Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Cover Story

I bought a new journal a few weeks ago.  Well, I don't know if I should call it a journal.  I like to call it my #BlackBook for my blog.  It's pretty fabulous because I get to draft everything.  By draft, I don't mean write down every single thing.  I mean just a book to get some ideas down.  

Well, this book is just special to me.  Not because I get to write in it, but because of what it says on the front.  For this reason, I'm going to share some things with you that made me want to buy this journal when I saw it in my local Target.  

Be Bold:  There is nothing wrong with being bold.  I've had to learn to be bold and stand up for myself.  I'm being bold with my clothing.  I'm being bold with my decisions.  I'm being bold with taking care of myself and loving myself.  Yes, I'm being bold by standing in the mirror and telling this size 18 body you are loved.  Believe me, that's pretty bold for me.  

Take Risks:  I think I take a risk every single time I decide to write.  I let you into the deepest portion of my life and that can be difficult.  Every single time I try on new clothes, I take a risk.  It's scary.  It's hard.  But if I never took a risk to start this blog, I would never have this wonderful blog community and you part of my life.

Live Life Freely:  I do what I want.  I do what I want, when I want.  I do what I want, when I want, how I want to do it.  Life is for the living and I am going to live it until I take my last breath.  

Lead By Example:  This is how I lead by example, by letting people of the next generation know that it is okay to be exactly who you are.  If you are plus size, be plus sized.  If you want to have tattoos all over your body, go for it.  Want to work in corporate America?  Go work in cooperate America.  I live my life so that people will know I lived it at the end, but I also plan on leaving behind a legacy that people will be happy to follow.  

Trust Your Gut:  My gut has never lead me in a bad direction.  It's when I try to start thinking about things that I always question myself.  You know how it is - you take a test and you erase the correct answer only to get it wrong?  Your gut is your intuition.  Ladies, we have gut intuition as well as female intuition.  We have a double dose and we need to use it.  Guys, can't speak for you, but I will tell you this - if your gut instinct says to do something, you might want to consider doing it.  

Say What You Feel:  Yeah, you may hurt a few feelings, but people will respect you for it.  No one want to be around people who cannot say (or write) what is really on your mind.  Besides, if you never say what you feel, people are going to take you for a ride (and it is not going to be a good ride).  Say what's on your mind and stand up for yourself.  You will be happy you did.

Mean What You Say:  Look, I don't have time for liars and, quite frankly, neither do you.  The only thing not real about me (on this post) is the fact that I don't use my government.  However, this is not the first time I've mentioned the fact that I use a writing alias.  However, if you don't mean the words that are coming out of your mouth, who is going to trust you?  If people don't trust you, you honestly have no foundation.  Without the foundation, you have absolutely nothing to stand on.  

Express Gratitude:  If you are nothing in this life, it is always important to be thankful.  Someone holds the door open for you, say thank you.  Someone picks up something you dropped and gives it to you, say thank you.  If anyone ever does anything nice to you or for you, say thank you!!!  

Believe In Your Power:  Let me tell you something I have learned about myself - I am more powerful beyond belief.  Let me tell you a secret about yourself?  You are way more powerful than what you believe.  I am great.  You are great.  Greatness is all around us and we need to embrace it.  

Exceed Your Expectations:  Set a goal and then kick that goal's behind and then some.  I really don't have anything else to tell you about this because you have to be willing to do this for yourself.  Again, life is about living and you have to be willing always go further than what you could have ever imagined

Dance The Night Away:  I have a wonderful friend that loves to dance, especially when people are not looking.  She gives me life and I love to dance with her.  I also love to dance in the rain.  So, rain or shine, dance like no one is watching and like it is going to be your last day.  

Skip Down The Street:  Yall, I love to skip!!!  I skip around my apartment.  There is a moment when I skip around my office.  Yep, don't really care.  I skip around my parents' house.  My mom doesn't like it, but it's me!!!  

Don't Take No For An Answer:  Here is what I've learned in my short life - no is just another way of saying not right now.  When I first wanted to write for an agency or publication, no one would give me a chance.  It took a few years (before I started this blog), but I can tell you that I have written for two agencies and, if I do say so myself, I have a pretty awesome blog.  

