Thursday, December 29, 2011

True Love Still Exists (Chris & Keasha Draft)

Anyone who knows me knows, I never cry.  Hardly EVER.  But something happened a few days ago....  

When I heard about Chris and Keasha Draft, my heart literally skipped.  I got a gulp in my throat.  My eyes blinked excessively and I got a little misty.  But, I didn't cry...    

True Story: Chris, a former NFL linebacker married his longtime girlfriend Keasha in Atlanta on November 27th.  Keasha had cancer and was so weak that she needed a wheelchair to come down the aisle on their wedding day.

Exactly one month after their intimate union, their fairytale came to an end.  Keasha lost her battle with cancer and passed away.  Wow, I thought to myself...what an amazing, beautiful love story.  I didn't cry though... 

Fast forward to Chris and Keasha's wedding video. Words really can't express how I felt when I watched it.  My heart won't let me watch it again.  I can't help it.  I love love.  And I love what this couple represents.  It's painfully bittersweet.  But, all of us should be so lucky to experience this kind of love in our lifetime.... 

Click here to look at footage from Chris & Keasha's wedding.  So genuine and sweet.  And yes, I cried.  Like a baby....     
 
Chris and Keasha Draft

Friday, December 9, 2011

My Pic of The Day!

When Meeting Santa Goes Horribly Wrong....

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hazing: I Don't Get It....

If you don't know who Robert Champion is, you should.  He was the 26 year-old drum major in FAMU's well-known "Marching 100" band. A super talented, handsome young man who was in the prime of his life.  He became ill and died following the Florida Classic football game in Orlando last Saturday.  

The city's sheriff has gone on record, saying he suspects hazing was a factor in Robert's death.  FAMU has fired their band director and announced that they'll form an independent task force to investigate this incident.  Florida Governor Rick Scott has even weighed in.  He has asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to review Robert's death and the circumstances surrounding it.

This is serious.  Really serious.  Under Florida law, any death that occurs as the result of hazing is a third-degree felony.  
   
Robert Champion
I don't get hazing, I really don't.  I feel like it's...organized bullying.  By all accounts, hazers appear to be people who have acquired a small slice of power. With power comes control, and quite often that control shifts to a state of violence.

I
've never understood it and I don't think I ever will.  Many supporters of hazing (yes, there are many) use words like "tradition" and "history" to justify it.  Several of my close friends and family members who have experienced hazing, didn't/don't feel victimized. Many feel that it made them stronger, both physically and mentally. By enduring the violence, intimidation and humiliation, they somehow felt that it said something about their character. Something good.  It seemed to validate their dedication and loyalty.... I don't get that. 

Although hazing has been formally prohibited at most universities, it's still a real problem. There are smart, ambitious, young people who are willing participants in these sometimes life threatening initiations.  Why?  To fit in?  To show their love and respect for the brotherhood/sisterhood?  I don't get it....

When hazing becomes physical, it has the potential to hurt people and we can't take that lightly. It's unfortunate, but I don't think Robert's story will deter other students from participating in these rituals.  It will continue to be a part of society's fabric because people accept it, condone it and oftentimes ignore it.  It's sad, but true.
   
I'm convinced.  Hazing is wrong.  It's not OK.  People and real relationships are not made stronger by pain and humiliation. True bonds are developed through experiencing things together and working with each other towards shared goals.  If you can't encourage someone to value your group, organization, fraternity or sorority without the use of violence, then maybe it's time to re-examine the significance of its existence.  
Robert and an aspiring young drum major

Monday, November 21, 2011

Top 10 First Date Tips & Turn-Off's (For Ladies)

This list is comprised from the many conversations, debates and arguments I've had with my male BFF's, co-workers, ex's, associates and strangers.  *exhale*  Here we go....
                                      *** Disclaimer: I'm just the messenger. ***  

  1. Ladies, remember this is just a first date. Talking about marriage & babies will surely make him uneasy. FYI: Rarely do first dates go so well that men consider a marriage proposal. That happens mostly in Hollywood movies.

  2. Don't forget to mention you have kids (No, I'm not kidding). Very misleading...

  3. Enjoy the date. Let your guard down. Don't sweat the small stuff. Have fun!

  4. Refrain from talking about your ex's if you can. Talking about them sends a message that you have baggage & you haven't really moved on.

  5. Look your best.  Sounds like a no-brainer, but gorgeous hair, lipgloss and a nice outfit will get his attention and go a long way.

