Hey ladies, Guess what! Its officially Pumpkin Spice season and I have not had one pumpkin spiced latte yet. I guess the only reason I haven't is because I'm on weight watchers and its packed with sugar. I'll definitely be looking for some sort of alternative. But, the other reason I'm excited is because it’s time for your boots, scarfs, tights, cardigans, sweaters and hats to come out of hiding. I absolutely love this season that’s about to explode, so this comes with much excitement.
Part 2 (part 1 here)
My first day in New York was, shall I say verrrrry welcoming. I did the absolute most and ordered a black car to pick me up from the airport to my Airbnb, why because “extra” is my middle name. I was already nervous because it was my first time staying at an Airbnb and the directions for getting into my temporary living space sounded like if I missed one step I'll be standing outside with my luggage. Verbatim, the directions read like this:
“Look on the right hand side of my door to find a black lockbox attached to a small metal railing. (there are 2 lockboxes and mine is the one that says "IAN" on it!)
Pull open the plastic cover to see the keypad. Enter the 6-digit code, 000000# and pull down on the large button with the white arrow. Once it's open, remove the keys. (Please enter the code again to close the box before you enter the apartment!)
**If it doesn't open there is a small button below the keypad, pull that down and try it again. Also use the small button if you enter a mistake.
The keys will be numbered 1, 2, and 3. And they open 3 doors in that same order. Open the first two security doors and then go all the way to the top of the stairs to find my place (it is the very last apartment.)
Once inside, your room is to the right. (picture of Frida Kahlo on the door.)
It's super easy, so I'm sure you will be fine! If you have any issues you can call my cell.”
So as soon as I read this my thoughts were like hmmmm let me be sure to put his cell number in my phone because I'm sure I'll mess this mission completely up. Thankfully, God was on my side because Ian had made arrangements to meet me at his apartment since my flight was a little earlier in the evening. I was so grateful, Ian had a cute apartment on the top floor that was on the side of a store front. The staircase was narrow with a small railing to help us lazy people get up the stairs. When you walk in you'll be standing in the kitchen, on the left were plants, artwork from yard sales and pictures of jazz musicians. The living room had a piano surrounded by plants and nic nacs, with a bedroom adjacent to the piano. To the right was the bathroom and two bedrooms. My bedroom was a hard right and a straight walk to the back. Inside was a bed, dresser with an old typewriter on it, an end table with a lamp with a map and a swivel chair sitting next to the window. It was quaint, a little stuffy and bustling with Saturday activity outside my bedroom window, I was officially in Brooklyn.
Ian told me of some local places to visit, it was Cinco De Mayo so tacos were a must. He told me step by step directions for walking to Chevales, a local Mexican restaurant that's super popular. I walked and smiled at everything I thought we did in Chicago. You would have thought I was in a foreign land. I even cracked myself up; Is that R. Kelly playing in that bar ha, he's from Chicago. Are you guys selling Chicago style hotdogs, ha that's where I'm from. It was so crowded at the restaurant luckily there was 1 small seat open at the bar that I was able to squeeze into. There were two black girls sitting there, after building up some courage, I said “hey are you all from New York?” That was a nice ice breaker because an hour later after girl chat I left with some stories about riding the subway, how to watch out for the slasher (yes people ride the new york trains and slash people faces) and a bling bling rhinestone can of face mace that one of the girls gave me. She wanted me to enjoy my trip but with safety.
It was now 8pm and as I started walking back to my Airbnb I thought wow it's really early, its Saturday night and I'm in Brooklyn. Once you book your space Airbnb has different sections of offerings and experiences that you can pay for to help enjoy your trip. I remember browsing through all the options. A photo-shoot with a celebrity photographer for a set price, A 5 star VIP Club night through Manhattan, a Brooklyn Bridge tour and so much more. I jumped on top of the Photographer package because I knew I could only take so many selfies, plus I'm in the Big Apple, I will need some real photos. I paid $65 for my photo package. Her name is Jasmine and if you go to New York on a visit, please hire her HERE. I also saw plenty of the VIP party packages, free uber to the hot clubs, VIP all night, dinner and drinks all night, perfect for someone who is alone but doesn't want to sit in the house.
