Fashion Inspiration

I have been catching up on one of my favorite TV shows, The Crown, and I came across this beautiful outfit:

I believe that my favorite decade for Women’s Fashion was the 1960s! The looks are so timeless!!! Here are some more images:

I love shopping at thrift & consignment stores! Clothing was constructed so much better back then to me. I hope you’re enjoying your Sunday!

How To Practice More Self Love

According to the National Science Foundation, “the average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80% are negative and 95% are exactly the same repetitive thoughts as the day before.”

What this means is that every single day, the average person is thinking the same ugly, disturbing thoughts about themselves, other people and the world. This also means that we are basically repeating the same cycles, living the same life and going through the motions every single day.

I am here to interrupt my regularly scheduled program, and yours too. The human brain is a POWERFUL mechanism… think about all of the things that exist because of its brilliance! From the time I turned 25 until about now, I’ve been on this intense path of rewriting my script. I am now 6 months away from my 35th birthday, and now more than ever, I have this intense desire to share what I’ve learned.

How To Practice More Self Love

  • Write a love letter to yourself.  What do you love about yourself? Why are you proud of yourself? When was a time that you came through for yourself in a bind? What makes you beautiful? What is something that you have or can do that no one else has or can do?
  • Write down affirmations and at regular intervals read them. It is not always easy to just think positive thoughts. Sometimes we need tools. Take some index cards and copy down words of encouragement and positive affirmations. Take them out of your bag and read them at the top of every hour. Read them before meals. Read them when you first wake up and when you go to bed.
  • Listen to music that is affirming. Create a playlist of songs that are inspirational and motivational. I have a few of these playlists and will type them up and share them out later this week. I’ll share three of my favorites. “Flawless” by Beyonce. “Satisfaction” by Eve. “Brown Skin” by India Arie. Make these songs a regular part of your routine to combat the negative thinking that happens.
  • Express love and gratitude to others. When someone does something nice for you, send them an e-mail of gratitude describing what they did and how it made you feel. If someone inspires you online, send them a DM or a message about how grateful you are. Gratitude opens up the portal for more blessings, not because you’re going to necessarily get anything new, but because you will start to realize the many ways that your life is abundant… that your prayers are being answered… that your life today is better than it was yesterday… a week ago… five years ago… Gratitude is like putting on another pair of glasses. It changes everything.

So those are the nice and somewhat easy ways to express self-love. Here are more ways to express self-love that may be more challenging. At least these have been more challenging to me.

  • Saying no. Peer pressure is a motha. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve agreed to something or said yes just because I wanted to save face, not disappoint someone or not hurt someone else’s feelings. No is one of the first words that we learn, but it is also one that as we get older we start to use less and less. You have the right to determine how you want to spend your time. Who you want to spend time with. The other person will live… and so will you.
  • Allowing your self the grace of changing your mind, walking away or opting out. This is an extension of saying no. Sometimes how we feel today is not how we feel tomorrow. Circumstances change. Our energy changes. Our needs change. If something is not right for you, you have to right to exit or leave it alone. Now you have to do this with great sensitivity because everything that we do impacts other people, but do what you need to do. If you are quitting your job, and there is a two week notice, don’t quit today out of spite (unless your safety or health is at risk). Give them the two weeks notice and move along gracefully and graciously.
  • Value what you bring to the table. Don’t undersell yourself or cut yourself short. If your time is worth $1,000 an hour, then that’s what it’s worth. When I am going into a situation where I have to negotiate, I sometimes write out a list of what I’m bringing to the table and a dollar amount for each. I have an idea of what I’m willing to accept at the minimal and why. This is something that doesn’t just work for me in my head. I literally have to write it out in advance of the negotiation and before making a final commitment, I always say, “I will get back to you.”
  • Allowing yourself time. I picked up this tip from Myleik Teele. You can always ask for more time to think about something. Don’t allow people to pressure you into giving them a response or an answer. I often use the terms “bandwidth” or “capacity.” I will tell someone, I’m working on limited capacity. I need time to consider. Time is our most precious commodity. Now it is important that you honor what you say you’re going to do if you ask for more time. At least you are giving yourself the gift of more consideration, the opportunity to weigh out and explore more options, the opportunity to research, so that when you do return with a response or a decision, it is well thought-out and you can live with it.
  • Charting your own path. One of my favorite quotes is “comparison is the thief of joy.” Put two people who do exactly the same job side by side. I guarantee that they will describe very different pathways. Put two people who were born on the same day. I guarantee that their lives will look very different. There are 7.4 billion people on this planet. That means there are 7.4 billion different ways of thinking… of dreaming… of resting… of being fulfilled. Your life is yours alone and you have the right to live it however you want to.
  • Treating your physical body well. This one is probably the hardest one on the list for me personally. I often go with what feels (and tastes) good for my body, not necessarily what is good for my body. This looks like an addiction to sugar. An aversion to working out and a physical body that isn’t worked out enough. I am still working on this one, but I know that it starts with my mind and being more balanced in how I approach what I eat and what I do(in terms of physical activity). If any of you guys have had success with kicking the sugar addiction, please leave your comments below. If you have been able to make working out a regular part of your routine, please let me know how. My goal is to lose my age (35 lbs) before my birthday.
  • Stop waiting for someone else to come along to receive the type of love you want. Take yourself out on dates. Buy yourself nice gifts. Love on yourself (literally and figuratively). Write love letters to yourself. Say nice things to yourself (like “Good morning gorgeous.” “You can do this.”). Wrap yourself in nice fabrics (my favorite is cashmere and satin). Get massages and facials regularly. Eat good meals. Buy yourself chocolate covered strawberries. Buy yourself flowers. This pattern of self love will only be reflected to you when people come into your life. I’ve been blessed with a very healthy and affirming marriage. I have amazing friends who love and support me. I truly believe that is because I started doing all of those things for myself, so when people come into my life, they pick up on the cues. I am totally and completely in love with myself… but that was not always the case. I encourage you to be totally and completely in love with you. It’s not a permanent thing. Every day I have to wake up and first make the decision to love myself and then do actions that confirm and make that decision true.