Be Your Best Self:  If you are not going to be yourself, who are you going to be?  I can only be me.  You can only be you.  There is no reason to be anyone else.  You are perfect just the way you are.  I am perfect just the way I am - size 18 and all! 

Don't Look Back:  Life is nothing without a few mistakes.  If you don't make a mistake, how can you learn or how can you teach someone else?  The thing is, don't dwell on the mistakes.  The past is the past and the view is always better when you are looking forward.  If I thought about all the things of my past that I would rather forget, I wouldn't feel like getting up in the mornings.  But here is the thing - every single thing I've gone through and survived has molded me into the person and writer I am today.  In other words, I wouldn't trade my past.  Besides, if I change one thing from my past, it might be the one thing that would turn me away from being a blogger today.  

That's why my new black book is so important to me.  I can get inspired each time I open it.  Once I get on the inside, I can get the deepest parts of my soul on the pages.  I know it is strange, but this book means so much to me.  I cannot wait to fill it with my heart and share it with all of you.  

Friday, June 24, 2016

Backstage Pass with Egypt "Ify" Ufele

What were you doing when you were 11?  Think about it.   If you were like me, you were entering middle school, still growing, and learning how to cope with your size.  But there are some amazing people out there doing so much more and one of them is Egypt “Ify” Ufele! 

Ify is the beautiful and talented young woman behind ChubiiLine!  She came up with the name because bullies at school would constantly call her chubby.  Instead of her letting their words get her down, she decided to do something positive.  She turned their words into beautiful creations. 

Ify’s father is from Nigeria.  Many of her designs have an African feel.  In fact, she likes to call it African designs with an urban twist.  She learned to sew from her grandmother.  Those skills are helping her so much with what she is accomplishing.  In fact, she has accomplished so much her Bully Chaser T-shirts are in select Dr. Jay’s stores throughout NYC! 

When she is not designing clothes or doing events, she loves spending time with her family and friends.  However these days, Ify keeps a pretty tight schedule.  She is constantly on the go showing off her designs.  All of her hard work is already paying off!  Recently, Ify was the recipient of the Junior Trailblazer Award at Full Figured Fashion Week!

Ify is so excited to be doing what she is doing because she realizes people appreciate her work.  However, being a designer may not be her final stop in life.  When she grows up, she wants to do either architecture or engineering!  As for right now, you can find her website by clicking here.

One piece of advice from Ify – if you are being bullied, tell an adult or someone you think may be able to help!  Such wisdom from such a young mind! 

Ify, we here at The Plus Diaries were so happy to interview you!  We look forward to watching you grow in all you do in life! 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

To all the Taylor's of the world

I had a rather interesting morning at my day job.  Not because of something I did, but because of stuff that was going on around me.  Let's just take this step by step.  

The Prey
Apparently, the prey was the guys of the office today.  Not exactly sure why this person (who will be known as Taylor) chose guys, but it was their choice.  The hallway was the place of the action.  Taylor would corner the guys and (from their description) it would seem as if they were putting a hex on them.  This brings us to the next part...

The Meeting
Apparently, my side of the office is basically the most awesome place to hang out and discuss things.  Nothing wrong with that because you learn a lot and the old timers can give you some good advice.  But today, the meeting was about what's up with Taylor?  No one really had an answer, but they did have some stories about other instances involving this person and other people (past and present) of the office.  They included me in the conversation and asked if I knew of them or had any issues with them.  I couldn't lie...although I thought Taylor was friendly, I also thought be mindful when around them.  It was just the vibe and I've learned to follow the vibe.  After getting as many details as possible, the next step started.  

The Plan
I had turned my music down to hear what was going to happen.  The guy in my office decided I'm going to go talk to Taylor's boss.  He was gone a little bit longer than expected, so we just assumed he had gone out for a break.  Yes, I know it's hot, but it's always nice to get some fresh air in an office where you cannot open the windows.  He came back and he told us how the conversation went.  He wasn't the first person to tell the boss, but he would be the last.  The boss went to go find Taylor and Taylor was not at their desk.  

