Saturday, April 25, 2015

Pardon My Emo...

Let me be weird for a moment.

The Bible said God created the heavens and the earth, so I don't know if heaven is in the clouds or in space or beyond space and not visible to the mortal eye. But, the last time I was on a plane, I looked at a bed of clouds and imagined heaven was inside of them.

I imagined the spirits of everyone I ever knew who had passed away had become a part of that cloud. And when my plane went down into those clouds and inevitably experienced turbulence, I imagined that everyone I ever knew who had passed away was trying to get on the plane and hug me. And I felt their love as it rocked my plane. And I was comforted.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Choices

I just saw this on Facebook and it spoke to my soul. Too bad I don't believe the first two are true. I want to believe it (and practice it) though, so I'm posting it.


Friday, April 17, 2015

Blogging and Such

I'm proud of myself. I've been blogging pretty consistently since the middle of February. That's definitely due to cutting social media sites out. I also noticed bloggers that I used to read more frequently have either abandoned their blogs or don't blog as much either. It's hard to stay consistent out here, especially when you're doing it for fun, like me.

How often do you blog? Have you made any kind of commitment to do it regularly? Has it been more or less difficult for you to stay consistent in the past, say, 2-4 years?

Do you still read blogs daily? Weekly?

Do you still comment on blogs (watch I get ZERO comments on this) as much as you did, say 2-4 years ago? 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Spring Dressing

I'm such a consumer. Every year the seasons catch me off guard. I find myself in my closet thinking "wtf did I wear last season?" I actually just ran through my Instagram looking for a pic and saw all these cute clothes from spring and summers past that I no longer own. They were either cheap and fell apart or I gained weight and can no longer wear them.

I'm packing for a trip and I'm trying really hard not to get online and go ham. The shopping options in Pittsburgh are limited, so there's not a lot of in-my-face temptation. In my head, there are about 10 Pinterest outfits I want and I don't have any of the pieces to put them together in my closet. So instead of going to buy them, I am typing this blog. Baby steps.

I also lose my mind shopping every time I go to Chicago and it's a new season. Me and the Akira guys and dolls have a BALL! The next time I'm going home is for Memorial Day weekend and it's for a wedding, so I'm [wishful] thinking that I won't have time to shop.

I going to hopefully just remix the hell out of my current wardrobe, but I can't make any promises. I wonder if I cut off all media (Social, TV, Magainzes, radio w/ ads) if I would still want to buy so much stuff. I imagine I'd still see billboards and I'd see people on the street with outfit combinations I hadn't seen before, but when I tell you I am targeted for these sales and these clearances. They know EXACTLY how I operate and are in my inbox like "hey, boo, hey"

Anywho, still on this journey to try to keep more of my money than I spend. Send me well wishes!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Reclaiming My Life

Ok, so after Lent I realized how social media has taken over my life. And although I do need it for work, and breaking news, and to connect to friends, and sometimes just to unwind, there are some unhealthy habits as it relates to social that I can definitely let go.

10. Checking social media before I go to bed. I had a hard time sleeping the first night I was back on social because the glare from the phone was

9. Checking social media before I wake up/get out of the bed. The first day following Lent, I didn't do this and I was spry. The second day, I did it then immediately pressed the snooze. Something about checking social media made me sluggish.  


8. Email notifications from Facebook. I turned these off during Lent and don't mind leaving them off. Contrary to [my own] popular belief, I do not need to know the exact moment I am tagged in a photo or to a status or friend requested. I can wait until I log in. 

7. Having social icons on the what I consider the homepage of my iPhone. I moved them like 2 or 3 swipes from my homepage, so they're not constantly staring at me while I'm trying to get stuff done on email or in Evernote. 

6. Any social media notification on my cell phone when I'm NOT in the app. Who cares? If if ain't about the money... you know the rest.

5. Tinder - Tinder is the biggest possible distraction with least possible results because I live in Pittsburgh. Slim pickings. I don't use Tinder as a hook-up site and have only met one in real life from the site and it was like the most boring hour of my life. I think he connected with me on LinkedIn afterwards, which is friggin' hilarious. UPDATE: I downloaded Tinder while I was in New York for a week and it was better than 2 years of Tinder in Pittsburgh.

4. Pinterest - I'm not downloading it right now. It's a COMPLETE time suck and though I'm dying to see the latest fashions and home goods, I don't need that right now.

3. Swarm - No one checks in anymore. I don't need it and I don't miss it.UPDATE: I did miss it in the airport, but I still didn't download it.

2. Foursquare - Breaking Foursquare and swarm up is about the dumbest thing I've ever seen a social media site do. I deleted Foursquare forever ago and will not be bringing it back. That's what Yelp is for.UPDATE: Foursquare was perfect while I was in New York for a week.

