Monday, December 30, 2013

Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom - An Inspiring Tribute

Nelson Mandela lived 95 long years.  Amazing.  He blessed us in so many courageous ways.  When I sit and think--really think about his vision, his sacrifices, his strength and his unwavering commitment to humanity, it leaves me speechless.  And after seeing the movie, Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom, all I could do was shake my head in disbelief. This really happened.  

The story of Nelson Mandela.... Whew.  A few months ago, I said to a friend, "How in the world does someone tell THAT story?"  So many layers. Decades of history.  Political control.  Cultural relevance. Apartheid.  Legacy.  Pain and heartache.  What an undertaking!    

William Nicholson's (the film's screenwriter) and Justin Chadwick's (director) interpretation of Nelson Mandela's life is uncomplicated and moving.  This film is the reason why movies should be made: To tell stories that entertain, agitate, educate and make you think.  I'm still thinking about this movie...    

Idris Elba as Mandela.  My goodness.  His portrayal is so captivating that it demands your undivided attention.  The movie begins with Mandela in his 20's.  He transforms from a charming ladies man to a husband and father, who eventually makes mistakes.  Mandela's anger over a friend's death ignites his fire to fight for equality.  That commitment changes his life, everyone who loves him and the future of a country.  Idris physically changes throughout the movie to age 75, but his presence remains strong and dignified until the end.  A commanding performance. An award worthy performance. 

The movie also depicts Winnie Mandela's struggle. Mandela loves his Winnie.  And she loves him, but more poignantly, she believes in him and his vision.  She continues to fight with him, for him and the people of South Africa for 27 years.  Her spirit is fiery and her strength is undeniable, but when she and Nelson touch each other for the first time in 21 years, she is simply....a woman in love.  It is the most heart-rending scene in the movie. Naomie Harris (who played Winnie Mandela) showed up, rolled up her sleeves and gave this role her everything.  Beyond impressive.
Idis Elba and Naomie Harris as Nelson and Winnie Mandela.
I grew up knowing Nelson Mandela was a hero of our times.  After seeing the film, I still believe he is.  But now, I realize he was a man with a fearless drive to do the right thing. He was a man who was passionate about humanity and forgiveness. A man who taught the world so many valuable lessons.  An example of love.  A champion of the people.  A great man.  

Friday, December 27, 2013

My Theme Song For 2014....

Being happy is a choice worth making.  Try it.  *sips tea*  Want some?  It's delicious. :)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Best. Christmas. Card. Ever!

So yeah...I feel like a failure in life.  My Christmas cards are NOTHING like this.  *kicks rocks*  :-)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

10 Things Santa Will Do After Christmas

  1. Triple check his list to make sure everyone received their gifts.

  2. Check Instagram to see all of the beautiful #MerryChristmas pictures.

  3. Get a massage.  After visiting 842 million homes and traveling 221 million miles to reach each kid, "exhausted" is an understatement.

  4. Date night with the Mrs.  He's been working long hours and she's been patient.  It's "her" time now.

  5. Hit the gym.  A diet that consists mostly of milk and cookies can wreak havoc on a waistline.

  6. Stop by the barber shop.  Make sure his beard is still tight.

  7. Sign and distribute elf bonus checks.  They're the forgotten heroes in all of this.

  8. Take the sleigh in for a tune-up.

  9. Call his publicist - Officially decline FOX News' invite to come on and talk about fictional characters and their racial backgrounds.

  10. Download the new Beyonce album.  #fan

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas Came A Little Early, No? (Thanks Beyonce)

Sooooo, Christmas came a little early!  I went to sleep last night and woke up to: 

Beyonce dropped a *gulp* 14-track video album on iTunes around midnight last night. Yep--each song comes with its very own video. *gulp again*  Listen.  Even if you don't like Beyonce (What the !@$& is wrong with you?), you gotta respect her brand: Bold and freakin' fearless. 