The Hunt
The guy in my office comes back and says, "Taylor's missing and they believe Taylor is off their meds".  I turn around to give him my full attention and apparently my face said it all.  But, I'm not exactly sure what my face said.  It was at that moment, we knew we could possibly have a really bad situation.  A few people had been recruited to go find Taylor, but no one was really at ease.  There are so many crevices and routes in my building, Taylor could have been anywhere...and we didn't really know what Taylor was up to or capable of.

The Find
About 2 and a half hours later, we get word that Taylor has been located and other people in the office were with Taylor.  Want details?  I have none to give you.  I have no clue where Taylor was found.  I have no clue what Taylor was doing.  I have no clue if they were able to take Taylor home.  I have no clue if Taylor had to be restrained by police.  I have no clue if medic had to be called to help.  But I can imagine this...

My Theory
I can imagine Taylor was scared.  I don't know what Taylor's meds are for, but I know what mine are for.  I have anxiety.  What if Taylor was acting out because of an anxiety attack?  For those of us with anxiety, we know one thing - we don't have anxiety attacks the same way.  Speaking for myself, I don't even have anxiety attacks the same way.  Sometimes, I cry.  Sometimes I can't breath and I cry.  Sometimes, I go hide.  Sometimes, I keep my face to the ground because I don't want people to touch me or ask if I'm OK (because I'm scared of what they are going to think of me). 

My Feelings
We don't know what people are dealing with.  If you cannot help them, find someone who can.  Keep and eye on them (if you can safely).  

Final Thoughts
I am so happy people went to Taylor's boss and I'm glad Taylor's boss had prior knowledge of their condition, whatever the condition is.  Not sure if Taylor is going to return tomorrow or if Taylor will be returning anytime soon.  However, I know this, I hope Taylor gets well.  It's not like any of us what to be like this.  I had feeling like I have to hide.  I don't hide because I'm ashamed.  I hide because of what I think people will think of me.  We have to stop making mental illness (or any variations thereof) a stigma.  It happens.  It happens to the people who seem to have it all together.  Believe me, if I could stop this, I would.  But right now, I can't.  So, I take my meds and I cope.  And while I cope, I keep going because I believe one day, I will be all better.  I don't know when (or if) that day is even going to come, but if it does, I'll be right here with open arms.  

Monday, June 20, 2016

I Found Dory

I'm a big kid.  Seriously, it's nothing for me to use the hashtag #BigKidAlert.  Well, Thursday night, I was definitely a big kid.  I was so happy I was able to get tickets to the Thursday night showing of Finding Dory.  Out of the fifteen of us in the showing, the youngest person had to be in high school.  

Source: Disney Pixar
I told my mom about my Thursday night adventure and she asked me how it was.  I told her I really enjoyed it and that I was glad I went.  Then she asked me, and you didn't even have to take a child with you to enjoy it, did you?  Want to know why she asked that question?  Well, here goes....

I love cartoons.  It's not a big secret.  When I go visit them, it's nothing for them to find me in the room watching cartoons.  Usually, they will just sit there and enjoy it with me because I think they just like the sound of my laugh.  However, I've always felt weird about going to see a cartoon in the movie theater without a kid.  

I mean, I'm old enough to have kids, but I don't (at least none that made it through delivery anyway - see this post).  Each time a Disney Pixar movie comes out that I really want to see (which is basically all of them), I just wait until they are released on DVD or Netflix.  I know it doesn't bother other people, but I feel strange walking in there without a child...or maybe it makes me miss the child I only held for a day much more.  Not sure what it is, but Thursday, I decided to make a change.  

The ticket was purchased Thursday morning during my break.  I had thought about it all morning and decided, I'm going to treat myself.  I had a little extra money and a movie seemed like the perfect thing to do.  I wanted to splurge a little bit, so I decided to see it in 3D.  

Oh boy, was it awesome!!!  I'm so glad I decided to go.  However, I did make sure to go to the late showing so I would not have to fight the kiddos to get a seat or get mad at them for not knowing movie etiquette.  But I also learned one thing...

