Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hadiya Pendleton

Look at that face. Beautiful, smart, talented, full of greatness and potential. Gone.

May Hadiya Pendleton's family find peace during this time. That's a tall order to fill given the circumstances, but nothing is too hard for Him. I don't know if this will ever reach them, but if we all lift them up in our hearts and prayers, I believe the love will.

I could write about this for days. There's so much to explore - guns, youth violence, and the like. But for today, I'll just leave you with this story of Hadiya. This is a story that reminds us that we have to do more. We have to reach out, give back, and take a stand to make sure these kinds of things don't happen. This story makes my heart break, and so do all of the stories like it.

Until next time...

Word-for-the-Week Wednesday

My spirit was touched on Sunday. Hubs and I went to hear Rev. Dr. Michael Beckwith at Howard Chapel. We got up, got dressed, juiced, and made our way to DC.

All I can say is wow. Little did we know the powerful message that was waiting for us.

Even while Rev. Beckwith might be a little "new agey" for some old school worshipers, he's alright with me! I tend to live at the progressive end of Christianity, so I saw his message so fitting for our world today. His love for God and his passion for God's people were palpable. I thank God for the vision to see past dogma and hear Him through all sorts of vessels. I love the Lord for making space for over-thinking, socially conscious, hippie-type Christians like me :)! And if nothing else, you have to love a man whose wife loves on him like this at the benediction:

Anyway, I'll leave you with a few of Dr. Beckwith's inspirational ideas to get us over the hump of the week. He talked about the social contracts that we make with each other and our responsibility to carry out God's work toward social justice.

**Inner cleanliness is a social contract that we make with the world. We have a responsibility to make sure that our 'inside persons' are clean and that our hearts are right as we go out and interact with others. In Rev. Beckwith's words, "Touch the realm of the Divine before you leave your house."

**We cannot see reality. We see our experiences. Our vision is often muddied by our insecurities, doubts, and fears. 

**Distinguish between facts and Truth (with a capital T). Even when we know the facts, we can always rely on the all-knowing, omniscient, and omnipresent Truth. 

**You don't describe what you see; you see what you describe. Have vision! 

**The question isn't, "Where is God?" but rather, "How do I reveal him in me?" We are living, walking, breathing testaments of His Word. 

**Just as God has place a rose bush in a seed and an orchard in an apple seed, he has planted everything in us. We need the right conditions for it to flourish. We have to create the conditions for growth and evolution. 

May the rest of your week be blessed. 

I just gave myself a word!!! 

Until next time...

Monday, January 28, 2013

Our Inner Clair Huxtables

My plan for the week is to tap into my inner Clair Huxtable. I, like many women of my age range, have an appreciation and fascination for Dr. Huxtable's wife. I loved her when I was a little girl watching the Cosby Show, but as I've become a woman and, now, a wife, I love her on a whole new level. She's the inspiration for my twitter handle and my Instagram account.

Why Clair? Because she's smart, witty, classy, driven, brilliant, and refined. She went to an HBCU. She loved her man. She nurtured her kids - birthed five of them, and was still looking good! I love her for all of those things, but what do I love about her most? She nurtured HERSELF so she'd have something to give to them. She set the tone for her house. Cliff adored her. Her kids knew she didn't play, but they also knew that they could count on her for a hug. And Clair got people together when needed. Exhibit A:

Claire betta read Elvin!
Sure, real-life prototypes exist. When times get tough, I have some close-to-home Clairs that I can call on. Some may even hold me in Clair Huxtable-style esteem. I know for sure I'm on my way. So yeah, Clair isn't real, but what she represents is. She's stands for most of the things that I love about the women in my circle. She's represets the qualities of the woman I am and the one I'm becoming. Let's hear it for my girl!

Claire Huxtable meets Hip Hop; does it get any better than this???

So, as I start this busy week filled with meetings and work and dissertation writing, and I feel a little bit of self doubt start to creep in, I'll tap into my inner Clair. I'll breathe deeply, say a prayer, and keep going. I know she would.

