Why Black People Need Yoga
“Yoga isn’t a real workout – I never sweat during Yoga – I don’t get it – Classes make me uncomfortable because I have no idea whats going on?”
These are all things that I said about Yoga only a year ago. I did not like Yoga for all of the reasons listed above. About eight months ago I decided to try a free Yoga class in my building in San Francisco and I was transformed. It was all thanks to an AMAZING teacher who took her Yoga practice seriously. After class I approached and her thanked her for such a great experience. What made the difference? Yoga is not supposed to be pretentious. It’s not about knowing the moves or fitting in or doing what everyone else is doing or what you’re wearing. Before, I had always felt to0 self conscious in class because I was new or because I didn’t know what I was doing. This teacher made me feel comfortable and in returned I focused less on being uncomfortable and I realized what Yoga is about.
For me, Yoga is about mindfulness, spirituality and most importantly receiving or letting go of whatever you need to receive or let go of at that moment. First of all, in order to truly get what you need out of Yoga you must do the following:
- Take it seriously – just like anything else in life.
- Focus on yourself and not the people around you – just like anything else in life.
- Make the most of the experience – see a pattern here?
With all of the things that we go through as a culture – as a PEOPLE – I honestly believe that Yoga has the ability to improve our physical and mental health and I am proof. When I walk out of Yoga class I feel centered, grateful, and extremely thankful, and accomplished. This is partially because I just watched my body do something amazing in class but it’s also because I used my breath to get me through it. My breath y’all. That is so damn simple lol. I use my breath to get me through so many other tough situations now. For example, before I do comedy shows, I breathe to slow down my heart rate and center myself before I go on stage and that helps with my nerves.
The other day I came home from the BEST Yoga class and to be honest, my husband was on one. That day I had such positive energy that MENTALLY, I could not argue with him. I could not pull myself out of this positive place and I was shocked that the class had had such a positive impact on me. He was upset and had had a bad day like we sometimes do but I could only listen. 100% – if I had not gone to that class I would have gotten mad but I couldn’t. I realized why some people you know are just negative and you can’t change their mind. They could be on the beach and complain about the sand. They’re just always negative as hell. I was turning into this positive person and it was starting to take more to pull me out of that.
I say all of this to say that doing Yoga and taking it seriously is not cool in our community and it should be. Black men and women need these moments to keep us from exploding during times of extreme frustration which is every damn day. It increases flexibility, gives you a good workout (depending on the type of class you take since it can also be a light workout), it increases your positive energy, the practice teaches you to LET GO, forgive, appreciate! I don’t recommend Yoga as a replacement for therapy but it is one step towards positive mental health, for real.
I hope that I explained this well. It’s really hard to explain all the benefits that I’ve received from an experience that I am still growing in. I recommend getting on Groupon or going to a free class to start and trying it out (more than once) and find a great practice with good teachers.
The Most Comfortable Bra Ever
Now you all know when I find something that I like, I stick with it! (I’ve had the same skincare routine for over a decade – not kidding) I wanted to quickly share the best bra I’ve ever purchased with you all.
Gap Body Breathe Wireless Bra
This bra is wireless but still manages to give me plenty of cleavage. The bra is soooo comfy and since I only own two of them, I end up wearing them over and over all week. I will admit that I wear my bras over and over, judge me. I need to invest in more of them but the good news is that they’re on sale right now on the Gap website. The reason I bought this bra initially was because it was the exact color of my skin tone and I had no choice. As a brown woman, finding a bra in your skin tone is like catching a solar eclipse.
I am a 32D and the bra fits perfectly. Please try these on in the store because we all know how the bra makers are always trying to trick us with their random boobery sizing. You’re Welcome!
Thoughts On Cheating: Jay-Z vs T.I.
I was talking to a friend on Facebook and a co-worker about the difference between Jay Z and T.I.’s marriages. They both cheated on their wives but Beyonce’ forgave Jay. If your man cheated on you, or even if he didn’t, how do you know if he is Jay Z who (after too long) is remorseful and wants to make a change? Or, could you dare be dealing with a T.I. who never apologies, never takes responsibility, and blames his actions on you? T.I. don’t want to make up, he wants to make excuses. (Times T.I. publicly chastises his wife publicly) Ultimately, if you are in a serious relationship whether you take someone back is up to you but here is what I think about the entire subject.
First off, before I was married I was selfish. I thought about me and what I would do at any given moment. I thought that if my man cheated, I would be out because I would find another and I’m too good for anyone who would do that to me. While these statements remain true, getting married threw me into the reality of leaning on someone. Leaning on my husband with all of my love, and dissolving my selfishness and facing the reality of what we committed to. All of the emotions, the thoughts and the commitment made me realize that this is no longer about my actions and reactions. I am not saying it’s wrong to be selfish when you’re dating, that’s normal however, you can’t be selfish in a marriage. I say all that to say that I no longer can be sure what I would do if my husband cheated on me. I can’t say I would leave because I’ve seen him at his best moments and I know how great what we have is. It’s amazing and not only is it love but it’s a solid friendship. I can’t say I would stay because how would I accept such selfishness from him when I’ve made sacrifices and put in the work to change on my end.