There is nothing wrong with being a kid a heart.  I thought I was going to have a hard time thinking about it and wishing my kid was there with me, but I didn't.  I just had a good time and enjoyed the message of the movie (yes, Finding Dory has a powerful message that we all need to hear).  I don't know when I'll go treat myself to a kiddie movie again, but I won't worry about having to offer babysitting services just to go see it.  I'm perfectly fine being a kid for a night.  And since I'm short anyway, I'll probably fit right in.  

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Picture this!

I had been hinting on my Twitter feed about some big things happening in this blog over the summer.  Ok, so the official start to summer isn't until sometime next week, but the first thing happened last night.  

Yesterday afternoon, after the fierce thunderstorm passed through, my amazing friend hopped in the car with me and we headed to the South Carolina Coast!  We could see the storm in the distance and we ended up staying behind it the entire time.  However, my photographer was a bit worried, but I was hoping for the best...and the best is exactly what I got! 

We arrived at my photographer's house and to our surprise, the storm totally missed them.  It was so dark, but the storm itself was south of us.  Not knowing if the storm was going to change directions, we decided to head to the water to take some shots.  She let me see a few of them while I was there (without editing) and I was already floored because I just could not believe that was me.  But back to the beach part of the photo shoot...

I wanted to have a little fun and share my time with you.  That's when I went to my Periscope.  My wonderful friend had my phone and she was such a wonderful commentator and answered so many questions.  So, if you want to get an inside look at my shoot, you can check it out right here.  

Now, just because I like yall (yes, it's the southern girl in me) so much, you get an extra perk by seeing a photo with my amazing photographer Casey from Casey Brannon Photography.  By the way, she's a beast with the makeup too! 

So, if you are ever in Myrtle Beach, SC and looking for a photographer and/or makeup artist, Casey is the person for you!  

Can't wait to share the photos with you!!!  

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Learning Process

The Plus Diaries have been gracing your screens for just over 3 years.  In fact, it was only last month we celebrated our birthday! Fun times, right?  Well, it all hasn't been that great.  

Sometimes, there are some days where I've been wanting to shut down this site.  Why?  It gets hard and it gets rocky, but I keep going.  Some days, my posts (in my opinion) get absolutely no love, but then some that I think are weak get so much support that it just blows my mind.  I have done giveaways and no one participated in them, but yet I've been able to reach out to people and have them featured in my blog.  It's not a perfect blog, but it is a blog that is perfectly mine (and yours).  

In these past few years, I have learned some things about my not so perfect blog (well, all of my social media) and how to make it even more not so perfect.  I've tried different things.  Some of them have worked and others have crashed and burned.  However, there are a few things I have managed to learn along the way and I would like to share those with no particular order.  

Work Hard!  I've spent countless hours, that have turned into days, that have turned into weeks on this blog.  There are other things I want to do in this blog and I'm working on those projects right now.  In fact, I'm having a rather busy week because of this.  But guess what?  Every single minute is going to be worth it as I start achieving more goals.  Each minute you spend with your blog is going to be worth it too!  

It is important to market yourself.  Grant it, I have a talent manager now, but that hasn't always been the case.  I've had to work very hard to reach out to people to be featured in my blog and also to work together with.  I'm constantly using social media to get my name out there and I am also using my business cards.  Even on days when I do not write in this blog, you know the url of this blog because I post it!  The only time I'm not busy marketing myself is when I am on vacation because everyone deserves a vacation.  However, even on vacation, I'm a photo junkie and I post constantly to my Instagram and Tumblr pages.  Ok, I guess I never really stop.

Anything you post is a reflection of you, so post wisely!  Think before you tweet, put up a photo, or do anything that will make people question what you are really trying to accomplish.  The way people screenshot things these days, you might not be able to get down what it is fast enough.  You don't want all your hard work to go down in flames because of a moment of anger or, honestly, stupidity.  You have worked too hard for your brand for that to happen.  