  6. After the date, do not immediately 'friend' him on Facebook or follow him (publicly) on Twitter.  Don't do it.
     

  7. Turn down the Diva. Excessive mentions of yourself, your shopping habits, your collection of shoes (red bottoms), connections, etc. will not make you a prime candidate for date #2.

  8. Don't overdo it in the scent department.  Take it easy on the perfume. 

  9. A vocabulary that consists of mostly profanity gets annoying real fast. Be a lady...

  10. Afterwards, show some interest.  If you're pretty sure he's interested (like 90% sure), it's OK to give him a call. Remember....you snooze, you lose:)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Kim Kardashian & Herman Cain Need Paddles - They're In the Same Boat!

I work in public relations, so I view the world through a PR lens. It's my filter for everything really. I can't help it.  I pay attention to news stories for the angle, I listen to interviews for the messaging, I rate the media savviness of popular celebrities (Kanye West is a genius), and I watch closely when there's a high profile crisis happening right before my eyes.  I think to myself...if I were the lead PR counsel for this, how would I handle it?  What would be my strategy?  My tactics?  My plan of action?  And then, I put on my Snuggie, hair in a ponytail, pop some popcorn and sit back & watch it all play out.     


Case in Point: OK--you'd have to be in a Halloween candy coma if you haven't heard the news about Kim Kardashian; no need for me to elaborate, right?  And Herman Cain.... Well, he's been in the news a lot lately because he's vying to be the country's next President.  But, things have gotten a little sticky recently.  The public now knows that not one, not two, but three women accused him of sexual harassment in the 1990's. *cue in dramatic music*   
For Kim... She has some serious damage control to do here.  Her image, in the court of public opinion is in the gutter right now. She's already apologized to her fans. OK--I get that.  But Lord, this girl has got some major work to do!  My advice to Kim:
  • Confront each & every negative accusation and rumor... Be careful - what you say is important, but when, where and how often you say it is even more important.
  • Don't attack the media...you need them.
  • No dating for a while...let's move away from what got you into this mess.   
  • Buckle up...it's gonna be a long ride.

Mr. Cain...
Sex and politics is, and will always be a very, very fascinating news story. The media loves it and people just can't get enough of it.  *Sidebar: Hey, I don't make the rules, but it is what it is...  My advice:
  • Understand...this issue is not going away.  
  • Address the charges head on.  Tell the truth.....and tell it early.  Time is ticking (10 days and counting). This story is getting bigger and bigger, and more complicated by the minute.
  • Keep planning ahead.  Since this issue isn't going away, anticipate and prepare for the worse. 
  • Buckle up.  It's politics.  Bumpy, nasty, dirty ride...


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Soundtrack of My Life: Track 2 (Sweet Thing -Rufus & Chaka Khan)

I'm such a sucker for a beautiful love song.  I have many, many favorites, but this one right here.... Ohhhhh--it makes me smile real hard:)  

Note: My momma calls Chaka Khan (her favorite singer), the Queen.  I concur.



Monday, October 17, 2011

My Oprah Aha Moments.....

I'll admit, working in PR has its advantages and perks. My friends like to say I attend dinners, events and golf tournaments all the time, and that's my job.  Not true.  But I do get to experience a lot of fun, memorable moments.

One of my best?  Getting to see Oprah live in Atlanta!  An hour-long session (felt like lunch with my fairy God-mother) where I listened, laughed and discovered my passion.  Well, re-discovered it.... (It's writing for me).

Soooo many Oprah Aha moments!  I wish everyone could have experienced what I did.  Here's some of what she said....

  • Strength x strength x strength over time = Power!
  • If you stop growing, you stop living.
  • On being scared... Sit with yourself. Clarity comes from within, from God.  Not Facebook!
  • On challenges/problems... Ask yourself, "What is this here to teach me?" instead of "Why is this happening to me?"
  • The universe will meet you where you are. God will meet you where you are. (So deep...) 
  • On making a difference... Start in your own house. The biggest difference you can make in the world is how you live your life.
  • You are worthy because....you were born. (My favorite!)
  • I don't care what the media says about OWN.  I KNOW who I am.
  • While you're praying and asking and waiting on God....God is waitin' on you. 
  • 
    Miss O, telling one of her funny stories...
    

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Top 10 First Date Tips & Turn-Off's (For Guys)

Let's jump right into this, shall we?
  1. Fellas, don't treat the date like it's an interview.  We know you want to get to know us, but just chill, relax and let the conversation.....flow.
      
