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The Year of Consistency

The Year of Consistency

As 2016 was coming to end, I started to think about what my focus word for the new year would be. I’ve been practicing using a focus word since 2015 when I decided my word would be action. By the end of that year I had put myself in the position to quit my job and freelance full time. Action indeed. Last year it was intention but if we’re being honest…the verdict is still out on how that worked out.

During the last few months of 2016 though, I kept thinking about growth. The word kept coming to me as I thought about what all I wanted to accomplish this year. The year of 30 has to be one of tremendous growth right? So just a few days before the clock struck midnight on the 31st, I was all set  to move forward with my year of growth. There was just one thing…in order to grow, one must CONSISTENTLY make an effort in whatever area of their life they are hoping to experience growth.

About that…

I struggle with consistency. Over the past few years I’ve had multiple blogs, in which I’ve struggle posting consistently. I’ve had a YouTube channel, in which I’ve struggled with consistently uploading videos. I’ve started many a budget program and have struggled with consistently updating it. I have started many challenges be it prayer, reading, writing, and have consistently failed in keeping up with it. I have set daily schedules, and business schedules, and household cleaning schedules and have consistently struggled to stick to them. I’ve launched a business and have struggled with consistently building my brand.

Growth? Yea, getting a bit ahead of myself there.

Instead, I’ve decided to commit to a year of consistency. Because I’m certain that if I’m going to improve anything in my life, it’s going to start with that.

So here’s to 2017. A year of consistency. And hopefully, if all goes well, the set up to a year of growth.


Once a month I share a letter from my journey with those on my email list. WELL SPENT is part things I’ve come across that inspire me and things I think might resonate with you. It’s also part lesson learned for good measure. And a few extra tidbits along the way. Mostly stuff that didn’t make it here or that I’m too nervous to share on the blog. You know, things I keep for the people who are in this with me ;).



Life

Representation Matters…or Black Santa

Black Santa

A few days ago we were driving through my dream neighborhood. A diverse suburb right outside of Philadelphia. I won’t mention the name but just know, it’s on the vision board and written down plain, so you know it’s real. Anyway, we we driving through admiring the Christmas decorations when we noticed one of those big blown up Santa’s on a lawn. Pretty standard decoration right? Except, this Santa was black.

That caused me and the hubs to get hype. I mean, have YOU ever saw a gigantic black Santa just chillin on someone’s lawn? We sure hadn’t. So, hubs yells out “there’s a black Santa!” and we smile, cheer a bit, and keep it moving. That is, until our middle son asks something along the lines of “what’s the big deal”–that’s not the teaching moment here, it’s coming–and our oldest says:

Because all of the other Santa’s are normal. 

Hubs always says that I’m the parent who will catch a comment before it slips away like “ah ah not so fast, let’s talk about that.” And it’s true. Our society has allowed us to normalize so many things that, aren’t exactly normal, and I’m the mom who will quickly gather the children together for a teaching moment when those things arise. Read that as, daily.

What makes a Santa normal?

That’s what I asked our boy. It was quiet. I let the question marinate because, I don’t even think he really noticed what he said, before I asked my question. We were excited to see a black Santa, because it’s not something we see often. And because it’s not something we see often, our son had translated that as “not normal”. Now, okay you could say I’m being a tad overdramatic–it’s always 50/50 chance I’m being as such–but this wasn’t one of those moments. Normal, doesn’t equal white. And whether that’s what he was trying to say or not, it’s those subconscious thoughts, that I absolutely will not let fly around these parts.

I asked him again after a few moments silence. What makes a Santa normal?

It was like you could hear the realization coming to life in his mind. Quietly, he answered…”you know, I guess both Santa’s are normal.” I left it at that. Remember, I’m his mama, I know I had gotten through. Enough said.

Couple days later, I walk past the stockings we had hung on the railing a couple weeks ago. I purchase new stockings for the boys every year, the kind that they can color in and we always let them decorate the night we put up the Christmas tree. My oldest son had chosen a Santa stocking to color. A couple days ago, the Santa was white. He was…what was it he said again? Oh yea, he was “normal”.  At some point between our conversation and the moment I walked by, my son had colored the Santa black.

I know, I know. What’s the big deal right? Well, it’s actually a huge deal. Representation matters. Even when it comes to fictional characters. IT MATTERS. When our kids don’t see themselves, they form ideas about who are what they are. What they can become. They also don’t really question it, you know? It’s limiting. But when you show them, that black people are normal and can be anything, even Santa, it inspires hope. And it lets them know they matter.