No marketing.  No promotion.  No warning.  Nada.  Just greatness.  Well played, B.  Well played.  #VirgoNation


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Friday, December 6, 2013

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

PR Tip: Make Sure Your Website Is Media Friendly

So, you have some amazing news to share about your company.  You decide to send out a press release to make the announcement.  Because it's unique, informative, relevant and compelling (Press Releases 101), a reporter takes notice.

He/she wants to find out more info, so they go to your company website.  Happens every day.  Make sure it's ready. Here are some tips:

Is your site organized, professional and easy to navigate?  Nothing pains a reporter more than having to stumble all over a site.  Keep it simple, intuitive and user friendly. Remember, reporters are on deadline, so they don't have a lot of time to "find" things on your website.  They will leave and move on to the next story.  *Include a "search" function so reporters can find what they need quickly.

Is it social media friendly?  Don't forget, bloggers are the media too. Always make sure your website content is shareable in the social media space.  Including easy "share" buttons on your site will help with that.  Killer content helps too.  If the content on your website is engaging, helpful and unique, bloggers will share it with their followers.    

Are there downloadable photos, images, videos?  Reporters and bloggers like to include photos/images/videos with their stories.  Make sure they can download these items quickly from your site.  The photos/images should be high resolution and the videos should be quality.   

Include a "Press Room" section.  Reporters and bloggers will love you for this!  It's a one-stop shop for them.  Your press room should have a press kit, which includes: your bio, company fact sheet, recent press releases, recent media coverage and photos/images/logo. Be sure to make a PDF version of your press kit that can be emailed to anyone. *Make sure your press room is always current/updated.

Links - Limit them & make sure they work.  Don't include a ton of links to other sites on your website.  Links can be like wild goose chases to reporters.  Remember, the clock is ticking. They have to turn in their story. No time to waste! And for the love of God, make sure your links work!  Double check, triple check - do whatever.  Make sure they all work.     

These are just a few tips.  I could go on and on, but I don't want your head to explode. :)  Start here.  Access your site again after you implement these things, and continue to work and make it better. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tie Tuesday (Paul Walker)

My mouth literally fell open when I heard the news about Paul Walker. What?  No.  Really?!?!  I mean, really??  It was an Internet hoax.  It HAD to be.  Unfortunately, it wasn't. 

Paul Walker.  I mean, this guy is a movie star who's known for driving fast cars in his films. And...he's killed in a car accident?  Still hard to believe.  

And for those who can't quite understand why so many people were distraught about Paul's death, here's why:   

He was an embedded fixture in pop culture.  And not just as a pretty face.  Yes, he was freakishly handsome.  Like, take-your-breath-away good looking, but that's not it.  Paul was a part of one of the most successful movie franchises ever, Fast & Furious (Universal Studio's biggest franchise of all time.) 

The multiethnic cast, gorgeous stars, family elements and consistent storytelling has worked for Fast & Furious.  The movies have grossed almost $3 billion worldwide, and continue to dominate the international film market also.  

So, Paul Walker was a world famous super star.  Huge.  And his impact on our culture was undeniably real.  He passed away a few days ago and people are still talking about it.  Still in shock.  His influence and impact won't go away because he died. We'll keep talking about him.  We'll keep swooning over those piercing blue eyes.  We'll keep watching his movies. We'll always remember him.  Watch and see.    


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Letter To God...From The Thanksgiving Turkey

This is totally something I would do.  I'd probably also include a PowerPoint presentation with the letter to further explain my position.  LOL!   #Virgo 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tie Tuesday (Shuggie Otis)

I loooooove music!  All kinds.  My personal catalog includes everybody from James Taylor to Tupac Shakur.  I'm attracted to artists who aren't afraid to step out of the box and be true to themselves. 

That's Shuggie Otis.  He's a serious, accomplished musician first.  An incredible guitarist.  I respect that.  And although his music is clearly influenced by jazz, R&B and blues, his psychedelic & eclectic style always shines through. 

Over the years, Shuggie has worked with Etta James, B.B. King and Jackie Wilson just to name a few.  He scored his biggest hit with "Strawberry Letter 23."  And then he just kinda disappeared - for almost 40 years.  Earlier this year, he released new music with his "Wings of Love" album. Yes!   