Make the best of your Monday! Tap into your Inner Clair if you need to.

Do you have an inner Clair? Please feel free to share who you look to, real or fiction, for inspiration.

Until next time...

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The at-home workout that isn't for the weak!

I had a full day today, and I wasn't in the mood to get up and face the cold for a run or to trek through the slush to get to the gym. In my effort to stay committed to my fitness routine, I decided to do an at home workout that I had "pinned" to Pinterest a while ago. On the computer screen, it didn't seem too bad. Au contraire mon frere! Cindy would be proud. I was afraid of cheating because I was doing it all alone in the basement, so I went extra hard. Well, I wasn't totally alone, Jiggy was was getting his plank on, too:

He mostly ran around me, though, staring and trying to figure out what was wrong with me when I was doing my mountain climbers. He even licked my elbow during the vertical leg crunches! He's so supportive.

Without further adieu, here it is:

Operative word: MELTDOWN
Go ahead. Do it twice, back-to-back. Dare ya! I pinned this workout routine from  Hey Fran Hey, a blog full of really cool health and fitness tips. Peep her pics. If this workout gets me anywhere near her profile pic, I'M ALL IN!!!

Until next time, I'm find some epsom salt. That last set of mountain climbers almost took me out.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Jacob's Ladder (AKA the fitness machine that makes me want to cry)

I love my personal trainer, Cindy. This graduate school life doesn't necessarily provide me with the extra money to afford her at the moment, but working with her is so worth it. I forgo shopping (gasp!) to afford a few sessions a month. I fell off the wagon for a little while, but I'm back on track with my eating. Hubs even bought me a FitBit for Christmas, so I'm all 'bout that calorie-burning life right now. The hardest part of using the FitBit is facing the reality of my sedentary lifestyle. This is my data for this week. Yeah, it's hard to look at.
Writing a dissertation, commuting, and sitting in meetings doesn't lend itself to being super active.
Anyway, realizing that I need to leave behind the chub I've gained in grad school, I've recommitted myself to burning some fat. So I'm back to working with Cindy a few times a week.

I didn't show out too badly over Inauguration weekend, but consuming champagne and cocktails over the weekend left me with some extra calories that needed to be burned. Plus, we had so much fun at the Wonder-Full party Sunday night, I'd overslept and missed my Monday morning session.  I was pumped walking into the gym. I was ready to tackle whatever Cindy had in store. I've grown accustomed to running. I LOVE to lift weights. However, when I walked in and saw what she had in store for me, I felt the tears well in the corners of my eyes. I laid my eyes on this:

Ouch and no ma'am. This, my friends, is called the Jacob's Ladder. If you went to Vacation Bible School like I did growing up, you'll remember Jacob, Esau's brother, fleeing from his home because he had stolen Esau's birthright. Esau was out to get him. On the run, Jacob found a place to rest, and had a dream in which he saw a ladder.  God was standing at the top of the ladder. In the dream, God promised Jacob safety and blessings for his future.

Some Bible scholars say that the ladder represents Jesus as the connection between man and God. Let's just say I need Jesus when I'm on this contraption. The makers of this piece of equipment claim that it is a total body workout, and they aren't lying. After about 2 minutes of this thing, I just don't know if I'm going to make it. Despite it making me sweat and keeping me on the verge of tears, there are a few things I like about it: (1) It's easy on the joints. This is important to these old bones. (2) I can control the speed, and no matter how fast or slow I'm going, I'm getting a full-body workout. As much as I hate the Jacob's Ladder, I'm committed to mastering it. Before the wedding, I could knock it out. I'll be back on it this week, complaining and fussing and almost crying, but I'll be back on it.

Maybe I'll imagine that it's bringing me closer to God like it did for Jacob. I believe our bodies are our temples, so in some ways, it actually is.

Until next time...