Use social media wisely.  People can be so mean behind a screen.  Think about it like this, if someone met you in public and they only knew you because of your social media, would they want to hug you or punch you in the face?  Make people want to be happy to be around you, even though they may be on the other side of the world.  Now, grant it, I'm blunt, but I'm also not mean.  I don't like mean people and I don't plan on being mean on any of my pages or when I meet you.  Also, stay consistent with your social media names.  If you can give each of your sites the same name, that is perfect.  That makes it so much easier for people to find you.  However, if you are not able to have the same name on all your sites, at least have something close to each other.  Another thing - link your sites to each other.  It is so convenient.  You can get to my Bloglovin, Twitter, and Instagram pages (and follow them) easily be clicking the links on the right of your screen.  The only thing not on the main screen is my Tumblr account, but I just helped you out with that.  However, if you are reading this from your phone right now, you can follow me now on Bloglovin (no you do not have to have a blog), TwitterInstagram, and Periscope.        

You have to reach out to people.  Find communities on social media!  I'm part of so many blogging communities and people help me by retweeting my posts and liking my posts!  It's so important to make those connections so people will be willing to help you!  Also, if you find pages and people you enjoy, support them!  If you see people supporting you, return the favor!  It's hard to be a blogger if you are not willing to work with people to get ideas and suggestions.  Take a risk and ask for anything you need.  You will be shocked at how many people are willing to share with you their experiences.  Everything is a learning experience and if people can help you, most are ready and willing to.  On the other hand, you need to be ready to help people to.  If you cannot, that is understandable, but if you are consistently not wiling to help, it could give you a bad name.  

Protect your brand!  Make sure you have a team of people you trust who will not post anything negative about you.  These same people should also alert you if they see anything negative being posted about you (so you can immediately start the damage control process).  Honestly, these people also need to be close enough to you to be honest.  Your team is around you to give you feedback, positive or critical!  Don't think you have a team?  If you have people around you and they know about what you are doing, you have a team!  Don't trust one or some of them?  Time to change out some of the members of your team.

If you are a blogger, be consistent with your posts.  Grant it, we all take vacations or even have a case of really bad writer's block.  Both are perfectly fine and normal.  However, at least let your readers know that you are not going to be around for a bit so you won't become a total stranger to them.  Believe it or not, your readers will get caught up in your life and in a way, will begin to know you.  You don't want to leave them hanging.  Personally, I go through a writing slump twice a year.  I'm trying to not let that happen this year, but if it does, you will know about it...unlike the other times it has happened.  Why will you know about it?  I've learned it's hard to get you readers back because they feel like you abandoned them.  That's a feeling no one deserves to have.     

Get used to having to use hashtags.  If you see something trending and you want to be part of it, join in!  If someone says use this hashtag in your tweet for a retweet (and you trust the source), use the hashtag.  Free promotion is awesome, if you use is correctly.  However, don't use too many hashtags in your tweet or post.  It will just become too much to follow and people will lose interest.  

Be honest!  Your followers and readers will appreciate you more if they think they actually know you.  Yes, I do write under an assumed alias, but you already knew that.  We all know I don't tell yall my government name!  My social media sites are not even my government name.  For me, it's more fun like that, but I make it very clear.  

It is so important to be respectful.  Also, don't let the comments of people get out of control.  You have the option to delete people that are out of control.  You also have the option to block people on social media.  Believe me, I use my block button all the time, especially on Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope.  You have the power to control your page.  Remember, everything you do online is just a reflection and extension of the person you really are.  

Even when you are writing or discussing a serious subject, do your best to stay positive.  If you cannot stay positive, at least do your best to not be negative.  You can find a median.  It will not be an easy task, but it can be done.  

Days are going to be hard.  You're not going to be able to think of anything to write.  You're not going to feel like writing.  Social media is going to annoy you and people are going to negatively talk about you.  But you need to remember this one thing - never give up!  When you feel your post is not its best, it is still going to mean something to somebody.  If you have a contest and no one participates, have another one.  Learn from what when wrong and make the changes.  If you put out the wrong info in your posts or and social media, apologize.  An apology really goes a long way.  

My last piece of advice?  Have fun!!!  Writing is so fun!  Being on social media is so fun!  Don't stop having fun!  When you stop having fun, you have lost your love for the craft.  When you lose your love of the craft, it is time to find something new.  

