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Life

Carefree Summer ’17

Carefree Summer

The summer solstice is upon us, summer break has arrived for my boys, and I have absolutely nothing planned for this entire summer. I’m affectionately dubbing this #ourcarefreesummer and will be documenting the whole adventure, and some days the lack thereof.

I don’t know whether it’s just exhaustion from the constant planning, my annual reflective state multiplied by a million with my 3oth birthday on the horizon, or simply the fact that this summer snuck up on me and ya girl was not ready, like at all. But, I just wasn’t here for the super structured, activity overload, insanely organized summer. No thank you, y’all can have it.

I planned nothing, I have no idea how the days will go. All I got, is that we’ll take it day by day. Go where sun takes us. Play where the breeze feels nice. I’ll let them explore and I’ll take lots of naps. We’ll do random things and hopefully experience an epic adventure or two. Carefree summer ’17. ~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 ;).



Life

Well Spent

 A weekly reflection + a few links for you. 

Another week in the books. I can’t believe we’re already approaching halfway through May. And only two months away from my 30th birthday. Insert wide eye emoji. My last year in my twenties was supposed to be the year of the glow up and I guess, in a sense it has been. Just not in the way that I expected. Life is funny like that and if there’s anything that I’ve learned in this last year it’s to embrace all the parts. The ebbs, the flows, and all the pieces in the middle.

Highlight from this week: Night Market. For sure. I broke my “not quite” vegan diet–keeping it real–for a jerk chicken cheesesteak and I’m not sorry. My body wasn’t pleased though and by Saturday I was sipping on Ginger tea and trying to figure out my life. Still not sorry. Best part though was watching my kids perform. When Dad’s a professional hip hop dancer that got his start dancing in the street, when there’s a festival, you dance! Really blessed to give my children a chance to see another way of living. Another way of life.

I thought about including a struggle or lesson or something of the sort here but it’s really just much of the same. The creative balance, not having enough time, and trying to find ways to do more of what I love and less of the rest. Same old, same old. Hopefully I’ll have something deeper next week? Yea? I feel like I share my lessons in my regular blog posts though so…maybe not. We’ll see.

Anyways, Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas. A bit of unsolicited advice: Live your best life today and don’t do the things you think you “should”. Do you mama. It’s your day. Enjoy.

Things You Should Read/Listen to This Sunday

  • Shout out to Melissa at #blkcreatives for including me on this list of moms that are balancing motherhood with the business of creativity. As a working mother chasing a dream and building a business, I never quite feel like I’m getting it right, but then moments like these happen. Completely unexpected but I’m thankful. And do y’all see the company I’m in? I feel like I made it.

  • I think this just might be my favorite MyTaughtYou podcast episode, ever. Tia Williams’ transparency was everything I needed and more. It was like she knew my life. All of it. From her profession in the beauty space, to the feelings of never being good enough, to the daily pain she goes through, to her epic quote “I did what I always did and wrote my way out…” it was like I was listening to parts of my own story. There’s something so wild about that. Tell your stories. People need to hear them. And make sure you go listen to this one.

  • Speaking of Myleik, she shared two NY Times articles that said . One was about Facebook and the other Instagram. Spoiler alert, they’re basically think pieces about the type of behavior that Bow Wow (along with countless others) perform. I have been so over social media lately which is a really weird space to be when you’re a blogger/content creator/editor. I’m tired of seeing the facade. Why is everyone so obsessed with making things look different than what they are? It’s too much. I find myself thinking more and more about opting out of all it. Don’t worry, I can’t and I’m not.

  • Even in the midst of my current disdain for social media, I have to mention Everyday Eyecandy’s Instagram Storytellers series. Her account, along with the people she features are such a breath of fresh air. The photos and the stories within them are the part of social media I love most. I’m obsessed. Not to mention, I’ve been really digging photography/visual storytelling lately. Yup, just add another creative venture to my list. Eyeroll emoji. But honestly, as the world gets noisier and more crowded, there’s something magical in the stillness of photos. I’m only an iphone photography…for now…but this series is love and is full of inspiring people.

