Erykah Badu at Kings Theater

This week I got to mark another item off my bucket list. I was blessed with an opportunity to see the amazing Ms. Erykah Badu in concert Wednesday night in Brooklyn. I’ve wanted to catch her live for so long, but it seems like she hasn’t done any shows in NYC, so when I saw the tickets pop up online I was all over it. Let me just say, I freaking love her! She is so talented, creative, conscious and cool at the same damn time I just have to swoon. This show was no different.

Screenshot_2015-12-03-01-31-40

IG Pic from @okayplayer

The line when I arrived was nightmarish, it curved around the corner and looped around another 2 blocks. Apparently there had been some problem with the ticket machines, and they had to manually enter peoples tickets so at like 8:45 there was still a line though doors opened at 7. Luckily my dates(my sisters) were inside giving me updates and I didn’t miss any of the show. I ran into my best friend on line and made a new one while waiting so it wasn’t all that bad.

The venue is such a gorgeous gem tucked in the urban center that is Flatbush Avenue. Kings Theater really wowed me with its surprising size, Great Gatsby style opulent decor and architecture.

Screenshot_2015-12-03-01-33-03

IG pic from @soilpimp

The songs were a funky, soul mash up of old songs and new ones from her mixtape that dropped last week. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Because she has such a dense body of work I felt like she only sang a few of the songs I hoped to hear but luckily its a good excuse for me to see her in concert again.

Advertisements

What I’m Reading: Luckiest Girl Alive

Ready for my book of the month? This is the book I’m reading with my bookclub on Facebook. Its The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll.

luckiest-girl-alive-9781476789651_hr

From the Amazon.com Review:

HER PERFECT LIFE IS A PERFECT LIE.

As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ani has a secret.

There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.

With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that’s bigger than it first appears.

The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?

I just started this one this week but already I’m starting to be pulled in by the hints at the mystery yet to be revealed. With the holiday weekend coming up I hope I’ll have a little more time to kick back with my book and some snacks uninterrupted(yea right).

Have you already read this one? Let me know what you thought of it? Or stop by FB and join my book club and share some comments.

My Motherhood “Holy Grail”- 5 Tips for Motherhood Wellness

Motherhood is hard work without a doubt. Whenever I run into friends or family members who are new moms I remember my struggles adjusting to the many changes and challenges that come along with the role. There are a few rules I have learned over the years that help keep me sane, or weather the extra stressful times. While each Mom’s circumstances are unique, these are my top 5 tips for building confidence and finding balance as a Mom.Unknown-1