I didn’t pay for the VIP club package in advance because I was a little weary. However, I was in Brooklyn now, it's was 8pm and I had nothing to do. I pulled up my Airbnb app and starting frantically texting the hell out of Kai, the owner of The Lavish Life Vip clubbing. Below is my first message:
ME: Hi Kai I’m thinking of this package. I’m visiting and getting in later today. Its a solo trip so my girls not with me to turn up. I’ll be site seeing etc. I’m staying in bedstuy air bnb. Any places in that area I can buy a club dress. I have cutesy brunch dresses and heels. Do u think those will do or should I dress I’m true club gear.
KAI: I live in bedstuy too you could go downtown bk to shop if you like . We doing dinner tonight at Phd dream midtown then bottles at gilded lily
ME: Okay what time y’all getting together tonight? And how much for makeup?
KAI: At 10pm. I charge $30 for s full face, lashes included
So as you can see I'm ready to PARRRRTAYYYY. Kai is gorgeous, a model and her boyfriend is a party promoter for New York Club Scene. You can find her HERE. I couldn't get my makeup done because we were meeting at 10pm, it was 8pm and I was still walking and texting trying to rush back to the Airbnb. I rushed home and showered, makeup, lashes, dress, clutch purse, bag for my heels because I was taking the subway into Manhattan and my face mace that I was gifted for safe travels Ha, i was ready for the slasher. My first subway ride in Brooklyn was the best, everything you see on TV is true. As soon as I hit the bottom subway step Jack the Rat walked by me. I say walked by because you would have thought I was a Rat as well because he was not bothered. As a matter of fact no one was bothered, just me.
What I think is so great about New York is that no one gives a damn what you are doing. I was in full face makeup with pearls, dress and a bag of heels and no one barely looked at me. On the train with me was a Doctor, homeless man, lawyer, random people and two more girls going clubbing, except they had on 6 inch heels and mini skirts. It was just another day in the neighborhood to the locals. I reached my stop in Time Square, stopped a guy on the street who showed me the way to PHD Dream night club, and that my friends, is when my evening turned even more exciting. I HAD THE BEST TIME. After our first stop we were escorted to our Ubers and off to Scores gentleman's club. We were escorted directly to VIP just like celebrities; after Kai's boyfriend checked the bouncers at the door for being extra everything went smoothly. We were seated right next to the stage with a table of bottles and juice waiting. After trying to look super cool like I did this sort of thing every weekend Sisqo walked out and started singing Thong Song. He was so close all I had to do was stand up with my drink in my hand and take pics. Because why you ask, I'm VIP of course, I didn’t have to do nothing but dance cute and look important, I am from Chicago remember, hehehehehehe.
To save you all the reading I'll just give ya what you want PICTURES.
The rest of the evening was very eventful. As I mentioned we were taken to the next spot. No one knew where we were going. We just hopped in 4 different ubers and didn't ask questions, minutes later we pulled up to Scores Gentleman's club. I don't think I have to go into details here. Lets just say it was not for the sensitive eye. The highlight was seeing Sisqo sing Incomplete and Thong Song, that was the cherry on top of an eventful night.
Often people ask me if I were scared, NOT AT ALL. I'm a very talkative person, assertive and I stand at 5'11 so I'm not a meek looking person. I always seem to "look" like I know what I'm doing, or where I'm going. This is both a gift and a curse that I'll talk about in some other post I'm sure. I guess in my next and last post on my New York trip I'll answer some deeper questions like was it liberating, freeing, soul enriching and stuff like that, all real questions I've been asked HA. Until then please leave questions under this post and I'll be sure to answer them.