My friend told me that she would rather not have Jay Z or T.I. Of course we all want a partner who is 100% faithful and doesn’t look at anyone else in a romantic way but never say never. My sister taught me that you never look down on anyone else’s choices/results in life because that could be you. I wonder what made Beyonce’ forgive Jay. Would my husband have to grovel? Would he have to chase me around Paris (as Jay mentions in 4:44) ? How long would he have to show me he deserves forgiveness? Would I move out? Would I stay and work it out willingly to let him know that I care about him? What if we had kids…that’s a whole separate concern!
All people in relationships know that no one is perfect, we just want you to try to be. No one ever admits it but all people want their partners to do is continue to be perfect for them and vice versa. Maybe Tiny realized that T.I. was no longer perfect for her. He was flawed in a major way and his flaws were like mountains – hard to climb.
I can’t even get over his selfishness and I don’t know him. Maybe when Beyonce’ realized that Jay was flawed she saw what I see in my husband. You see flaws for sure, but you see through his flaws like water. You see right through them and instead of having to climb (which seems impossible) and you have to swim through them. There may have even been light through the water and you get tired, but the great place you once were is tangible after you put in the work. You may even wonder if you can make it to the other side of the ocean but when it comes to swimming, you will try. When you love someone as much as I love my husband, their flaws become acceptable. In a weird way you love everything wrong with them and when someone is genuine, they live in truth, and they admit when they’re wrong, you could get through it.
I guess the point is when you have a Jay Z you know it and you make a conscious decision about how long and deep that ocean is. If you realize you ended up with a T.I. you take notice stop climbing. I think what we all want is a Denzel though.
Four Things I Do When I’m Stressed Out
Hey y’all I am back! I’ve had a crazy busy schedule the last few weeks and I am back with the perfect post to kick things off. Sometimes I run so fast in life with career, comedy, acting, this blog, and home life that I crash into a brick wall. Growing up I feel like I was taught how to deal with stress, but not reduce and/or reverse stress. I’ve had to teach myself how to to that on my own. When things get hectic I need to reset. We all know that praying and meditating are great ways to relieve stress along with exercise and vacations but what are some things we can do when we open our eyes on a budget? Here are some of the simple things that I do to re-set. Feel free to comment below and tell me what you do.
Whatever the hell I want – This sounds like dumb or really simple advice but after a stressful week at work or a disagreement with the hubby I wake up on my off days and do what I want. Have you ever just done whatever you wanted? I get it, you’re an adult but we’re often still obligated to do things for others or because we’re adulting. Not errands, not anything you promised someone else you’d do, not plans – cancel all of those and do just whatever you desire that moment. When I cut loose from all of my responsibilities I almost feel whimsical. Tension is removed and I dive myself into my desires. Usually this consists of spending over an hour getting ready playing in my makeup, putting on something that makes me feel good – whether I feel pretty or comfortable in sweats – and leave the house with no plans at all. I like to think of myself as a feather…I go where the wind blows me and I don’t come home until the wind blows me back with a clear mind. The last time I did that I went to Nordstrom and tried on dresses and perfumes for a while, I got frozen yogurt, went for a manicure, and had dinner alone at one of my favorite places in the city. Don’t let being broke keep you from floating around your city. There are tons of free and cheap things to do especially if the goal is to clear your mind.
Spend time outside (Free!) – I didn’t realize how much spending time outside can change my mood for the better until I moved to San Francisco where we have so many parks. Hanging out in the park is a part of Bay Area culture. In Dallas it’s not typical to just go to a park and sit there for hours (or at least it wasn’t when I lived there). Sitting in the park and while people watching with the sun hitting your face and a light lunch makes for an absolute perfect pick me up. Even if you’re not looking for a pick me up, if you’d rather contemplate a tough decision and come to a conclusion – the outdoors is a great conference room. You hear people say all the time that the sun drains you. What’s the big deal if you let it? Go out and allow the sun to melt away your stress. Exercising outside is also a great way to relieve stress. Even if you suck at jogging, get out, put on some headphones, listen to Jay Z’s station on Pandora and “jog-walk” like I do. I jog for two block and walk for four lol. Do a cartwheel. Buy yourself lunch. Buy a homeless person lunch. Give a young kid a $5 bill. Scream. I don’t know what as a society we make screaming sound crazy. Screaming actually helps! Go to the top of a hill and scream.
Cook – Not for anyone else, for you. Try a new recipe for a challenge to get your mind off of things or cook your favorite meal to spark memories of home or your childhood. It’s fine if someone else is there while you cook or to share the meal but don’t cook FOR them. Cook what you want and throw yourself into the recipe. Baking is great for this because it’s so precise you have to pay attention. The only down side about this is that it can be wasteful. I waste a lot of money buying ingredients from scratch I’ll never use again and I have way too many cookies lol.
Turn your music up loud and sing – I seriously do this and anyone that knows me knows it’s true. I turn up Beyonce, Mariah, or Keyshia Cole, whoever screams in their songs and I just sing along like I am a trained vocalist. I can’t explain why it makes me feel better but it just does. This weekend I spent 45 minutes on the couch with SZA’s new album on repeat singing out loud like I was the artist herself. My husband was home but he let me be SZA on the couch – out loud.
The entire point of this article it to remind anyone reading this that feeling stressed is normal and getting over it is about you taking your power back. Feeling good is up to you so think and do the things that make you feel good.