Some of the (Dorky) Things my Husband Has Taught Me

Happy Friday, y'all! In the few minutes I have, I just wanted to talk about my husband. He's awesome. One of the things that makes him so awesome is is infinite knowledge of pop culture. Seriously, if you were playing Trivial Pursuit, you'd want him on your team. Besides being a history buff, he knows all things Star Wars, Star Trek, and Marvel Comics. Being an uber girly girl, these things sounded repulsive to me before I met him, but who knew I'd grow to enjoy a couple of these really dorky things. For the record, I don't think of the term "dorky" as being negative in any shape form or fashion. Hell, I have a math degree and get excited over math riddles; I have no room for judgment. Nerds unite!

So, I leave you with a few of the dorky my husband has taught me to appreciate.

1. Lando Calrissian

Billy Dee in all of his Star Wars Glory
I mean who knew Billy Dee in all of his old-school fineness was traipsing around outer space running things?!?

2. I like shows about zombies.

I still remember the cold, rainy day that we stayed in and watched the first season of The Walking Dead. Yup, the whole thing. Who knew a story about folks getting eaten up by zombies could be so juicy? It's really messy...affairs, paternity issues, and the like. That stuff is almost better than the action scenes. I love the show. It's one of the few shows that I actually follow. I can't wait for it to come back next month. I'll be right on the couch next to my hubby, hiding under covers and on the verge of jumping on his lap.

3. Star Wars

I mentioned Lando a little earlier, but I think Star Wars deserved its own shout out. I did not see my first Star Wars movie until I was 35. Not to say that I want to sit around and watch them, but I will say that after seeing the first one, I have a new respect for the movies. I thought I was in for a bunch of silliness, but wow, the message! I love how Obi-Wan Kenobi explains what the Force means. Take it how you want to, but to me, he was explaining the higher power that sustains us. I know I move, live, and breathe because of the Force that heads my life. I even engraved the hubby's wedding band with "May the Force be with us." I didn't even know how powerful that was in the moment that I did it. Yup, I got all of that from about a minute of the movie. I won't be around here swinging no light sabers (yes, Hubby owns some :-/), but Hans Solo & 'nem are alright with me.

So these are just a few of the things I've come to appreciate since meeting the hubster. I'll be back with more from time to time. Happy Friday!!! Make the most of your weekend!

May the force be with you until next time...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Inauguration Weekend: Celebrations All Around (Part 3: Balliiiiin')

Warning: This post is long and picture heavy.

So we were ballin' on Monday!
Not the Jim Jones, hip-hop kinda balling:

But attending the official Inaugural Ball with our framily (friends who have become family; picked that up from other peoples' blog lingo;)).

I've shared our super busy weekend and the hustle to get my look together for the ball; now it's time to recap the evening.

We went with one of Shawn's best friend, Dr. J, and one of his friends.  They came over to our house, and we all got ready to go.
 Working on Dr. J's bow tie
And, of course, we had to do a pre-gala photo shoot before we left the house.
Me and my faux fur
These pics taken by my wonderful hubby with his fancy camera
And then a couple of shots in the car:
Check out the pinky. He's so classy! Insert eye roll >>here<<

Just want to point out my eyeshadow. Lauren at the MAC store worked it OWT! 
We decided to go to dinner before the event so that we could get downtown early and hopefully find parking. It worked. We found a parking spot about 2 blocks from the venue, canceled our reservations at a restaurant that was a little farther away, and decided to have dinner at a restaurant nearby. And, as expected, there were more photos at dinner. 

Two of my favorite guys! 
After a delicious dinner, we bundled up...
...and made our journey to the Washington Convention Center. And once we were there, we snapped pics of EVERYTHING. We wanted to capture every little moment. I'll leave you with some of my favorite pics and a little video of the President and First Lady being serenaded by Jennifer Hudson! 

Yeah, I said we took pics of everything. 