‘Tis the season. ~xoxo

Life

A Quick Note

Hey friends. You know that moment when you realize the thing that you thought you got over, you didn’t? Yea. So that was me. My last post, I really thought I was back ya know? Like, sure the whole entire country may or may not have lost its mind, the white house is looking very…white, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around this new ‘merica situation but, I thought I was back. That I dealt with it. Nah son.

The reality is, I’ve been mustering about all the creative energy that I have to tackle my client projects. Anything left over after that has been going to Belle Marron. And in my spare time I’ve been trying not to feed the Facebook trolls–it may or may not be working–while also leveling up my volunteer work. All of that has led me to…well…here we are.

I almost don’t want to say it. But…me and nablopomo? That’s over. It’s cancelled.

Joanne the Scammer

Kidding…kidding… Until tomorrow then yes?

~xoxo

Words

Forward, Always

Forward, Always

Who else is dreaming of binge watching Netflix with a glass of wine and ice cream for the next 4 years weekend? Yea, me too. Hey, I didn’t say I was going to do it but transparency is key here people. Truth. Now that I’m halfway out of my pit of sorrows, I’m ready to starting thinking about what’s ahead. Yesterday, I wrote a reminder that we must seek the kingdom of God above all else. For me, that starts with what He’s put on my heart and in my mind so far. Remember, I don’t have the answers. Not by a long shot, but I do have some thoughts and opinions on what I can do so I’m sharing them here.

+ Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. ~ 1 Peter 4:10. I’ve made it a point since I started freelancing full time to volunteer in my community. For me right now that looks like serving at my son’s school, one that’s part of an urban school district. Aside from serving as the VP of the SAC (basically a PTO), I write the school’s monthly newsletter and I’ve also volunteered to organize a newspaper club for students to give them a space to tell their stories. I plan to dedicate my time and gifts even more to my community and those around me. Faithful stewardship.

+ But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. ~ Luke 6:35. Now I did not say this was going to be easy. In fact, as a Christian I know that my path is one that will include hardship. But, if this election has shown us anything it’s that there is a lot of hate in this country we call home. I won’t add to that. A friend of mine posted on Facebook that she has studied God’s love for years and overnight almost lost everything she had come to learn. That can’t be us as children of God. That can’t be me. I’ll practice love. I’ll teach my children love. And let it be said…love can be from a distance friends. Self-care is a beautiful thing. 

+ Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. ~ Proverbs 22.6. To be clear, the votes showed than young people voted differently than the outcome we received. There’s hope for our future. There’s hope for us, as millenials, and for the generation that we are raising. I read an article about the election reactions from students in our school district and let me tell you…the babies are watching. And even though what they see is far less than the example we want, they are practicing empathy and compassion. Let us be mindful of this. No matter our feeling, let’s not raise up our children to be angry or to repeat the ideals of those before them. Let’s show them the acts and grace and love. Let’s raise a better generation than the one we see before us today.

Let’s move forward. In hope and love. We’re going to need it friends. ~ xoxo


Once a month I share a letter from my journey with those on my email list. WELL SPENT is part things I’ve come across that inspire me and things I think might resonate with you. It’s also part lesson learned for good measure. And a few extra tidbits along the way. Mostly stuff that didn’t make it here or that I’m too nervous to share on the blog. You know, things I keep for the people who are in this with me ;).



Words

The One Thing

The One Thing

As the holiday season comes upon us, I’ve already lowkey found myself starting to think about all the things. Will I be hosting Thanksgiving dinner or just keeping it small with my boys at home? When should we start working on these Christmas lists and where is all this money going to come from? Oh, I want a new Christmas tree, one of those big ones with all the lights. I wish I had the budget to go all out with decorating and holiday traditions! It’d be nice start some new ones but, I never have time to do anything. And so the list goes on.

Yup. The holiday season, in all of its cheerful joy, is also the same season that some of us lose touch the most. We easily become overwhelmed and lost amongst the details that we lose focus on the one thing that truly matters. Jesus. My devotional today was a divine reminder of this: Luke 10:38 – 42.

(38) As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. (39) Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. (40) But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” (41) But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! (42) There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her. ~NLT

As we journey through this holiday season and beyond, let us remember this. The details? They fade away. The food will be eaten. The decorations will come down. The gifts will be forgotten. And all of these material things can be taken away in an instant. But Jesus? His love, guidance, teachings, presence, word…they will be not taken from you.

I’m focused on the one thing. And I will not be distracted by the details.

The devotional that inspired me today was Simplify by the YouVersion Bible App. It’s a 10 day study for the “overscheduled, exhausted, overwhelmed” to help you unclutter your soul <3.