  2. For the love of God, please don't talk about yourself for three hours!  Not only is it rude, it defeats the whole purpose of going out on a date.  There should be an equal distribution of dialogue.

  3. So, you're a former "ladies man?"  Cool.  No need to tell us about alllllll of your former female conquests... Tacky, immature and TMDI (Too Much Damn Information!)

  4. Be a gentleman. Yes, women are independent. Yes, we run the world (Thank you Beyonce).  But, we love chivalry.  We really do...

  5. Do a hygiene check before you leave the house.  *Note: Make sure you check the inside of your ears and other secret places.  Women notice everything!

  6. Don't compliment your date too much.  One or two is fine, but if you tell her she's beautiful every 5 minutes, she'll think you have "stalker" tendencies.

  7. Take it easy on the alcohol. Drunk on the first date?  Probably won't get you a second date.  Just sayin'...
     
  8. Do not, under any circumstances say anything bad about Michelle Obama.  She is our fearless leader.  Just nod and agree.
    .
  9. Be yourself.  There's nothing worse than listening to lies, fabrication & exaggeration when you know the truth...

  10. Just say NO to technology!  Take a break from your cell phone, text messaging, tweets and Facebook status updates.  Pay attention to your date.  







Monday, August 29, 2011

My Pic(s) of the Day!

B at the VMA's last night.  How cute is she?!? 

Beyonce and Baby Carter


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Soundtrack of My Life: Track 1 (Golden -Jill Scott)

This pretty much sums me up.  I never, ever, EVER get tired of hearing this song!  It's so.....me.  My very own, personal movement.  Pay attention:)


Friday, August 19, 2011

My Pic of The Day

Cristian Hernandez.  The youngest murder defendant in Jacksonville, FL history.  He's 12 years-old.  More to come.....

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

'The Help' Made Me Laugh, Cry, But Mostly It Made Me Think....

I have to be honest.... I had some anxiety about seeing the movie The Help.  I'd read the book and it was an emotional roller coaster for me.  I had to actually put it down a few times and walk away.  It touched a nerve and I wasn't sure if I wanted to experience that again. But I thought about my grandma. 

She was "the help," a maid in the South who worked for a wealthy white family for many years. My earliest memories in life are those with my grandma.  I remember it so clearly.  I was about 4 or 5 years old.  She and I would wake up early in the morning, ride a bus to the other side of town and land at the biggest, most beautiful house I'd ever seen. 


My grandma (everybody called her Tena) would cook and clean for hours while I played outside with the family's two small children.  Two boys.  I remember it like it was yesterday.

So....The Help.  Once again it took me on an emotional roller coaster. Probably even worse this time because the women who brought these characters to life were exceptional. I felt each heartbreak, the pain & grief, the triumphs and the fear.  All of it. I got mad all over again, and laughed even harder and louder than when I read the book! (The translation from book to screen was amazing.)

For some people, The Help is a painful reminder of a time in America's history that was full of hatred and violence. And they don't want to remember that.  They don't want to relive it.  I understand.  For others, The Help is yet another "rescue" movie that shows a white person swooping in to save hopeless, brutally oppressed black people.  I understand why people would feel that way too.


My experience however, was different.  For me, the story was a moving tribute to all of those women who walked bravely into the pit of hell, and faced the familiar and the unknown with strength and integrity.  The movie was inspirational.  It represented the unsung heroes in my community who have gone unnoticed and unappreciated over the years.  It represented my grandma.

She  passed away when I was 7 years old.  So, I never got a chance to sit with her and listen to stories about her life as a maid.  I felt a little closer to her after I saw The Help. I've always loved my grandma, but I have a renewed respect for her now.  I'm not sure if she would have loved the movie like I did, but I think she would have laughed, cried, gotten mad even.  I think...somewhere right now she's sitting back with her favorite coke and salted peanuts saying, "Nice job, ladies. You got it right."


 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My Pic of The Day!

Cutest. Freakin. Picture. Ever! Victoria Beckham tweeted this photo of David and their new baby girl, Harper.  The preciousness.... :)



Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Pic of The Day!

Talk about girl power!  This ballet dancer stopped traffic while dancing in the middle of 7th Avenue in New York during the filming of a Sony commercial.  What I would do for those legs! :)  
Photo Courtesy of NY Post


Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Amy Winehouse Connection

This week’s news about Amy Winehouse hit me hard.  I didn’t know this songbird personally, but I've been a huge fan ever since I heard "Frank", her brilliant, eclectic debut CD. I couldn't believe this big, honest, soulful sound was coming out of this tiny girl from London - who looked nothing like me:)  

Over the years, I've remained a fan. I cheered in 2008 when she swept the Grammys and  showed 'em she was the real deal.  And yes, like the rest of the world, I grooved and sang "No, No, No" when she belted out her personal story on 'Rehab'.  I watched on pins & needles with other fans as she struggled with her addiction too. And like so many others, I was hopeful that she would conquer her demons.  She didn't.... Damn.  