 

 

Mood Board: Capturing The Magic in the Net

Mood Boards are common tools used by individuals in visual-heavy professions like interior design, event planning, and graphic design. According to Dictionary.com: a mood board is an arrangement of images, materials, pieces of text, etc., intended to evoke or project a particular style or concept. Check out this How To Create A Moodboard resource from Canva.

I screenshot stuff I like from the internet and instead of keeping it in my private archives, I’ve decided to share it with you, in hopes that it may spark something in you or inspire you. I am also an avid Pinner on Pinterest. You can check out my Pinterest “pins” (items I’ve saved) here.

CARDI B

Cardi B recently released an album. She hosted a listening party on Fashionnova’s Instagram Story account. Here are some of the graphics:

Notice how all of the images are “on brand” with the album cover, including taking the very popular meme and converting it into a branded image. During the campaign they played a snippet of one of Cardi’s songs and many of the graphics had some sort of movement. Lessons from this campaign include:

(1) Brand Consistency – Fashionnova used the colors from Cardi’s album, so that everything worked in harmony.

(2) Brand Leverage – Cardi was able to access the 11.4 million Fashionnova following, in addition to her own 21.9 million followers. When it comes to amplifying your brand, you have to “link” or “connect” with other people who may not be in your network. You can assume that the people in your network are going to support you, but how can you build a bigger base for your product or service? What existing and established brands can you partner with to amplify your outcomes?

Beychella

I could go on and on about Beyonce’s Beychella performance. Instead, I’m going to focus on lessons learned for those who are entrepreneurs.

(1) Accessibility is important. Beyonce & team likely knew that many of her fans would not be able to attend Coachella. So YOUTube & Coachella partnered up to stream it live… for free. It is clear that this was a coordinated effort BECAUSE Beyonce frequently spoke during the performance about the people watching at home. This was also a great move for YOUTube, because they can study whether or not Live Streaming Festival shows is a business venture they should pursue. While the concert was free, imagine being able to pay a fee to access this content in the future. Additionally, Tidal has been playing around with live streaming (via Jay-Z’s Made in America Festival), so this also gives Tidal insight into their streaming vs. YouTube’s streaming. It will be interested to watch what happens moving forward…

Additionally, people there using their phones were sharing their own captured content. Beyonce & Team were able to “control” the narrative and the imagery around what was shared because consumers, with options are generally going to go for the “official” and most high quality footage they can find.

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(2) Timing is everything. Within 24 hours, Beyonce’s website had tons of photos from the show, including lifting up her costume designer Balmain. Beyonce also had Merch available and ready to go within 24 hours of the Coachella showcase. In addition to the 99,000 people in attendance at Coachella, imagine those of us who streamed at home?! When we have access to such a major or captive audience, we have to be able to give them a call to action. We can’t rely that they will care in 24 hours. Take advantage of the moments you are given (press coverage, speaking opportunities, live shows, etc.) to earn some income (via books, merch, additional services, etc.). I like to call this “layering revenue.” The key is to be ready.