With love & blessings ~ xoxo

Life

The Journey to Here…

Belle Marron

In my September goals post I said that I wanted to launch my natural beauty website. I didn’t exactly get it done by the end of September but…better late than never. Belle Marron is officially live. I know my posts about what I’ve been up to have been vague. Part still figuring it out, part nervous, part excited. But, now that we’re here…I wanted to share the deets. The journey to here.

You know you’ve come across something you just gotta pursue when the feeling doesn’t go away. Not after a couple days, not after a few months, not after a few YEARS. When it’s still there, lingering, through life changes, career changes, family changes, interest changes…you just gotta go for it.

With Belle Marron, that’s exactly what happened. It started as beauty blog. With that came knowledge. Knowledge about an industry I was passionate about but…that I quickly came to find, wasn’t at all passionate about me: A darkskinned, black woman. And then, my Creator placed a dream on my heart. I fought it though. I loved beauty. I loved business. I had always wanted to “do my own thing”. But owning, creating, a cosmetics company? That was too big for me. That wasn’t my dream. But it was His.

It lingered. It was there through my pregnancy with my now almost 4 year old. It was there when I made some “interesting” choices. It was there when I quit my job. It was there when I thought I wanted to do something completely different. It was always there.

The truth is, Belle Marron was always bigger than me. And as I journey through this whole process that’s becoming more and more clear. I was given a vision for a beauty brand that was unapologetically designed for women of color. That was what I saw. That’s what I see. I see an industry where black women are typically excluded or afterthoughts. I see an industry where we care — more than any other demographic if we’re talking numbers — but for some reason are forgotten. I see a lot of people trying, but not enough getting it right.

I spent the last few years trying. I was experimenting, stopping, almost quitting, trying again. I found a business partner in a friend I met over 10 years ago my freshman year of college. We worked. We changed directions. We got clear on the brand and what we wanted to accomplish. We kept going. We hit delays, snags, bumps along the way. We spent way more money than we anticipated. We spent weekends trying to get it right.

And now we’re Here. Less than two weeks away from the day our products will be available for presale. A manifestation of a dream. It’s wild. It’s scary. It’s exciting. It’s here.

~xoxo

Life

The In Between Space

The In Between Space

Hey friends. Let me start by sharing that I’m in one of those weird spaces again. I wrote about “being here” back in April where I talked about the roller coaster known as life and what it means to have it all figured out. Where I came to the realization that it’s all a journey, not a destination. With the moments of clarity serving as brief stops along the way. Yea, definitely in between those stops right now.

I always know when I’ve shifted from a place of comfort to a place of distress by how my body is acting. That might sound weird, because you’d think I’d just know but in the hustle and bustle of mom life with three kids, a husband, and trying to keep the lights on…sometimes I miss it. Unfortunately for me, and I’m sure many other people can relate, when I’m in some kind of turmoil my body has no issues letting me know. And my body, because it’s a part of me, is dramatic.

First, I’m tired. And not just regular tired but like, no amount of sleep is enough tired. Then I feel physically exhausted. This stage is interesting because it’s almost like I’m physically fighting against something, even know the battle’s in my head somewhere. That’s how exhausted my body feels. Next, I’m lashing out. Hubs gets the brunt of this one. Sorry babe. But thankfully for me, he’s my complete opposite, can see it coming from a mile away and has a level of chill that I envy admire. And finally, my anxiety goes from manageable to panic attack and then I’m like “Ohhhhh. Okay. Somethings not right.”

This time, that “something” was simply not knowing what I wanted to do anymore…And completely freaking the f*ck out and shutting down because of it.

There was a time, where I can honestly say that my dream was to be a full time blogger. That’s what I was working toward. In my head, everything else, the full time job, the freelancing, the side hustles were all just a means to an end. But now? After changing blogs, making plans, months of research, and fighting against who I actually am as a person, I realized…maybe that’s not what I want. And I think the hardest part of realizing that what you’ve been working toward might not be what you want anymore, is the WTF moment that happens when it finally hits you.

There are stages to this WTF moment that I won’t get into for lack of time, but I definitely went through the emotions of feeling like I wasted time, feeling lost, wanting to give up on the whole thing, being angry with myself, feeling like a failure, not to mention who has time to be starting over AGAIN. Not me.

So, though I’m still very much working through this whole thing, trying to get to the next stop of clarity, there are a couple things I wanted to share.