My heart goes out to the Winehouse family.  Her mom and dad buried their 27-year-old daughter this week. How sad is that?  I didn't know Amy, but unfortunately I know her story all too well.  I guess you could say she and I had a connection....  Maybe that's why I was so troubled by her death.

Addiction is real in my family and I hate it. I've seen too many loved ones fight this battle, give up, try again, recover, keep trying, etc.  Some have been successful and others are still struggling.  

I don't always understand it, but it's not my place (or anyone's place) to judge them. Addiction is a sickness; an illness that should be treated and viewed as such. No one in their right mind would ever laugh or be insensitive about someone who died as a result of cancer, so why do it when someone dies from the result of drug abuse?

Addiction is not a joke. It's not funny. Trust me, it ain't pretty. For those who have experienced it or who have loved ones in the midst of the storm, we know it's painful.  For those of you who haven't experienced it, be thankful.  

For me, Amy's death was a reminder of the thousands of people who are struggling with addiction, and the families & friends who love them despite of it.  It reminded me that 

people are human and sometimes they don't always make the best decisions. It doesn't mean they're stupid or crazy. They're just human.

So, to those who stand in judgement of Amy and others, I encourage you to keep on living.  Give it some time. Let life throw some stuff at you that you didn't expect.  Let life knock you down.  And when it does (and it will), remember Amy Winehouse. Think about the jokes you shared, the heartless comments about her death and your lack of compassion.  Remember her.


Her music, her talent, and her life were gifts. Her contributions to this world were plentiful and powerful. She was only here a short time, but her memory (that voice!) and her influence will live on and on...  R.I.P. Amy.  Damn.      

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Life Lessons From My Dog, Kopper (AKA “Boom-Boom”, “Puchi”)

Technically, I’m a pet owner.  In reality, it’s my dog’s world and I just live in it!  She makes me scratch my head in disbelief sometimes (she takes the word “Diva” to a whole other level!). She can be annoying, she's uber-cute, she can be sweet, but most of all, she cracks me up daily.  I learn a lot from this little 10 lb, four-legged, furry human….

Don’t Take Life Too Seriously -
In her world, when something doesn’t work out,  she gets up, moves on and starts chewing on something new.  Makes sense, right?  Keep it moving….

If You Love Someone, Show ‘em!
 - Don’t be stingy with love.  My little Boom-Boom  loves me to death (and vice-versa).  She showers me with love daily.  And I have to admit, it makes me feel great.... 

Sometimes, You Just Gotta Be a Diva –
Kopper loves to be pampered, hates to be cuddled and would rather dine on treats, than a full-course meal.  Call her diva, but she knows what she wants, when she wants it and she doesn’t care what anyone says about it. Bam! :) 

Trust Your Gut! – Kopper knows within 5 minutes if she’s gonna have a positive or negative vibe with someone.  If she warms up to you fast, chances are, you’re good people.  If not, oh well….it’s been real.  I’m not THAT anal, but paying close attention to that little voice (your gut feeling) will save you a lot of time, heartbreak, headaches, etc.  Trust me…

Work With What You Got!
– My dog has the most hideous under-bite you’ve ever seen in your life.  In addition to her under-bite, she’s missing a few teeth.  Her smile is a hotmess.com to say the least!  But, you know what?  When she walks into a room, she owns it. Head high and full of confidence!

Rest: Get You Some – Listen, you can’t conquer the world if you’re dead tired.  Even Jesus rested on the seventh day, so get those Zzzz’s in.  Side Note: I don’t sleep nearly as much as my Puchi. She’s a diva and requires at least 10-12 hours a day....or else. 
  
Kopper & Willie (her Boo)
 







Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Just Say No (Confessions of a Former People Pleaser)

Hi! My name is Stephanie and I’m a former people pleaser. In my case, being a people pleaser didn’t just happen overnight.  I was born that way…it’s how I came into the world.  It’s how God made me.  And for a really long time (too long actually), I thought it was just “the way I am.”