That’s all I got. Happy Sunday. Happy Mother’s Day. ~xoxo


Once a month I share a letter from my journey with those on my email list. Mostly stuff that didn’t make it here or I’m too nervous to share on the blog–I’m working on the transparency thing but some things I keep for the people who are in this thing with me ya know? And a few extra tidbits along the way. Let me know if you wanna get it!



Life

My Food Diary Vol I

So…I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to share my food journey. As you know–and if you don’t know, start here–food is at the cornerstone of my natural based lifestyle. Changing my eating habits, cutting out dairy, and eating plant-based is a huge part of my daily life soooo obviously that means, new blog series! To share what’s been working, what hasn’t, what I’ve been learning, and recipes I’ve tried, I decided to share some of the most popular foods I’m eating through food diaries. So here we go, volume 1. Enjoy.

Food Diary: Breakfast

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Life

Beauty Boss Things

Totally off topic but, does anyone else go through this weird thing where you carve out this special piece of the day to finally find time to write only to find you don’t have anything to write about? It’s the strangest thing ever. I spend all my busy hours writing blog posts in my head and jotting down notes in my Evernote app. And then when I finally get the time, space, and quiet to write…nothing. Oh creativity…

I haven’t posted much in the last couple weeks. Life and what not. To ease back into things I thought I’d share a peek into what I’ve been up to. I’ve been spending my working days juggling my two passions: writing and building a eco luxe beauty brand. Each one serves a specific purpose and each one fills me in a different way. I have long thought about how I could possibly continue on this path with my hands, mind, and heart in two different places when it comes to my career/work. Spent too many hours pondering it and will be spending my time from now on just doing it. I hate labels, but I sometimes feel strange for not having one. I’m just not a label kinda girl. But the world has this funny way of making you feel invalid when you don’t have one. Screw that though.

Y’all already know I am the Queen of long introductions. I will forever take the long way to get to a point. So here goes. A day in my life when I’m not blogging or writing :).

Beauty Boss Things

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Life

April Intentions

April Intentions
Happy April! Something about this month always feels fresh. Like, a new world of promise and opportunity is opened up to us, just ripe for the manifesting. New months always feel like this but new months like April that also mark–at least to me–the season of new beginnings, it makes it all the more special. For me, April feels like a month of growth, harvest, and manifestation. Whatever those inner wants and desires that have made their way into your heart and soul, it’s like April  (or maybe just this April in particular) is the time that it can happen. I think it’s the all the freshness and bloom that comes along with spring. I’m fully planning on harnessing all of that good energy and directing it towards the things that mean the most to me. The things that are living and vibrating in my heart.

I want to focus on that last part. Friday, was a tough day. I felt defeated for some reason and I couldn’t understand why. I think, and this may be premature but I’ll figure it out soon enough, that I was feeling that way because I wasn’t doing the things that were living and vibrating in my heart. The balance of doing the work that needs to be done and doing what makes you feel alive is a difficult balance to achieve. In fact, I’m not sure if it’s even a balance that I want to achieve but maybe more like, a harmonious blend. Regardless, if you’re not making the time to feed into each of these sides respectively, you can feel off, defeated, unwell. And that’s where I was at the end of last week. Leaning into the work that needed to be done and abandoning everything else. I hit a wall, I shut down, and the result was epic levels of unproductiveness (that shouldn’t be a word…) which left me feeling even worse.

Thank God for new beginnings. I woke up yesterday morning, the feelings of last week a distant memory. Feeling ready to start anew. My need-to-do list is long as ever and to my love-to-do list isn’t any shorter, but instead of feeling overwhelmed, I feel full of promise. The creative juices are flowing so that means it’s gonna be a good writing day, cheers to that because I have deadlines, on deadlines, on deadlines. And my mind is full of hope, promise, and love. But yea, April intentions…sheesh I took the long way to get here huh?