I’m not leaving this blog. I love blogging and what I’m learning is that I can love something and do something whole heartedly, without putting pressure on it. The reality is, I’ve found a way to make a living that stems from doing something that I love and am good at (writing). Being a freelance beauty writer isn’t my passion but it’s cool. I can do it on my own terms, I make my schedule, and control my own income. Which is what I ultimately REALLY wanted. But blogging, like I’ve been doing here on This Brown Queen, is different. It’s more of a creative, soulful outlet. A place where I can just write. I don’t need to put the pressure on it to figure out how to make it the thing, to monetize it, to do anything but let it just be and evolve as I do. It can just be a thing I love, that I do because I love it. No pressure. *This Marie TV episode with Elizabeth Gilbert explains this in greater detail. A must watch if you find yourself in this space.

Which brings me to…it’s okay to reset. After I was enlightened by the fact that I could let my beauty writing pay the bills and let my blog just be, I realized that I had to pivot a bit. I had to refocus on things, make different choices, manage my time (and coins) differently, and embrace this new freedom I’d given myself with the blog. That can be hard…But, I love how when you’re going through something and searching for affirmation the most, it shows up right where you need it. Right around this light bulb moment, Necole Kane of xoNecole shared a real video opening up about her new beginning. Not the sugar coated, sweet version so many people love to share when it comes to their journey. But the raw, tears, this sh*t didn’t go as planned version. I felt her in that video. My new blog didn’t go at all as I planned. My freelance career hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park. And while neither of those were as extreme as Necole’s experience, it helps to know that this is a real part of life that you go through. Especially when you’re trying to create a life that you truly love. If you haven’t watched the video, you should, but if not, I’ll just leave you with this:

It’s okay to reset as many times as you need to. ~ Necole Kane

xoxo

Life

Back to School Things…

Just a couple days until the boys officially head back to school. If they think they’re excited they have no idea how I’m feeling. Feeding three boys all summer has been expensive. I’m trying to understand how it is humanly possible to be hungry 24/7. The little one has been ready for weeks now. He’s moving to the “big” building this year (an upgrade from the little schoolhouse) so it’s kind of a big deal. As usual, I can’t really tell how the big one is feeling. He has a serious poker face. Is this what tweenage boys do?

Last week, we went to his registering session and I knew he was going to have the chance to pick his very first elective. Now, I’m no helicopter mom by any stretch of the imagination (…I really hope that’s not denial talking) but I, of course, had my eye on a class that I thought would be perfect for him. But, seeing as this was middle school, I promised myself the whole way to the school that I wasn’t going to say anything. Parenting is weird. We want to grow these really awesome, independent, kids who dream and do big, but at the same time want to guide them just a bit because sometimes, we know what’s best. But I’ve never been a middle school mom before…I hope I’m doing this right.

As his registerer(?) started reading out his options I gently reminded myself that this is time for him to explore his interests. Long story short–actually just five minutes of him intently looking over his options and what felt like forever to me–he picked his class. Although whatever he picked would have been a good choice, he picked the one I was hoping. Maybe I do know something after all. Mother’s intuition for the win.

I’ve debating on whether or not to enroll the baby in a preschool program since June. Indecisive isn’t even the word. A combination of not really wanting to send him, really wanting to try homeschool, and not really wanting to add another expense, has had me going back and forth and back again. Truth is, I’m nervous about handling it all. Working from home, really doing preschool/homeschool the way I hope, and still being active with the boy’s school(s)? It’s just like…ehhh I don’t know. After many “final decisions” we’ve decided against it. The reasons not to enroll him outweighed the reasons to, and so home with us he’ll be. Working on putting together our lesson plans, organized enough so the Hubs and I can take turns.

And with all this back to school talk, the familiar feelings that always creep up around this time of the year have arrived. I’ve been lowkey thinking about going back to school and finally finishing my degree. Another thing to add to my list of indecision. On one hand, I don’t feel like I “need” it. But on the other, I want it. And, it’s only a year left…why do I do these things to myself? 2017??? I’m seriously thinking about making this a thing…

Hope your labor day weekend was everything you needed it to be. Not ready for the work week to begin but I definitely enjoyed taking a holiday off for real. It’s been awhile. ~ xoxo

Life

Hello September

Hello September

And just like that, summer is unofficially over. We just finished up the last of the boys back to school shopping and will be enjoying one last weekend before school starts. Still wrapping my head around the fact our oldest is heading to 6th grade…and not quite ready for him to be growing up so fast. And as much as I’m a fan of our family spacing, as we go into this year with two different schools and the realization that at some point there will be three kids in three different schools? I’m questioning my sanity a bit. Carpools and soccer mom things aside though, I’m excited for a new school year to begin and can’t wait to see what it has in store for us :).