  1. Lose the Expectations: For women, seemingly from the minute we are born there are all these competing expectations placed on us. Our exposure to other mothers through our own upbringing, things we see in the media, or overall values in society prior to becoming a parent have created an image in our minds of what  we feel  we “should” be, do, look, act, or parent like. When we actually become a parent though a lot of these ideas are confronted by the reality of child rearing. I’ve always heard the saying “Comparison is the thief of joy.” There is no faster way to unhappiness than to constantly compare yourself, especially to unrealistic ideals.
    These daunting ideas  lead to negative thinking, stress and feeling overwhelmed. Getting rid of expectations allows you to set standards and values for yourself based on whats important to you. I have always wanted to have a perfectly organized and stylishly designed home but with children running around all day some design items were just unsafe or impractical. Accepting that with children comes mess(and chaos) I was able to let go of those expectations of have a perfect home 24/7. For me that helped minimize the self judgements about how I felt my home “should” look and beating myself up about all the things that I wanted to improve. I can focus my energy into making the improvements that matter most and let go of unnecessary stress.
  2. Trust your Own Instincts: One thing I noticed right away when I became a parent is how many people feel the urge to give unsolicited advice about what and how you should handle your child. Complete strangers would stop to give me tips, or suggestions and that was something totally unheard of prior to having children. I remember one time I was walking down the block with my husband  carrying our first baby and a lady walking past us was like “You should put a hat  on her.” I was baffled and a little offended at the time, thinking “who is this random person and why do they feel the need to comment on what I’m doing?” It is hard enough as a new parent trying to figure out your new role, your child, and the daunting task of making decisions that affect someone else life! I would be angered, upset or doubt my choices based on things people said but by the time I welcomed my second baby I had learned that there is no perfect way to parent. There are no one size fits all remedies that will solve all my problems. I had to learn to rely heavily on my own knowledge and follow my own instinct about what was best for me, my child, and my family. Over time the more I trusted myself, the more I found I was capable of the task at hand and the more natural it became. The confidence I had in my abilities was projected in my demeanor and I found I was more immune to the criticism and judgements of others. Ironically enough, people also felt less inclined to impose their opinions when they see someone who looks like they have it together.
  3. Build a Support System: This is something I feel is taking for granted way too often. In other cultures its common to have a community or family structure to rely on. Many countries young families still live in one home with the parents and extended family. Here in America, the “glorification of busy”  has created the problem of isolation, especially for homemakers. This one for me is still a constant struggle because the pull of that never-ending to-do list can distract me from taking the time to cultivate those relationships like I would like to. Making time for old friends, taking time to make new ones, or even keeping up with family members are activities that often fall by the wayside under the current of motherhood. Having people you can rely on for support with childcare or emotional support a critical to keep good mental hygiene and a strong family unit.
  4. “Me Time” is MandatoryUnknownThis one is pretty self-explanatory especially if you are a parent. The endless mundane task and constant giving of yourself can leave you absolutely depleted if you are not making time for yourself. This I would say is something that never goes away and it’s not even unique to parents. I am a person who pushes myself constantly and in the past I have invested too heavily in others before investing in myself.  I have learned how to monitor myself and my needs to make sure that I at least get some time for myself. It’s so easy to over look but its a costly mistake. Whenever I start feeling in a rut or like I’m gonna choke somebody in my house  it’s usually because I have been neglecting myself in some area. I will another post later devoted to this subject alone because I feel this is one of the most important but often the most overlooked area of motherhood. Taking time out doesn’t require a lot of time or money. Some of the small things I do is taking a bath(and using my soapy smell goods), leisure reading, watching a favorite show alone, or taking a neighborhood stroll. When I am energized I know my family will get the best of me, and that makes me happy.
  5. Always Hold on to your Sense of Humor: Ever laugh to keep from crying? That saying definitely can ring true for motherhood. Murphy’s law is somehow multiplied when it comes to parenting. Wearing your cute new top for an outing? Your kid will get sick and throw up on you. Perfectly on schedule for a family trip? Your child will have a diaper explosion that requires a full outfit change and bath. Life with kids is so unpredictable, even with a pretty consistent schedule I can say each of my days is not identical. It’s on the job training and when I laugh at the crazy situations that only children can create it makes things that could be stressful quite entertaining. In the early days I’m sure I shed plenty of tears over a ruined dinner, or last second change of plans but I have learned over the years to loosen up and find the joy(and funny) in the struggle. All of these things have been part of what makes these  child rearing years so special and one day when I look back with my husband, we will have all these funny, crazy, interesting stories about how we met and overcame all obstacles in our way. Life is what happens in between your best laid plans, so best to enjoy it all.

What are your motherhood”Holy Grail?” Any great Murphy’s Law stories? I have a ton!

What I’m Reading: Elizabeth Gilberts “Big Magic”

What do Emma Roberts and I have in common? We both are currently reading this book! “Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert the author of “Eat, Pray, Love”. This book is about finding the bravery to let your creative self thrive. What I am most enjoying about this book is that it is not just for the professional artist or entrepreneur, the principles she explores are really applicable in all areas of life.

BM

I have always been a creative person and a bit of a perfectionist at times, and one of the key ideas that stood out for me was her emphasis on creating for the sake of creating. Oftentimes its easy in this Capitalism driving world we live in that if it doesn’t make money(and lots of it) its not worthwhile. In this book Gilbert challenges that notion and says just do it, even if your not that great at it, or it won’t be a means to support you financially, or no one else gets it. Just do it because it brings you satisfaction of expressing your personal inspirations.