I’m the oldest of five, so helping others and doing for others is second nature to me. I’ve always been the easy-going type (easy to get along with and positive), and I genuinely want everyone around me to be happy and content.  Classic traits of a people pleaser!  *Sidenote: Believe it or not, most people who have the “disease to please” are women.  Think about it…

I thought…saying no to someone made me less empathetic, less caring (less of a woman, maybe?) and slightly self-absorbed.  For years, I let “friends” drift in and out of my life as they pleased.  Only reconnecting with me when they wanted or needed something… I have to shake my head sometimes when I think about the woman I use to be.  I even laugh about it sometimes because at the end of the day, being a people pleaser is 100% preventable.  And I take full responsibility for not getting off the yes treadmill sooner.

D
on’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with pleasing people.  For me, helping someone or making someone smile unexpectedly or just being a positive influence in someone’s life is priceless. The problem arises when the need to please others consistently trump our own needs and wants. 

The light bulb finally came on for me. I had to learn to say no (politely, of course). It’s what I call the ‘yes’ diet. It’s not about stopping the pleasing altogether, it’s about being more aware and in tune with myself and my feelings.  It’s about doing more of what I want to do and less of what others think I should do.

I
t takes a lot of courage to say no sometimes.  It’s not always the easiest thing.  It can be uncomfortable, but it’s something I know I have to do.  It's not about being insensitive, selfish or unkind. Not at all!  For me it's pretty simple: Each "No" is a small step towards becoming a better "Me".  And I'm cool with that..... 

  

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Marriage: I Do. I Don’t. I Will. I Won’t.

My views on marriage constantly change. On Monday afternoon, I may see a cute, happy couple with 2.5 beautiful kids and I want to just take the plunge. Be like Nike and Just Do It!  Thursday morning rolls around and I talk to friends who are going through a painful divorce and bam! *throws hands up*  I vow to never, ever go down that road (or aisle in this case).  And then there are my “Carrie Bradshaw” days.  Times where I’m livin’ it up with my girls, shopping with no boundaries or having Sunday brunch with special friends at my favorite spot.  In those moments I sit back, bask in my independence, smile and think…life is good.

It’s not that I don’t believe in the principle of marriage. It’s quite the opposite. I see marriage as a joint venture. And like any great merger, selecting the right partner for long term compatibility is critical.  I think…marriage is one of the most important decisions in a person’s life.  It’s one of the most important commitments that someone will make during their lifetime.  And when I do it—if I do it, I want to be certain it’s right.  Not perfect, but right.
I have friends (and family members) who have successful, loving marriages and I admire them so much. But can I keep it real for a sec?  I have even more friends who have struggled to find that happy place with their spouses. The results: infidelity, depression, insecurities, divorce and…drama!  

I had a conversation recently with a good friend whose marriage ended after only a few years.  The Virgo in me had to know, what went wrong?  There were several things, but the main issue: He and his ex-wife were in different places in their lives.  He wanted ‘this’ and she wanted ‘that’.   

I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever get married.  But what I do know is this: I will always be honest with myself.  I’ll listen to my heart and my head. And I’ll make the best decision for me, and no one else. 
And that’s how I’m feeling...today.  Two weeks from now could be a whole other story!  So stay tuned....


Friday, March 18, 2011

Bullies Beware – There’s a New Sheriff in Town

You’ve seen it.  That YouTube video where the scrawny little kid (the bully), no more than 80 pounds taunts, hits (three times) and harasses another kid at school. The kid who’s being taunted eventually fights back, body slams the bully and…game over.  *drop the mic & fade to black*  The :40 second video reminds me of a clip from WWE SmackDown!
Now, I normally don’t condone violence, but I have to be honest.  I was glad to see that bully get a beat down.  He deserved it… Yeah, I said it.  And by all accounts, most of the world agrees with me. I think there was a collective cheer heard all around the world when that kid fought back.  Why?  The bully represented the oppressor, the abuser, the mean girl, the evil boss, etc. It was a Rocky Balboa moment!  And it kinda felt like a revolution!