This month, I’ll be trying to find my groove again with freelancing and preschool-homeschooling man man. Last year was an adventure for real and just as I started to get the hang of things, summer was here. Full disclosure, I never got the hang of things in summer and am just thankful I made it through okay. But with the older ones back in school I’m wondering how it’s all going to go.

As per usual, I have all the things I want to do this month and beyond, but I thought I’d start to share them here. Accountability? Maybe. I hope so.

September Goals

  1. Finish Na’s bedroom. The summer project that we hoped to have completed by the beginning of the school year but…it didn’t quite work out that way. Although we’ve been in our home an entire year (seriously, where does the time go) the older boys were sharing a room. But, it’s middle school and the boy needs his space ya know? So we started to get to work on the empty bedroom. Status? The wallpaper has been peeled off and the pink paint has been replaced with blue. Progress.
  2. Launch natural beauty website. My labor of love. Staring a product based business is the longest process I have ever encountered in my life. At every step there has been surprise after surprise. From handcrafting the products to perfection, to packaging decisions and hiccups, to figuring out how to pay for it all. Sheesh. But, we are finally so close it’s insane. So close that I actually have our premiere products on my vanity next to my other beauty products, and use them on a daily basis. It’s real.
  3. Pitch more. So because I know that goal setting is not the place to make such broad statements, let me be a little more specific and say I want to pitch to four publications/brands/companies that truly align with the work that makes my heart happy. This summer I landed two clients in this space and whenever I sit down to work on their projects, I literally feel like I am doing the dream work. While I still have to take on work that maybe doesn’t align with my passions (still gotta pay the bills) I want to move toward my current mantra: More of what I love, less of the rest.
  4. Stick to a morning routine. I am not a morning person. These are just the facts. I cringe thinking about anything earlier than a 7am alarm and even that is far too early. Because of this, my mornings for as long as I can remember have been a mess. With my goals still remaining as big as ever and my time still limited, I really need to be more intentional with how I utilize the moments where I’m not chasing after preschoolers, doing homework, or serving as a personal chauffer. As much as I’ve tried to ignore it, the fact is, my mornings are important and having a real routine that I stick is no longer a half hearted desire, it’s a necessity. I know this will take some trial and error before I find what really works for me, but I’m testing one out this week and hopefully by the end of the month I’m a morning routine pro ;).

So here’s to a productive month and prayers for a healthy and successful school year. With love and blessings. ~ xoxo

Life

Things I’ve Learned from My Proverbs Study (So Far…)

Things I've Learned from Proverbs

A few weeks back I mentioned I was doing a Proverbs challenge with a few ladies for the month of July. I also noted my full transparency and let you know that…it wasn’t exactly going as planned. What was supposed to be a chapter a day for 31 days turned into something like a chapter every few days and sometimes only a chapter a week. Needless to say, I didn’t finish the challenge but I continued into the month of August. Although I’m still not caught up to where I’d like to be, I’m still studying the book of Proverbs, one chapter at a time. Spending time to journal each chapter as I go because writing it out is how I’m able to break down all the things, into one cohesive thing, that means everything. I just wrapped up Proverbs 9 and I wanted to pop in and share a few things I’ve learned studying the book of Proverbs so far.

  1. Be intentional. Considering my word of 2016 was intention and my main focus this year is to be intentional in all aspects of my life, I found this particular verse so affirming:

“Give careful thought to the paths of your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.” ~ Proverbs 4:26.

Giving careful thought is exactly what being intentional is about. From planning my day the night before to accepting (or declining) new clients to making sure that my daily actions are aligning with my values, it all deserves and depends on careful thought. I also love the second half of this verse which is something I feel can get easily lost in the midst of thinking, preparing, and planning: Being steadfast in your ways.

  1. Discipline is everything. Let’s get real for a moment. Discipline is not my strong suit. I’m the kind of girl who knows what she has to do, makes a note to do it, and just won’t. To be fair, anxiety plays a sneaky part in this but, on a whole, it’s a discipline thing. And being a WAHM and freelancer has emphasized this in a major way.

 “For a lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly.” ~ Proverbs 5:23

I know, it’s a bit intense but it’s real. Discipline is everything. Your life depends on your discipline. You know what you need to do. So do it. #notetoself

  1. Hard work is the key to success. Major key. I was having one of those really tough lazy lack of discipline days when this verse gathered my life. Really.

