The Fabulous Giver

Monday Motivation: Encourage Yourself

Every day, I make it a point to find something to motivate me to be better, smarter, and more productive than the day before. Whether it’s the latest Harvard Business Review blogpost or an energizing sunrise, I always manage to find something to remind me that I’m walking into a great day. Well, last night while thinking of today’s post, I asked myself, “What would I focus on today?” Ten minutes later, the answer was simple. “You.” Well, not me…But, you. Each one of us has a story that has crafted us into the person that we are today. Only you know what you’ve had to fight through and that story should propel you into each day.

Every day that we wake up is another day…another chance to do something great. One of my favorite songs is called “Encourage Yourself,” and the premise is so simple yet powerful. We need to encourage ourselves and remind ourselves that

“Sometimes you have to encourage yourself/Sometimes you have to speak victory during the test…”

A winning mindset is the key to prospering today, tomorrow, and years from now. So, how will you speak life into your dreams and goals today? Take some time to really think about the answer. It could be one of the most important thoughts that you have today.

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“Ain’t Nobody” Like Chaka Khan

Last week, I had the best week EVER. I hopped over to the West Coast for a work meeting with the Greater Than AIDS team, then went straight to Miami for the ColorComm Conference (recap here), returned to Chicago to participate in the 85th Annual Bud Billiken Parade with the Black McDonald’s Operators Association, AND *insert breath* watched the legendary Chaka Khan take the stage in support of my nonprofit organization, The Red Pump Project.

Is your head spinning yet? Mine certainly was by Saturday night. However, it was totally worth it. I mean, Chaka Khan?! She is every bit as fierce and fabulous as you would imagine her to be. Before the show, Luvvie and I had a chance to meet her backstage and thank her for agreeing to support our organization in this significant way. A few snaps are below.

Welcome to the Chicago Theatre!

Welcome to the Chicago Theatre!

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Red Pump posing with Chaka Khan and the Music is My 1st Love team

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Luvvie and I with the woman of the hour.

It was a night that I will definitely remember for many reasons. My favorite memory of the night? Singing “Sweet Thing” with my husband standing next to me. It doesn’t get any mushier than that, right? Don’t laugh.

We are so grateful to the Music is My 1st Love team for selecting us as recipients of their first benefit concert. They are doing incredible things and I’m looking forward to supporting their future shows.

To Ms. Chaka Khan, there are no words! From one Chicago gal to another, you are a powerhouse. Thank you for rocking the red pump with us.

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Recharging my Life at ColorComm #C2Miami

Last week, I attended the inaugural ColorComm Conference in Miami and it COMPLETELY recharged my life. The high-quality sessions and sisterhood among the attendees were perfectly framed against the beautiful backdrop of the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne. If you’re not familiar with ColorComm, it is an organization devoted to women of color in communications. The members of the organization are found in fields such as advertising, public relations, journalism, marketing and more. I’ve been involved with the Chicago group since last year and have met many great women as a result.

Highlights from #C2Miami

 

The conference kicked off with an awards dinner and keynote from Soledad O’Brien and just kept getting better. There were sessions about personal finance, the future of digital communities, mentorship, and integrated marketing communications. I loved the holistic aspect of the sessions and that the topics were designed to make sure that we are well-rounded communications professionals. During the closing luncheon, we heard from Johnson Publishing CEO Desiree Rogers and she shared five tips for us to always keep in mind. I listed them out below because they were too important not to share.

  1.  Carry yourself with confidence.
  2. Don’t be afraid to go with your gut.
  3. Opportunities to create change can be the most rewarding but also the most challenging. (Amen and amen.)
  4. Seek an opportunity that speaks not only to your intellect but to your heart.
  5. Savor every thing, every experience, every relationship.

I left Miami feeling recharged and renewed in my focus on creating and delivering impactful messages. If you are a woman in communications who is looking for a great (and growing) organization to get involved with, then I highly recommend ColorComm. You can learn more here. Also, for other highlights from the event, feel free to check out the #C2Miami tag on Twitter.

 

I Need a Bigger Bookcase

A more appropriate title for this post would be, “I need a bookcase.” We moved into our new place in May and are sadly without any bookcases. This wouldn’t be a problem if I didn’t have at least six boxes of my books stuffed in our yet-to-be-furnished home office. You would think that my lack of storage would stop me from buying books, but I can tell you that it hasn’t.

This summer alone, I have purchased seven books and checked out “Gone Girl” from the library. Don’t I seem smart? Well, I would feel even smarter if I took the time to actually finish an entire book instead of hopping from title to title like a frantic bibliophile. So, how do I prioritize?

First up will be “Gone Girl.” Everyone swears that this book is amazing and I have to return it to the library in three weeks. After that? No idea but these four books will definitely be next.

 

1. “Instinct,” T.D. Jakes | 2. “Daring Greatly,” Brene Brown | 3. “No Greatness Without Goodness,” Randy Lewis |4. “My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife,” Sara Horn

 

What books are you planning to read before the end of summer? It’s never too early to start building my September reading list.

Monday Motivation: Finish What You Start

I came across the above image on Instagram awhile back and it challenged me to think about all of the projects/tasks that I have left unfinished (gulp). You see, I never have a shortage of ideas. I have an issue with completing them. As much as I would like to say that this is a recent phenemon driven by lots of life changes, that’s not true. When thinking about unfinished projects, I thought back a few years when I came across a notebook with business plans and book proposal ideas jotted down over the course of years.