But seriously, bullying is very real problem in this country, and I hate it.  Every time I read a story, hear a news report or see a mom on TV mourning the loss of her kid who’s committed suicide (because they were bullied), I cringe.  It makes me mad, sad, disgusted, and I sometimes feel a sense of hopelessness for the up & coming generation.    
The truth is…we (myself included) need to ask ourselves some honest questions. What makes a kid think it’s OK for him/her to hurt someone else?  Is it something they’ve learned?  Is it a lack of discipline from their parents/guardians?  Low self-esteem?   Where does it all come from?  
I surely don’t have the answers.  But I do know what it feels like to be bullied.  I wasn’t physically traumatized, but I was relentlessly teased as a kid because of my weight.  Elementary school was difficult for me and the bullies didn’t make it any better.  But that was then and this is now….no need to dwell on the past.  
It’s not easy standing up to a bully.  I often think about the kids who don’t have the strength, both physically & mentally to process and execute that kind of courage.  And should they? After all, they’re just kids!  Some adults can’t even do it.
The bottom line is this: Kids should be able to go to school, learn, feel safe and enjoy that experience. In a perfect world, teachers, parents, communities and law enforcement would work together to recognize bullying, and enforce zero-tolerance rules against it.  Period. 
Until then, we may start seeing a lot more of these “Bully Beatdown” videos…         


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hip-Hop: A Love Letter

One thing that really surprises people about me is that I’m a huge fan of hip-hop music. Huge.  I literally have thousands of songs on my iPod and a large portion of my personal catalog is hip-hop.  Old school, new-school, conscious rap, southern rap, alternative rap, crunk stuff, Miami bass, you name it!

I think it’s the creative artist in me.  To me, rappers are just modern day poets.  They have the unique ability to take complex, controversial and often times painful life experiences, and create stories.  Stories that I, me *points to self* can relate to.  That’s so dope to me! 

I mean, who would think that a kid from the Marcy Housing Projects in Brooklyn, a former drug dealer who was abandoned by his father, could write ‘Song Cry’? One of the most beautiful love songs I think I’ve ever heard.  It’s a familiar script: Boy meets girl. They fall in love.  Boy messes up (big time).  Boy loses girl.  End of story.  But there’s a twist to this story. The break-up was so bad that dude wants to break down and cry, but instead he raps “I can’t see ‘em (tears) comin down my eyes, so I gotta make this song cry.”  And that he does.      

The end product: A 5-minute emotional hip-hop love letter to his beloved lost "one".  Brilliant.  A part of my heart aches every time I hear that song.

So, I guess this post is my love letter to hip-hop…

You (hip-hop) are…an old friend who’s still young, hot and exciting. I love that you challenge me to think outside of the box and you constantly remind me that it’s not always about the package, but the message instead. I admit, I don’t always understand you.  But I do understand the method to your madness.  I admire your history.  And I can’t wait for other generations to experience you the way I that have.

My love for you can be summed up with a question. “Oh you fancy, huh?”  Yes…yes you are.

My Top 10 All-Time Favorite Hip-Hop Songs

  1. Keep Ya Head Up – Tupac (My favorite rapper of ALL time!)
  2. Int’l Player’s Anthem – Outkast
  3. Song Cry - Jay-Z (Tupac is my #1, Jay is #2)
  4. Cha Cha Cha – MC Lyte (My favorite female MC)
  5. One More Chance - B.I.G.
  6. Flava In Ya Ear - Craig Mack (I’m probably his #1 fan)
  7. Music – Eric Sermon
  8. Empire State of Mind - Jay-Z & Alicia Keys (Best collab in hip-hop history)
  9. Rapper’s Delight – Sugarhill Gang (The intro alone makes me smile)
  10. One Mic – Nas (Deep…very deep)
                                                                             "Song Cry"

Friday, February 11, 2011

Smart Chicks Wear Stilettos!


A male friend recently said to me: Chicks who wear red lipstick and stilettos look good, but usually have little substance. Huh?  Now, I proudly confess…I’m a girly girl (sticks out chest).  I love to shop, wear stilettos, buy make-up, bake cookies and anything else that screams GIRL! And yes, I love the color pink! I thank LJC (Lord Jesus Christ) daily for making me a woman.  *Side Note: He really outdid himself when he made us women. Yes He did.*  But that’s just one side of me.  And like most women, I have many sides. 
Like any other red-blooded American girl, I love a good shoe sale at Nordstrom’s. But I get equally excited about a town hall meeting with my Congressman; even more hyped about teaching a class full of 6th graders on Junior Achievement day.  I love pedicures, but on any given Saturday, you’ll find me at my neighborhood Barnes & Noble with a good book and an even better caramel macchiato.  Get the picture?  
So guys, don’t let the stilettos and red (or pink) lipstick fool you!  Take a sec to get to know a woman.  Don’t judge a book by its cover. Take time to learn what’s inside. You just might be surprised by what you find.                                               
                          ** Famous Smart Chicks Who Rock Stilettos **
Madonna, Pop Culture Icon
Kimora Lee Simmons, Businesswoman, Philanthropist, Top Model, etc.
Mellody Hobson, President of Ariel Invesments, LLC