Throughout the music industry, Shuggie has been sampled by Beyonce, Outkast, DJ Quick and many others.   

When asked about Shuggie Otis recently, Lenny Kravtiz (another one of my favorites) said, "He's a great example of an artist that erases the borders between genres.  His sweet voice paints intoxicating pictures full of vivid imagery."

I couldn't have said it any better.... 


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tie Tuesday (Andy Warhol)

I love people who are talented, unique and...bold.  People like pop artist and cultural icon, Andy Warhol.  He's one of my favorites!  It's been over 20 years since his death and we're still talking about him and his work. If that's not the definition of longevity, I don't know what is!

His art wasn't subtle or shy.  It grabbed your attention and wouldn't let go until you acknowledged it.  His signature brand was the fusion of his personal style and artwork.  He was a creative thinker who always seemed to be ahead of his time artistically.  Super smart dude.

In addition to being an artist, Andy was also a filmmaker.  He made nearly 60 movies during his lifetime.  And he didn't stop there.  He published magazines and several books too.  A real artist. 

Some of his work: 

Monday, November 18, 2013

PR Tip: Newsjacking - It's Legal & It Works

If I had a $1 for every friend or associate who asked me for PR help with their business, project or personal brand, I'd be able to buy all the cupcakes in the world!  As much as I love cupcakes and helping people, realistically it's impossible to help everyone, so I don't.  I can and do give PR tips all the time though. 

So here's one of my favorites: Newsjacking.  Yes, it's legal.  No, it's not unethical.  PR folks do it all the time.  

News is constantly happening.  Every hour. Every minute.  Newsjacking is simply injecting your ideas (i.e. your business, your product, your service, etc.) into a hot, current news story. The key to newsjacking is timing, so make sure you're following your local and national news outlets daily. In other words, stay ready!

Once that breaking news happens, create something (blog post, video, tweet, article, etc.) relevant and appropriate (that's key too!) that will grab the media's attention.  Newsjacking is responding to a news story, and adding value to it that will be beneficial for the audience/readers.      
Here's an example: 

The Super Bowl is a big deal, right?  You already know the media is going to be talking about the teams, the plays and the halftime show. (Remember, stay ready.)  So, remember last year when Beyonce shut it down with her halftime performance?  Like, she literally SHUT IT DOWN!  The power went out and the game was delayed for about 20 minutes.  Well, here's what the Oreo cookie folks tweeted minutes after that happened: 

Perfect!  They newsjacked the Super Bowl outage.  The tweet went viral because it was savvy, fun and relevant.  

Last thing - Be careful and use good judgement with newsjacking.  You don't want to newsjack a negative, somber story and/or make light of it.  You do that and you'll be looking at a PR disaster. If you don't believe me, google "Kenneth Cole Cairo tweet."  #Yikes

Monday, November 11, 2013

The REAL Issue With That Racially Offensive Home Depot Tweet

Last week, everybody was up in arms about a racially insensitive tweet that Home Depot posted from their company account.   

Take a look: 

Pretty offensive, right?  Yep.  There's no need for me to go into details about WHY it's offensive. If you don't know, I honestly don't have the time or energy to break it down for you.  But take it from me - a reasonable, rational, super nice, liberal black woman with a great smile - It. Is Offensive.  

OK-enough about me...  

So, listen.  I like Home Depot (told you I was nice).  I shop there often and when I purchased my new home five years ago, I visited their store 4-5 times a week for months.  I was there so much the staff knew me by name!   

From a PR perspective, I commend Home Depot for taking swift action after this tweet was posted. They acknowledged it was wrong, stated their zero tolerance policy for things like this and terminated the agency and employee who were responsible for the post. They're also reviewing their social media policy so that incidents like this won't happen again.    

But here's the real issue with that tweet.  It shows first-hand the lack of racial diversity among employees in major corporations and national advertising agencies in this country. In other words - I can almost guarantee you, there were no African Americans in those initial meetings about the content of this post. That tweet was posted by someone who didn't know any better and/or someone who has had little to no racial sensitivity training. Either way, it's bad. 