(This is post 1 of a 3 part post) part 2 here
When I decided to start traveling solo it was not a real big epiphany decision. I was working with a woman who was always going on trips with her husband, which were always quick getaways. She told me to start looking for flights on Google flights and just browse deals. I put in New York and a round trip ticket for $120 popped up for American Airlines. I thought, okay now I don't travel much but even I know this is a good price. The dates were for Saturday May 5th to May 9th. I had 3 days to explore this large scary city. Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Bronx, and Staten Island are the five Boroughs that form New York City. Think of the state you live in and imagine its biggest city, now add four more cities and give them a name; you now have your very own New York City.
Before going to New York I really didn't understand how the state was divided. I just didn't understand; was Harlem a City? is Time Square and Statue of Liberty in the same city? What's a ferry, how do I get to it? I had soooooo many questions. I decided okay, now that I have my ticket where should I stay. I decided I wanted to live like a local, a black girl who had been raised there. I thought to myself, hmmmm when I think of black people and New York, Spike Lee comes to mind. I Googled Spike Lee and New York and of course Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn (pronounced Bed-sty and short for Bed ford-Stuyvesant) was the first thing that came up. I created an Airbnb account and started looking around and found a white guy who played Jazz, had a Jazz themed apt and piano in his living room and often played for his quests. After reading over 75 five star comments I felt comfortable enough and decided to book my stay. I must add I booked after emailing him and asking questions about his proximity to everything I wanted to do, specifically was he super close to the subway because I knew I would need that to get around.
Now before I booked my stay I went on Youtube and typed in “visiting New York in Three Days” “Best sites to see in New York” “Best places to visit in Brooklyn”. I watched about 10 different videos and decided that I wanted to live in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, visit Harlem and eat at the famous Red-Rooster restaurant, go clubbing in Manhattan, visit Williamsburg, see the Hudson River, Visit Central Park, Visit the famous High-Line in Manhattan, visit the neighborhoods Dumbo and Williamsburg in Brooklyn and of course walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, take the subway and visit Chinatown, SOHO and the Meatpacking District. Yes I was busy. I still don't know how I got all of that done. I guess since it was my first ALONE trip I had to make sure I stayed busy. Its very hard not to stay busy in New York. Tons to do, especially if you have never been. My trip was not the typical “go to the empire state building and take some photos” trip. I did my absolute best to emerged myself as much as possible as a local. I'll be sharing a bit more in my next post Part 2.
This post is a three-part post. The next post I will dive into what it was like living in a Spike Lee movie, clubbing in Manhattan and seeing Sisqo perform at a strip club. Yes that happened. And yes I lived on top of a store front in Bed-Stuy with plenty of colorful characters all playing their part in making my experience memorable. Children playing outside, couples arguing and the Mayor of the block playing oldies and selling CD’s. It literally felt like I was an extra from the famous Spike Lee movie Do The Right Thing. If you have never seen this movie and would like to get an idea of summer time in some areas of bed-Stuy this can be a start.
I also need your help with the next post. What would you like answered? What is it you would like to know more about and I'll be sure to try to answer. For more behind the scenes of my trip you can visit my instagram highlight stories, I'm at @ainformedparent.
Valentines Day Outfit and My Thoughts About Love and Bad Days
I admit that I LOVE valentine's day. I love it so much that I would fear when the month of Febrary would finally show up. Now I wouldnt fear all the commercial stuff like flowers, candy, dates, activities. I would fear not receiving those things. I realize now that I had anxiety around anything that meant I could possibly be exposed. Maybe if I didnt receive chocolates and flowers it would be a reality that I am not loved, it would be a reality that I aint gots no man or the reality that there isn't any love in my life.
How to Nourish Your Life. Nourishment For Your Everything.
I recently lost 11 pounds, and I couldn’t be more excited! You’d think People Magazine would’ve done a spread, chronicling my journey. (They didn’t.) And it was just that: a journey. Losing 11 pounds was demanding! I have mad admiration and respect for those who take on heavy weight loss challenges.
A significant part of my 11-pound journey was nourishing my body. What foods I ate was only one part. Google states: “Nourishment is the food or other substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition.” I unapologetically started making time for that which really served me. I started with basic principles: healthy food, 30 minutes of exercise a day, and rest. I began learning how to eat, using the Weight Watchers program. I exercised and trained for my first 5k in May, and I committed to getting to bed on time so I slept a full 7 hours. Sounds simple, but it’s hard to actually keep up!.
