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!

Self-Care Commercial…

Self-care doesn’t have to be extravagant…

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One of the hardest lessons for me as an entrepreneur, was learning to pause. When we first started Donda’s House, I would literally work 12 – 16+ hour days for 7 days straight.

I caught colds. Had back problems. Always felt like things were out of control…

We just turned 3 on August 1st and I’m proud to say that in 2016 I’ve learned the value of breaks.

I structure my weeks now to where I have at least one-day where I don’t leave my home. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still working, I just work from home. I’ll do conference calls, catch up on writing, and also do important things around the house like laundry.

I also try to reserve at least one day to a family day – usually Sundays, where I try not to do anything work related (or at least nothing heavy).

I’ve also learned to “stack” my meetings. If I book a meeting where I’m downtown, I try to book other meetings downtown the same day to maximize my time. I also reserve in-person meeting days to two days per week. For the summer, those have been my Tuesdays & Thursdays.

Finally, when I have a really big event or busy day, I try to be mindful of the schedule the day before and the day after. I’m proud to say that we’ve co-produced two festivals this summer (Teens in the Park – TIP Fest & Peace on the Beach) and we’re gearing up for AAHH! Fest!

Usually the day before and the day after, I try not to schedule too much to give myself time to prepare the day before, and to give myself time to rest & recoup the day after. Today was part work from home & part getting my mind (and gear) ready for tomorrow’s festival.

I talk alot about being a superhero! It’s important to realize that all superheroes know their limits!

Stuff To Check Out:

(1) My girl Dana Todd Pope has launched the cutest line of t-shirts, onesies, tote bags and more.

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(2) Donda’s House had the opportunity to participate in ESPN’s “The Undefeated” Townhall Conversation on Chicago Violence. I’ll have a full-blog about this soon.

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Caption: Jemele Hill did a phenomenal job hosting and moderating the conversation! Learn more about The Undefeated here.

(3) If you’re in Chicago, come through Peace on the Beach! Tomorrow from 4 pm – 8 pm, in Humboldt Park, 1440 N. Sacramento. Flyer & special Lyft Code below:

Thank you for reading my blog! It means the world to me!

My Word for 2013… Surrender!

Ali Edwards, a memory keeper, has been encouraging people to choose one word for the year. My word for 2012 was “execute.” There were some things that I wanted to get done and see through to the end. Those three little syllables reminded me to “do it now,” “get it done,” “just do it!”

I had been thinking all week about my word for 2013 and nothing was sticking. I saw a Facebook Status update from one of my sorority sisters about “Midnight Meditation” with Shanel Cooper-Sykes. I’ve been following Shanel for a few years now on Twitter so I decided to hop on the call 18 minutes later. There were lots of things that she said that resonated with me, but once we started the meditation (with 1,000 callers tuned in), and she started talking about surrendering to God, I knew that I had my word.

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Surrender – (verb) to cease to an enemy or an opponent and submit to their authority

In order to surrender, I must stop seeing God as an opponent by lack of faith, by ignoring his voice, and by attempting to force my will. To surrender means to submit to his authority, period. Praise is fine. Prayers are uplifting, but it is my belief that we can only experience transformational change by surrendering which means allowing God to have full access to our lives, full control over our behavior and choices and we must act on his directives. By surrendering I will:

  • Speak less & listen more.
  • Worry less & pray more.
  • Complain less & show gratitude more.
  • Move less & be still more.
  • Watch less & read more.

What’s your word for 2013? You can read more about Ali Edwards here: http://aliedwards.com/2012/12/one-little-word-2013.html#more-26841. Be sure to read the comments to check out other people’s words!

 

What I Have in Common w/ Evelyn Lozada

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I had the opportunity to tune in to OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) and watched Iyanla’s Fix My Life episode with Evelyn Lozada. I was inspired by Evelyn’s courage and moved by Iyanla’s austere counseling style. I was first introduced to Iyanla as a teenager when someone gave me a copy of Don’t Give It Away.

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 There were so many quotable moments on the episode but one of the ones that resonated with me the most was: “Every little girl left by her daddy has a broken heart.” Throughout most of the episode, Iyanla was attempting to help Evelyn get to the bottom of why she was in the position she was in with her marriage to Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson and the reason was because she didn’t feel worthy of love.

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I was raised in a single-parent household and my father was not very involved in my life. We often internalize those feelings, and it’s not that we didn’t have good mothers (it takes an exceptional woman to bear the burden of childrearing alone), it’s just that there is something special that comes from a father, the other half of our genetic makeup. Ideally, the father is the first man to tell us that we are beautiful, to validate us by showing interest in our lives and our wellbeing, to dust us off when we fall and lift us up. The father should be the first man to wrap us up in his strong arms, to wipe away our tears when we experience heartbreak, to open doors and pull back seats  and show us the perfect definition of a gentleman. The love of a father should be unconditional. The protection of a father should come without hesitation. In the case of an absent father, none of those things happen and little girls often feel like it is their fault that their fathers aren’t involved and it often leads to:

  1. Seeking love in hurtful places
  2. Seeking older/more experienced partners (who sometimes manipulate and exploit the little girl)
  3. Hypersexuality and unhealthy sexual behavior
  4. Abusive relationships (not always physical, sometimes emotional)
  5. Partners with the same characteristics as our absent fathers (whether it’s alcoholism, absenteeism, drug abuse etc.)
  6. Low self-confidence or low self-esteem
  7. Agressive behavior (due to the anger or frustration experienced as the hurt little girl)

I don’t want to spend too much time on the negative but want to offer some solutions. Iyanla offered Evelyn a few really good solutions including:

1. Allow that hurt little girl to feel the pain. Make room for her to cry.

2. Find closure by identifying the patterns in other relationships. Perhaps you are suffering from fear of abandonment or that initial pain has given you anger and aggression in other relationships.

I’d add a few more:

3. Affirm yourself. Tell yourself that you are worth respect, love and commitment.

4. Get therapy. Therapy has always been the dirty little “t” word. Speaking to someone who is neutral and who doesn’t have a “horse in the race” could really help.

5. Journal. Writing out your feelings helps you acknowledge them and move on.

6. Make changes. Nothing beats the past like overcoming it!

Like Evelyn, many areas of my life were negatively affected by my absent father, but I’ve decided to end the code of silence, acknowledge the pain and fill up those little empty areas of my heart with love, faith, forgiveness and good deeds!

Here is another post I wrote about fatherlessness called “Momma’s Baby: Daddy’s Maybe” https://donnienicole.com/2010/04/23/mommas-baby-daddys-maybe/.

Vulnerability is Sexy…

Recently, one of my besties was featured in Huffington Post. The article was called “Vulnerability Is Sexy In Business” written by Sophie Gold.  You can read the article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sophie-gold/vulnerability-is-sexy-in-_b_1419602.html

 

 Caption: Me sharing a very personal story at a Children’s Defense Fund Conference in order to raise money for the Beat the Odds Scholarship Program

While reading the article, all sorts of things came to my mind. I could relate to the story that was told about sharing a personal story about childhood with my students. This is something that I have to do regularly as I put on five productions a day. It also made me think about my personal life. My friends. My acquaintances and what experiences lead me to define those individuals that way. Those in the “friend” box have shared very raw and unfiltered experiences. Those in the acquaintance box felt too cold or too calculating to allow in.

As Kandice says, “being authentic and genuine in your business is what vulnerability is about…” We have so many phrases about authenticity. Keeping it real. Keeping it 100. No lie… But even those phrases are like fool’s gold because “keeping it real” is often one’s ego masquerading. “keeping it 100” is often about covering up a broken heart or a jealous blink and “no lie” is often one dimensional – a story told from a very limited point of view.

The older I get the more authentic I become. I can remember being in a place where I worried about what others thought and where many of my choices were based on the poking or prodding of certain individuals who I now realize were manipulating me for their own selfish purpose. My values and my priorities have never been more clearly defined and it is that clarification of my values and the realignment of my priorities that have made me more authentic. I say “yes,” to those people and experiences which align my values and respect my priorities and I say no to those people whose values are the opposite of mine. I say not to those experiences that require me to put something above my faith in God and my family because those two forces are the forefront of my life.

Vulnerability is sexy because vulnerability is like an “open” sign. It is also sexy because as Sophie and Kandice so eloquently expressed people know what their getting and they know what to expect from you. 

We are all walking around selling something. Some of us are literally selling ourselves – our time or our expertise. Some of us are a little more subtle in our advertisements – perhaps we’re selling a religion, or a sorority or even a lifestyle. We have to keep asking ourselves… “are they buying it?”

Please go and read the article here. It has great advice for any working woman (or man): http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sophie-gold/vulnerability-is-sexy-in-_b_1419602.html

You can read more about Kandice here: http://kandicewashington.com/

Losing Weight: Portion Control & Snacks

I love snacks! Always have. As a young girl I used to walk to the local corner or liquor store to stock up on 5 cent or 25 cent snacks – potato chips, mini juices, pickles and candy bars. Now that I’m trying to lose weight, I am looking for ways to help myself manage my diet, my cravings and my weight. I saw this recommendation a while ago and decided to try it out myself.

1. Buy several different large boxes of your favorite snacks. My favorites include Wheat Thins, Pita Chips, Graham Crackers, Trail Mix and fruit snacks.

2. Buy a box of snack size zip lock bags. The smallest pack comes with 50 bags.

3. Look at each box & “divy” up your portions into the bags. Look at the label to determine the appropriate serving size and put that amount & that amount only in the box.

4. Put all of the snacks into a small basket or container that you keep in an easily accessible area. This can work for not only you but other members of your family – especially if you have kids. I have a snack basket on my counter and I also keep one in the fridge where I keep the same size snack packs of turkey meat, cheese slices and sliced fruit or veggies. I grab one or two a day to take with me to work and that way my snacks are never more than 100 – 150 calories each and I have the pleasure of variety since I have a variety of snacks.