Angelina Jolie, Philanthropist, Actress
Desiree Rogers, CEO of Johnson Publishing
Candace Bushnell, Best-selling Author (Sex and the City, etc.)
Dr. Lisa Masterson, Women’s Healthcare Pioneer (featured on The Doctors)
Judge Glenda Hatchett, TV Personality, Author, Philanthropist
Sarah Jessica Parker, Hollywood Power-Player
Desiree Rogers, CEO of Johnson Publishing

Friday, January 28, 2011

Pretty Little Girls

If you looked up “girly-girl” in the dictionary, there’d be a picture of me sitting there in a fabulous pink dress, with my legs neatly crossed, face beat, lips shining (Lip gloss is my favorite!), drinking some afternoon tea, and reading my most recent copy of Cosmopolitan magazine.

I really do love all of that stuff!  So it was a surprise to some people (those who don’t really know me), that I was bothered by Walmart’s recent announcement about their new line of beauty products.  Beauty products – no big deal right?  Did I mention this line is tailored for girls between the ages of 8 and 12?  It’s being branded as an “anti-aging” line designed for “young skin” and it will feature blush, mascara, lipstick and face shimmer. 

Lipstick and blush for 8 year-olds?  Seriously??? 

I’m not mad at Walmart for deciding to run this campaign. They’re a business, and businesses are in the business of making money. Point blank.  And the beauty industry is BIG MONEY.  What frustrates me is the message that this is sending to young girls.  To me, it reinforces an unhealthy focus on exterior, superficial, physical beauty.   

The vanity obsession is everywhere.  Turn on the television on any given day and you’ll see young women who are consumed with their appearance. Part of it is just being insecure (We’ve all been there.)  And companies know that. That’s why they spend millions on marketing campaigns that focus on the beauty benefits of their product.  Get it?   

Yes, I enjoy wearing make-up, but I’m a woman who’s comfortable and confident in her own skin (with or without lip gloss). Young girls should be encouraged to be smart, outspoken, compassionate and fearless. And they should be reminded that real beauty doesn’t come from the perfect shade of face powder.  It comes from within and is always accompanied with great humility.    

Let's leave the lipstick and blush on the shelf where it belongs.    

Friday, January 21, 2011

Uncle Luke - Miami's Next Mayor?

Disclaimer:
Let me preface this post by saying upfront that I was born and raised in Florida.  Therefore I have a certain affinity for Luke and his music (affectionately known as “Miami Bass”). **pause for a collective gasp** 

Most people know him as Luke, or Uncle Luke, but his government name is Luther Campbell.  He was the outspoken leader of one of the most popular rap groups of all time, the 2 Live Crew.  His trademark: His controversial ‘nasty as he wanna be’ booty-shaking music that dominated the charts in the 80’s. But he’s also known for his highly publicized obscenity case that challenged the Supreme Court to defend free speech --A music censorship victory and a major win for the entertainment industry.   

Not only did he sell millions of records and make gobs of money, but he was the founder of Luke Records, the first independent black owned record company owned by a rapper. He was also was one of the first artists to distribute his own music.


It’s 2011 now and Luke’s a husband, and a dad.  He’s a different man.  But one thing about him that hasn’t changed…he’s still controversial as hell!  Up next, politics.  Yes—the man who wrote hits like "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" and "Me So Hor*y" is seriously considering entering the race to become Miami’s next mayor.  Sounds crazy right?  Not to me.  Here’s why:

In most cities in Florida, Luke is considered a legend (I’m dead serious) and in the world of hip-hop, he’s an icon (If you don't believe me, ask Jay-Z).  Luke was born and raised in Miami.  He's a smart and successful businessman who genuinely loves the city, and is committed to making it better.  Although he’s somewhat retired from the music biz, he’s still very connected to young people.  He currently serves as assistant football coach for Miami-Dade Central High School and is a very active philanthropist in his community.  Luke is brutally honest and forthcoming about his past and the present (He’s transparent--what you see is what you get!)

And lastly, Luke is no stranger to politics.  He was a very outspoken supporter of many Get Out The Vote campaigns during the 2008 Presidential election, and he frequently gives national commentary about current political issues (He's actively engaged in the political process.) 