In the 3 years I've been doing The Plus Diaries and my other social media, these are just a few of the things I've learned.  If I keep doing this another 3 years, I'm sure I'll have so much more to tell you.  But for right now, this is all I have.  For you people thinking about blogging, I hope this helps you start your blogging journey.  If you were thinking about closing down your blog, I hope this has encouraged you to keep going.  

Have a blog?  Starting a blow?  Let me know!  I love to follow people on social media and follow blogs.  Also, if I can help you, please let me know.  Nothing I have learned will be kept a secret and if I don't know the answer, I will definitely try to find it for you.  We got this!!!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Foodie Files

I have been trying really hard to keep my calorie intake in check.  I've been doing very well, if I do say so myself.  However, my arch nemesis is pasta.  I could eat pasta all day long if it was allowed.  On the other hand, have you looked at the calories in that stuff?  Geeezzz...that just messed me all the way up.  But, I found an alternative.  

I love zucchini!  I also love the fact I can turn zucchini into pasta with one little handy machine.  The photo you see to the right is a dish I absolutely enjoy making.  If you want step-by-step instructions, make sure you check out my Periscope videos for part 1 and part 2.  

Yes, this is the finished product.  It was pretty on the video, but I messed it up a little so people who joined in at the last minute could see everything that was in it.  Besides, as I said on the video, I'm not too good at making it look pretty on plates, but I can make sure you have a delicious dinner!  

Just in case you were wondering, yes, my favorite color is red!  

I absolutely love to cook.  It's fun to me and it actually relaxes me, especially after a long day at work.  However, this is what I love about cooking - I am in control of what goes into my tummy!  During my video, someone asked me if I was on a diet and I told them I don't really like to call it that.  I don't.  I'm determined to make a lifestyle change and that is what is important to me.  Yes, I'm trying to get into a particular size, but I want to continue to eat healthy after I have achieved my goal.  

Tonight, I added banana peppers with the tomatoes.  Delicious!!!  Also, while cooking the shrimp, I used the juice from the banana peppers, as well as Old Bay seasoning and black pepper.  

When it comes to cooking the zucchini, I keep it simple.  Water only!!!  No oil was used in anything I cooked.  In order to add some flavor to the zucchini, I used red pepper flakes.  If you check out the videos, the red pepper flakes are not mentioned because I did not use them tonight!  I figured I already had enough seasoning going on for my liking.  However, you do you!  Cook how you want to and make it how you want it to taste!  

This is simple to me!!!  The longer part was actually using the pasta maker to get it ready, but I am even getting a better hang of that.  

Due to how the zucchini cooks down, I would say one zucchini per meal.  Because I don't mind cooking, I only make one at a time.  In other words, if I want this dish tomorrow, I'm cooking again!  However, if you choose to make enough for a few meals, have at it!  I change up meals so often during the week, it is a waste for me to cook it all at once.  I learned that the hard way and I absolutely hate to waste food, but it happens sometimes.  

This is the meal from over the weekend!  I measure out everything I use.  You are probably thinking that's a lot of cheese.  According to the packet, a serving in 1/3 cup.  That's exactly what you see in both photos, 1/3 cup of cheese.  

As for the sauce, you can make your own or you can semi make your own.  I semi make my own.  My base in both photos is Ragu (select whatever kind you wish).  Then, I added the tomatoes (and tonight banana peppers).  However, if you choose to make the sauce yourself, please let me know what you used!  

Healthy eating doesn't mean eating a salad every single meal of the day.  Healthy eating doesn't have to be nasty either.  Luckily, I like fruits and veggies, so this is sort of easy for me.  However, find what works for you!  

If anything, I hope I have encouraged you to try something new.  Let me know if you try it and how it works out!  

Sunday, June 12, 2016

A Powerful Gift

I have a wonderful friend I've only known for less than a year.  However, she has turned out to be one of the best people I've ever met in my life.  We hang out.  We text almost every single day.  We laugh and we just cut up.  That's just what we do!  The best part about our friendship is that we can have great conversations about life and the things we have experienced.  