“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest–and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.”~ Proverbs 6:10-11

My edges were snatched once I read this passage. I don’t know about you but poverty coming on me like a thief is not the way I’m trying to do life. Every time I think about slacking or procrastinating “a little sleep, a little folding of the hands to rest” comes to mind and I get myself together real quick. Let this be your motivator when you’re feeling less than inspired to get things done.

As I work through the rest of Proverbs I’ll share more things that stick out to me and things I’ve learned. Have you studied Proverbs? Share any insight in the comments! I’d love to hear what you’ve learned as well.

With love & blessings ~ xoxo

Life

Breaking Down to Build Up + the Year of the Glow Up

Tyshia Shante

You might not know this but, I declared the 29th year of my life to officially be my year of the glow up. According to urban dictionary, the “glow up” is officially defined as:

To go from the bottom to the top to the point of disbelief. An incredible transformation.

Now, I know a lot of people use the term when talking about physical appearance but, that ain’t what I’m talking about. This melanin is poppin and my fro is growing so trust me, I’m good. I’m talking about a life transformation. A started from the bottom now we here kind of transformation.

Let me explain…

On my 29th birthday (July 20th) I was in a good place. I brought in the day at a mountain resort in Seven Springs surrounded by love, the Mr., and my boys. Sure I was technically at a conference but I was traveling, doing work I’m passionate about, having a great time, and my family was with me. Life is good. Underneath all of that though, there was a lot going on. Personal things, financial things, career things, emotional things. A lot of the things were kind all over the place, to me. I add that because I’m learning that perspective is everything and even on what I think is my worst day, my life is still amazing. That’s real. But, as I mentioned before, having gratitude and being content doesn’t mean you can’t work, hustle, and grind to do better. Especially when you have grand visions for your life. So there I was on my birthday, thankful, grateful, and blessed for being here and simultaneously dealing with situations (of my own doing) completely aware that I can, need, and want to do better.

So I declared 29 the year of the glow up. But, before the actual glowing can commence. I need to confront a lot of the baggage that I simply refuse to bring with me into the next decade of my life. That’s hard. In just the past few weeks since my birthday has passed I’ve had to face some realities, make some really tough decisions, and continue to press forward knowing this is all part of the set up, to the glow up. I have to break things down, get to the bottom, so that I can build up to be better.

Check back with you at 30 and let you know how it went? Cool ;). ~ xoxo

Food + Drink Health + Wellness Life

Fixing Our Bad Eating Habits

Eating habits

As the only main cook in our house, all the eating decisions come down this mama right here. Whatever I decide I’m putting on the stove, in the oven, or crockpot is what’s going on the table. That’s why more and more often these days I feel a growing tinge of guilt when I make food that I know isn’t good for us. You see, ignorance is bliss and it’s one thing when you’re whipping up meals that taste good and you don’t know (or can’t help, no food shaming over here) that they’re bad. But when you start to flip over those packages, realize you can’t read a thing, and have every ability to do something different…it’s time to make some changes.

To be real, these horrible eating habits didn’t randomly appear overnight. It’s not something I was oblivious to for years. The truth is that, we’ve eaten fast food, processed food, fatty and sugary foods for a really long time. And changing the way we eat has always seemed like this daunting task that I couldn’t wrap my head around. I would creep on all the healthy food blogs and wish that I could start to make some adjustments in our meals but would then think of my picky toddler who eats maybe 3 kinds of food. My 7 year old who might eat 4. Or my husband who just likes what he likes…and these new recipes didn’t seem like they could be it. So what’s a mom to do you know? On one hand I know that we’ve got to do something different in the kitchen. On the other it’s like, where do I even begin without causing madness in my home?

Well…I’ve got to start somewhere.

  1. Eat more whole foods. And no I’m not talking about that expensive grocery store, I mean just everyday whole foods I can get at my local market. That means less processed foods or ready made things. Just good old regular foods that have ingredients I can read or better yet no ingredients at all because, they’re whole foods. I’ve been lowkey debating doing a Whole30 in September but honestly not ready to take on that kinda change just yet. We shall see but for now, this is a great start.

  2. Less bad snacks and more good ones. My kids love snacks. Especially the little one. And of course due to some serious spoiling by the Mr. who is just as addicted to snacks as his Jr., we’ve found ourselves in the pretty nasty habit of buying and eating way to many unhealthy snacks. Now, mama has to keep her sanity some kind of way and if we’re being honest, it’s not the snacks that are bad. It’s the kind of snacks that cause the problems. Instead of buying a bunch of sweets and treats it’ll be more fruits and healthy things. I need to figure out exactly what those are because they’ve done cookies and chips for so long, I don’t even know where to begin. Time to put that popcorn machine we got for Christmas to use!

