Generations. But then a moment comes along that shatters the vaults we’ve been harboring our storise within.” – Chani Nicholas. Read more from Chani here.

“No matter if we’re being called to start something new or let something go, our focus will be on whether it’s worth it. This theme will apply especially to relationships, our sense of self-worth, our personal values, and our relationship to money.” – Mecca Woods. Read more from Mecca here. Also Mecca just published a phenomenal & practical book about astrology and it’s relationship to love, career and wellness. I purchased a copy and highly encourage you to do the same here.

“We are in relationship with every single thing in our lives, and each relationship is our sacred mirror of Reflection.” Mystic Mamma provides a literature review of some of the best astrological advice out there. Read more here.

I’ve created a list called “Sources of Light” on Twitter featuring 41 healers, astrologers, energy workers, etc. I encourage you to subscribe to the list if you’re looking for more!

 

 

Gel Manicure At Home

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For most of my adult life I have taken the trek to the nail salon every 2 weeks. My preferred treatments include a “no-chip” gel manicure + a classic or traditional pedicure. I enjoy the no-chip gel manicure because I like for my nails to always be polished.

Traditional manicures would never last more than a 2 – 3 days for me because I frequently do chores at home including cleaning my house, washing dishes, etc. The no-chip gel manicures are nice because I can do all of those things but my nails still look freshly done – shiny, chip-free and groomed.

When doing the math, this is the amount of money I’ve spent on salon manis & pedis over the last five years: $10,400.00.

Truthfully I have other financial goals. I’d like to own properties in other cities (with New Orleans being at the top of my list). I’d like to travel more internationally. I’d like to invest more in for-profit ventures. When I look at the money that is going out, I quickly realized that I could take the money I’d spend on one or two salon nail treatments (roughly $80.00 per visit with tip included) to purchase my own supplies and invest that money elsewhere. Here is a list of what I purchased with links on where I purchased them from Amazon:

  1. Cuticle Pusher & Cutter  – Click here to purchase.

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  1. Gellen Gel Polish – Popular Nude Colors Series  – Click here to purchase.

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  1. Gellen Nail Polish – Fall Colors Series 6 – Click here to purchase.
  2. OPI Chocolate Brown (Squeaker of the House) Polish – Click here to purchase.
  3. OPI Bubble Bath Polish (my favorite nude) – Click here to purchase.
  4. OPI Lint Free Nail Wipes (lint free nail wipes are better than traditional cotton balls which leave behind cotton residue) – Click here to purchase.
  5. Professional Nail Soak Off Clips. (used to soak off gel polish) – Click here to purchase. Excited to use these instead of foil.
  6. Polish Organizer Box – Holds 48 bottles. Click here to purchase.
  7. UV LED Nail Lamp (curates gel polish) – Click here to purchase.
  8. Acetone (used to soak off nail polish) – Click here to purchase.
  9. Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Nail Coat (used as a top coat for toe nail polish) – Click here to purchase.
  10. OPI Orange “Freedom of Peach” Color – Click here to purchase.
  11. Gellish  Fantastic Four Kit – Click here to purchase. According to my research this kit goes with almost any brand of gel polish. It includes:

PH Bond – Goes on natural nail, Foundation (base coat for gel polish), Top it Off         (Top Coat) and Nourish (Cuticle Oil.). Each bottle is clearly labeled and the back of the box reveals the cure time for the lamp which was accurate. The Gel Polish also includes the recommended cure time. Essentially after each layer you cure for 60 seconds – 2 minutes, but must use the instructions on the box.

14. Rubbing Alcohol

15. Nail Clipper

16. Nail Buffing Block

17. Nail Brush

Some of the items can be purchased at your local Target, Walmart or other preferred store. Total spent: $198.40, which is the equivalent of 2.5 salon visits for me. I did splurge a little bit on buying multiple bottles of nail polish and gel polish sets. You can cut down on that cost significantly. You also don’t have to purchase the polish organizer. I match my nail colors by the season. In the Fall I love earth tones. In the Winter I do a lot of either greys & dark colors (like navy blues, etc.). I also like splashes of silver. In the Spring I like pastels and in the summer I like bright bold colors and nudes.

Here is the recommended process. Assuming that you’re starting with your natural nails:

STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS FOR GEL MANICURE:

1. Push back cuticles.

2. Clip the nail with clippers & Shape the nail with a nail file.

3. Buff the nail. I personally like the labeled nail buffer blocks that tell you which order to do things. Click here for an example.