Four Tips For A Successful Career
I am back and pumped up right now ready to give you my POV and tips on how to begin, accelerate, or peak your career. What is success for you? Think about it and once you decide what it is, work towards it. I must say that success is not prescriptive, so never feel the need to fit into anyone else’s definition – do you! Never feel bad about where you are, that is not constructive. Instead, continue to be excited about where you’re going and sail on! With that being said, I [do] consider myself very young in my career however, I’ve gained a breadth of experience working at startups and large companies in Silicon Valley and I love sharing that experience. I am also married to an extreme working machine and you cannot help but learn when you are surrounded by hard working people and constantly having conversations about career. Here we go!
- If you can do the task, do it.
- If you can’t do the task but you know someone who can, connect them with that person.
- If you can’t do the task and you don’t know who can – why would I ever come to you for anything else ever again? Make a suggestion.
Even the wrong referrals often lead to the correct answer to a problem. At least you tried to help them and people appreciate that. Being well liked is also about advocates. My boss is extremely seasoned and she once told me that she will always be an advocate for me but she can’t be the only one. You want to look around your office and have many people agree that you do a great job because one day, you will make a mistake. Mistakes (even big ones) made by team members who have a lot of advocates are often forgotten.
Pick A Great Boss – You should want to be where your boss is right now. If you’re not interested in your boss’ job – you need a new job. Having a terrible boss can be detrimental to your career. I had a boss in my past who was not an advocate for me. If I fell, he watched me fall without offering a hand and when I got up off of the floor with wounds, he offered no anti-bacterial. He also never stood up for me in meetings with higher level execs. As a result, I never received the raise I deserved and I eventually had to leave the company. (for my pockets and for my mental health) I even had an interview for a job the other day and my interviewer told me “You sound like you have a great job and a great boss.” I told her, “You’re right, this role doesn’t sound like the perfect move for me right now but, I always explore opportunities.” Your boss should be able to teach you what you don’t know, grow you within the organization, mentor you through tough situations, and you should like each other. If your boss doesn’t like you or vice versa you are in a piss poor position. If your boss doesn’t like you, how will they advocate for you? If you leave the organization, how will they speak about you? If you don’t like your boss, it’s like being in a relationship with someone you don’t like, you’re wasting time.
Raise You Hand For Cross-Functional Projects – Being involved at work is extremely important. Not only is this an added bonus on your resume but it gives you exposure to more than just the people on your team. Getting to know different managers and teams at your company will help you make that jump if you hate what you do and actually want to change careers completely. It can also make your job more enjoyable as you’ll have more people to communicate with than just those on your team. When you join the “Women @ Work” or the “LGBT” groups at your company, you also have the ability to change the landscape of your business and/or company benefits. If you’re a part of the Women’s group at work and you all decide you want in-office yoga on Fridays, presenting that as a group is way more impactful than you bringing it up at the water cooler. If you don’t have a Women’s group, here’s your change to start one. Think about it, no one in this group will work for your company forever, when they move on, you have a connection at a company where you worked closely with that person to create positive change, even if you hate your boss.
Keep Your Mouth Shut – Office gossip ain’t cute. Trust me. Being the person who people tell all of their business in the office has not only progressed my career, but it has made me friends with so many people at past companies. I’ve literally made friends with so many people in Tech here in SF that I can go anywhere. Senior leaders at my company trust me and I often sit in on conversations that I should’t be hearing because after working for my current company for a year, I am a trusted source for being confidential. This sounds trivial but you’ll be amazed at how much you’re told when people know you won’t tell.
My Budget Wedding Dress
I don’t even know how to start this blog post because there are so many points I want to make and I am so excited to share this with you all!
When I first started planning my wedding my budget goal for my entire wedding was $8,000. I soon realized that that budget was impossible for what I wanted. Keep in mind that I said “FOR WHAT I WANTED.” Food, a DJ, and beautiful photos cost that alone even though those are the big ticket items when planning. While I know that I didn’t have the fanciest, most luxurious wedding ever – it was certainly amazing, gorgeous and an experience! With that being said I knew that a being extremely practical when it came to my dress would make a huge difference when it came to my budget. Wedding dresses can cost anywhere from $300 – $3,000 and my mission was to find a beautiful dress on a budget!
I must be realistic with you ladies when I say that I have the kind of body that can make any dress look good. I’m not saying this to be cocky at all it’s just the truth. (the truf) I wear a size 2-4 and I rarely need alterations. This made my search much easier. Right around the time that I began planning my wedding, Asos began promoting their bridal line. I searched their site because it was affordable and I noticed my dress immediately. I looked on the website every day and I kept watching the dress over and over and over on the runway. I shop at Asos faithfully and I know I can trust the Asos brand (they sell some brands that I don’t trust) so I was willing to take a chance on purchasing a wedding dress from them for a few reasons:
- They have free returns so I could purchase a dress and if it looked terrible in person I could return it. This came in handy because I purchased a size 2 initially and it wouldn’t even zip up! I went back to the site and returned the size 2, then ordered a size 4 “tall.”
- Their website has a runway. You can see your items live. See how they flow, see how they look when they move. This feature alone helps me make decisions on quality and fit that photos alone just can’t help me with.
- They sell limited quantities. I can’t even find my dress online for you all! They sold out of the dress in regular and tall lengths and I feel like I had a unique dress that won’t be found over and over.
- I trust the Asos brand – plain and simple.
My wedding dress had no alterations. I bought it, my dad ironed it at the hotel the day before the wedding and I wore it and it ended up being perfect!
It could have used a few tweaks but they weren’t significant enough nor was my dress expensive enough for me to invest in it. It cost me $175. One hundred and seventy five dollars people! I bought it eight months before my wedding and kept it in my closet. My husband didn’t see the dress before the day of but when I told him the price, he questioned whether it would even be nice! Even he understood that wedding dresses are not cheap, but mine was!