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(3) Be a philanthropist. It was also announced that Beyonce offered scholarships to students attending specific HBCUs. This program is called the Homecoming Scholars program and more information is available on her website here. This aligns with her #beygood initiative. Always think about how your for-profit initiatives, can be opportunities to support a cause or mission.

(4) When people visit your website, it should be clear what you want them to do. On Beyonce’s website the only text that you see is the OTR II tickets for sale. You can click the bars on the left hand side to see additional texts and areas of the site, but it is clear that the Call to Action is to first buy tickets for the On The Run Concert. Imagine your website as the roadmap to your brand. What is it that you want people to do when they visit?! Also keep in mind that you don’t have a lot of time to keep their attention so visually, prioritize the things that are important to you.

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(5) Lastly, I grabbed this screenshot from Lenny S (@kodaklens) IG Story of a Fenty Activation at the Festival. Generally, simple items in repetition are incredible. This activation was probably not very expensive and I am sure that everyone wanted to take a photo with it, so it doubles as a photograph background & signage.

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(6) Also this:

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Serves the same purpose as the Fenty Sign. It’s beautiful, serves a functional purpose of signage, and the little box in the window is the perfect picture frame! This was for the Revolve Music Festival.

So these are the items that grabbed my attention this past week on Social Media! Happy creating!

How To Manifest

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Caption: A list of my goals from 2004. 

I am a huge believer in the law of attraction, in energy, and in our ability (in collaboration with the spirit realm) to manifest certain things into our lives. I have been in intense study for the last year or so, learning best practices and the methodology behind manifestation.

My earliest memory of manifestation starts with High School. I used to write these lists of my future goals, two of included graduating from college and eventually starting an organization. I am happy to know that those two things have happened. Here are some tips for manifesting things in your own life.

1. Bring the idea from your head & heart into the real world. Use all 5 of your senses in order to actualize what you want to manifest into the real world. What would it look like? What does it sound like? What does it taste, smell and feel like? You can create a vision board and/or journal to really get your ideas out of your head and into the world.

2. Speak to trusted people about the idea. When you verbalize what you want, you are that much closer to manifesting it. Especially when you speak to people who love you and care for you and want to see you have your hearts desires.

3. Ensure that people will not be harmed or minimize harm as much as possible (to avoid the cosmic/karmic boomerang). When it comes to manifestation, things are generally going to work out for your greater good and for the greater good of others. Be sure that in manifesting your desires you aren’t causing harm to others, because that may be the reason why your desires won’t manifest.

4. Make room in your life for whatever it is that you want. If you want to manifest a new business, start the process by securing the domains and social media handles. Begin writing your business plan. If you want to manifest love, take yourself on dates and give yourself the love you want from another. Create literal space and time in your life for whatever you are calling into your life.

5. Be sure that what you want is intrinsically motivated. Do not try to manifest something that is really to impress or please others. That’s not genuine or authentic, and you may in fact get it but be unhappy or unfulfilled. Manifestation has to be about you and your contribution to the universe.

6. Realize that time is more complicated than just dates… there are seasons… Understand that we do not have control over when things manifest in our lives. Sometimes it happens quickly… sometimes it can take years, but ultimately when and if it does happen, it will be at the time that is most appropriate for your life. Don’t give up faith and hope. Keep living life and before you know it, you will be looking at what you wanted actualized. Ecclisiastes 3 is one of my favorite verses:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?

10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.

13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.

15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.

16 And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.

17 I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.

18 I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.

19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.

20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

21 Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?

22 Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?

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Caption: A list of my goals at 18 years old. I actually need to go back through and add more checks to those things that I have accomplished. 

7. Keep living and firing on all chakras (cylinders)… Manifestation is connected to gratitude. It is difficult to manifest when you are working with energy of desperation, bitterness, or anger. Be grateful for what has manifested in your life, in order to make room for more. When your fists are balled up, you aren’t able to open your hands for more blessings.

8. Have a vision but also be fluid about the execution of the vision. Things may not manifest exactly as you envisioned. For example, if you want a house, you may get a condo at a really good rate. Ultimately the house is about ownership, and the universe may give you want you want in another form.

9. Do the work… What you want isn’t just going to fall out of the sky. You actually have to do the work!

10. Do the research… Do your due diligence to figure out the steps to manifest your dreams. Is there a financial component? Do you need to hire consultants or contractors (in the case of interior design or real estate)? Do you need a stylist or photographer? Write out the steps from idea to manifestation, and do your research so that you can know what you are getting yourself into.

11. Connect with others who have already manifested what you’d like to see in your life and LEARN. You will not likely be the first to manifest or the last. Try to connect with others who are doing what you want to do, or who have what you want to have and learn. Not from the perspective of jealousy or envy, but from the perspective of being a student of their success. Remember that you may not be able to take the same exact path that they took, but you can certainly learn lessons from them.