After successfully changing behaviors and routines for a month, I felt more energized, fulfilled, and excited, able to check things off my to-do list while meeting inspiring people in the process. I reassessed all that I desired and who I wanted to become. I thought about what was holding me back. Why aren’t I manifesting these things for myself and, most importantly, of what was I afraid?!
I started to be more like the person I wanted to be. I adopted the attitude of the woman I’d wished and thought about becoming. I didn’t wait until I had the right outfit, hair cut, purse, condo, man, or new body. I did it NOW. More kindly, responsibly, and happily. I was fully showing up, present to both myself and those around me. And I continued what I could daily to nourish my soul, my mind, my body. Even considering ways to make my living room more inviting, or my bathroom feel more like a spa, or my bedroom feel like I had checked into the Four Seasons. On a deeper level, I asked myself: How can I heal my wounds? With whom am I still upset? Where am I withholding love? Where am I being vindictive? Where am I being dishonest with myself? And, most of all, with what am I currently unhappy? I seemed to be asking the “right” questions because I got answers, and I want to share with you.
Where is there a deficiency of nourishment in your life?
My mentor and coach Derek Rydall says, “Go on a journey to find a little nourishment in all of your areas of life, so you can break the shell and get out. Just like the baby chick who must peck her way out of the shell because she has outgrown the space.” This is how you strengthen yourself. Peck around to break a few self-limiting shells. You may be wishing and hoping something or someone comes down from heaven and saves you. You may be running to the gas station playing the lotto in hopes of being rescued from your despair. You may daydream of waking up with a perfect body, hair, and teeth. You may even be looking for a third job to straighten out some financial woes. If so, wake up and pinch yourself because you are dreaming! Even if someone did rescue you, it’s only a matter of time before you must be responsible for yourself, jump out of that tree, and flap them wings.
What if someone felt sorry for the cute, little chick and cracked her shell before she was ready?. What would happen? She wouldn’t survive, she wouldn’t have had enough time to build the strength in her muscles and wings to survive in a larger world, a larger reality. Her transformational trial was cut short. You need that transformational trial to test your resolve. Look at yourself as the baby chick, preparing for a bigger world. Keep pecking around. When that new world for which you worked so hard finally comes, you will have the strength to soar seamlessly.
Your journey and transformational trial is needed. Everyday, find ways to nourish it. Ask and meditate on those questions I listed above. Most importantly, discover ways to continue to nourish yourself. I’m certain the baby chick didn’t look around her shell and think, This is some BS! Why did I end up with broke parents? Why am I stuck in here? I’m running out of room, I hate my life. No, she didn’t! She pecked and nourished herself along the way.
This new 6-part series will help you work through your relationship with your baby daddy. This includes: How to navigate parenting together, how to best understand yourself and him, and how your children can best thrive while all together. Most importantly, you will learn how to love and trust yourself and your decisions.
So, I must warn, as you read this 6-part series, I may rub some the wrong way. I will be as diplomatic as possible, which I normally am not. But being honest and truthful are my primary intentions. So please forgive me if I accidentally offend anyone. Shall we dive in?
Let’s say the world is perfect. You meet a guy who is awesome. You fall in love. And while skipping all required steps needed to ensure a healthy relationship, this new love creates a beautiful baby. Or, let’s say the world isn’t as perfect. You meet a guy who didn’t have any intention of creating a meaningful relationship with but you either acted purely on sexual impulse or got caught up in your emotional problems or daddy issues, and, oops, you got pregnant.
Back to this perfect world, we imagine all consequences are erased. Maybe your baby daddy never challenges you, doesn’t act on or even have personal feelings, respects you deeply and agrees with all your parenting techniques, doesn’t have his own issues, has the ability to change your outlook on the world, can be anything and everything you need him to be at anytime. Pretty perfect, right? Well guess what, that was fun but soon your pretend world unravels. No matter how wonderful you think your baby daddy is, he’ll never be that type of perfect. No one can be!