We had a cool conversation yesterday about siblings.  She has a few.  I have none.  She talked about her relationships with them.  Their bonds and how it is so different from friendship.  Then she wondered if I felt like I had missed out.  I think I may have surprised her, but nope, I don't feel like I missed out because my parents only decided to have one.  Actually, I feel like I was blessed with an amazing opportunity. 

Just because I don't have sisters and brothers, it doesn't mean siblings.  I was blessed with an opportunity to pick the people in my life (instead of having to kick siblings off a family tree like I have done some of my cousins).  I have a twin that is white - LOL!  We've been friends for 20 years and I wouldn't trade her for anything in the world.  I have a sister that is white.  I met her my first year of college.  After she came out of her shyness, I discovered she was pretty friggin cool.  Even though my biological mom gave me life, I have so many moms of different ethnic backgrounds.  But, back to my siblings.  One sister is bi-racial.  My friend, who inspired this post, may not have known it, but I consider her a sibling too.  See, I didn't miss out.  It was simply an awesome opportunity that God gave me.  

Here's another thing God gave me by not giving me brothers and sisters.  He gave me a certain strength that only people who are only children will understand.  We know how to get through this life with very little help, even though we love people.  Not saying other people are not, but we are extremely driven because we don't have a brother or sister in our corner giving us support.  Finally, in my opinion, we can see through you because we are not blinded by the fact we are blood related.  If I see you acting foolish or I think you need to grow up, I'm going to tell you.  There is no, well, that's my brother or sister to have to deal with.  I'm going to tell you like it is.  My siblings that I have selected are the same way with me and I respect them and love them for it.  

Both of my parents come from rather large families.  I have so many aunts and uncles.  Maybe they didn't want me to have to battle siblings they way they had to. 

So, it's okay to be an only child.  Not like we had control over it.  I used to want brothers and sisters, but then I grew up.  As I got older, I realized how blessed I was!  God knew what he was going with me.  He gave me something powerful - the gift of 1.  

Saturday, June 11, 2016

2003 K12 Lane

I'm not really sure who helped me most when it comes to my writing.  My parents have always been instrumental in motivating me and teaching me to think outside the box.  My environment is constantly changing, but all the while allowing me to learn from new people, places, and things.  My friends are pretty cool and they allow me to be myself.  My love is a pretty awesome guy and loves all of my personas.  Things and people can inspire me, but it takes a special person to teach me.  

It took special people to teach me and keep me on my toes from K - 12 and beyond.  Those people, ladies and gentlemen, are some MVPs.  Let me introduce them to you.

In Kindergarten, I had a really awesome teacher name Mrs. Oxendine.  Note, that is no longer her last name, but that is how I knew her.  Her assistant was Mrs. Harrill.  It wasn't my first school experience because I had been in Pre-K.  However, I would like to think this started the foundation to who I am today.  Mrs. Kellett (formerly Mrs. O) saw something in me and allowed me to join a 1st grade class for math.  Apparently, kindergrade math was too boring for me.  I had no clue the teacher she sent me to would end up being my first grade teacher.  

In first grade, my teacher was Mrs. Caviness.  Her assistant was another Mrs. Harrill.  She saw potential in me when the former Mrs. O sent me to her class for math.  However, when I was officially in her class, she helped me with a little something called identity.  I remember I had to draw a portrait of myself.  Well, I decided to use a black crayon instead of a crayon closer to my complexion.  She made me do it over, but before I did, we had a little chat.  Yes, my school forms said black, but that wasn't my actual color.  By the way, she would be the only black teacher I had until high school.  

Second grade was the classroom of Mrs. Spect, with her assistant Mrs. Hovis.  Honestly, my memory of my relationships with my teachers are foggy for this year.  Probably because my body was growing in ways I didn't understand.   I totally skipped the training bra and had to get a regular bra.  A girl in my class told me I had big thighs.  I was growing, but it was awkward.  That's what I remember from second grade.  