12. Be reflective. Think about what you are learning about yourself and others as you work to manifest. You are likely going to learn lessons about patience. About collaboration. About resilience. Be sure that you learn the lessons intended for you. Healers often say that lessons in life repeat until we learn what we need to learn. Do you find yourself facing similar challenges over and over again? There may be a lesson or a “board” that you haven’t been able to pass, but need to in order to get to the next level.

13. Understand that everything that is supposed to happen will happen and that just because you want something to manifest it may not…. but even that is ultimately for the greater good. “What’s meant to be will be.” “If it comes, let it. If it goes, let it.”

14. Listen to your gut & your intuition. It is truly the 6th sense. In addition to the 5 senses, there is a 6th sense. Your intuition/your gut. It is just as valid in terms of processing information as the other senses, and some even argue that it is more helpful in processing information. Don’t be afraid to follow that little voice, or that feeling in your stomach.

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Caption: A list of my goals from college. The checkmarks represent those things that have been accomplished. I actually need to update it because I have more things to check off. 

15. Pray. Don’t underestimate the power of prayer! Pray to your God! Write letters to your God. Speak to your God. Prayer is significant, as I believe that we need spiritual guidance or spiritual support.

16. Fast. Fasting is a spiritual act. It helps you to hear the spiritual messages and clear away the spiritual clutter. It is a form of submission, and of gaining control of the “flesh” or carnal body.

17. Seek spiritual guidance. Seek spiritual advisors (pastors and priests). Seek healers. Seek astrologers. Sometimes you may need some insight from another spiritually strong individual.

18. Use crystals and other spiritual tools that are known to hold certain energy. Here are the top crystals for manifestation:

  • Citrine (manifests abundance)
  • Quartz (amplifies your desires)
  • Rose Quartz (for manifesting love)
  • Amethyst (for manifesting wisdom & spirituality)

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Another tool that I like to use is the Vision Board. You can read more about making a vision board here.

I created an ultimate bucket list, which I call my Manifesto. Check it out here.

How To Survive Mercury Retrograde…

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I think of Astrology like I think of the weather. It is helpful for us to know the weather for the day so that we can dress accordingly and make plans for travel. We don’t necessarily “judge” the weather, it just creates the environment that we find ourselves in.

When it comes to Mercury Retrograde, it particularly affects people who have Mercury in their chart. Different planets “rule” certain signs. Mercury rules  Gemini and Virgo (ancient). In modern society Virgo is ruled by Chiron. Your sun sign is just one tiny component of your astrology. It just so happens to be the one that most people know, but astrology is actually about all the planets and where they were at the time that you were born. In order to get an idea of that you’d have to get what’s called a birth or natal chart.

My sun sign is Aquarius, which is ruled by Uranus, so I have to be mindful of whatever Uranus is doing in the sky. In addition to planets being associated with certain signs, they are also associated with certain elements of our lives.

Mercury rules:

Communication,

Information,

Networking,

Travel,

Trade,

Merchants,

Commerce

A “retrograde” occurs when it appears that planets are spinning backwards from our perspective on earth. The planets are actually NOT spinning backwards, it just appears that way. All planets experience a retrograde.

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Most astrologers view retrogrades as a “review” of the areas that the planet rules. I think of retrogrades as “chicken exits” on the rollercoaster of life. We have a window opportunity to make another choice that can shift the trajectory of our lives.

Mercury Retrogrades (like other retrogrades) impact everyone, regardless of your signs, but it impacts those who have mercury in their chart more intensely. Mercury Retrogrades are also noticeable because so much of our daily lives are about communication, information, networking, travel, trade, merchants and commerce. Some planets rule things that are not as concrete and top of mind, so the effects of those retrogrades are not as apparent.

I am a Gemini Rising (or my ascendant is in Gemini), so Mercury retrogrades affect me particularly strong. Your rising sign is how people experience or view you, versus your sun sign which is who you are at your core (may not be as easily seen/known by others). Most astrologers recommend paying attention to your rising sign, as it is a more accurate portrayal of your personality than your sun sign.

Mercury also impacts me in the following ways:

Moon in Virgo – The moon represents how we process emotions, as well as our self-image.

My North Node is in Gemini – which impacts my spiritual life lessons.

My 4th House is in Virgo – which rules the home, family, roots, my deep emotions and my self-worth.