I must be honest – a few weeks before my wedding I became insecure about the fact that I didn’t pay $3,000 for my dress. I wondered if people would think it looked cheap and I questioned whether I would look stunning in it but my mom calmed me down. Please remember that you will wear your dress once – for a few hours! I kept reminding myself that this was a wedding and while it’s an important day, it’s just a day. I actually get joy out of the fact that I spent less than $200 on my dress and I got so many compliments on it. Yaaasssss!
My Wedding Party Dress
My husband is Nigerian and one reason I was super excited to be his wife is because of the rich Nigerian culture. He was open to having an American or Nigerian wedding but with most of his family in Texas I didn’t have many resources here in SF to pull off an authentic Naija event. I went to Dallas and discussed getting a Nigerian wedding dress made but it was expensive, I wouldn’t have time to try the dress on and have it refitted as many times as I may need and, it seemed like too much to do in such a short time so I had to re-think my dress.
I decided to search for the perfect elegant gown for my wedding party and add the Nigerian accents to make my event a perfect mix of cultures. I found my dress on Gilt.com. I really love Gilt. I only purchase items from the site when I have a special event because they carry high-end pieces but I honestly look at the site daily because….I have issues. lol
The dress was from Halston Heritage. It originally retails for around $700 but I purchased it for $159.00. I had a coupon for $100 off! The dress was also returnable so if I didn’t like it, I could sent it back! Honestly when the dress arrived it didn’t fit the way I dreamed it would. It was baggy around the waist and it felt heavy so I had it altered. The alterations cost $91 and they were more than worth it! The dress fit perfectly and I felt it was simple enough to pair with a Nigerian Gele and traditional jewelry for the Naija touch I desired.
I spent less than $500 on both of my wedding dresses and I have one dress I can wear again – Winning!
How You Know You Shouldn’t Get Married After Getting Engaged
Every since John and I got engaged we’ve had so many people open up to us about their own awesome marriages, crazy engagements, broken relationships, and nightmare scenarios left and right. I’ve seen about a dozen women plan weddings over the past two years and I have learned a lot – good and bad. Trust me when I say that no relationship is perfect but, here are some sure fire reasons you should call off an engagement.
- You keep asking “Do you think I should get married?” How the hell do we know? Should you? This seems like a simple question but brides and grooms who constantly seek validation from friends and family about their upcoming nuptials are more unsure then they let on. I don’t think I asked anyone else whether I should get married during my entire engagement. Did we call it off at one point – almost lol But I think everyone does! I don’t want it to seem like it’s not normal to have doubts but, if you’re questioning if you’re making the right move through the entire process, you should press pause and re-evaluate. I had a friend who was getting married a few weeks after me constantly ask me if I though about calling off my wedding and she ended up calling off hers.
- You and your fiance don’t agree on finances…or kids. These are two of the major topics that I believe really ruin most relationships. (We know money does for a fact) If couples don’t agree on these topics in the beginning then it can take a real toll on a marriage. Sure, it’s true that things change but if your marrying an adult it’s not likely that their views on many things in life will change. Oh, and their behaviors won’t change either. If your fiance spends more money that you’d like on things you don’t value, that won’t change after the wedding – it will probably even get worse because you’re married now and they don’t believe you’ll leave them over it. If your husband wants to wait two years before having kids after the wedding and you “accidentally” get pregnant on the honeymoon, he will resent you! Kids and money are resentment weeds and they will ruin your beautiful marriage garden. Do you switch over to a joint bank account or two separate bank accounts plus a joint account? Or do you keep things separate altogether because you’ve been together for six years and that has worked? Who has better health insurance and how much is it? Would you consider switching health providers to save money? When should we have kids and how many do you want? Work these details out right after the engagement or before the engagement if you can.
- You aren’t satisfied with where your fiance is in life. I’ve seen a few people ignore this one and I think it’s a huge mistake. If you wish your fiance was more successful or ambitious you will end up regretting them if they aren’t where you think they should be in five years. If your man has been rapping for six years and proposes you and you say yes, but you wish he’d go back to school, you should re-think the entire relationship. You must be willing to accept your partner’s goals and ambitions before you get married. Compromise will be required but make compromises you can live with.
- Your reason for marrying him/her is “They have everything any man/woman would want.” I recently know someone who called off their wedding and came to me for advice before they’d done so. He told me that his fiance had everything any man could want. I simply asked him “OK but are those the things YOU want?” They weren’t. He chose a woman that had a good job, and good family, and was nice but he wasn’t passionate about her. He realized that he was about to plan his future based on who HE believed other people thought he should marry and not his dream woman. Now, he’s with a stripper. That is a joke but he really called the wedding off.
- You don’t trust your partner. This is a no-brainer but y’all really gotta stop this. If you feel the need to search your man’s phone, smell his underwear, or question where he’s going or where he’s been because you don’t trust him, leave him alone. Same for women. If you can live with the uneasy feeling of not trusting your partner for the rest of you life AND you’re willing to raise kids in an unfaithful marriage – go ahead…but don’t.
I’ve seen people break off an engagement and I know it’s not easy. You have to cancel caterers, return gifts, call vendors and it costs money. With all of that being said, walking away from a disaster feels so much better than walking into one.