Folks making their way to the ball

Jennifer Hudson serenading President and First Lady Obama 
The guys were excited to bump into Jimmy Jam 
Hubby with Dr. J and Dr. J's dad

A shot of our group at the end of the night; Dr. J's mom and dad are the best! 
Hubs representing his home state
Hubs representing where we call home
Representing for my home state

A blurry President and First Lady dancing

Could we act like we've been somewhere before??? 
Until next time...

Inauguration Weekend: Celebrations All Around (Part 2 - Getting Ready)

This is a long one, so hang on! 

I feel like our Inaugural Ball story deserves its own post. I'm still reeling from how awesome the opportunity was. I'm so grateful that my hubby's family friends extended the offer. There are no words to express the gratitude. 

So Hubby and I were already planning to celebrate at a ball on Monday evening, but we got a call from one of his best friends, Dr. J, about getting tickets for the official ball. This Inaugural season, the President and Inauguration officials decided to scale back. The President and First Lady only attended 2 balls, the one we attended and the Commander-In-Chief Ball, so I count it a blessing to be present to witness real-life history. 

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I wanted to look special for our big night. Knowing that I had any chance of meeting President and Mrs. Obama called for a special dress. The dress I had purchased for the other ball was great, just not special. I mentioned that I saw it about 8 times in a few different colors in my earlier post. Anyway, I jumped up Sunday morning and ran to the dress shop where I found my mother's outfit for our wedding. Group USA at Potomac Mills Outlets is like formal dress heaven. I tried on about 10 dresses, snapped lots of pics and shared them with my sister, best friend, and hubby, and finally settled on this lovely number: 

I loved the color. It's somewhere between teal and emerald green. It fit like a glove, and given my tight timetable, it didn't need any alterations, just sky high heels.  Luckily, I found some shoes (on clearance, of course), and figured I'd look for accessories on Monday morning when I had my makeup done. As you'll get to know if you read this blog, I LOVE (I mean, from the bottom of my heart LOVE) a great deal. The dress and the shoes were super affordable given the type of event we were attending. Let this post prove that you don't have to break the bank to pull off an expensive look. 

I had the dress, and it was to accessorize. I thought I needed to go out and buy all new stuff, but after some digging around at home, I had most of what I needed. I totally forgot about my fancy black clutch that I hadn't carried in years. I wore some earrings my sister bought me for my wedding. At first, I had settled on a necklace that I had forgotten about that was lurking in my jewelry box, but I stopped in Charming Charlie's and found something that gave the dress that little bit of extra "umph!" Have you ever been to Charming Charlie's? I'm a little spoiled because my hometown, Houston, TX, has a whole strip of discount and wholesale stores that sell amazing jewelry and accessories. Charming Charlie's is the closest that I've ever come to deals as good as the ones I can find at home. A brooch that I had originally purchased to add to my purse ended up embellishing the dress and giving my ample bust a little more coverage

With everything that I needed to wear, I decided to spruce up my hair. I put my hair on rollers as I watched the Inauguration. Then, because it was such a special day, I ran to MAC to see if I could get my makeup done. I love makeup, but I'd only had it professionally done once for our wedding. I figured this moment was a big life event, so I went to the store in my rollers and crossed my fingers. 

Shout out to Lauren at the MAC store in Fair Oaks Mall for getting my face TOGETHER!!!! She gave me everything I asked for, plus a little more. 

Me and my bad cover-up for my rollers

With my makeup all done, it was time to get ready for the evening. We had dinner reservations, and I didn't want to be late! I had initially planned to do a simple bun, similar to the one I did for the International Ball, but once I took out my rollers, I decided to be a little more creative. I started playing with my hair, and wanted to figure out how to make this look stay in place all evening:

With a little ingenuity and a ponytail holder and some hairpins, I created my new 'do! I was debuting my bangs like the first lady. :)

So, after pulling it all together, ta-da! A ball-ready, formal look for less! This was my final look for the evening:

I better work if I don't say so myself. More pictures and details about the evening in my third (and final) post about the Inaugural Ball. 

Until next time! 