You can get your birth chart narrative for free here: http://astro.cafeastrology.com/natal.php

Here are the 2018 Mercury Retrograde Dates (according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac):

  • March 23 to April 15
  • July 26 to August 19
  • November 17 to December 6

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So here are my tips for how I prepare for and experience the Mercury Retrograde, which is coming up on

  1. Exercise more patience and grace. – It is easy to get frustrated when you feel like you are experiencing miscommunication and your flight gets canceled. Remind yourself that Mercury is in Retrograde, so that you can be a little more patient and give others a little more grace.
  2. Slow down – When you are moving too fast, it is easy to make mistakes. Slow down and double check details and communications.
  3. Phone a friend. – Ask friends to help you review documents to ensure that a piece of written communication is delivering the message that you intend. Especially documents that are high-stakes.
  4. Give yourself more time. – Try not to make any rash or quick decisions. It’s always ok to ask for more time.
  5. Try to avoid signing contracts. – I try to avoid signing contracts during retrogrades. It is also recommended that you don’t make major purchases during this time as you may experience issues with whatever you purchase.
  6. Save your documents more frequently. – Save your work, as you are typing, and back up your photos, videos and documents. Technology tends to be wonky during retrogrades.
  7. Ask lots of questions. – Instead of assuming what someone means, ask them. Try to get things in writing, and don’t move forward just based on a verbal agreement. Because Retrogrades are a period of review, it is a great time to get in touch with how you truly feel and what you truly think about things and people.
  8. Use your journal. – During retrogrades, I try to record my thoughts and my feelings, just to have another record or way to process my day to day experiences.
  9. Repeat affirmations. – Tell yourself “everything happens for a reason.” Remind yourself that the universe and/or your God is conspiring in your favor. Be gentle with yourself and be kind to yourself.
  10. Remember that nothing lasts forever. – Remember that sunshine always comes after the rain. Remember that emotions are just as fluid as the moon (which changes every 2 1/2 days!) and ultimately Mercury eventually goes direct (when a planet is not in retrograde, it is direct).

Note: I am not an Astrology Expert. I have been studying Astrology for about 2 years now, and I’m still learning. For expert advice I’d recommend connecting to a real astrologer. My favorites are @ashleighdjay, @chaninicholas@naimonujames @thehoodwitch and @jessica_lanyadoo.

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.

End of Year Rituals

Rituals are important. Chani Nicholas, one of my favorite astrologers says, “We set an intention and create a ritual to house that intention and that is making magic. That is creating a spell. That is creating our intention.” 

The etymology of the world ritual: The English word “ritual” derives from the Latin ritualis, “that which pertains to rite (ritus)”. In Roman juridical and religious usage, ritus was the proven way (mos) of doing something,[5] or “correct performance, custom”.[6] The original concept of ritus may be related to the Sanskrit ṛtá (“visible order)” in Vedic religion, “the lawful and regular order of the normal, and therefore proper, natural and true structure of cosmic, worldly, human and ritual events”.[7] The word “ritual” is first recorded in English in 1570, and came into use in the 1600s to mean “the prescribed order of performing religious services” or more particularly a book of these prescriptions.

The thing that strikes me about the definition is that it is the proven way of doing something. Rituals are often things that we inherit, because they have worked for someone else. So here are my end-of-year rituals: 

1. Reflect on the lessons learned in the year. I usually take the last digit of the year and reflect on that number of lessons learned from the year. You can check out my 2017 post here.

2. Update my Manifesto. My manifesto is where I keep my “bucket list” or lifetime goals. I wrote the list about 10 years ago. My manifesto is important because I try to pull at least 3 things from the list to act on in a given year. I also add new things to the list.

3. Clean house. This was a ritual that I learned from my mother. Before the New Year, you do a thorough cleaning of your home, dusting, laundry, sweeping & mopping, etc. The idea is that you don’t want to “carry” any of the clutter, mess or disorder into the New Year.

4. Do a year in review scrapbook page. Similar to reflecting on the lessons learned, except this doesn’t have a limit. It is the opportunity to celebrate all of the accomplishments, big and small and highlights of the last year.

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5. Construct my vision board. Vision boarding in serious in my house. I collect things throughout the year that I’d like to add to my Vision Board. I usually do this ritual on 12/31. Here are my Vision Boards from the past:

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2016

2015

2014

6. Write out my personal, professional and marriage goals for the year. I don’t necessarily consider these resolutions. I consider them goals. These are the tangible things I’d like to work on and manifest within the next year. My husband & I also spend a lot of time talking about what we want for ourselves and each other the next year. Some of our goals our collaborative. For example, we both want to improve our health & fitness routine. The great thing about shared goals is that you have a built-in accountability partner.