The Art Of The Wedding Invitation
I loved my invitations.
They were simple and elegant and really did what I wanted them to do. I wanted my invitations to set the tone for my event. The guests needed to know that the event would be pretty, simple, and plain in a way. I never ever wanted wedding colors. San Francisco city hall has an off white background with all of these intricate details molded in the ceiling and the walls and I wanted my invitation to reflect that. These were laser cut invitations on matte heavy weight paper from Wedding Paper Divas.
I added a shinier envelope to add some glam which was a nice touch. I recommend buying envelops from Paper Source and not Wedding Paper Divas because the envelopes from Paper Source are soooo much nicer and they cost about the same I think (they may be cheaper).
4 Ways You May Have Turned Them Off
I’m always talking to friends and acquaintances about the laws of attraction, specifically between two humans. My fiance and I are pretty darn good at “people” and after a long conversation with him about where we believe many people people go wrong when developing relationships, I decided to write a blog post about it. I consider myself an expert at dating. I was always in control, always confident, always realistic about where the relationship was going, or where it wasn’t going at all if that’s what I wanted. I will admit that long term relationships are totally different and much more difficult but dating should be spontaneous and enjoyable. Here are a few things that have turned me and many people I know off when beginning to date someone new, so here are a few hints.
1) Stop Being Rude – You’re Not Playing Hard To Get
I’ve seen men and women play this game. Some are so busy being “high class” on a date that they come off as stuck up or stiff. If you spend the entire date with your arms folded, you should have brought a jacket. I love people watching and I see so many couples on dates focused on their cell phones, or worse, everything else around them except for their date’s eyes. Looking someone in the eye is not only beneficial if you’re attracted to them, but you get a chance to read that person. Take that time to decipher whether they’re honest, sensitive, or cold. Looking into someone’s eyes shows you’re confident and self assure. It’s also the simplest way to compliment someone. Awkward people look into their cup or straw and this isn’t good either. Cute and shy stopped being a thing in high school. Be mysterious and bold by smiling across the table and engaging in gazing conversation.
2) Sleeping with him/her too soon
Now, I’ll be the first to say that celibacy is up to you and that’s none of my business. My views on celibacy in general are a whole separate blog post. I also don’t believe in timelines because there are people who will legit wait eight months to get in your pants and won’t call you the next day. I do however, believe that you can’t have fire and desire with everyone date so you you should take the time you need to connect with that person before connecting with that person. When you lead with sex, however, you’re making yourself look insecure. If all you have to give is the D with no stabili-TY, stop what you’re doing and go work on a 401k. Same for women. News flash for everyone, no one person’s sex is good enough to keep anyone around. Look at Drake – he’s been with everyone and he’s still on the prowl.
3) Accept anything they’re willing to give
People will test you to see what you will put up with – it’s human nature. We humans push everything to the limit, even our planet. If people will drive a car until the gas light comes on, then continue to drive, what makes you think they won’t see how far you’ll go? If a human receives any signs that you might put up with some BS, they will put you through BS. This is what typically ends new relationships, but continuing to date someone who clearly does not respect you never works out for the better anyway, so cut it short. I have a girlfriend whose date insisted she go half on every meal, even the first date. If this didn’t bother her, then I would tell her to continue to date the guy, but it did. It pissed her off and she continued to date him. I am sure that the first date was just a test to see what he could get away with and once she complied, he didn’t stop. I wonder what would have changed if she had just asked “you asked me out and you want me to pay?”
This is the number one thing that I hear turns off men and women early in the dating stage. They meet that perfect person on IG, Bumble, or Tinder. They’re attractive, funny, and they seem sane – but the problem is they are not driven. They are completely comfortable doing the same thing every day for the next decade as long as they have someone to do it with. This is a prime reason why you should be all about you and your business if you’re single. The more you know what you want and where you’re going, the more attractive you’ll be to a partner and the more successful you’ll be for yourself later in life. Does this mean you have to have a five year plan? We all know things change, but the chase is what attracts people to you and there is absolutely no chase if you’re in a parked car in the parking lot of the bar around the corner from your high school a decade after graduation – you feel me?
Thanks for reading, please comment! I love hearing what you think.
What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
This seems simple, easy, thoughtless, but as I grow older and I get to know myself I have realized that I am hesitant to take risks. Risks can be as small as walking up to someone and asking them about an opportunity or asking for advice. Risks could include being vulnerable and passionate in front of others. Risks could be saying “Forget what you think about what I’m doing because this brings me joy.” Where could I go right now if I let go of fear, hesitancy, other’s expectations, and the most restraining of them all – my own ideas of what is “right and wrong” and just acted?
Let me explain. I say that this phrase has the power to change my life because of my fear of failing or not reaching expectations (whether my own or someone else’s) has kept me from taking risks that were available to me. These passages could have lead me in the wrong direction for sure but, this is less about the past and more about opening the floodgates and allowing positivity to swim upstream and opportunity to come flowing in. I consider myself a person who loves rules. I follow many of the rules created by society, rules I’ve been taught by friends and family, rules I’ve even freaking made up on my own to keep myself “in check.” I work in HR which should tell you something right there. But, as time goes on I’m realizing that most of the rules are complete bull. I’ve seen my fiance destroy policy and I know that if I spent less time holding myself back with guidelines the possibilities are endless. I’m talking about social, economic, and career oriented challenges that put me outside of my comfort zone. The freedom of even thinking of the flexibility available to me with one sentence is inspiring. So, in 2017 before I make any moves, before I even order a freaking sandwich I will ask myself one simple question even if my fearlessness results in a complicated order.