April Intentions

I attract the work and the clients that understand, appreciate, and value my work.

I attract the work and the clients that align with my personal values.

I attract abundance in my finances, my health, and my wealth.

I am discerning and able to make the best decisions that align with my life’s path.

I am able to start the projects that are blazing in my mind and soul.

I am able to walk away from projects and clients that no longer serve me.

I am a master of my own time and know how to make the most of it.

I am a servant in my community.

I am and I attract LOVE.

I am light of this world and will shine through my gifts.

I practice thankfulness and gratitude at all times, at all days, in all ways.

Yayyy for new months! ~xoxo


Once a month I share a letter from my journey with those on my email list. Mostly stuff that didn’t make it here or I’m too nervous to share on the blog–I’m working on the transparency thing but some things I keep for the people who are in this thing with me ya know? And a few extra tidbits along the way. Let me know if you wanna get it!



Life

Currently…

Currently
Today, was such a gloomy day here in Philly. I almost didn’t write this post which is why it’s coming at you way too late at night but, better late than never they say. I’ve been in somewhat of a funk the past couple days. It happens sometimes. Trying to find the balance between embracing the ebb and not drowning in the flow. You know, the usual life things. I decided to do these monthly check-ins? recaps? I don’t what you’d call them. Just documenting and sharing. Living my best blog life. Can you believe it’s really April tomorrow?

What I’m Reading

I finished reading The Alchemist and the effects of this book on my mind and soul are still going strong. I wrote a post about a lesson I learned while reading it but, there is soooo much more I have to say about it and many more lessons learned to discuss. It’s definitely a life changing read. Seriously, if you have not read this, do yourself a favor and handle that.

I wrote something about spiritual growth that I haven’t shared yet. Still trying to organize the stream of thoughts into something that makes sense. But in that piece, I came to the realization that I needed to take the time to really read and study the Bible. I was led to the Book of Matthew and I’m making my way, slowly, through it. I journal through my Bible study because…writing is how I comprehend things. Discovering so much, I just might fill a whole journal studying just this one book.

What I’m Listening To

I started the S-Town podcast a couple days ago. It’s so good. I’m on episode 4 and hooked. I wanted to tweet through it so bad but, spoilers, so I didn’t. I won’t share much here in case people are still listening but I will say that, I got to thinking about time. There was a quote that was mentioned that was found on a sundial. It went something like: “I have done nothing good today. I’ve lost today.” Sundials are lowkey depressing things huh? But yet, there’s something so beautifully…grounding in that quote. It’s like a reminder that life is fleeting, that time is fleeting. So, you gotta do good stuff. Every day. Don’t waste it. On a day like today where I would have been perfectly fine, curled up under my covers doing nothing…message received.

Another podcast to mention. Can you tell podcasts are my thing? I have been working on getting my financial life together–amongst all the other aspects of my life, adulthood. I came across the So Money podcast by Farnoosh Torabi and have been taking all the notes. Like so many people, or maybe not, I don’t know, I have terrible financial habits. That’s just me, keeping it real. But, I’m determined to get my shit together. For real. New months are always a good time to get on track financially. I’m feeling like I’m in a good place now and this podcast has definitely cleared some things up for me.

What I’m Watching

I don’t know why I resisted Greenleaf so much when it first aired. By the first episode of the first season I had written it off. Something about it rubbed me the wrong way and I wasn’t here for it. Maybe because I attend a semi-mega black church and it just hit too close to home? Plus, I wasn’t sure what the show’s purpose was so I didn’t want any parts. Welp, I gave it another shot after seeing a million and one tweets about it. I binged watched season 1 on Netflix so it’s safe to say, my feelings have changed. I love Greenleaf for examining the intersection between being human and being holy. I think that’s what I’m trying to say. It’s like, it airs the church’s dirty laundry–and ma’am, is it dirty–but it also raises questions and makes you take a hard look at people and their faults and how that takes away from, or rather, how that’s a part of their experience/life/place in the church. Oh and the drama sis, whew!