3. Buy organic where I can. As of late I’ve been making a real effort to buy as many organic fruits, veggies, and meats where I can. The truth of the matter (welcoming all suggestions for a frugal organic blogger with a large family to point me to) is that organic foods aren’t cheap. And when you’re feeding three growing boys–one that eats like an adult–and an athletic husband who needs well rounded meals…let’s just say I’m barely keeping up with non-organic foods. I try not to be too nitpicky. I don’t need organic linguine. But if I can stick to the biggies, I feel okay.

  1. Meal prep! I’ve been using my new planner to add in our dinners every night and it has definitely helped with meal planning. But the plan is just half the battle. One of the most common reasons you might find us in a drive thru or eating chicken patties is because I didn’t prep the meal, got busy, or simply didn’t have the time. Meal prepping at the beginning of week is really helpful to ensure I’m not running into these moments. I started by prepping a few lunches for the hubs. Nothing major but making and freezing a few hamburger patties (made with organic beef and eggs) on Sunday cut down on him eating fast food throughout the week.

  2. Make it a family affair. The kids eat when they help make food. I learned this one Taco Tuesday where the picky 7 year old who declared he would never like tacos changed his tune when it came to making tacos for himself. All I did was cook, the meat and set up a station of toppings, and that took him from “I don’t like tacos” to “my taco is great!”. If I’m going to be switching things around here I want the family to feel involved as well. Whether that’s letting them choose which healthy snacks they want to helping cook or prepare our meals.

My goal is to really just introduce my family to foods that are better for them overall. I’m not trying to be a vegetarian. I don’t want to cut out all the sugars, spice, and everything nice. I just want to make eating good a regular thing over here in my kitchen :).

And with that, I’m off to the blogs. Wish me luck. ~ xoxo

Faith Life

Write The Vision…For Real.

Write the Vision

I wish I had the words to adequately explain how serious I am when I say if you really want something you have got to write the vision. Now I know, I know. Not everyone is a writer and feels the need to bust out their favorite notebook (if you’re me it would be notebook 1 out of 7 at any given moment) but it’s really less about how you get it out there, it just needs to be out there. In the universe. To His ears. In plain sight. So that the One working for you can work this thing out for your life.

If that means you need to pop open the notes app on your iPhone and speed text it in there, hit up your google drive to open a new doc and starting typing away, it can even be a thread of tweets that nobody has to even answer to if that makes you feel better.  You just have to write it out. You have to put it down on paper (or screen, you know what I mean) and then you have to do the work. And then watch. Just watch how things will start to come together for you.

As a Christian woman, a real Jesus loving, bible quoting kinda girl I don’t take verses like Habbakuk 2:2 lightly.

Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.

It will not prove false.

When you write the vision. What it is you want to achieve, accomplish, or do, God starts moving things in your life to make that happen. If you’ve never written something like this before let me tell you that I have more than a few examples of this in my life and I’m sure you have witnessed this too when you think about it. You say you need something and randomly come across someone who is selling exactly what you just said you needed. Imagine how big it can be if you really sat down and wrote the big vision you have for your life down? You’ll start attracting things, opportunities, people, and whatever else you need to make it happen.

With the August slow down in full effect, I encourage you to take some time and write the vision. If you have a desire to do something, a goal you want to achieve, a vision you want to manifest, don’t be scared to write that down and then take the steps to go after it.

With blessings and love ~ xoxo

Faith Life

For the Next Time You Find Yourself Asking: Why Me?

One of my favorite gospels songs is Anyway by Lonnie Hunter. The song opens up with the words:

Grace is when you get more than you deserve. Mercy is when you don’t get exactly what you do deserve.

From there the song continues into a repeating verse acknowledging how God blesses us above and beyond what we deserve. Acknowledging that His mercy continues even after we fall short. And apologizing for those shortfalls.

It’s one of my favorite gospel songs because it resonates so deeply with me. I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve come up short, been a disappointment, made a bad decision, or simply didn’t put my best foot forward in my 29 years of life. To say I am imperfect would be the understatement of a lifetime. Still, when I look at my life, to say I’ve been abundantly blessed doesn’t even come close to describing the grace God has bestowed upon me.

I’ve mentioned it before but, recently, I’ve been dealing with some personal things that have thrown me through a whirlwind. What an emotional roller coaster these past couple of months have been. I’ve gone through panic–because anxiety–a period of anger, a feeling of hopelessness, and then some semblance of acceptance. Through all of this though, I’ve found myself asking the question “Why me?” more than a few times. Why me? But today, it hit me.