How I Saved At Least 10K On My Wedding
I wanted to wait until after my wedding to share my tips on how I saved, but with five months to go I think I’ve waited enough. I had an original budget of 8k for my entire wedding – that was unrealistic but, I am proud of the routes I am taking to save John and I major cash. Here are a few (but not the only) easy things you can do to save money and headaches!
#1 No Bridesmaids or Groomsmen. Many modern brides are opting for smaller ceremonies and using this option can really save cash, time, and drama! Typically brides purchase gifts asking friends and family to participate in their union ($25 each). Then you need flowers on the day of for your entire bridal party which can cost hundreds. Bouquets are about $100 a piece so multiply that times your BFFs. Boutonniers for groomsmen cost about $20 a piece. Bridesmaids will pay for their own dresses but what about hair and makeup? You can stop there for me – no thanks. Cutting the wedding party alone saves around $2,000.
#2 Don’t Choose A Wedding Venue. All of the wedding venues I toured wanted at least $15k just to have my wedding reception there. That did not include food, flowers, or cocktails. Wedding venues are outrageously expensive so if you can get creative with where you have your celebration, you will save a lot. I am having my wedding reception at a lounge/bar in San Francisco. The decor is gorgeous on the inside and the venue is typically closed during the day on Saturday but they are opening up just for me – for only the cost of alcohol. I am dropping cash on something my guests will actually use, not the venue, so drink up! Using a unique venue just saved us at least $7,000. AT LEAST!
#3 Search For Coupons Heavy. I look at Gilt.com and Groupon every day for deals on massages, electronics, clothes, and wedding stuff. I scored 50% off on Wedding Paper Divas and that saved me $250 when ordering my invitations. I purchased a $250 coupon for $500 worth of invitation credit. I also received 10% off of flowers for my wedding by asking the venue for a coupon code and offering to pass it on to the other engaged women in my office.
#4 Hire A Student Musician. I haven’t done this yet since my wedding is still five months away, but I plan to. I was looking for a musician to play during the ceremony and they charge anywhere from $500 – $1500 for two hours. I knew this could not be the only way, so I reached out to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and they only charge $95/hour for student musicians. Jackpot. This saved me another $500.
I will have more tips later as I can’t reveal them all now! Leave your tips for how you saved or plan on saving for your events below!
HOW I INCREASED MY CREDIT SCORE MORE THAN 100PTS
First let me say that credit scores are such a scam. I really believe that it’s a way rate poor people’s money management skills and use it to deliver high interest rates and more debt. With that being said, money and credit rules the world and in order to be successful, you have to know how to maximize your score.
In no way am I a credit adviser (disclaimer- can’t trust me) – these are just the steps that I’ve taken over the last year to improve my credit. I have four credit cards. Macy’s, Banana Republic, Kohls, & Bank of America Rewards. Yes, I know that these are not “high end” cards but I’ve had 3/4 of these accounts for over 6 years. I originally opened the Macys & Kohls cards to help purchase school clothes for my nephews. I knew that I would be helping purchase school clothes every year, so it made sense to have credit. I applied for the BoA card when I went to college at 18/19 years old. I knew I would need a card for emergencies after I moved out on my own, and I’ve had the Banana Republic card for about four years now because I needed work clothes my final year of college and after graduation.
There is a trend here. I’ve had these cards for at least five years which is important. If you’re not patient enough to build credit, stop reading this now. Credit bureaus look at how long your accounts have been open. This is the reason I don’t have an AMEX or a Nordstrom card. Although I’d like to look cool, opening new accounts dings your score. Beware, closing accounts dings your score as well. I recently spoke to a friend who closed two accounts to save money and try to improve their score – didn’t work. Instead of closing the accounts you don’t use or need, keep them open and put the cards to the side for emergencies. I also grew up with the myth that “you have to use the credit cards you have in order to keep a good score.” That is not necessarily true. I only use my Kohls card once a year, that’s it. It’s important to keep in mind that this card has no annual fee, so I only use it when I need it. I don’t recommend opening cards with annual fees for two reasons:
- There are plenty of cards out there that are willing to make money off of your interest alone, choose one of those.
- They cost you money when you’re not using them – no one likes that.
So, if I don’t apply for new cards and I don’t close any accounts, how did I increase my score? First, I had to know what my score was. Checking my credit score on CreditKarma helped my understand what my score means and they give tips on how to increase you score as well. It’s free and it doesn’t ding your score based on my experience. I started with a score of 640. Ouch. Most people would not put their score on blast but I don’t really care because this is all a scam anyway. I had no car at the time (I sold it as didn’t need a car when I moved to San Francisco), I have over 18K worth of student loans, and these four credit cards – that’s it.
Second, Pay your damn bills. This is common sense that you need to pay your damn bills and pay them on time. Do you need to pay the entire balance each time – no. Will the minimum payment work? Yes it will, unless you’re being charged a high interest % on a high balance. At that point you may not even be paying your actual debt so pay attention to that.
Third, make sure you stay under 33% credit utilization. This tip helped me increase my score. I realized that I needed to increase my credit limits to “reduce” my overall utilization. This meant I needed to stop being afraid of “credit dings” and ask for increases on my credit card limits. This worked for two reasons: I pay my bills on time and I had an increase in income between the time I applied for the card initially and the time I applied for the increase (during college vs after).