Accepting the realities
Though my daughter is 19, I still have to collect myself when communicating with my Baby Daddy. Here’s a good example of how we can get carried away over nothing: When it’s his weekend with our daughter, we do the drop-off/pickup halfway between us (since he lives nearly 40 minutes away). On this particular night, she was scheduled to return to me, so I sent my Baby Daddy a text message, asking what time he’d be there. While I waited for his response, I texted my daughter to start packing her bags. She hastily replied, “Why don’t you just call my dad, you always text, you’ll get a quicker response.” I stared at the phone for 3 minutes, boiling with anger. I thought, Why the hell do I have to call? If he wants to speak to me, he can call me! And, first of all, don’t tell me how to communicate with your father! I was extra frustrated. I mumbled to myself, Why do I have to call? I don’t have to cater to him. He has fingers to dial the phone. But why was I so livid? Wasn’t I the one who wanted some information?
I called my life coach and asked why this so annoyed me. I was eating a salad, listening to Frank Sinatra to relax (recently I decided to try some new tunes), and wham! That little text sent me reeling. My coach listened as I went on and on projecting. Finally, he confirmed, “Well, you are right. If he would like to chat with you, he can call you.” This was obvious. So why did that text make me jump out my skin? Was it because I already felt so many other responsibilities, and this was something about which I could get angry, fight, and complain. Did I feel he was not upholding equal responsibility in our communications? Would it had killed me to pick up the phone and call instead of text? Especially since I was the one in need of a time for pickup. Again, I was requesting information, not he. I also recognized that this anger surfaced because of what my daughter texted me. I assumed that my Baby Daddy had said something as he has in the past about my communication.
I took a step back and considered what one of my favorite bloggers preach at personal excellence (a wonderful series about managing anger). When you find yourself feeling annoyed and ticked off, consider answering the questions here in part 3 of her series. The questions and your answers help you find the root cause of your anger and from which subconscious level it’s coming. After reflecting, I realized I was not only annoyed because my Baby Daddy did not respond, but also because my daughter’s text, which shocked me, reminded me of how inconsiderate and immature people can be, who can act vindictively, intentionally avoiding, rejecting, and projecting. I felt like I was responsible for someone else’s state of mind and feelings. How could I be upset about having to call when I was the one who needed to know the timeline! Wow, that was deep! I immediately calmed down and thanked my coach. It’s simple: when I want to speak to someone, I should call and not expect someone to read my mind. Now dont get me wrong, this does not take away the fact that people should be considerate but it does leave the onus up to you to react and control your emotions. The point that I’m trying to make is that I had some resentment from old frustrating communications and was highly defensive. This happens alot when two people are co-parenting. Someone will always be out of alignment of the way you think they should act, behave or communicate. Try this, next time you feel defensive about something ask yourself why, reflect on what is really bothering you and commit to openly dealing with it by yourself first. This will be hard because the first thing we may want to do is confront the person who is triggering us.
This will help you when you’re co-parenting. Take the necessary steps back to gather yourself and not “win”. The question to ask is do I want to “win” or do I want peace?
1. Don’t harbor resentment (I know that’s hard to do).
2. Don’t feel anxious about other people’s reactions to your needs.
3. Change happens in practice. You won’t get it right everytime.
See you in part two if this series. Post in comments what your most concerns are.
In Part two of this series, we will dig much deeper into how to forgive yourself first and how to first give to yourself what you need from others.
We all know her name. We've watched the shows. We've watched the news cover her weddings. We've heard her name connected to infamous photos and controversy. For almost 10 years, her name has been thrown around, and whether you admit it or not, she's been relevant for that long. Yup, Kim Kardashian.
Now I won’t lie, I do watch the show.
While interviewing the Kardashians, Oprah said their family is a “phenomenon,” and she is right. But this post is really about how to live out your dreams, which I’ll get to.