1. Refusing to log off of Twitter or Facebook during live events. If everyone else is watching the Oscars or Black Girls Rock or the Final 4 and I'm not, I just need to log off and find something else to do. Otherwise, it takes my FOMO levels to unhealthy heights.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

*Wyclef Voice* I'm in Real Big Trouble

Let's talk about hair again since I'm completely obsessed with it. As a refresher,

BACKGROUND 
  • My Chicago stylist dyed my hair blonde, loved it. 
  • My Chicago stylist added highlights. LOVED! THEM! 
  • Then winter in Pittsburgh happened and it DESTROYED my poor little blonde tresses. My sometimes Pittsburgh stylist cut a bunch of dead ends off... and also proceeded to burn the curl out of so many pieces of my hair.
  • My hair was still acting a dry mess. 
  • My new Pittsburgh [and very expensive] stylist dyed my hair back to its original color. 
  • My hair is acting MOSTLY better, but the damn straight ends are driving me bonkers so...
 TROUBLE
  • I've been cutting straight ends of my hair off in the bathroom with sewing scissors. I'm obsessed with doing it. Every time I see a new straight piece, I'm like BYE! I feel like having straight hair at the end of my curly hair is the same things as transitioning. And we all know how much of a pain transitioning was. So I'd rather have similar textured hair than a proper haircut. 
  •  When my Chicago stylist and/or my new Pittsburgh stylists sees this hack job I've done to my hair, I'm pretty sure I'm going to be put in timeout. But until then, I'm making out like a bandit. A shaggy haired bandit!
  • AND, It's wash-n-go season! Hello, yes! 
 What's your spring hairstyle?

UPDATE: Since writing this, I've stopped hacking off random pieces of hair (mainly because I don't see any more straight pieces). But I might not be in trouble because my wash-n-go is luxurious if I do say so myself. I may have found the answer to phenomenal natural hair. Stop heat damage! I'm about to do a two-strand twistout, so we'll see if the results are similar. *fingers crossed*  

Monday, April 13, 2015

Meetings...


Found this gem on LinkedIn. Happy Monday!


Friday, April 10, 2015

Inspiration: One Teen at a Time

Inspiration can come from people of all ages. I'm so happy for Mo'Ne's success and so happy to be able to support her. Yep, I'm buying a 14 year old's memoir!



I'm going to read it, then give it to Joy to do a book report. I have to think about what I'll give her as an incentive to complete it. Any ideas?

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Update on Mentoring

I can't believe I haven't given an update on mentoring since this post almost four months ago. I guess it's because I haven't had much to say. To catch you up, I'm was trying to be a one-on-one mentor for two girls. Janet's* case workers never called me back. And Joy had a foster family situation that was less than ideal. Her foster parents didn't want me to be a part of her life, and then she went AWOL and no one heard from her for months.

Well, my little AWOL delinquent, Joy, is back in the group home and they've asked me to come back and mentor just her. I jumped at the opportunity. Only five of the 13 girls who were there when I left are still in the house. It's weird being there for just Joy, but I don't think the other girls realize I'm only there for Joy and I'm not necessarily in a rush to tell them.

I think I'm going to focus on a lot of "out of the house" activities that have to do with her interests. College touring and educational activities are a must. (This is complicated by the fact that I don't have a car, but I have a lot of resources in Pittsburgh, so hopefully I can make it happen).

Joy is also five months pregnant. I have a lot of emotions about that, and the timing of it. None of which are appropriate for the blog. It's my prayer that I am exactly what God wants/needs me to be in her life, despite the fact that I have no idea what that is. I trust his timing and I'm happy to be of service once again.   

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Hub PGH

For all the Pittsburghers who follow me and/or my friends who want to come into town to visit, there's a new site: The Hub PGH that features different restaurants, concerts and events every week. It reminds me of Chicago's version Metromix, but it's new, so it's not as comprehensive.

I went to an HBCU meetup that I saw featured there and it was a great crowd. And I met two new Chicagoans [by way of Sacramento] at the event. Definitely excited to see this type of site for Pittsburgh! 


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

New Blog: Unleashed Cosmetics!

I'm beaming with pride about my big sister's new blog: Unleashed Cosmetics. Please stop by and tell her what you think (and like her page on Facebook and Instagram)!


Monday, April 6, 2015

Event Alert: Dandy Lion

Chicagoans and visitors, be sure to check out Dandy Lion: (Re) Articulating Black Masculine Identity exhibit at Museum of Contemporary Art at Columbia College: 600 S. Michigan Avenue.


It opens today and runs until July 12! I'll definitely be checking it out when I'm home for Memorial Day.

Photo Credit: L. Kasimu Harris, All Tied Up, 2013

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Zoned Out.

Facebook was kind of boring.
Twitter had fewer notifications that I expected.
I'm not downloading and/or logging into Pinterest for a while. If I can stay away, I can get hours of my life back.