What I’m Eating

I’m working on a food diary to chronicle my plant based journey. I’ve finally to a point where I’m eating enough so that I’m not constantly hungry. When your diet is loaded up with meats and grains like pasta and rice, you don’t realize how many plants you need to eat in order to feel full. And then, you’re hungry like an hour later. It’s a work in progress, but I don’t feel hungry all day so yay for that! Currently loving Minimalist Baker for vegan recipes and Hot For Food for vegan comfort food recipes.

Discoveries

Why did you guys hide the amazingness that is Trader Joe’s. Whyyyy? I finally visited one that’s about 15 minutes away from me and I don’t think I’ll ever be the same. It was that great. I’m obsessed. I spent about $70 on groceries for 5 people and that lasted us just under a week! Including organic meats. Whaatt! This is a big deal for me. Cutting my grocery bill has been a major task, especially since I have 3 growing boys and an athletic husband. All. They. Do. Is. Eat.

Work things

Freelance lesson of the week: Being creative all the time is exhausting. Just food for thought for those who want their passions to feed their souls and fund their lives. This shit is real. I wanted to share some new projects that I’m working on, but I don’t really feel all warm and fuzzy about them at the moment. I’m trying to figure out what that means so…I’ll wait.

Cheers to a new month and new beginnings! Hopefully some warm weather and sun will come soon so I can feel better…that’d be love. ~xoxo

Life

Plant Based

Plant Based
Gather round friends. It’s story time! This is the true life account of how one day I was living my best meat eating life and the next day, I wasn’t.

If you’ve been keeping up, you know that I decided to make some dramatic changes to my lifestyle. One of the main changes? My eating habits. So here’s the thing though, while I was fully committed to eating better, more whole foods and cutting down processed foods and sugar…I didn’t ever actually have any intention on becoming a vegetarian. And vegan? Wasn’t even a passing thought in my mind. And if we’re keeping it real…it still isn’t. Transitioning to a plant based diet was honestly (truly) a natural progression, that happened rather abruptly. When I think about it, it was all really out of my hands. Funny how life works like that huh…

This whole thing started a couple months ago, when I stopped eating dairy. I wrote a little about that on my Choosing Natural post. With dairy, I had always had issues with it, and when I say always I mean since infancy when after a scary incident my mother learned I had to be switched to soy based formula. That shoulda been a red flag right? Nope. Instead I spent the next 29 whole years eating dairy. Why are people like this? Anyway, I started having all kinds of issues, so I cut out the most logical culprit. Dairy had to go.

Around the same time, I stopped eating pork. And, that was pretty random. I was doing some research and came across a few articles and videos on what pork does to your body and I was just like…for whyyyy? WHY? Soon after, with equal randomness, I stopped eating red meat. At this point, I’m not sure why I did that.You gotta understand, I was doing research but…it was something else that had me just feeling off about a lot of things. I was becoming skeeved out at meat in general. It was weird. But, whatever.

At this point in my life, I go in the direction that I am led and that’s pretty much that.

I had started feeling pretty good about where I was with food and fully intended on eating plant based during the day with meat at night. I planned to stick with chicken or fish and be good to go. And then I watched the Forks & Knives documentary and was just like…okay I’m good. And that was that. This is my life now…for now.

Here’s the thing. And y’all know (or maybe y’all don’t know…we should talk about this) I don’t do titles. So, saying that I’m vegetarian or vegan just feels like another label I don’t really want to have. I think that’s why I vibe so much with the “plant based” movement. For me, it feels right for where I’m at, at this point. I don’t eat meat right now and I don’t eat dairy anymore. That’s just what it is for me.

