I Love a Happy Blending

These days, blended families are becoming the new normal. A woman, married or not, may live with a man and children where the children are a product of a previous relationship.

Some people manage it well. I remember reading in Vanessa Williams book that she has a big Thanksgiving dinner every year with all her ex-husbands and children–and it’s not awkward!

In this clip, former NFL player Deion Sanders has lunch with Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds. They talk about their children and their mutual respect for each other and their common denominator, Tracey Edmonds (Deion’s girlfriend and Babyface’s ex-wife and mother of their children).

But sometimes things don’t go quite as smoothly.  Continue reading here.

 

Back Seat Freak?

Bill O'Reilly Interviews Russell Simmons on March 12, 2014
Bill O’Reilly Interviews Russell Simmons on March 12, 2014

I was a guest on Real Talk with Michael McFadden this week to talk about my new book, Ending the Blame Game. One of the first things he asked is what I thought about Bill O’Reilly’s interview with Russell Simmons when he commented about Beyoncé’s Partition video (which, like so many others, has strong sexual content), saying that she was not a good role model for young girls.

Continue reading here.

Finishing the “Summer of Me”

Here goes my August 2013 recap. Enjoy!

On the Run

FEAR - Forget everything and runRan 65 miles this month, the most ever (including 4 long progressive long runs on the weekends from 6-10 miles). I actually ran the first half of my 8-miler nonstop! I’ve gotten in more days on the treadmill, and as a result I can feel myself getting faster and running longer intervals. Some of the ladies in my running group are training for half marathons this fall–I’m just working on conditioning and endurance, although I will be in another 5K race this coming weekend.  I use the great workout mixes at Steady 130 (130 bpm music mixes) and Rock My Run when I run (you can get one free download each month) . I rarely listen to the radio, so sometimes I listen to their mixes instead  (the mixes use clean versions of the songs).

Baby Girl

My daughter K is back! In the South, school begins in early August, but we didn’t have to. Since we homeschool and can start our school year when we want, I let her finish summer camp and travel with my family. She even visited the house I grew up in (to which we haven’t been since in 10 years, when she was just a few weeks old).  I wish I had a picture but my mom didn’t think to take one then. 😦

Editorial

Finished judging 25 manuscripts for the Booklogix Young Writer’s Contest (ages 10-13). My own book project is coming along fine, and my anticipation continues to build as the interior layout has begun. Continue reading “Finishing the “Summer of Me””

Crossing the Blurred Line

I’ll admit, I missed it.

Source: Spin

I’m a Robin Thicke fan, and his hit Blurred Lines has been doubled the media as the song of the summer. Although I have heard of criticism that this was a “rapey” song,  I just couldn’t figure it outContinue reading “Crossing the Blurred Line”

Doing the Most: Who’s House? My House!

a.k.a. Camp Do More Recap, Part 1

I started planning my trip to the West Coast to attend Camp Do More (CDM) last fall.  I was sad to learn they ran out of room before I finished saving my money to register ($400). Then I got an email in December, saying the venue had changed and a link was provided to join the waiting list. I registered and secured my hotel room shortly after Christmas. Then you know the rest–I got my certifications to teach even though I prefer staying in the mix.  But you haven’t worked out until you’ve been in a grand ballroom doing new choreography with hundreds of others all around you. I could see that energy on YouTube video highlights of years past, but experiencing it in person is like nothing else. It’s like the difference between watching your favorite celebrity perform in concert on DVD or TV vs. being in the live audience.

Because I have so much to say about my experience (and the creator Chalene Johnson suggested first-timers reflect on video), I made a video about it (see below). Tomorrow I’ll share my notes from her motivational lectures (which she told us to share) since this blog is primarily on personal development.

I loved the opening performance…. the energy was crazy.

This year was the first time CDM was not held in Orange County, CA. It took place on 3 weekdays preceding the Beachbody Summit, not a weekend, and in June instead of August. For these reasons and perhaps others, attendance declined for the first time, where usually it doubled. If it had been the same as always, I would not have been eligible to register at all, because the CA venue sold out and the best I could do was add myself to a waiting list until they changed their site location.