I'd like to think if there was an African American employee working on this project and someone suggested this terrible tweet, that employee would have paused and said, "Wait. A monkey and black men?  Hell no."  Crisis averted. 

Companies aren't perfect. What happened with Home Depot could have happened to any Fortune 500 company in America.  But if corporations want to continue to grow and prosper, they should have a diverse and inclusive employee base - from the board room to the mail room.  Why? Diversity breeds a culture of fresh creativity and innovation.  It allows people from various backgrounds to contribute to the success of the business.  

If companies don't embrace diversity and understand the importance of cultural sensitivity, we'll continue to see these kinds of public mishaps and crude blunders.  

Note: Diversity = Attributes such as gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, physical ability, age, etc. 


Friday, November 8, 2013

10 Reasons Why a 'Roots' Remake Is a Bad Idea

Brace yourself.  *long sigh*  History (The History Channel) just announced plans to remake....Roots.  Yes, Roots.  One of the most celebrated and groundbreaking TV programs of all time.  And no, I'm not kidding.  Roots - the miniseries that debuted in 1977 and earned a record 36 Emmy nominations, winning nine, including best limited series.  

A remake?  Nice.  And by nice, I mean no.  Here are 10 reasons why a Roots remake is a bad idea:

  1. Just because Django, The Help, The Butler and 12 Years a Slave did great at the box office doesn't mean the remake of Roots will do the same.
  2. Hollywood has a terrible track record when it comes to remakes.  The odds aren't good.

  3. Black people have other stories to tell.  Wake up Hollywood!

  4. Greatness (Roots) stands the test of time.  It is what it is. (Air the original).

  5. Twitter will completely shut DOWN if this remake really happens.  Explode!

  6. Roots is a classic.  You see anybody remaking Gone With The Wind?

  7. This remake is a perfect example of doing too much.  And doing too much always backfires. 

  8. A remake seems so lazy.  Create new content! (TV writers have completely run out of new ideas.)

  9. Prettttty sure America has capped off on remakes for the decade. (In other words...folks are sick and tired of remakes.)

  10. The History Channel can't give 10 reasons (good ones) why a remake of Roots is necessary. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tie Tuesday (Chiwetel Ejiofor)

I love, love, love to see the world wake up and embrace & respect someone's talent.  LOVE it! 

Case in point:  Chiwetel Ejiofor.  A British-Nigerian actor known in America for his roles in Amistad, Inside Man and American Gangster.  Chiwetel started out as a theater actor and has since, balanced stage productions with film and television commitments.   

His latest role as Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave is....brilliant, to say the least.  His talent is so dope that there are scenes where he doesn't even speak and he KILLS it.  Just amazing. 

The buzz has already started about an Oscar nomination for Chiwetel.  Shame on Hollywood if they don't honor him!  He deserves it and then some.    

In the meantime, learn to pronounce his name correctly.  You'll be talking about him for a long time.  Chiwetel is pronounced Choo-EH-tell.  Ejiofor is pronounced Edge-ee-OH-for.  Got it? 

Monday, November 4, 2013

12 Years a Slave....A Brutal, Heartbreaking History Lesson

Soooo, the hype around the movie 12 Years a Slave is real.  In terms of publicity and marketing, Fox Searchlight Films has done a great job.  No--scratch that.  They've done an excellent job!

Everyone's talking about it, tweeting about it and encouraging their friends & family to see it.
Well, guess what I did this past weekend?

First things first!  Let me just say that the movie is a unique combination of exceptional talent, riveting storytelling and historic relevance.  Although there have been many movies that depicted slavery, Director Steve McQueen's
12 Years a Slave tells the story from a different angle.  It's a compelling narrative of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man and violinist from New York who is abducted and sold into slavery.  

It's based on a true story, and it's heartbreaking and disturbing.  Brutal and uncomfortable.  Super emotional.  But it is a movie about slavery, so I expected that.  And it's not just a story of survival.  It's about the will to live - despite horrific circumstances and broken spirits.     