For my plant based friends…how did you make the switch. Are you vegan, vegetarian, doing what works for you at the moment like me? Anyone else super random?

Plant Based

~xoxo

Life

On Choosing Natural

Choosing Natural

I realized I’ve never actually shared why I’ve decided after almost 30 years that I wanted to change my lifestyle. I’m sure it had to come across strange, this makeup obsessed blogger goes on hiatus and comes back all zen, clean eating, and holistic wellness. Yes I’m all incense and herbal tea now y’all. I’d be wondering what’s up too. Honestly, natural based living is something I’ve been wanting to pursue for a while, but could never master the discipline to really do it seriously. And then, divine intervention and God’s cosmic line up of the universe put me in a position where…well…I didn’t really have a choice. Hashtag blessed. I’ll try to make this timeline as simple as possible but…y’all already know that sometimes my words have a mind of their own. TLDR; at the end if it gets too deep peeps.

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Life

31 Empowering Self Affirmations

I don’t want to sound redundant but I have to be real with y’all when I say that 29 has really been a transformative year for me. Or at least, it is the start of a transformation into the woman I hope to become. So more like, a year of discovery. Or at least, the very beginnings of discovery. You get the point. I feel like I’ll be reiterating that in more posts than not but I can’t help it. It’s where I’m at in my life and you gonna get a piece of this glow up okay?

So, at the beginning of 2017 I had just finished reading Big Magic–a must read for any creative, struggling creative, aspiring creative, whoever you are, just read it–and was feeling all sorts of creative magic flowing through me. I decided, since I’d already been feeling like 29 was bringing me so many discoveries, that I wanted to really flex my creative muscles. Right around this time I had also decided that 2017 would be the year of consistency so you can imagine the wild ideas that were flying around my head. When they finally settled, I had come up with the idea that every month this year, I would dedicate myself to doing one creative thing every day. No strings attached. No fear, no thoughts. Just open creativity and consistency. Hand in hand. Making magic happen.

I chose a theme for each month of the year–I’ll share as we go along–and January’s was to write daily empowering self affirmations. So in January, every day, sometimes in the morning when I first woke up, sometimes at random moments in the day, and others right before I closed my eyes, I wrote an affirmation. Every day that I wrote one, I felt like it was trash. Don’t be concerned, that’s my normal writing process. It goes literally something like: YAY project! –> Sheesh this is hard –> Trash –> Trash  –> I suck –> Oh. Ok. –> I kinda like this –> I’m decent!!! Ayeee. So yea, I felt like it was trash until I looked back at my month and had 31 dope ass self affirmations (if I do say so myself). One time for the year of creativity!

Sharing because where’s the love in keeping all that to myself? Y’all mind if I wild out? Sorry, couldn’t help it.

31 Empowering Self Affirmations

self affirmations
~ I am obedient, disciplined, and always in the presence of God.

~ I trust the process of my life and have faith that my steps are divinely guided.

~ I know that my words have power so I ONLY speak life and positivity.

~ I know that everyday is a fresh start. I am not defined by yesterday’s events or actions.

~ I am a master of my own body and know that consistency is achieved through discipline.

~ I approach each and every moment with wild ambition.

self affirmations
~ My perspective is my choice so I choose to look at all things with love and light.

~ My creativity is limitless.

~ I am aware of what it is that I want and always act with intention.

~ I know that the key to reaching my goals is not about the bigger picture only about the NEXT STEP.

~ My body is a temple and I take care to treat it with love by what I put on, in, and surround it with.

~ I love woman I am, the one I was, and the one I will become.

self affirmations

~ I can reinvent myself as often as I need to. The only definition of me that matters is my own.

~ The answers to everything I need to know about myself already lie within ME.

~ I know that I control the narrative of my thoughts and choose positive perspectives over everything.

~ I know that love takes work and pledge myself to be a servant to it everyday of my life.