First, let’s get something out the way. Living your dreams and desires is one of the scariest things to tackle. If you ever decided to go back to school, you know how terrifying it can be—how you didn’t want to tell your family members because you assumed they’d judge. Maybe a friend doesn’t believe you can finish law school and pushes you to just stay in your work cubicle. Maybe your mom thinks investing in a self-help program is a waste of money. Maybe your best friend thinks your new guy isn’t good enough for you, or your outlook on life is destructive and out of the norm.
This is why reality TV is so popular. These shows star fairly regular people who have the same troubles and concerns as you and millions of others. We tune in and watch them live their lives, say things they shouldn’t, make decisions that we may be to scared to make for fear of the consequences. Of course, we have all made a mistake or two, but was it a risk? Had you put yourself out there purposely in pursuit of happiness? I’m not talking about extreme, reckless mistakes, but instead calculated risks. Maybe stepping out and taking the higher paying job even though you feel unqualified. Saying “no” to someone even if you think you won’t get another chance again. Moving to another neighborhood against everyone’s warnings, because you knew it would bring you greater joy. Dating that new guy, who is different from those you typically date, and being judged for it. These are the types of decisions that keep you up at night, stressed, possibly in tears, because you took a chance, you stepped out on faith, you followed your own dream, and you followed the courage of your convictions.
Take a look at this clip that shows the hard heartfelt moments Kim Kardashian had to face. Her infamous short-lived marriage, the decision she made making a porn video with her ex-boyfriend, and more.
Now okay, yes, Kim Kardashian is a millionaire who has made many controversial choices. I’d assume she lives a comfortable lifestyle most of the time and has had to face some harsh realities. I’m sure she wouldn’t be married with two children right now if she listened to everyone’s advice around her. I remember an episode or two that detailed her experience going to the doctor and undergoing two surgeries just to have her 2nd child. Of course, she has the money to make such things happen but getting pregnant was not a guarantee. I’m also certain it was a very stressful decision to break off a marriage after only 72 days.
I think about my own relationships. There were men I dated who I knew I really didn’t want to date anymore. However, because I feared making a rash decision and not being “nice”, I didn’t break it off. I didn’t want to face the consequence if I made a wrong decision.
Recently, I was so happy that I couldn’t tell anyone. Has this ever happened to you? You’re elated but too afraid to let the world know, or afraid that your exciting news will blow up in your face? Or worse, you share your happy news with a few key people, and they are less than enthusiastic for you?
We must activate and manifest our own aspirations and experiences. When we feel empowered, we make decisions with the passion that follows. Some may think, oh, you’re selfish. But I don’t see that. I see self-love transcending fear so a person can truly be happy.
Now, back to me being happy and hiding it. I realized as we grow and activate a new life, we attract new people and those, who have been in our lives helping along the way, may have to step back for lack of better words. Whatever has been working will probably not work anymore, which means we may need to upgrade our friendships.
As you make new and smarter decisions, your life will evolve in healthier, more stable ways. Those in your life before your transformation may not welcome this new you nor know how to rise to the new level at which you’re operating. I’ve seen it happen in the weirdest situations—as simple as someone changing wardrobes and buying new shoes. Change can annoy a friend or cause jealousy because now you’re receiving attention. They may not understand your new decisions and how you operate. But hold back; leave fear behind and follow your true desires unapologetically.
Keep this in mind:
1. You. Are. Gonna. Piss. People. Off. Yup, best friends, associates, colleagues, whomever. Be ready and get comfortable with the new treatment.
2. Expect covert hostility. All of a sudden, calls to your best friend won’t be returned, your weekly nail appointment is now once a month.
3. Find that one person who is happy for you no matter what and share with her/him until you can start adding new-leveled friends. If that one person starts to buckle, repeat step 1.
4. Learn to be happy for yourself. If you don’t learn to do this, you doubt that your happiness is not deserved. Only you know your progress; celebrate quietly if you need to.
5. Judge less and give more. As you go through your days, pay attention to the ways in which you judge others and pull back your judgments. While doing this, find ways to circulate your love. Volunteer where you can have the greatest impact.