How To Conduct Your Own Annual Review 

Couple’s Strategic Planning

31 Days To Reset Your Life

7. Cook collard greens and black eyed peas. This is another ritual I inherited from my mother. I was always taught that both represented prosperity in the New Year, with the greens symbolically representing money.

In terms of New Year’s Eve, I haven’t gone out to do anything in years. It’s always super cold in Chicago and frankly by the time I finish my rituals – I’m exhausted. Last year, my husband & I did a new ritual that was beautiful. This year, I think I’m going to bring in the new year meditating – sage & incense burning, candles, crystals, the whole bit. The beautiful thing about rituals is that you can always start new ones!

Here are some other inspiring ideas to bring in the New Year:

Listen to Myleik Teele’s Podcast. She is the founder of Curlbox, and she gives amazing business & personal growth information! You can actually go back in time & listen to her Podcasts.

Really good Reflection Questions here, and you can download it and print it!

Mark Zuckerberg sets and acts on one intention every year. It’s a pretty cool idea. Read more here.

33 Daily Habits Highly Successful People Have (and the Rest of Us Probably Don’t) – I truly believe that the key to long-term change is in our daily habits and our daily routine.

 

 

 

 

Lessons Learned in 2017

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Caption: A photo of the Spellbound Sky Metaphysical Store in Los Angeles, CA, that I had the chance to visit today for the first time! 

I have several rituals for ending the year. One of my favorite rituals is to reflect on the lessons learned so that I can make the following year better.

In no particular order – these are the lessons I’ve learned in 2017:

  1. Very few people will give you anything without expecting something in return.  Ask people up front about their goals, wishes, desires, so that you can be clear about yours & move accordingly.

If someone gives you anything without expectations, that is blessing. I’ve experienced people giving me things – recommendations for grants, connections to a contact, free marketing, etc. without expectations and I always express my gratitude. Understand that most people want something in return for what they give you. Sometimes what they want can be non-tangible – your time or your energy, but there is still an expectation. Similarly, you may give or do things as a “downpayment” or “deposit” for something that you’d like from someone else.

What I’ve learned this year is that it is better to be as clear, specific and direct as possible with your expectations so that you don’t have to waste time or get hurt feelings later when someone doesn’t (or can’t) deliver. Even if you are not sure about what you want from someone, just being clear about your goals, your trajectory and your intentions are helpful. What I’ve found is that even if someone can’t give me something because they don’t have it, or they don’t want to give it, being clear about my intentions, they can give me pointers or recommendations on where to go to get my needs met.

If you are on the giving end, get in the habit of asking people about their goals, intentions, dreams, desires etc. If you are on the receiving end, express your goals, intentions, dreams and desires.

2. You won’t like most things that are good for you. Do it/them anyway. 

This year I made a commitment to add exercise to my lifestyle. I purchased a (super affordable) treadmill from Amazon, gathered all of my fitness equipment (Kettle Bells, Free Weights, jump ropes, yoga mat, etc.) and created a workout area in my basement. I worked out for 40+ days straight for an hour per day. Since I started my journey in October, I’ve lost 12 pounds. I do not like working out! If you were to ask me “Do you want to work out?” 99.99% of the time, my response would be no… but I never regret working out. As a woman with high-blood pressure, and with so many other ailments that I’m predisposed to, working out is an essential component of my life – if I want to continue living, free of illness and pain. It’s childish and irresponsible to think that you’re going to WANT to do the things that are good for you. Suck it up. Chin up buttercup. Put on your big girl panties and big boy undies and DO IT/DO THEM ANYWAY!!!!

3. Try to live your life in a way where the best is always yet to come.

I’ve accomplished amazing things in my life and I am very happy, proud and grateful for those accomplishments. I am also grateful for my past, because the past was the pathway to my present. However, I want to live my life in a way where the best is always yet to come. I want to have things to look forward to. I want my future accomplishments to outshine and expand my past accomplishments.

Have you ever met people who seem stuck in the past? Whether they are holding on to traumatic events and experiences that they use to justify something happening today… Whether they are holding on to their best bodies, the best experiences of their lives, or the best accomplishment that they had, they seem to be tied to last year, five years ago, ten years ago? Until I die, my prayer is that next year is better than any year before. This trip is better than any I’ve ever had. This moment is the best I’ve ever had. I believe that when the best is always coming, you have a sense of purpose, direction and fulfillment that is unmatched.

I want to be mindful of the past, so that it informs today and tomorrow but I don’t want to live in the past.