~ I know that my words are not only powerful but truthful and I stand behind all that it is I speak.

~ I know that grand visions require grand plans and action and I will show up and deliver.

Self Affirmations
~ I believe in the stillness of the journey. Urgency is not welcome here.

~ I know that I was made of and for love. It is all I share into the world.

~ My life has no bounds. Any divine vision placed in my mind or in my heart I can manifest.

~ I am not worried or fearful of anything. I am covered by His mercy and led by His grace.

~ I know that a harvest is just beyond the struggle. I will never give up.

 

 

31 Empowering Self Affirmations

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

New Things in Old Places

New Things
Hey Queens. I’m still getting my groove back when it comes to blogging again, but I wanted to share more about what you can expect and the direction this space will take. I hope you’ll all continue to follow along, but if not, no love lost. Promise. If there is one this to be said for this oversaturated, hyper connected, sea of content that we call the internet it’s that you MUST practice the art of taking what you need and leaving the rest. It’s life changing. So what can you expect here on This Brown Queen?

Natural Beauty | Soulful Living | Conscious Motherhood | Health + Wellness

Natural Beauty: If you’ve been around here the past couple of years, you know this blog originally started as a beauty blog. I had some lifestyle stuff sprinkled in but for the most part I was writing about beauty for brown girls. Beauty is still very much a passion for me–so much so that I have my own makeup and skin care line for brown girls–but my love for it has changed a bit. I’ll continue to share beauty posts but it will be much more natural focused. And as for natural hair, while I’m no longer a loose natural, I’m so in love my loc journey so I’ll be sharing as I go. Speaking of which, I’m co-hosting a green beauty + natural hair Twitter chat on March 1st at 7est. #cluelessbeauty Join us!

Soulful Living: The biggest change is that this blog will be much more lifestyle focused than it’s been in the past. When I fake started that other blog {insert side eye}, it was because I felt the need for a lifestyle blog but didn’t want to disrupt this space. But, lifestyle is really what I love writing about. But why soulful living? Well, I’m working on exactly what soulful living means to me in my home, work, spirituality and daily life so you’ll see many of my lifestyle posts focused on that part of my journey.

Conscious Motherhood: My parenting style is evolving as I do. Do you realize how difficult it is to parent when you’re still trying to discover yourself? If anyone can relate, please, let me know so we can talk about it. Our journey of conscious parenting is a long–and difficult–one. I want to share as I’m learning, what’s working, what’s not, and all the wonderful discoveries along the way. That can include everything from homeschool discoveries to how we celebrated Kwanzaa this year.

Health + Wellness: The last piece of the puzzle–which probably should be the first–is taking care of myself. With 30 so close I can feel it (literally, everything hurts) my health and wellness is a major priority. This is new to me. Healthy eating, exercising, whet? But I have to make some changes. I’ve recently switched to a dairy-free diet–crying real tears on that one–and have been experimenting with more whole foods and organic options. So yes, you’ll be getting my chia oatmeal and blueberry muffin recipes here as well :).

So here’s to new beginnings in old spaces. ~xoxo

I trust my creative process and embrace its depth and dimensions.

Life

Let’s Talk about It

Let's Talk about ItPeeks in…is this thing on? Hey hey Queens. So…shall we address the elephant in the room? Where have I been??? It’s a long story and I’ve been procrastinating for awhile but I’m ready. Grab your wine or some coffee and let’s talk about it.

January 2016 – Around the last time you heard from me

Whew. It was A LOT going on. I quit my job. After blogging here for three years, I was able to build a somewhat stable freelance writing career writing for a few beauty magazines and websites. logistics-wise things were changing drastically at work. Not to mention, I had been having a hard time juggling a full time job, three kids, an increasing workload, and general life responsibilities. I was always stressed. Always rushed. Always upset. My body was giving me hard signals that I needed to change things and soon. So, I did. And full transparency: there was no financial safety net and no star studded roster of clients. There was only God, faith, and ambition.