4. Wash hands using a nail brush like this.

5. Thoroughly dry hands & nails using a paper towel.

6. Apply 1 thin layer of PH Bond then cure (according to instructions.)

7. Apply 1 thin layer of gel polish of your choice and then cure (according to instructions).

8. Apply second layer of gel polish of your choice and then cure (according to instructions).

9. Apply 1 layer of top coat and then cure (according to instructions).

10. Wipe with a piece of cotton or nail wipe soaked in alcohol to shine.

11. Apply cuticle oil and rub into nail and apply lotion to hands.

12. You should be good to go for 2 weeks.

I will add a section in two weeks about how to remove the Gel Nail polish based on how long it takes me to soak it off using the supplies I purchased. Stay tuned!

Helpful Tip: When shopping on Amazon, I only purchase things that have 4 or more stars. I also read the comments to see what people have to say about the product.

 

 

Crystal Bouquet

I’ve picked up a lot of loose gemstones over the years. Yesterday, my husband & I took a walk through a Forest Preserve and I grabbed a bunch of sticks with a vision in mind: a crystal bouquet.

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I love flowers and I usually keep fresh flowers in my home. While walking I got the idea to make a crystal bouquet. The great thing about a Crystal Bouquet is that it will live forever. Here is the finished product:

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This Crystal Bouquet includes the following gemstones:

  1. Tiger’s Eye
  2. Bloodstone
  3. Carnelian
  4. Clear Quartz
  5. Hematite
  6. Turquoise
  7. Garnet
  8. Citrine
  9. Pyrite
  10. Emerald
  11. White Agate
  12. Black Tourmaline
  13. Dalmation Jasper
  14. Green Aventurine
  15. Smoky Quartz

I used copper wire to attach the stones to the sticks. I’m planning on making more crystal bouquets to put around my house. This first one lives in my kitchen.

 

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?

No More Playing Small…

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” ― Nelson Mandela

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Today, I participated in a panel on WCIU’s The Jam TV Show as an expert for job hunters. This opportunity came to me because of a social media post I made a few weeks ago about hiring talented people. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m usually a behind the scenes person. Don’t get me wrong, I can speak live on camera, but when given the option I usually push other people forward to speak, and only speak when I have to.

I was also joined by two powerhouses on today’s panel, and two women I have deep admiration and respect for – Adrienne Samuels-Gibbs and Kris Christian.

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Today I made a decision that I will no longer play small.

When given the opportunity to highlight my accomplishments, my plans or my voice, I will seize it.

When someone sees something good in me that I may not see in myself, I will be gracious and receptive, instead of dismissive or reductive about it.

When someone advocates for me, I will respond to that advocacy with affirmation and confirmation.

When the next step toward my dream is visible, I will take it and will not feel guilty about it or feel bad about it.

When a person wants to take a photo with me, I will pose with great posture and serve face, hip and lip.

I will nominate myself. I will write myself in. I will show up for myself.

I will walk in my calling when I hear my name called.

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You can watch the full segment here.

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Thank you to Producer Melissa Perez for the invitation!

Note: I am wearing my signature Crystal Ball Bracelet in Pyrite + Amethyst, as well as a necklace from Love Peridot. My custom jewelry and accessories can be purchased here.

 

 

Designs By DNS… My New Jewelry Collection

In the spring of 2014, my friend Dana Todd Pope complimented me on the jewelry I had on at the time. She also told me that my accessories are always amazing and that one day I’d “design my own collection.” I remember feeling so good that someone even noticed and my friend Dana is an incredible artist so the compliment meant even more coming from her.

When I was in High School I had a job working at Marshall Fields at the Flagship store in downtown Minneapolis. My assignment? The accessories counter. I sold belts, scarves and other outfit accents. I enjoyed when my clients of all ages would come in and need my assistance finding the perfect scarf or belt to go with their outfits. I was about 16 years old and it was then that I learned how the accessories really make the outfit.

I remember being into crystals as a little girl, but recently returned back to my love of them. I have a great collection of loose stones but my favorite way to work with the energy of the stones is through wearing them. I’ve amassed a pretty impressive collection of bracelets, pendants and rings. One of the things that I’ve always loved is purse charms, but I had not seen purse charms made out of crystals.

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Caption: My collection of non-crystal purse charms. I wear one of them daily with my bags. 

All summer I’ve been going through the process of learning about creating jewelry. Experimenting with different tools and supplies. I’ve finally gotten to a place where I’m ready to begin selling and launched my Designs by DNS collection yesterday! Here are some of the pieces currently available:

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Each of my pieces use Genuine Gemstones and each is created around certain energies. The purse charms are centered around the energies of love, abundance or prosperity. The bracelets are called Crystal Ball Bracelets and have a large stone surrounded by smaller beaded stones. I am excited that to bring another offering to the world and I am looking forward to helping people ROCK their magic as I have done and will continue to do! I’d also like to thank my friend Dana again for her words of affirmation AND for being my first customer! I’m so grateful and appreciate!

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!