4. Plant more seeds than food you need to harvest.

Life will make you a skilled gardener, fisher(wo)man & farmer. There are so many elements of the growing process that are out of your control – the amount of sun, the weather, etc. It is important that you plant & cultivate more seeds than you need, to ensure that you and your family will have enough food – despite the variables that are out of your control. One of my favorite shows is Queen Sugar! While Ralph Angel is passionate about and the show centers around Sugar Cane, he has to plant Soybeans which are an easier crop. The decision to plant soybeans proves profitable for the Borderlons! In life, we don’t have the luxury to JUST plant collard greens, or to JUST plant tomatoes. If we’re smart, we will have multiple crops, plant way more than we need, and really study and learn what it takes to get a good harvest.

5. Do great/epic/right stuff and divorce yourself of the outcome.

Do great things. Do epic things. Do the right thing. When you do great, epic and right things USUALLY good things happen. The only outcome that you have to worry about is that it is a good outcome. That is not to say that there will be a good outcome all of the time. When there isn’t a good outcome, usually there is a lesson for either you and/or someone else. Sometimes outcomes actually have nothing to do with us. They are for our fellow humans, and we just so happen to be the chosen vessel, example or outlier for the creator to showcase his (or her, depending on what you believe) power & authority over this realm.

Earlier this year, my husband Executive Produced a powerful Black History month program called “Creating History.” In it, he showcased some amazing people doing great work including Emile Cambry of Blue 1647 and Beverly Davis of Prosperity House. It was an intense couple of weeks as they shot & edited all of the segments. Once the final product was finished we were proud of it. After a while, we forgot about it. About 3 months ago we received notification that the segment was nominated for an Emmy. We were amazed, because when we made it, we weren’t thinking “This Creating History thing is going to be nominated for an Emmy.” We did our best. We created a pathway to shine a light on other people. Magic happened.

I’ve been studying metaphysics and the law of attraction a lot this year. A lot of times we think we can just will ourselves to becoming a millionaire. Or will ourselves the partner of our dreams. It’s a lot more complicated than that. The earth and the universe are ecosystems and our wills have to align with our purpose in order to truly manifest. Our wills cannot intentionally cause harm to other people. We have to be prepared in every way – mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally for whatever it is that we are trying to manifest. If we we are not, we will likely not receive what we’re trying to manifest.

6. Spend time with people who are doing what you want to do or who do what you want to do better.

In 2017 I’ve been intentionally putting myself in rooms and with people that are out of my comfort zone because that is where growth happens. I’ve been seeking the council of nonprofit executives that clear $1 million+ per year. I’ve been intentionally spending time with women who make great friends, who have good energy and who make me laugh. I’ve been studying millionaires and wealthy people and finding myself in rooms & company with them to learn!

If you’re the smartest, most capable, strongest, most creative, etc person in the room – I won’t say that you’re in the wrong room, because you have a responsibility to help and teach others who may not be where you are, but you have to intentionally put yourself in situations and rooms where you may not be the best at something. You will be uncomfortable, that’s ok. You will feel imposter syndrome, like you don’t belong, that’s ok. You will say things and do things that you later feel embarrassed about, that’s ok. I swear, every time I go to a formal dinner I have to consult my phone discreetly to figure out which fork to use lol & I still have yet to master chopsticks. I don’t allow my inexperience, insecurities or lack of expertise to keep me out of experiences and out of the company of people who will only sharpen me and help me get better.

7. There is no such thing as one size fits all for anything. Find your own formula.

When it comes to diets. Relationships. Employment and Career Choices. Spirituality. Politics, etc, you have to find your own groove. What works for your family may not work for you. What works for your spouse, may not work for you, and that’s ok. Just like we all have our own unique fingerprints and genetic code, we have the right to design, and live our lives as we see fit. You may be the only one in your circle or in your family that does things a particular way. Don’t apologize for that and don’t feel bad about that. As long as you aren’t encroaching on other people – I believe that you can do whatever you want to do, and will live a more joyful & fulfilled life that way.

When it comes to decisions, I’m of the mind that you can always make another choice. As hard as it is, you can also always start from scratch. I’ve had a few of times in my life where I literally had to start over, from scratch. Whether it was moving from one state to another with my mom when I was 14, just before I started High School. Whether it was moving to another state to another when I graduate from High School, to start a new life in the big City of Chicago, or whether it was getting a divorce from my first husband after 5 years of marriage, and only having the clothes on my back and trashbags filled with clothes. More often than not, those experiences were opportunities for me to “begin again more intelligently,” and although terrible, they did not kill me, they made me stronger.

Tomorrow, I plan to publish a comprehensive blog about my end of the year rituals. What have been your biggest lessons this year?