I landed a pretty big freelance contract days after my last day of work. Let me tell you how writing the vision and doing the work can work out for you–insert praise hands emoji. I had set some financial and business goals at the beginning of the month and I wrote the amount I needed to make each month from freelance work to reach it. That contract was the amount. To the dollar.

February 2016 – That time I fake started a new blog

In hindsight, I should have known better. I had just made one huge change in my life, that should have been enough for the moment. But, with all my energy now focused on freelance beauty writing, I felt I didn’t have anything left to say–here. I wanted to switch gears and make this a lifestyle space but…I didn’t follow my gut. Which I should have. So instead I started a whole new blog. One focused on lifestyle and motherhood. I had monetized this blog a bit, but three years into the game I knew so much more and I had big dreams for the new blog. Spoiler alert…it didn’t work out that way.

Summer 2016 – New year, new things

Time flies so yup. Between starting the new blog, freelancing, enjoying my newfound work at home life around spending my days with a toddler in tow…I blinked and it was my birthday. I was still blogging over at the new spot but I didn’t have nearly as much time as I thought I was going to have to get it off the ground. Let me tell you…I thought I had struggles with balance before? It was nothing compared to life now. The difference though? The struggle was worth it. Or as Elizabeth Gilbert so eloquently put it in Big Magic, I was more than willing to eat the shit sandwich that came along with freelance freedom.

I celebrated my birthday at a mountain resort in Seven Springs–I blogged about it–learning more about how to get involved in the school community in my city. I also started to set my sights on something new-ish. A beauty brand had been on mind every since my very first post. It was a natural extension of the work that I do–helping women of color in the beauty space. I had been tinkering with this brand, testing, trying, mixing for a couple years along with my business partner. With my “extra”–ha!–time I had been thinking about really getting it off the ground. So we set a timeline and got to it.

Fall 2016 – #notricksjusttreats

Belle Marron, an eco luxe makeup and skin care brand for women of color soft launched on Halloween #notricksjusttreats. We launched with the Belle Box, a taste of our full product line, and started shipping orders on Black Friday. My other blog had like ZERO views even though I had been pouring my heart into those blog posts. My freelance career was stable. And every where I turned, every networking event I went to, I heard the same thing “what’s up with This Brown Queen”? I missed this blog. It fit me. It was me. This blog changed my life and nothing I did over at my new site made sense the way This Brown Queen did. I decided I would be coming back…just wasn’t sure when/how.

Winter 2016 – Back like I never left…right?

Looking back…2016 was obviously the year of CHANGE. I started the year calling it the year of intention and maybe to an extent, it was. But more obviously, it was a year of change. Winter 2016, I started a loc journey. After about two years natural, I was over it and decided to loc my hair. Winter 2016 I officially shut down my old blog and transferred all my heartfelt posts to This Brown Queen.

And now we’re here. If you’re still here reading, thanks sis. I needed to get alladat out. If not, cliff notes version: I quit my job, started a new blog–that’s over, it’s cancelled–launched an all natural beauty brand and now I’m back.

Later days~ xoxo

I can reinvent myself as often as I need to. The only definition of me that matters is my own.


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

Life

Day 5: Pushing Through

White Pumpkins

Disclaimer: This post has nothing to do with white pumpkins. I had every intention of sharing a recipe post today. Cheesesteak sliders. They might be the only Facebook recipe I’ve gotten right. Unfortunately every single person I know is sick, getting over being sick, or starting to get sick and well, here I am. Right in the middle of it. The good news, I can work from my bed because things still need to get done. The bad news…my sinuses won’t let me think. What’s a girl to do? The recipe will be up soon…I mean I already bought the things so I have to make it. Not today though. Today, I lay in bed sipping Echineacea tea (Traditional Medicinals come through!!), with a bowl of chunky chicken noodle soup (Campbell’s no shame in my game), pretending to write but really watching Netflix. There’s always tomorrow right? Until then, enjoy this random photo from last year’s visit to Linvilla Orchards. White pumpkins because why not? Later days…(that means tomorrow because NaBloPoMo).