*hangs head*

Thinking about my unfinished projects and tasks makes me incredibly uncomfortable. I mean, am I a quitter? What is really up with this? While trying to figure this out, I had to work hard not to let myself enter a downward spiral. So, I decided to just do like the words say and just finish things that I started.

A few things on my immediate list:

  1. Finish my July editorial calendar and posts for this blog and Real Women Give. Remember RWG? Blast from the past… I know. Sigh.
  2. Get back on track with my fitness training programs. I fell off the wagon HARD and my clothes don’t fit as well as they did two weeks ago. Besides, I have a vacation in seven weeks and a 10K in three months.
  3. Finish planning a summer outreach event for the women’s ministry at my church. This task “haunts” me the most. I’m really excited about the event, but have also overwhelmed myself trying to do it alone.
  4. Finally send out wedding announcements. It’s been two months since the big day and I’m procrastinating on this items. Don’t even ask me when I’ll get around to changing my name.

There are many reasons why I tend to leave projects unfinished, but the main ones are probably boredom and lack of discipline. SIGH. Typing that is hard but it is a necessary realization if I am going to correct this situation. I really want to be someone who follows through and completes every single thing that I put into the universe. Simply put… I gotta get my life right and now is the PERFECT time to do so.

Say a prayer for me, y’all.

Do A Little Good with Your Tax Refund

This year, I’ve placed financial responsibility at the top of my priority list. As part of this plan, I signed up for LearnVest, a pretty cool site that helps you with everything from budgeting to investing to setting financial goals. With today being Tax Day (dun dun dunnnn), I thought that I would share tips from a LearnVest article about ways to do a little good with your tax refund.

Here are a few of the tips below:

  • Donate your dime. Consider donating all or a part of your check to a charitable cause that you’re passionate about.
  • Shop with a conscience. Update your wardrobe with some of my favorite social good brands like TOMS and Warby Parker.
  • Take a volunteer trip. I’ve always wanted to get a little voluntourism under my belt. Maybe next year… NOLA, perhaps?

You can read the rest of the list here.

I plan to donate a few of my dollars to charity, but the majority will be going to credit cards and wedding expenses. What are your plans for your tax refund (if you’re getting one)?

On One Accord with the Soweto Gospel Choir

On Wednesday night, I went to go see the Soweto Gospel Choir with one of my favorite gals, DeeDee (The Sassy Peach). I was first introduced to the choir a year ago and since then, I’ve been in awe of their voices, their spirits, and (of course) their awesome performances. As they weaved their way through African spirituals, Black spirituals, and contemporary songs in Symphony Hall, I just felt happy. I felt blessed to be connected to such a beautiful culture.

The performance was beautiful. Even though I didn’t know the words to 90% of the songs, it didn’t matter at all. Everyone in the hall was captivated by each note and each word. It reminded me that music is a true common denominator. It has the power to connect people from different walks of life in an authentic way. A certain commercial previously ruined Sarah McLaughlin’s “Arms of an Angel,” but the choir restored my love of this song. The video is below is them singing the song at a different performance. SO GOOD.

The Soweto Gospel Choir is an amazing group both on and off the stage. While browsing the program booklet, I learned that they launched Nkosi’s Haven Vukani, a foundation to support HIV/AIDS orphans in South Africa. As they travel the world with their performances, it is clear that they not only carry a connection to their home country, but also a responsibility to it. There were several tributes to Nelson Mandela, summed up with a touching rendition of South Africa’s national anthem.

As we ended the night clapping and singing “Amen,” it was the perfect end to a great show. I definitely filed it away in my memory bank. I wish them much success on the rest of their North American tour and hope to catch another show in the future!

Birth Control Convos Don’t Need to Be Awkward

This post is sponsored by Bedsider. All opinions are my own.

As a gal who supports women’s health and empowerment (um, hello, Red Pump), my eye is trained to notice interesting campaigns that aim to educate women in smart and non-judgmental ways. That’s why I have been pretty impressed with the Bedsider campaign since first reading about it in the New York Times last year.

For those of you who aren’t as familiar with the campaign, let me give you the deets: Bedsider is an online birth control support network for women 18-29 operated by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. They teamed up with BET and the Ad Council to create a campaign that uses humor and relatable situations in order to get folks talking about birth control. Did you know that seven in 10 pregnancies among unmarried women between the ages of 18-29 are described by women themselves as unplanned? Eek. That seems like a lot!

I spend a good portion of my time discussing how women can take action to avoid putting themselves at risk for HIV or other STD/STIs. I actually think some of the same advice applies to the topic of preventing unwanted pregnancies.

“Don’t be intimidated by the topic, find a knowledgeable source of information, and make an informed decision that best protects your health and goals.”

Bedsider is a great site for anyone who is looking for the actual factuals on birth control. You can get started here.

While you’re on the site, check out some of the awkwardly funny PSAs. The spot with the grandmother??? Omg. No way. I would have to stop my Granny right there.

Have you ever had any embarrassing convos about birth control? Thankfully, I haven’t but I’d love to hear about your experiences!

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