Organization Tip: Using Pouches

I usually carry large bags. Mainly because I like to have one bag to hold everything. In my experience, when I have multiple bags, the likelihood that I lose or misplace something (or an entire bag) is  pretty high. In order to keep myself organization. I enjoy using pouches. The current pouches that I carry include:

(1) Cosmetic Pouch – In this pouch I keep my lipstick, lotion, tissue, bandaids, eyeglass cleaning wipes, hand sanitizer, & headache medicine.

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(2) Writing Utensil Pouch – I enjoy keeping lots of pens in different colors with me, as well as highlighters.

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(3) Electronics Pouch – I always keep a wall plug-in charger, a mobile charger, and my Macbook Charging card with me.

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I also use pouches when I travel to organize things like accessories & cosmetics. I recently cleaned out my stash and I want to give them away! In addition to 2 – 3 pouches, each package will include an inspirational message! I am also giving away the “Plan Like A Boss” Planner, because a planner is one of my favorite tools to use! Please review all official rules below!

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Get Organized Contest

NO PURCHASE IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE THE CHANCES OF WINNING.

1. Eligibility: This Contest is open only to those who sign up via the official contest rules above and who are [18 years of age or older] as of the date of entry.The Contest is only open to legal residents of the United States, and is void where prohibited by law. The Campaign is subject to all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations. Void where prohibited.

2. Agreement to Rules: By participating, the Contestant (“You”) agree to be fully unconditionally bound by these Rules, and You represent and warrant that You meet the eligibility requirements. In addition, You agree to accept the decisions of DonnieNicole.com as final and binding as it relates to the content of this Campaign.

3. Campaign Period: Entries will be accepted online starting on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 at 8:00 p.m. CST] and ending [Thursday, December 28, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. CST].

4. How to Enter: The Campaign must be entered by subscribing to DonnieNicole.com, and then posting a screenshot to the Contestant’s Instagram or Facebook Page and then hashtagging #donnienicole. The entry must fulfill all Campaign requirements, as specified, to be eligible to win a prize. Entries that are incomplete or do not adhere to the rules or specifications may be disqualified at the sole discretion of DonnieNicole.com.  You may enter only once. You must provide the information requested before 11:59 p.m. CST on Tuesday, January 2, 2018. You may not enter more times than indicated by using multiple email addresses, identities, or devices in an attempt to circumvent the rules. If You use fraudulent methods or otherwise attempt to circumvent the rules, your submission may be removed from eligibility at the sole discretion of DonnieNicole.com

5. Prizes: The Winner(s) of the Campaign (the “Winner”) will receive a package of pouches valued at $15.00 USD. Actual/appraised value may differ at time of prize award. The specifics of the prize shall be solely determined by DonnieNicole.com. No cash or other prize substitution shall be permitted except at DonnieNicole.com’s discretion. The prize is nontransferable. Any and all prize-related expenses, including without limitation any and all federal, state, and/or local taxes, shall be the sole responsibility of Winner. No substitution of prize or transfer/assignment of prize to others or request for the cash equivalent by Winner is permitted. Acceptance of prize constitutes permission for DonnieNicole.com to use Winner’s name, likeness, and entry for purposes of advertising and trade without further compensation, unless prohibited by law.

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My First Magazine Cover

2017 has been a great year for both my husband & I. I am excited to announce that I am ending the year as a Cover Girl! I was able to sit down with Halfstack Magazine to share more about my personal & professional journey, including highlighting my work as the co-founder and Executive Director of Donda’s House Inc. For the cover I was styled by my stylist @truvanity.  My makeup was done by @iamleahlu. Hair by @cityonloc.

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Today, Halfstack hosted an event at Eloquii in downtown Chicago. The funny thing is that I am wearing an Eloquii print shirt in the cover photo and had no idea that the event would happen at the store.

Thanks to my photographer Juan Anthony for capturing these shots!

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Caption: You can never go wrong with Gold during the holidays! My outfit came from 8ty4 Vintage

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Caption: My cousin Arionne stopped by. So thankful that she was in town to celebrate this milestone with me! 

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Caption: Cousin Crew

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Caption: My Cousin’s friends also stopped by! 

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Caption: With two of the beautiful fashionistas at Eloquii. Seriously, stop by the store! They will get you together! 

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Caption: Me with the store manager. 

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Caption: Hanging out with some of bloggers & members of the Halfstack Team. Shout out to @mindycityy, @curvatude, @michelleswoons and @theplussizedprep.

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Caption: Me with Jennifer M. Veguilla-Lezan, Editor-in-Chief of the magazine. I cannot thank Jennifer enough for selecting me to grace the cover. Jen is so inspiring in her own right, and has an incredible spirit. Also shout out to one of my best girls Laurinda, for connecting Jen & I!