~xoxo

Life

In the Kitchen: My Real Life Cooking Hacks

Real Life Cooking Hacks

“How do you do it all?” I feel like I get this question every other day. I seriously want to answer “all what?!” Maybe it’s because I mysteriously get asked this question on the days where I have done none of the things but for real, all what? The most recent question though was about cooking of all things. You guys already know, I’m no Chef Curry–did you know Ayesha has a blog? I love her more everyday–but I can whip up a meal or two that tastes pretty legit. I posted my salmon salad on instagram and snapchat and got all of these “Girl how do you eat healthy like that being so busy?” That’s when I realized, I should share my some of cooking hacks because let me tell you something. The answer to that is simple: I chose my battles.

Aside from being a pretty okay cook, when it comes to feeding my family I have a few non-negotiables and a few I could care lesses (lesses? Yea um okay). I really do try to do the whole organic thing as much as I possibly can when it comes to meats, fruits, and vegetables. It doesn’t always work but that’s why you shoot for the stars. For us, that means they’ll have something organic a couple times a day. Since organic meat is not cheap we always have a meatless day which brings me to COOKING HACK #1: Meatless Mondays. They’re easy. Super fast to cook. And probably our healthiest meal of the week. The best part, everyone knows it’s coming so need to look at me crazy when it’s dinner time :).

I feel like somebody somewhere is going to gasp at this but onto to COOKING HACK #2: I buy all the pre-chopped things. Listen, one of the biggest obstacles as a busy WAHM of three is time. I don’t have much of it. When I say I chose my battles I mean it. Sure I could get the unchopped whole onion for .59 cents. Or, I can pay $1.29 for the pre-chopped onion. Saving me like a good 15 minutes of meal prep. To me, it’s worth it. So yes, I buy all the pre-chopped things. Onions, peppers, watermelon, pineapple, there is no shame over here. Buy the pre-chopped thing.

This. Is. The Remix. I sincerely hope you said that in Diddy’s voice in your head. Or nah, suit yourself. Anyway COOKING HACK #3: Remix the good meals. Whenever I stumble upon those really good meals that everyone likes, I just make them over and over again swapping out ingredients to make it a “new meal”. For example, everyone is a fan of chicken alfredo. So I just mix up the veggies each time we have it. Another one is how I’ve perfected this “salsbury steak” recipe (quotes because I don’t really think it qualifies as salsbury steak…maybe hamburger steak? I don’t know) and I know they love it so I just mix up the sides.

Pre-packaged foods get a bad rap. They do man. And I get it, I understand. But what you gotta understand is we’re talking about choosing our battles here. And not all pre-packaged foods are created equal. COOKING HACK #4: Even though I don’t always make it to the fresh produce aisle in my local grocery, I am typically in a place where I can pick up some pre-packaged food (read that as Target) and so, I do. You’ll typically find a few frozen salmon filets in the freezer (wild caught of course, Simply Balanced for the win). Or a pre-mixed rice side that only takes a few minutes to reheat (Archer Farms because what else?). Along with that, I’m not opposed to grabbing the pre-cooked variety of stuff (Archer Farms again!) as long as I’m giving the ingredient list a good look over.

When it comes to cooking and my pursuits to give my family healthier meals and better eating habits, I’m just determined not to let it drive me crazy. I can get really particular about things but keeping the WHY at the front of my mind helps me make those “fine line” decisions. At the end of the day, we just want to eat better and eat good. So if a pre-chopped veggie, remixed meatless monday meal is the way we get there, that’s the way we do it.

Do you have any cooking hacks to share? Drop them in the comments so we can take notes!

~ xoxo