Actor Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup 

Do I think you should see 12 Years a Slave?  Sure. 

One of my Facebook friends actually challenged black people to muster up "courage" and go see it.  Hmmmm.... Instead of her asking black people to see the film, I wish she would have encouraged "non-blacks" to see it.  

Movies like this represent an ugly part of history that most people want to ignore or downplay.  But it is real.  It did happen.  And generations later, people are still hurting.  This is not just a movie for black people.  It's a historical account of the the life of a slave.  A history lesson.    

Personally, 12 Years a Slave really made me think.  Really think....  Especially the line in the movie where a male slave says to Solomon, "If you want to survive, do and say as little as possible."  Wooo.  

Slavery was abolished many years ago, but a lot of people's mindsets (black & white) have not....  Pun intended.  #FoodForThought

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tie Tuesday (Darrell Wallace Jr.)

Remember this name:  Darrell Wallace Jr.  He recently became the first African-American driver to win in a NASCAR national series in nearly 50 years with a victory in the Kroger 200 Camping World Truck Series race.  

No African-American driver has won a NASCAR national touring race since Wendell Scott won in Jacksonville, Florida (my hometown - Woot!) on December 1, 1963. 

Darrell is only 20 years old (so young!) and grew up in Concord, North Carolina.  He started racing at the age of nine.  Nine?!  I was baking cakes in my Easy Bake Oven at nine years old. :)   

When asked about this historic win and what it means to him, he said: 

“I want to be a role model and inspiration to the younger kids and just change the sport as a whole and change it for the better, bring in a new face and just new activity into the sport, and winning helps everything."  


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

(BEST) Dog Halloween Costumes Of 2013 (LOL!)

Dogs make me smile.  Dogs in Halloween costumes make me laugh.  Loudly.  :-)  Here are my favorite pics for Halloween 2013: 

Double Trouble :)

Itty Bitty Bumble Bee

No costume needed.  #Fierce

Where's Waldo???

Star Wars Fans


Family Portrait

No Caption Needed...

Taste the rainbow :)



Friday, October 18, 2013

Vine Video Of The Week (The Doggy Paddle)

I don't know about you, but I feel like this sometimes: 


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tie Tuesday (Dennis Kimetto, Chicago Marathon Winner)

Last year in November, I ran my first half marathon.  It was one of the most challenging and rewarding accomplishments of my life!  I was soooo proud of myself - 13.1. miles!  I plan on running a full marathon.  One day.  I'm not quite ready yet, but yeah.  

Anyway....the Chicago Marathon was held on Sunday, October 13th.  The winner, Dennis Kimetto of Kenya, finished the race in 2 hours, 3 minutes and 45 seconds.  Whew!  He beat the previous record set by Ethiopia's Tsegaye Kebede last year (2 hours, 4 minutes and 45 seconds).

The Chicago Marathon was Dennis' second major victory this year.  He won a race in Tokyo in February.  And to think, just a few years ago Dennis was a farmer, tending to cattle in a west Kenyan town.  Pretty dope, right? 

Dennis Kimetto

Monday, October 14, 2013

Unwritten Twitter Rules - What They Don't Tell You When You Sign Up (Vol. IV)

This is my fourth installment of Unwritten Twitter Rules!  Tremendous milestone, I know. :)  In case you missed Volumes 1-3, here you go:

Volume I:

Volume II:

Volume III: 

You're welcome.   And now for your reading pleasure....Unwritten Twitter Rules - Volume IV: 

  • Never let your momma know your Twitter handle.  NEVER.  :-)

  • If someone retweets you five times a day, ya'll go together.  #TwitterBoo

  • A tweet that takes two tweets to express is usually wack. (I do it all the time though - Lol!)

  • People who live to bully folks on Twitter always have some type of real life issue(s). Pray for 'em.
  • It's hard to believe, but people embellish A LOT on Twitter. *side-eye*  Always remember that they're just people...sitting behind a computer.