You think it's silly, absurd and impossible that Luther "Luke" Campbell could be the next mayor of Miami? Think again.....    
Luther "Luke" Campbell

Monday, January 17, 2011

(PINK) Public Service Announcement

Martin Luther King, Jr. day is officially observed on January 17th.  Some folks see it as the most-awaited first holiday break of the year and some see it as a time to reflect and rejoice.  I choose the latter. 
Dr. King’s life is a movement and it didn’t end in 1968.  I was a part of it in 2008, when President Obama became the 44th President of the United States.  I can experience it 24-hours a day on a cable network called OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) and I’m encouraged by it when I think of people like Bill Gates, Marian Edelman and Hydeia Broadbent.

My favorite quote by Dr. King is actually a question:

"Life's most urgent question is: What are you doing for others?"
My answer: Not enough.  What's yours?

Friday, January 14, 2011

(Marriage/Relationship) Digital Media 10 Commandments

Leon Walker thought his wife was having an affair, so he logged into her email account to get proof.  He was right.  Now he’s facing felony charges in Michigan for violating an anti-hacking computer law.  It got me to thinking…  Husbands, wives, partners & others: Knowledge is power!  It may keep you out of jail and divorce court too!  So, raise your right hand, place it over your heart and repeat the following:  
                 (Marriage/Relationship) Digital Media 10 Commandmants
  1. Honor thy marriage/relationship (ALWAYS)
  2. Thou shall learn the digital landscape (Before you buy a car/house, you do research right?)
  3. Thou shall choose strong passwords (Not 'medium' strength ones and definitely not 'weak' ones)
  4. Thou shall not hack into thy spouse’s personal accounts/email without permission (If you have to hack, you already know what's up)
  5. Thou shall disclose marital status on all social media sites (i.e. Facebook) where applicable (People will often assume you're single, and....drama could ensue)  
  6. Thou shall not sweat the small stuff (Get the facts first)  
  7. Thou shall not use digital media (text, email, tweets) to replace real-life verbal conversations
  8. Thou shall not spend more than 5-7 hours a week on social media sites (Ditto for xBox & Playstation) 
  9. Thou shall re-read all updates (postings, tweets, text, emails) before pressing ‘send’
  10. Thou shall always remember Commandment #1 








 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Arizona Shooting: Is Free Speech Free?

The  Arizona Shooting.  I’ve been watching in disbelief as the reports continue to roll in.  A congresswoman shot in the head, 13 wounded and six confirmed deaths, including a 9 year-old and a federal judge? What makes this even more disturbing is that this tragedy stemmed from recent heated political rhetoric around issues such as health care legislation and immigration.

A
nyone who knows me knows - I’m always down for a good political debate. And I love discussing the issues with people who don’t agree with me.  It’s both enlightening and reaffirming. I admit, sometimes it gets heated because I’m passionate about what I believe. Who isn’t? 

I’m also passionate about writing. Super passionate about the First Amendment. This law is in place to protect and promote freedom of information, expression, and petition. The First Amendment = the blueprint for personal freedom.  It's freedom of speech!  Period.  My motto is this: “I may not agree with what you’re saying, but I’ll always support your right to say it.”

Sadly, people died in Arizona because one person didn’t agree with another person’s position on important issues. It makes me ask, is free speech really free?  Not for the Arizona victims.  They’ve paid the ultimate price for something most of us take for granted. Was it worth it?
 

9 year-old victim Christina Taylor Green and her mom

 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Smiling Like Miss Celie

I’m terrible at receiving compliments.  Most times I just say thanks and smile like Miss Celie. Other times I feel the need to explain, justify or just return the compliment.  And then—and this is the worst, there are times when I just won’t take it!  I’ll actually come up with things to say to weaken a flattering remark.  It's the weirdest thing ever.  Here’s how the conversation goes:

Person A:  Steff, you really look cute tonight.
Person B:  Yeah, you’re workin’ that dress.
Me:  Oh please, I could stand to lose 20 lbs. If it weren’t for Spanx, I’d be…

Why do I do that?!?  Reason #1: I’m kinda shy and I don’t like a lot of attention. Reason #2 (the real reason): Compliments make me a bit uncomfortable.  In some ways I feel like if I believe the “hype” of a compliment, I’ll become arrogant and shallow. Truth is, I’m not arrogant or shallow.  I’m unassuming and humble.  I want to stay that way forever and ever (corny, but true.)

I often wonder, will I ever get to a place where I can just accept and embrace a compliment in the spirit in which it’s intended to be?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Until then, I’ll just keep smiling like Miss Celie….       

Miss Celie from The Color Purple




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