But INSTAGRAM. LAWD, my Instagram was poppin. Here's what I missed:

Beyonce. Chicago pics. Indy Pics. Pittsburgh pics. June Ambrose. Natural hair. Fros and Beaus. Travel photos. Purses. Shoes. Plies. Dresses. Babies. Donald Drawbertson. DVF. Fashion bloggers. Photographers. Lala. Motivational quotes. Funny quotes. Food pics. Pictures that I'm tagged in. Urban Fashion. Tyson Beckford. Wedding photos. 25 Park. Kevin Hart. Cityscapes. Fashion bloggers. Larsa Pippen. Visit Montana. The fact that Luvvie did a whole damn Ted Talk. vacation pics. Humans of New York. PRSVR. Common. The Posh St. Paddy's Day Party.

I can't believe I was away that long. I have to be up in a couple of hours to make my dish for Easter pot luck and then be ready for church by 9:15. Ooh wee, but it was worth it.

I'm back!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

T minus 2 hours

I can get on social media in two hours and here are some of my thoughts until then.

1. I'm curled up on my couch under a blanket listening to smooth jazz switching between journaling, a book, a magazine and the Wall Street Journal and it's amazing! 

2. This sacrifice thing in so hot and cold. I'm either struggling really bad or I'm like, "this isn't so bad. I should do this more often." That may have more to do with my inability to see (or respect) the gray areas in life and less to do with what sacrifice is or isn't.

3. It's really refreshing to not have outside forces (social media) guiding what topics I'm reading. I've been very intentional for the past 40 days and 40 nights and I'm going to aim to bring some of that to my every day life. Like I may do a no personal social media until 5 p.m. or no social media after 7 p.m. type of thing.

4. I cannot wait to see how many notifications I have across all platforms. If it's like zero I'm going to feel like a lame.

5. I went to a club last night that I'm about 10 years too old to be at and I wanted to live tweet it so bad. Maybe not being on social media makes me a nicer person. Am I nicer really, if I thought it and didn't say it?

6. Some Catholics told me that Lent is actually over on good Thursday, following mass, before good Friday. I am DEFINITELY do that next year. This year, I'll feel like I'm punking out if I don't wait until Easter Sunday to get on social media when I clearly told everyone I was waiting until Easter.


Friday, April 3, 2015

A Half-Baked GOP Plan For Food Stamps

There are smart ideas to get more Americans working and off food aid. Block grants to states isn’t one of them.

By Thomas J. Vilsack,

The House Republican proposal to block grant the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is ill-timed and ill-advised. SNAP, formerly known as the food-stamp program, provides a lifeline for senior citizens, persons with profound disabilities, and working families with children relying on part-time hours at a minimum-wage job. Four out of five SNAP recipients are children, people with disabilities, the elderly, or working adults who don’t make enough to make ends meet.
As the economy improves, more people are moving off SNAP. Since participation hit its peak in December 2012, the number of people receiving SNAP benefits has declined by 1.5 million. Congressional Budget Office projections indicate a 2%-4% reduction in SNAP recipients annually for the next five years.

SNAP continues to reduce poverty in the meantime. More than 90% of SNAP recipients have incomes below the federal poverty level—that’s around $2,000 a month to support a family of four. More than 4.8 million Americans, including 2.1 million children, are lifted out of poverty when SNAP benefits are counted as income.

SNAP fraud and error rates are at or near historic lows, while every dollar invested in SNAP regenerates $1.74 in economic activity, according to a 2010 study by Moody’s Analytics.
The Republican House proposal suggests that block granting SNAP would cut costs by $125 billion over five years. Block granting will create a patchwork of different rules and regulations. But it won’t save taxpayer money. To do that, lawmakers must either reduce the number of SNAP participants, reduce benefits for current participants, or some combination of both.

To “save” $125 billion over five years would require at least 11 million fewer SNAP recipients, or a reduction in benefits equivalent to a cut of $2,431.58 every year for a family of four. That may not seem like a lot, but for a family of four with two small children under five, that’s the equivalent of more than four months’ worth of groceries.

Both the National Grocers Association and the Food Marketing Institute sent letters this month calling on Congress to maintain SNAP in its current form because their members know SNAP works and block grants won’t.

This is a program that effectively and efficiently combats poverty and expands access to healthy food—all of that with one of the lowest fraud and error rates across government. Rather than arbitrarily taking a budget axe to a program with a proven record of effectiveness and declining costs, common sense tells us that we should instead be working together to put those SNAP recipients who can work back to work.

That is exactly what a bipartisan majority in Congress agreed to do when they passed the 2014 Farm Bill, which included $200 million for states to test and evaluate employment and training strategies that will move people off of SNAP in the right way—by helping recipients build comprehensive skill sets and then matching them with the good-paying jobs they need to be able to move off the program.


Another surefire way to reduce SNAP costs the right way would be to raise the minimum wage. If Congress were to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, from the current $7.25 an hour, that would reduce the cost of SNAP by as much as $46 billion over 10 years, according to a report released last year by the Center for American Progress.

We should give these bipartisan solutions time to work. Combining better state-run employment and training programs that help people get good-paying jobs with other administration efforts like raising the minimum wage and making college and technical schools more affordable will expand opportunity, reduce poverty, and help the paychecks of working families go further.

There is an old saying that is appropriate to this debate: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
 
Mr. Vilsack is the U.S. agriculture secretary.