I didn’t ask why me for any number of the blessings I did not deserve. Not why me for the times God has removed me from toxic situations in my life. Didn’t stop to say why me when I made it through to the other side of every other trial I’ve overcome. Did not say a why me prayer when God’s grace and mercy have literally saved my life. So why, now, am I asking why me?

The truth is, asking “why me?” is a pretty faithless question. It assumes that whatever trial or tribulation I’m currently dealing with, I won’t overcome. It also assumes that I don’t trust the current season of my life and that I don’t believe that everything is working for my good. Sorry but, my faith is not set up that way.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds ~ James 1:2

Perspective is everything and when you look at every circumstance, every obstacle, every trial through a faith perspective it can only mean that good things are on the way. Remember, all things are working for your good. #notetoself

With love & blessings ~ xoxo

Kids Motherhood

Our Back-to-School Checklist

Back-to-School | Styled Her Life

The Back-to-School countdown is real. One of these days I’ll become the person who “stays ready” but until that day I’ll just work on not being the person who waits until the last minute to do…everything. Baby steps. To keep myself on track, I broke down what I need to do for the kiddies to get ready for Back-to-School. Two checklists for two kids in two different schools…and maybe a half day preschool program, though we’ll see. Make sure you grab the download at the end of the post and find your happy place checking off things as you go!

  • Make any outstanding doctor’s appointments. Especially for those kids entering a new school or heading to school for the first time. Don’t find yourself rushing around at the last minute trying to schedule that annual physical or dentist appointment.
  • Organize any medical and school records from previous year. Again, especially for those heading to new schools. Last year my son’s transcripts mysteriously went missing and we couldn’t get him completely registered without them. Not fun.
  • Buy all school supplies for school AND home. One thing that happens to me every year is that we buy all the supplies, send the kids off for the first day, they come home from school with nothing to do their homework or assignments I give them. Make sure to grab a few supplies while shopping to keep at home.
  • Buy school clothes. Thankfully we have uniforms in our district. With these growing boys I couldn’t imagine having to buy full out school wardrobes! Yikes.
    • Uniforms or regular clothes
    • Undergarments
    • Sneakers/Shoes
  • Purchase any other necessities your child may need. Backpacks, lunch boxes, umbrellas…a phone case for your tween O_O–can you tell I’m not ready? But seriously, I always forget umbrellas until a day when it rains. Don’t judge me.
  • Establish a bedtime routine. With the oldest heading off to a new school, a new schedule different than his siblings is on the agenda for the new year. Not to mention the kids have been living their lives this summer. No routine to be found so we’ll be phasing this in slowly within the next couple of weeks.
  • Introduce or change kids chore schedule. This summer was the first time we implemented real chores with allowance. I’ll share more about our chore schedule in another post but to give you an idea, everyone is involved. Even the almost 4 year old so regardless of your kids ages, starting chores or updating current chores is perfect for back to school season.
  • Discuss (and decide if you can) on what extracurriculars the kids will be involved in. My middle son is already screaming basketball and soccer. Swimming lessons are on the agenda because I said so. And the oldest is on the clock to offer up some suggestions before we choose for him ;).
  • Prepare a supplementary program for each child. I’m a firm believer that education starts at home. The past few years I have always had some kind of curriculum or program on hand to supplement what the kids were doing at school. This is especially important for our black children as our history isn’t always told right or at all in school. If you’re not into finding and creating your own program there are many options you can grab from your local bookstore or even Target which is were I got a yearly curriculum for last year for each child by grade.
  • Identify where you plan to help at school. You already know I am an advocate for parental involvement. It’s essential. Go into the school year with an idea of how or where you want to help before the year starts. Have a couple ideas on hand and make this a priority!
  • Buy a planner and schedule out the school year beforehand. Most districts should already have the updated academic calendars posted and be sure to check your individual school sites as well. Just get all the dates locked in early.
  • Finish all summer reading projects. While my 2nd grader didn’t have one to do, I created one for him so we’ll still be making sure he finishes well before the summer is over. The middle schooler has a full report due and we will not be starting off the year racing against the clock!
  • Create an organization area in your home where you’ll keep all the kids information, handouts, etc throughout the year. Once that first day comes you’ll be getting stuff non-stop so plan ahead so you don’t find yourself with papers, supplies, and who knows what else all over your house!

Hope this helps you get organized for busy Back-to-School season before the month gets away and remember click below for the printable! ~xoxo

Back-to-School Checklist

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