I had about $1500 in credit card debt and my limit went from $2,500 to $12,000. This took my credit card utilization from 60% to 13% and eventually increased my overall credit score of over 100pts. Basically, the credit card companies said “Oh you have a job now after college, sure we’ll let you increase the amount of debt you can accrue” but I fooled them because I barely use my cards at all. Now, they continue to increase my limits without asking for being a loyal customer.
So – here is an overview:
- Pay your damn bills – on time
- Apply for the cards you need and don’t cancel the ones you have
- Make more money – so creditors trust you with more debt
- Ask for an increase – eventually you won’t even have to ask, they’ll make it rain
- Stop while you’re ahead. Having credit is convenient but it can get out of hand quickly if you like clothes and shoes as much as I do – so be smart.
4 Ways You Know They’re The One
My grandmother and grandfather were together for 40+ years. My mom and dad have been together for over 30 years, and I’m engaged to a man that I’ve been with for nearly six years. Here are a few tips based on what I’ve learned from those experiences and more.
You trust them 100% – We all know that if you don’t trust someone its really really tough to have a successful relationship but I don’t think people take trust serious enough. When my dad leaves the house my mom will often jokingly say “I don’t care where he goes, he’s out of my hair.” In reality, she didn’t care where he went as long as he came back home safe because she didn’t have to. I feel the same way about my fiance. I could not imagine not trusting him or keeping tabs on him partially, because he grew up with a solid family foundation and was taught to respect women. But also because he’s the most honest person I’ve ever met – sometimes TOO honest. If you trust your partner completely, it will remove unnecessary tension, resentment, and insecurity from your relationship. I’ve heard so many men and women in straight and LGBT relationships who expect their partner to cheat – bish where?
They make you happy 80% of the time – 100% of the time is just a darn lie. I came up with 80% because 50% of the time is too little and more than 80% of the time is reaching. My parents argue a LOT. They can argue over who’s going to start an argument. A few years ago I asked my mom “Why don’t you just get a divorce?” She looked at me confused and said “Just because you don’t agree on something [or many things] doesn’t mean you just give up.” While I will say that I think my parents argue too much, they don’t take themselves as seriously as I do. They never think about not being together during or after an argument. Not being happy with each other actually allows you to learn about each other and teaches you how to communicate. If you’re with someone for a while who never argues or never disagrees with you, they might be a serial killer. No, seriously.
You accept what you can’t stand about them – The bottom line is you won’t like everything about your partner. They may be messy, or smack when they eat. They may complain a lot, have an attitude sometimes, or have an annoying family. That’s life. I truly believe that everyone on this earth has several people that they could marry. There is no one person here chosen for you and only you BUT when you find someone who you accept even when you don’t like some of what they do, that is special. You both, at that point, decide “I don’t care what else is out there because I choose you.” I have an attitude problem, I think I’m always right, I need a lot of attention, and I am very very emotional. I know that these are all things that my fiance can’t stand about me but he accepts those things because he loves so many other things about me.
You love traveling with them – Every successful couple that I’ve ever seen has a blast when they travel together. From my friend’s parents, to aunts and uncles, or cousins who have great relationships. My parents have such a good time traveling together that one of my life goals is to make enough money to take them with me on trips. My fiance and I have been on a few trips recently and it makes us both so incredibly happy. You get to know each other better, and I’ve found that we can have deeper conversations without one of us (me) getting upset or tense. It’s not just about romance either. Experiencing something new together after you’ve been in a relationship for a few years really creates a special bond along with memories and sheer happiness.
How to Ace an Interview
Are you thinking…what the hell does she know about interviewing? Calm down, I have a job. I’ve also interviewed over 400 people (or more) over the last three years (mostly engineers). I’ve seen each and every step leading to the downfall of an interview. I also recently posted one tip on my Facebook page and a few people were surprised. I let my FB audience know you want to show companies that you’re up to speed when it comes to tech so a Gmail email account is a must. College email addresses are also acceptable, but no AOL or Yahoo mumbo jumbo. Here are a few tips:
- Research The Company – Duh. The amount of research you do will depend on the job you’re applying for but it doesn’t hurt to know more than you need to to impress the recruiter/hiring manager. This will not only impress the recruiter, but it will give you insight into whether you really want to work for the company. Earlier this year, I worked for a cube-sat company and I would interview business development candidates who could not explain what we did. If you can’t explain it now, you won’t be explaining it later – because you’re not getting this job. Here are a few questions to research:
- When was the company founded and by who?
- How many employees do they have and what is their company culture like?
- Who are their customers and how would you make the company better? (Glassdoor is a great resource)
- Be Energetic – You want to sound eager and excited about the opportunity whether on the phone or in person. I will never forget a time where I was recruiting for a non-engineering role and took that time to only actively search for a diverse candidate. I found a brown girl who was over qualified for the role and we flew her to San Francisco for an interview. On the phone, she was stellar but in person she came across lackluster. She would have aced the interview and jump started her career if only she had seemed more excited. It is OK to be nervous, but you have to combat that anxiety by smiling and asking questions. Even during lunch with the team she was silent and standoffish.
- Stop Talkingggg – You have to find a balance between selling yourself and talking too much. This is an important emotional intelligence characteristic. There have been times where I introduced myself to a candidate and they spoke for 30 minutes straight without me asking any questions. I would never interrupt someone when speaking because I wanted to see how long they would ramble on. My ramble meter would give me an excellent idea as to how unaware they were, which is not what I was looking for in a teammate. If your interviewer would like to know more about a particular topic, they will ask. Use that time to talk for a couple of minutes about your highlights and things that you’ve accomplished and wrap up.
