Cyber Week and Christmas Sale Mania Week (not just Cyber Monday) was good for me. I don’t care for the inundation of daily new sales in my inbox since then, but I grabbed some great deals for myself and mini-me:

  • Google Tablet
  • Nintendo 3DS
  • DS games
  • Emeril Lagasse-branded cutting boards (a set with 3 different sizes)
  • Clothes
  • Bath rugs
  • Shoe organizer
  • PJs
  • A used iPod Touch (to replace the one mini-me lost)
  • Shoes
  • Wii controllers (as replacements)
  • MP3 albums on the cheap ($4 and $7 for entire new albums!)

Continue reading “Cyber Week and Christmas Sale Mania”

Seize the Day!

Yesterday I attended a wonderful event called “Seize the Day,” in which 11 speakers discussed business, motivation and personal empowermentover 8 hours. The presenters in order of appearance were Les Brown, Tom Hopkins, Sarah Palin, Bill O’Reilly, Phil Town, Ben Stein, Laura Bush, Than Merrill, John Smoltz, John Maxwell, and Terry Bradshaw. This post is not a full recap, but I will mention some highlights.

As a Toastmaster and aspiring professional speaker, I arrived eagerly anticipating the speeches from Les Brown and John Maxwell. However, I took notes on all* the presenters–not just what they said, but what they did. Some of these nuances are things I would have changed, and some are things I’d like to emulate in my own future presentations. Therefore, in this post, I’ll give you a list of quotables and speaker evaluations.

Continue reading “Seize the Day!”

Debt is Slavery: Notes From a Freed Slave

Make no mistake: debt is slavery. It seems that few of us have been untouched by debt in this economy.

Last night, CNN aired the special report, The Almighty Debt, hosted by Soledad O’Brien in Atlanta. It had me nodding my head in agreement with so many statistics and opinions mentioned by the experts, as well as the predicaments of the many ‘average Joes’ featured. It had me reflecting on the last several tumultuous financial years I have survived as a young adult.

Continue reading “Debt is Slavery: Notes From a Freed Slave”

Stop Being Niggardly! (And Other Advice We Still Aren’t Paying Attention To)

Around Christmastime last year, I had a great hour-long chat with Pulitzer-prize winning author and journalist, Karen Hunter of Karen Hunter Publishing. If you watch the video below, the same way she’s talking there is the same way she talked to me: straight up.

She didn’t know me from Adam but was not hesitant to take the time to answer my questions about getting started as a freelance writer, the business of writing and publishing for Blacks in particular. She shared her background and wisdom with me, and many of the things she imparted to me then were also mentioned in this book (which was then unreleased), Stop Being Niggardly: And Nine Other Things Black People Need to Stop Doing. In this post I’ll give you some of the highlights, but in short, this book is a must-read, and more importantly, a must-DO.

If You Can’t Get In Their Door, Start Your Own

When Karen started her own publishing house, she reached out to her contacts for support, but didn’t get it. I was surprised when she mentioned

Earl G. Graves, Sr. (Image courtesy of

Earl Graves as one of those people (he is the founder and publisher of Black Enterprise magazine). She talked about how Blacks can be so niggardly (definition: stingy—watch the video above or look it up) and try to hold each other back from progress and success.

Divide and Conquer—It’s the American Way

Karen gives us a brief history lesson in explaining the racial categories we give ourselves here in America. The perceived origins of Latinos, Dominicans, Haitians, Blacks, and Jews have more in common than you might think (certainly more than I knew).

Digging Out of Debt

I can relate all too well to Karen’s story about going broke and having to downsize (for her she had to move back home; for me it was moving from a house to an apartment).  The key is the recognize when you’re going too deep in debt and to Stop Digging.

People First, Then Money

How many of you are familiar with Suze Orman’s mantra, “People first, then money, then things”? It’s not just a saying that she closes her show with, it should be a way of life.

In the book, Karen says, “ How you handle your money indicates how your life is going. If you have chaos on your job and in your life, your money is guaranteed to be a mess…. Money is an outward display of the discipline and standards of your life.”

Unfortunately personal finance is not taught in school. The only examples we have to go on as children are what we learn at home and see in our neighborhoods. We have to learn to respect our money if we’re going to be successful in life. Continue reading “Stop Being Niggardly! (And Other Advice We Still Aren’t Paying Attention To)”

New Beginnings… (Or, 4 Steps to Getting Unstuck)

It’s been a long time coming, but I’m here. I made it.