Inauguration Weekend: Celebrations All Around! (Part 1)

Last weekend had to be one of the best weekends EVER! It was awesome for a few reasons:

1. I got to hang with my hubby and my friends.
2. Love was in the air.
3. I got to listen to Stevie Wonder all night.
4. I witnessed President Obama get sworn in again and reflected on the greatness of Dr. King.

Yup, we scored last-minute tickets to the official Inaugural Ball. More on that in my next post. Here's a little bit about one of the best weekends EVER.

Our theme song for the weekend, Rick Ross' "Presidential" 

It all started on Friday night. My sweet husband got me tickets to see Lalah Hathaway perform at the Howard Theater. SHE SANG HER FACE OFF! I love raspy voices (see: Kim Burrell), so she's right up my alley.

Waiting in line for the show 

To top it off, she brought out a special guest - Kenny Lattimore. I used to love "Never Too Busy," but I had no idea that his voice was so amazing.

Lalah Hathaway & Kenny Lattimore doing a little impromptu scatting

We'd plan to have dinner during the show, but we got there just as they ran out of seats, so we cut our night short, and went to pick up our Inauguration tickets from my husband's friends!!! 

One of my husband's best friend's parents are big Obama campaign supporters and fundraisers. They have awesome connections, so they were able to get us some tickets. We stopped by their hotel after the show to pick them. I couldn't believe it! My hands were shaking. 

After we picked up the tickets, we headed home.  I needed to rest for the long weekend ahead of me. 

On Saturday, after a morning of dissertation writing, I headed to my girl Dr. K's house for a pre-Inauguration ball dinner and girl time. We had an awesome dinner (Dr. K can burn!!!) and got all dolled up for the International Ball at L'Enfant Plaza Hotel.  

The highlight of the evening? Meeting Korto Momolu, brilliant fashion designer who gained national attention as a finalist on Project Runway. 

We had a blast. I tapped into my inner 25-year-old, dancing until about 2:30 in the morning. I finally called it a night and headed home because there was so much more in store for the weekend. 

While at the International Ball, I made a decision to find another dress on Sunday morning because I saw the dress I had planned to wear a few times in a couple of different colors that evening. I needed to be special for the President and the First Lady! 

First thing Sunday morning, I ran to the formal dress store where I found my mom's mother-of-the-bride outfit. After trying on at least 10 dresses (and seeing my previous choice in about 5 different colors), I finally settled on another dress that I thought would be perfect. After running a few more errands (accessories, nails, etc.), I ran home to change for some Sunday night fun. 

First, we stopped by a surprise engagement party for one of my husband's friends, K. K took his girlfriend on a romantic getaway in London and Paris, and he popped the big question while over there. Nice, right? Well, my husband had referred him to the jeweler who made my ring and helped him design it, so we couldn't wait to see it in person. I just love love!

Hubby and the groom-to-be

After enjoying the bride-to-be's complete astonishment and shock at the surprise, we headed over to Liv Nightclub for the Wonder-full Party, a celebration of Stevie Wonder's music. The play Stevie Wonder music all night - songs he wrote, produced, sang, the remixes, songs that sampled him - the whole 9.

Sneaking in some smooches at the Wonder-Full Party

We had such a good time. The engagement party ran longer that we had anticipated, and I was on the verge of telling my hubby to just go home.  I'm so glad he pressed forward. The party was AWESOME. The music was great! I mean, you can't go wrong with Stevie Wonder. We found a great parking space right in front of the venue, which is next to impossible on big weekends like these.  I also bumped into one of my besties who was in town as well as my hometown family friend and piano extraordinaire, Robert Glasper, who got us inside without the long wait in line!

My "little brother" and hometown hero, Robert Glasper

Folks getting it in for Stevie Wonder

After a night of partying and celebration. My hubby and I took our old bones home for some much needed rest. After all, tomorrow was THE BIG DAY!!!!

More on our amazing time at the official Inaugural Ball in my next post!