- Look Professional – People’s first impression of you when you interview or begin a job will stick with you. This starts with you LinkedIn photo by the way. If you show up to an interview dressed immaturely (ripped jeans & short skirts) you will be treated like a new grad. If you show up looking like a CEO, you will be treated with more respect. This works the same way with attitude. If you are poised, mature, and remain calm under pressure, you will be seen as completely pulled together. If you’re wearing a skirt, use the high school “fingertip rule.” If you know you sweat a lot, plan your travel with little to no walking involved and carry a towel with you to wipe off on the street or in your car before you walk in. Appear pulled together at all times!
- Always Follow Up & Be Specific – I don’t care how old fashioned it is, I always appreciated a follow up email the day after an interview. It shows passion. One thing that I do personally, is call out a specific part of the interview that I enjoyed. For example, “Hello Rhonda, thanks so much for speaking to me yesterday. I enjoyed hearing about Apple’s organizational structure and how you all process executive improvements.” This shows my interviewer that I was listening and that I am eager to learn.
I hope you enjoyed these tips. Happy to answer questions or provide additional resources – comment below darn-it!
OK, I get it. I can’t out-exercise my diet.
I have given up…or, I’m going to give up trying to eat whatever I want and still see my abs. The two darn things just don’t add up! My entire family calls my mom and I “Junk Food Junkies.” We LOVE sugar. My parents and I used to eat ice cream every night before bed growing up (my mom and dad still do) and although I only eat it a few nights a week – that’s still too much. I know that a banging body is generally 75% diet and exercise is 25%. Well, my diet has been about 35%. This is total BS but I want abs! Truthfully, I don’t want them as much as I need them before I bear children so from now on I have to take my diet seriously. I hope that you all are ready to support me on my journey of salads and apple cider vinegar. My hope is that my abs look way better than warm brownies and vanilla ice cream tastes.
I will follow up in two weeks!
What I learned About Friendship @ 26
….And 27. I took friendships very seriously as a very young adult and as I got older that has really changed for me. I began to let go. I now realize that every person in your life has a place and I’ve stopped trying to make people who don’t fit, fit. I hate the quote “some people are in your life for a reason and some for a season.” Some people you meet for no significant reason at all. That quote that assumes that when you meet someone, that interaction is about you when it could be about them and their journey. In no way will that person affect your personal journey unless you get in your own way by overthinking why they’re there. Here are my lessons:
- We don’t need to talk every day. Aging comes with new relationships, kids, marriage, and careers. When life gets busy, you just won’t have time to talk every day or every week (or every moth). The sooner I realized that this is not abandonment, we cool, the more fun I found spending an hour catching up with a girlfriend I haven’t spoken to in a while.
- Everyone experiences life from their own POV. I’ve had lots of disagreements with friends, but I didn’t realize that every disagreement I’ve ever had was from my POV until the last year or so. Me, my side, what I thought, what you said to ME. All I could focus on was my own experience – my own ego. I realized, dang she probably doesn’t see life the exact same way that I do – Imagine that. Am I not the only one with a POV (sarcastically)? I stopped getting mad or getting offended and started pulling my ego out of the equation. It allowed me to be forgiving. I began to want to hear other people’s POV before my own and to stop assuming I was right and they’re wrong. There is nothing to be “right” about because we’re not married. (lol)
- Not everyone will support you. This blog is a great example of this. I started this a few weeks ago. I have 900 FB friends, 50 friends invited to my wedding, and 6 followers on this blog. There is something about getting older that forces you to stop turning to other people for acceptance. Accept yourself! Support yourself! Encourage yourself! (yes, I’m shouting) In the past, no one was ever encouraging or discouraging me. It has always been my own opinions of what others thought that deterred me from doing what I was passionate about – so give that $h!* up.
- We don’t have to be “friends.” I used to think “Oh we’ve been friends for five years, why would we not be friends after all this time?” Because sometimes you’re just no longer friends bih. That doesn’t mean that we hate each other or that if you needed advice or non monetary assistance that I would turn my back on you. It just means that we can both let go of the obligations that we’ve put around the word “friend.” For me, the list of obligations used to be long. Now, there is almost nothing you have to do. Either way, we’re still cool.
I’ve actually learned way more than this, but let’s call this the first edition. On another note, don’t y’all miss the show Girlfriends? Dang these women are fine! #blackgirlmagic
DIY: Make your own closet freshener
I’m completely obsessed with smelling like a goddess. Growing up I always felt like my parent’s house smelled like food and not a fragrance. I longed for my house to have wonderful vanilla or jasmine scent at all times, so I am constantly searching for ways to incorporate a beautiful scent into my life. Diptyque has a home “Oval” that you can hang in your closet or on doorknobs and its keeps the area smelling fresh. While I love the Diptyque ovals, I didn’t want to drop $100 on two for my closet so I thought I would make my own! I purchased two $6.99 Castelbel “Freesia & Pear” scented soaps and two $1.99 soap pouches from Word Market. The total cost was less than $19. You can choose any soap you’d like and you may also need string. My soap came with rope, so I used that.
If you’re too lazy for this DIY, purchase the Diptyque Ovals here. GO AHEAD!