My Wendy Fan Out

I don’t believe in gossip, but truth be told, we all do it at one time or another.  I admire radio and talk show host Wendy Williams for her hustle and for echoing the sentiments of our people in a “keeping it real” kind of way. Her personality is infectious, and even through the TV screen she makes you feel like you know her. Her 10th book was released this month and I had been anticipating getting to meet her for the past week or so at her book signing in Atlanta.

The Demand

My daughter and I arrived at Barnes & Noble 90 minutes early, and finding a place to park was a beast! When we got inside, I was shocked to learn that Ask Wendy was sold out! There were apologetic signs on the entry doors, too.

On her national talk show, Wendy has been telling folks that she’s coming to the Barnes & Noble store on Peachtree Rd in Buckhead all week. They didn’t think that would amount to much?

Continue reading “My Wendy Fan Out”

Passion Points with Nicci Gilbert

Last night I attended the SWEET Group Atlanta launch event last night to hear Nichole “Nicci” Gilbert talk about female entrepreneurship and her evolution from being a singer (in Michael Jackson’s 90’s trio Brownstone) to becoming a reality TV executive producer (TV One’s R&B Divas) and plus-size fashion designer (Curvato Clothing).  SWEET stands for Successful Women Entrepreneurs and the Extremely Talented, and has chapters in Charlotte, NC and Richmond, VA. The event was sponsored by SMS Advisors in Charlotte (which Nicci uses).

Marshawn Evans, Esq., is an attorney, speaker, author, and former contestant on Donald Trump’s The Apprentice was the host and moderator. Lillian Lincoln Lambert was the first Black woman to graduate from Harvard Business School in 1969. She is a partner with SWEET and has a fascinating story.

The word of the evening was “passion.” Everyone who spoke agreed that when it comes to your business, you have to be passionate about what you do or it won’t work.

 

Having it All: How Does She Do It?

Brownston-originalNicci started off telling us that in the past, she hasn’t always trusted her gut, but we should. In several episodes of R&B Divas, she told people that she’s really not into singing anymore, even though that’s what she’s best known for and people always ask her to sing. She’s able to do all the things she does now because she’s passionate, so it never feels like work. She admitted her difficulties: “I’m hard-headed, I hate to be told ‘No,’ or that I don’t have enough money to execute my plans.” She described herself as ‘crazy’ and ‘a space cadet’ and that’s how she can juggle so many tasks.

Nicci said, “The barter routine is the best ever (exchanging services instead of money). I choose not to focus on what is not right.” Lillian added that every obstacle has an opportunity attached to it. “I don’t like when people tell me I can’t do things.”

“Reality is Ratchet!”

R&B Divas Cast

Nicci: “I don’t know if ‘ratchet’ is a really a word, but everybody knows what it means so I’m gonna use it. Reality TV is ratchet! I thought about Claire Huxtable (Phylicia Rashad’s character on The Cosby Show) and others that helped me develop as a person. I wondered, where is that kind of TV today? Black women fighting each other seems to be a ratings formula that the reality shows want to stick with, but I wanted to show images of positive Black women with solid marriages and businesses.” Nicci is an executive producer of the #1 rated show on TV One ever (R&B Divas, whose first season aired last fall), said that spinoffs are coming, including an L.A. cast. Season 2 begins shooting on MLK Day.

Love and Hip Hop Atlanta (on VH1) had 5 million viewers, and we had 1 million. I don’t think we can get to 5 million because more people want to watch what’s wrong with people than what’s right.” She also added that “Branding is the key for reality TV to make sense.”

Continue reading “Passion Points with Nicci Gilbert”

We Just Make the Hits Like a Factory

This week I had the opportunity to attend of several tapings for the next season of The Kandi Factory, which will air next spring (I specifically heard it would be March 2013). You may have seen the Bravo show The Kandi Factory air last spring, sometime around the end of the last season of The Real Housewives of Atlanta.  It’s named for one of its stars, Kandi Burruss. She’s my age and like me, is the single parent of one child, a 9-year-old daughter, but that’s where the commonalities end. Kandi has lived in Atlanta all her life, and has a long, successful career of singing and songwriting. She also owns two clothing boutiques in the area (one of which opened in Buckhead this year).