That idea was very motivating to me. I don’t know how many times my soaping has stalled because I worried about how well things were going, or getting an idea perfect, or feeling like small detail was holding me back. This was a nice wake up kick in the pants to just do the things that make me glad to be alive more than worrying about the “what ifs.”

Are there any projects, great ideas, or life goals you have been putting off? What motivates you to get creative?

Here’s a great video of Elizabeth Gilbert discussing her book, and some of the ideas from it with Marie Forleo(whom I also like but more on that in a later post). Enjoy!

Why I started making Handmade Soaps: A spotlight on Amadora Soaps

In 2010 after a particularly bad episode of psoriasis, I made some handmade soaps in an effort to alleviate the dryness and discomfort I was experiencing with other store brand soaps. Little did I know I would find a such a fun craft I could share with others. Here’s a little background info on what makes Amadora so special.

Amadora in latin means “gift of love” and that is what these soaps are to me. I would like these soaps to be a kind of daily retreat,  a little gift to customers to put a big smile on their faces. My motto is  Live, Love, Laugh.. & Lather!

If you want learn more or try it yourself check out my shop on Etsy

https://www.etsy.com/shop/AmadoraSoaps

Raven-Symone and Why we should embrace her..

..And why her comments were in fact racist not just “discriminatory.”

image

Like most people I heard the comments Raven Symone made recently on the view stating she wouldn’t hire someone with a ghetto sounding name. Obviously this has cause a wave of backlash and only driven the wedge further between her and the black community. My initial reaction was one of anger. I was disgusted that a person of color with such a large public platform would use that platform to ridicule and belittle others with racist ideas. I definitely would like to cast her off the island but the more I thought about it my opinions slowly shifted.
image

I think racism is so deeply rooted in American culture it often takes on various forms and springs from unexpected places. Ravens comments were racist regardless of her own racial background. Describing the name as “ghetto” and the name “watermelondrea” strongly implied black Americans. The use of watermelon also had a decidedly racist undertone. She didn’t say Ming Lee, or Svetlana when giving an example of a non-traditional American name, she said Watermelondrea.
image

Yet still the reason I feel an impulse to temper my emotions and not go on the offense or verbally attack her is because basically I feel sorry for her. I empathize with what it must have been like being a black child star of such a magnitude. Hollywood is notoriously known for its stereotyping, and attempts to typecast black actors in very specific and often negative roles. Raven is also a lighter skinned black woman, and I have heard in interviews other actors of color comment on the difficulty getting cast if they weren’t very obviously of a certain racial/ethnic group.

Growing up constantly scrutinized for not just your actual talent but your blackness itself and how she should represent that couldn’t have been easy to deal with as a child, a time when most are still grasping at a sense of identity and where they fit in the world. I imagine because of her career she also was somewhat isolated growing up especially from other black people and depending on the nature of her limited interactions she probably formed some of the basis of her beliefs about herself and other black people.
image

Let’s not forget Raven is also a Disney kid. We have seen time and time again how the pressures of constantly portraying a squeaky clean public image has cause other teen stars to crack and rebel like Miley Cyrus, Lindsey Lohan, or Britney Spears. This casting off of labels, the things she says, and maybe even her look seem may be some kind of act of rebellion.

Does any of this excuse her behavior or offensive comments, not at all however I do think it’s something to consider before we “throw the baby out with the bath water.” I believe in compassion and honestly when you meet someone who is filled with peace, confidence, love, joy etc. their words reflect that. That kind of person, anyone they interact with will be left with a similar feeling.

Based on the kinds of things Raven says, I believe she doesn’t even need anyone else to try to make her feel terrible, she’s probably been doing that herself for a long time now.