  • Being a black person who tweets vs. Being a part of "Black Twitter." *sigh* (There's a difference.)
  • The same people who create drama on Twitter do so in real life also.  #Fact

  • Just because you have a Twitter account doesn't mean you have to comment on EVERYTHING.  Feel free shut-up on some topics.

  • Twitter Beefs - People fight allllll the time on Twitter.  It's best to stay out of it because more than likely there's way more to the story than 140 characters.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Wow....Just Wow (Pic Of The Week)

Check out the cover of Tan magazine, circa 1955.  The magazine was published by Johnson Publishing Company (Ebony, Jet).  It was a "true confessions" type of magazine.  Interesting.  

Anywho, I LOVE this cover!  Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte. *swoons*  It confirms that old adage that says a "picture is worth a thousand words."  When I look at this photo, I see love, passion, art, beauty, history, race...  If I stare at it for a long time, I can get lost in it.  When you look at this picture, what do you see?  

Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tie Tuesday (Dr. Joseph Lowery)

I've been thinking about Dr. Joseph Lowery lately...  He's an icon who is best known for his leadership in the civil rights movement.  His tireless work has stretched over 60 years.  In fact, after Rosa Parks' arrest in 1955, Dr. Lowery was instrumental in leading the Montgomery bus boycott.  And at the request of Dr. Martin Luther King, he led the Selma to Montgomery march of 1965.  He later founded the Christian Leadership Conference with Dr.King, and led the organization from 1997 to 1987.  In 2009, Dr. Lowery was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama.

He celebrated his 92nd birthday this past Sunday in Atlanta at Morehouse College. Celebrities, politicians and community leaders came out to honor his life and contributions. One person was missing though.  His wife of nearly 60 years, Evelyn.  She passed away a week ago. 

My heart goes out to him for his loss...60 years is a long time to love someone.  But I know he's a man of faith.  And I know he'll keep pushing forward.  One of the many reasons I love and admire him...

Monday, October 7, 2013

Support Breast Cancer Awareness Month (My Favorite Pink Things)

It's National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Unfortunately, most of us have or will be affected in some way by this disease.  The statistics are really alarming: 
  • About 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
  • Caucasian women are more likely to develop breast cancer, but it's more common in African-American women under the age of 45; Black women are also more likely to die from breast cancer.
  • About 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer.
  • Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women.  
It's a terrible disease and we all can do our part to support research, treatment and health education.  Start by "purchasing with a purpose" by buying pink products that support the cause.  Here are a few of my favorites: 
Brooklyn Cruiser Limited-Edition Pink Willow Bike

Juice Beauty's Authentically Pink Makeup Kit

Edible Arrangements Pink Dipped Strawberries

Bicycle Playing Cards

Coach "Mini Boyfriend" Watch  

Conair's Power of Pink Collection

Gaiam Yoga Mat

Officemate Pink Office Supplies

 Microfiber Sherpa Lined Sparkle Boots

Friday, October 4, 2013

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Obamacare 101 - What You Need To Know

The subject of health care is probably one of the most complex, confusing and frustrating subjects out there.  I swear, it gives me a headache. *massages temples*  But, it's soooo important.  And Obamacare?  Extremely important.  I know folks with high IQ's, health care backgrounds, law degrees and a partridge in a pear tree who don't fully 'get' it. Here are the basics about America's new health care plan (Hope it helps!): 

 The Facts - Real Quick
  • There are 48 million Americans who don't have health insurance according to the Census Bureau.

  • More than 9 million children lack health insurance in America.

  • The United States is the only industrialized country in the world without a universal health insurance system.

  • Half of all bankruptcies are caused by medical bills.  Three-quarters of those filings are people with health insurance.

  • U.S. health care spending is approximately $2 trillion per year, or $6,697 per person. The United States continues to spend significantly more on health care than other countries in the world.
What Is Obamacare?
OK--In 2010, President Obama enacted a law called the Affordable Healthcare Act.  The purpose?  To "increase" the number of Americans covered by health insurance and "decrease" the cost of healthcare. 

With Obamacare, no one will be excluded from getting insurance, and everyone will have to get insurance.  If you already have insurance, chances are you can probably keep what you have.