I’ve been an audience member of a couple of shows in the past when I visited L.A. last year, but this taping was TOTALLY different. No one let us know what was going on–no idea what the run of the show was, or what to expect. There was actually a warm-up emceed by Funky Dineva that included local talent, which some of us mistook for The Kandi Factory contestants, including a spoken word artist, a comedian, and a few singers. Kandi’s mother–affectionately known as “Mama Joyce”–was in the building, so I knew Kandi wasn’t far away. However, she didn’t take the stage until about an hour before it was time to go. Continue reading “We Just Make the Hits Like a Factory”

The Struggle and The Triumph of Black Girls and Black Women in America

So often we are faced with the question of images regarding African Americans in the media, Black women in particular. I know it has become a big concern of mine not only as it pertains to the world view of Black women (and men), but more so how my daughter and other Black girls are affected by the images they see.
Some take the position that Black women should not be held to a higher standard than White women. That white women argue, shout, fight and act a fool. That other women are allowed to be sexual, fun and free, so why can’t Black women?
I actually don’t disagree with those arguments. My concern is this; for every image we see of white women fighting, screaming or carrying on, there are at least ten images that portray them as thoughtful, intelligent and drama free. For every image of White women shaking and showing their stuff, there are a multitude of images that show dignity, grace and often times an even pristine-like character. Essentially, there is a balance. Unfortunately, I don’t think we can say the same about Black women in media. In fact, I would say for every so called “positive” image we might see of Black women, we might see 8 images that might be considered “negative”.
Fortunately, we do have the option to choose.
A few weeks ago I watched as Octavia Butler won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Help. A character that showed dignity, fortitude and courage during a time when collectively we had less. Weeks later I saw the beneficiaries of women like those portrayed in that film.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to see a screening of a documentary entitled, For Our Daughters. It is a 2 1/2-hour film that is unapologetic-ally made for Black girls and women. It is a collection of interviews with an assortment of Black women and girls, who share invaluable truths of growing up Black and Female in an often-times racist and sexist society. It is a refreshing educational tool for Black girls and an inspirational one for Black women.
Black women, we need to support this film, particularly if you have a Black girl or a young woman in your life or if you have the desire to see a broader representation of us.
The For Our Daughters documentary is available for $19.95. By ordering through this link*, $5 will be donated to The National Council of Negro Women… the house that Mary McLeod Bethune and Dorothy Height built.
For more information, contact: info (at) 4ourdaughters [DOT] com
*affiliate link

Still Missing Aaliyah

Today is the 10th anniversary of R&B singer Aaliyah Dana Houghton’s death (pronounced ah-LEE-yah). So many people have talked about the impact her death had on them. I mourned her quite a bit until the 9-11 attacks that followed a few weeks later took my attention.

The most disparaging thing I’ve ever read about her was with regard to her alleged marriage to singer R. Kelly. At the time she was 15 and he was 27, and sadly we know those weren’t the last allegations involving him with under-aged girls.

The most profound and reassuring mention of Aaliyah I ever read came from rapper Pepa (of Salt-N-Pepa), who wrote in her memoir about being a seer and having dreams about Aaliyah being at peace and wanting her loved ones to rest.

To us it may seem that she was gone too soon… the void of a lost loved one never leaves, but may peace abide in your hearts.

We still love and miss you, Aaliyah. (cue Jay-Z’s remix of “I Miss You“):

Now Star is mad I won’t grant him a interview
Now he’s dissing me cause he dissed you
Can you believe the nerve of this dude?
Cause of your memory I won’t bring it to pistols
But he got issues enough of that lame
I never seen pain like your parents pain
But I know God protecting you
You used to read Seed Of The soul I know God perfecting you
All the extra hues, the darker texture you are the more intellectual
You are so professional our little purple star
Too good for earth you are (I miss you)

*  *  *

I, can’t, breathe, no, more (We not remembering y’all death though!)
Since you went away (We celebrating your life)
I don’t really feel like talkin, don’t wanna hear you love me (Nah mean!)
Baby (Yes!) do you understand me (Yes!)(yes!)(yes!)
I can’t do a thing without you