(Secret) Healthy Meals with our Guest blogger Lauren from Lazy but Healthy

Hey everyone! I’m Lauren from Lazy But Healthy. While now at the age of 20, I’ve actually found ways to enjoy eating healthy, I will never forget (actually my mom won’t let me) how picky an eater I was when I was little. Just the sight of vegetables on my plate was enough to make me dramatically gag and push them as far away as possible. Of course I would still have to eat them if I wanted dessert, but it was not an enjoyable experience.

In an ode to my picky childhood habits, here are some (secretly) healthy, simple meals that won’t have anyone pushing their plates as far away from them as possible. Again, sorry mom.

Zucchini Lasagna

Zucchini Lasagna

Lasagna was always one of my favorites and this recipe is more simple, light and can be used for a few dinners throughout the week. It also swaps out pasta for zucchini but includes so many other yummy things that it just might fool some hungry kids.

Zucchini Lasagna from crunchyradish.com

Veggie Frittata

Frittata

This recipe is pretty much just eggs, milk, cheese and as many vegetables as you’d like to stuff in there. For this recipe, they used zucchini, broccoli, and leeks.

Get the recipe here

Skinny Chicken Salad

Salad

Lighten up your chicken salad by swapping out heavy mayonnaise for greek yogurt and serve it up with multigrain crackers or in pita pockets.

Get this Recipe from Skinnymom.com

Try some of these out or let me know some of your favorite healthy meals!

And be sure to check Lauren out at https://lazybuthealthyblog.wordpress.com/

Quick and Easy Meals: Flatbread Pizza

She loves it!

She loves it!

Mealtime is seriously one of my least favorite task. I’m constantly looking for ways to streamline the process. Having some easy go to meals are crucial for me when it comes to getting everything done some days. One of these meals is the flat bread pizza. All you need is the flatbread, sauce, cheese and whatever toppings you like.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

I buy the greek flatbread at my local supermarket for around $3.00 which comes in packs of 5 or 6, and get some regular tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. My kids palate is pretty basic so this is all they like on top of their pizza but its really anything goes.  This is a go to snack for me for the children when they get out of school or lunch on the weekends. It takes very little prep and cook time, just top the flatbread with the sauce cheese and toppings, then drop it in the oven(on a cooking sheet if you like the bread softer, without if you like it crispier)for about 15 min or until cheese melts and crust is browned.  I’ve made this for myself with pesto sauce instead of tomato sauce and veggies like spinach and  broccoli. Its just really convenient when you don’t have much time or energy.20150927_144133

If your in the mood for some extra bonding time, the children always like to “make” the pizza themselves and it’s still pretty quick and minimal mess. What are some of your favorite “go-to” meals?

Trash Day: Self check to avoid extra baggage

Change can be a wonderful experience. Often times, however,  it doesn’t feel that way until your on the other side of the experience looking back at how far you’ve come. While you’re in the transition its often unpleasant, uncomfortable, scary and sometimes even painful.

I have my great days when I’m extremely motivated and feeling optimistic about this time and stage in my life. Other times I have days like today when I’m just irritable, depressed and grasping for a clear sense of direction. In my efforts to redirect my energy and pull myself out of my mini “funk” I came across this article 40 Ways to Let Go and Feel less Pain on Tinybuddha.com and it really had a wealth of information that I found very helpful. These three jumped out at me as a great way to scrap old negative feelings and push forward:

“15. Take responsibility. Many times when you’re angry, you focus on what someone else did that was wrong, which essentially gives away your power. When you focus on what you could have done better, you often feel empowered and less bitter.

16. Put yourself in the offender’s shoes. We all make mistakes, and odds are you could have easily slipped up just like your husband, father, or friend did. Compassion dissolves anger.

17. Metaphorically throw it away. For example, jog with a backpack full of tennis balls. After you’ve built up a bit of rush, toss the balls one by one, labeling each as a part of your anger. (You’ll need to retrieve these—litter angers the earth!)”

I definitely will be putting these into use whenever the need arises. Which of the 40 ways speak to your personal growth challenges? Are there any you already put into regular practice?