Through financial challenges, family shifts, procrastination and back-and-forth feelings of self-doubt, I’ve started what some call “a new life.” A new beginning. But this was not a sudden decision.

I’ve played with the idea of relocating for four years now. Ever since the first time I visited Atlanta, GA in the summer of 2006, I relished the idea of a more affordable home, culture, and a change. What stopped me? I told myself I was stuck where I was because of these main excuses:

Excuse #1 :     I can’t deal with the traffic in a major metropolitan city, and Atlanta reminds of the last place I lived, in suburban Washington, D.C. Swapping the frustrations of I-495 and I-285 are all the same to me.

Excuse #2:    The real estate market is still too poor and I might not be able to sell my house. My neighbors who have sold took months, and some have just changed their minds and stayed put.

Excuse #3:    My family relocated to help me with my daughter when she was a baby. I felt like I owed it to them to stay put, even years after the fact. And as a single mom, could I deal with rebuilding a support system all over again?

Even with the validity of some of these excuses,  I evolved and became determined to refocus and literally move on with the following rebuttals for each one:

Rebuttal 1:    When I lived in D.C., I commuted, but since 2005 I’ve been working at home, so traffic is not a factor. Should I change jobs (which would be the first time in over a decade), I will have the flexibility move to a suburb that is conducive to a reasonable commute, since I’m not buying another house anytime soon.

Rebuttal #2:    Since I never tried to sell my house, how do I know how long it would take to sell? Yes, I’ve been in a position where I had to pay mortgages on two homes for a few months, but if I never put the house on the market, I’ll definitely stay stuck with it. You don’t know what will happen if you don’t try.

Rebuttal #3:    I have aunts, friends from high school and college, and ex-co-workers living in the metro Atlanta area. Even if they don’t all become my BFFs, that’s plenty to get me started. When it comes to making new friends, finding a sitter, or networking for business opportunities, I have the gift of gab.

That said, I made it “do what it do” and I’ve been in Atlanta now with my daughter for a whole two weeks. I love my apartment, she loves her school, and I’ve made several new friends (the gift of gab at work)!

I’ve gotten unstuck.
Continue reading “New Beginnings… (Or, 4 Steps to Getting Unstuck)”

Ladies, Put On Your Crown and Shine

Oscar-nominated, Grammy-award-winning actress and hip hop royalty Queen Latifah just released her second self-help book, Put On Your Crown: Life-Changing Moments on the Path to Queendom, last month (Ladies First was her first book, with Karen Hunter). In it, the first hip hop artist on the Walk of Fame takes just under 200 pages to discuss her career strides and life lessons as “a series of moments.”  I’ll highlight just a few here, but I have indicated a few spoiler alerts along the way.  If you don’t want to know too much detail, skip the rest of those paragraphs where noted and go to the next.

Latifah has been rhyming about empowerment since she was a teenager (“Ladies First”) and one of my favorite anthems from her is 1993’s “U.N.I.T.Y.”  She even starred in and sung the theme song to the TV show Living Single (a precursor to NBC’s Friends).  She released a new album this year called Persona, but the only song I’ve heard from it is the one she performed on The Mo’Nique Show recently—I’m not hearing the urban stations showing it any love. But I’ve always liked her and respected her for her classy,  positive image. If you follow this blog, you also know that I love her perfume, too!

But I digress—back to the book.

I read Put On Your Crown in a few hours, and enjoyed its conversational tone and simplistic chapter titles (e.g., “Beauty,” “Money,” “ Joy”). Latifah covers several topics, such as paying attention to your finances (SPOILER ALERT #1) Latifah went broke 10 years ago because she didn’t pay attention to bookkeeping). This story reminded me of when MC Hammer went bankrupt for “helping” so many people at the height of his “You Can’t Touch This”-ness (I think was coming from a good place, and Latifah echoed similar feelings about putting her crew on and supporting more people than she should have.)

Another year, after her parents separated, her family downsized and temporarily moved to the projects. (SPOILER ALERT #2) It was disheartening to read how her family’s things—everything—was stolen in broad daylight. And on Christmas Eve of that same year, all the presents that her mother worked 3 jobs to pay for were stolen from the trunk of her car. And unfortunately, material possessions and coping as a child of divorce were not the only losses she had to deal with.

Continue reading “Ladies, Put On Your Crown and Shine”