It will vary with each plan. Some plans have higher deductibles and/or higher co-pays. Costs will vary based on where you live also.  The majority of uninsured people should be able to find a policy for $100 or less a month.  The Kaiser Family Foundation has put together a calculator that will give you an idea of what your bill will look like: 

Important Dates
  • October 1, 2013 - Open enrollment for health insurance begins (ends on March 31, 2014). You don't have to sign up that first day. (Don't wait until the last minute though!)
  • Enroll by December 14, 2013 if want your coverage to start by January 1, 2014.
  • January 1, 2014 - All legal residents and U.S. citizens must have qualifying health coverage.
  • Oct. 15 - Dec. 7, 2014 - The next open enrollment period begins.         
Getting Started
Go to to get information and sign up for the program.  (If you don't have access to the Internet, go to your local library - they have computers there.) 

The government has set up call centers to help people with open enrollment.  You can call 1-800-318-2596 for assistance.  You can also enroll by mail. 

Penalties For Not Signing Up
If you don't sign up to get health insurance, you'll have to list that on your 2014 tax return.  The fee for the first year is $95 per adult and $47.50 per child (up to $285 per family), or 1% of your income, whichever is higher. 

The penalty is higher in 2015 ($325 per adult/$162.50 per child), or 2% of your income. 

Some people will be exempt from signing up for health insurance.  For example, people who make so little that they don't file tax returns will be exempt.  

Friday, September 27, 2013

Hispanic Heritage Month - Women Who Rock

Hispanic Heritage Month kicked off on September 15th! It's a great time for us to celebrate the unique contributions, culture and talents of Hispanic Americans throughout this country. 

I'm a BIG supporter of women.  So, to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month, I'm celebrating beautiful, smart, talented Hispanic women I love and admire: 

Antonia Novella -
First Hispanic American to be named surgeon general of the United States. She was born in Puerto Rico and appointed Surgeon General by president George Bush. 
She was also the first woman ever to hold the position. #GirlPower

Rita Moreno
- The first Hispanic American (and the second person ever) to have won an Oscar, a Grammy, a Tony, and an Emmy.  "Maria" from Westside Story...  #dope

Ellen Ochoa - First female Hispanic astronaut.  Her first of four shuttle missions was in 1991.

Celia Cruz - Bolstering a 40-year singing career, she recorded 23 gold records, appeared in several movies, earned a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, and was awarded the American National Media of the Arts by the National Endowment of the Arts. (One of my favorite artists ever!)

Mary Joe Fernandez - Won two grand slam tennis titles for doubles & two Olympic gold medals.

Sonia Sotomayor - First Hispanic U.S. Supreme Court justice.

Rita Hayworth - She was born Margarita Carmen Cansino from Spanish parents, but was made to change her name and hair color in order to get work in Hollywood.  She made a total of 61 films and appeared on the cover of "Life" magazine six times.
Singer, Celia Cruz
Since 1968, the U.S. has honored the important role of Americans whose ancestors hailed from Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean.  September 15th was chosen as the first day of the celebration because it's the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.  (Mexico celebrates their independence on September 16th and Chile on September 18th.)  


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tie Tuesday (Earvin "Magic" Johnson)

He's one of the biggest athletes of all times.  His skills on the basketball court have cemented him as a legend - no question about that.  But his legacy will be what he's done off of the court. 

Magic Johnson is the CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises, a company that has a net worth of $700 million.  He's also part-owner of the LA Dodgers and has several other enterprises including Magic Workforce Solutions, Sodexo Magic Food Service, Magic Airport Holdings and ASPiRE TV.

The five-time NBA champion and Hall of Famer recently launched his "Friends of Magic" project in Chicago.  The goal: To help at-risk students, including dropouts, graduate from school.  It gives them a second chance.  

As he wiped away tears during the announcement event, Magic said, "I've been so blessed in life. I'm trying to give back to the same community I grew up in."

Magic Johnson's Bridgescape Academy contracts with the Chicago Public Schools to help dropouts complete their graduation. 

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