In third grade, I was the math wiz.  Seriously, my teacher Mrs. Horne and her assistant Mrs. Long allowed me to help tutor other students in the class.  I always made 100 on my multiplication tests, except when it came to 7 x 8.  For some reason, I thought it was 54, but I'm doing better with that now.  I better be doing better since I'm a hydraulic design engineer by day.  I think them allowing me to tutor helped me to realize how much I enjoyed helping people.  It was fun to me and I don't think I've ever lost that passion.  

Time to move on to the single teacher years!  In fourth grade, my teacher was Mrs. Self.  She was pretty cool.  However, I have a weird memory from her class.  She asked, What does state mean in this sentence - the person was in a terrible state?  I knew the answer and I raised my hand, but she wouldn't let me answer.  On the other hand, she looked at me and smiled and nodded her head in approval.  I knew she knew I knew and that was all that really mattered to me.  In her own way, she taught me to be smart, but never make people feel dumb and I have never forgotten the lesson.  In fact, I cannot stand to see people talk down to people and hurt them in that way.  

Fifth grade was Mrs. Park.  Oh, Mrs. Park!!!  She got me in this class.  I had to do an assignment using 5 vocabulary words.  Well, I went to the dictionary and started searching for words.  Welp, she read my assignment out loud.  Actually, I found it funny!  But here is what I didn't realize, she was going to make me write in that class and she expecting nothing short of greatness.  In her class, we had to write a poetry book.  I feel like poetry is too slow for me, but of course, I did the assignment.  The book had to have a dedication and I dedicated my book to my teacher.  In it she wrote, I've been doing this assignment for years and you are the first student to dedicate their book to me.  I guess in her own way, she jump started this whole writing thing I like to do.  

Then, it was time to go to middle school...

Ok, so let me explain something.  My middle school wasn't designed where we changed classes all day.  We were on teams of 2 or 3 teachers.  For our electives, we had other teachers.  For this section, I will be only focusing on the teachers I had on my home team.  

The first day of middle school wasn't bad for me.  In fact, I walked in without a parent.  Maybe it was because one of my cousins, who was in the seventh grade, walked with me and she had the same set of teachers I was going to have.  In sixth grade, my teachers were Mrs. Tipton and Mrs. Beam.  I remember having a fabulous year and meeting great people, especially a wonderful friend I am still friends with until this very day...20 years later.  Here is what I remember about that year, Mrs. Tipton was my homeroom teacher and Mrs. Beam made me enjoy science.  It's not that this year is foggy, but I also lost my maternal grandmother during the school year (over Easter break to be exact).  What I remember most?  Both of my teachers and my classmates were there for me when I needed them and that was really important to me.  

Seventh grade was by far my absolute favorite year of middle school.  I think I was on the best team!  My teachers were Mrs. Ryan and Ms. Richardson.  Mrs. Ryan was the only pre-algebra teacher in the seventh grade (at the time).  If you were in pre-algebra, you have to be on the team that had Mrs. Ryan.  I'm a math person, so of course I enjoyed taking a higher level class one year early!  My favorite things about Ms. Richardson was that she was new and she was trying to figure out her way in the teaching world.  This was her first year at the school (not sure if it was her first year teaching).  I think I enjoyed seeing her grow and turn into an awesome teacher.  Not sure where she is now, but I hope she is having one awesome career.  

Eighth grade was a pretty good year because I am convinced I had the best English teacher in the entire middle school!  On my team, my teachers were Mrs. Sigmon, Mrs. Crump, and Mrs. Allen.  I had Mrs. Sigmon for homeroom and math.  This year, I had to take algebra (a high school level course) and pass the high school exam if I wanted to take geometry next.  Since I won't be talking about my math teacher in ninth grade, I will go ahead and let you know I passed.  Mrs. Crump taught Social Studies.  For real, I didn't really like social studies at the time, but I did well in the class.  But this brings us to Mrs. Allen.  She was the best English teacher I had in middle school.  Her love for teaching was so evident and she made it interesting every single day.  In fact, she is the teacher who taught me the correct pronunciation of Hawaii.  We were Mrs. Allen's final class.  We threw her a pretty awesome retirement party and she enjoyed it.  

Since I had a great first day of middle school, I just figured this would be the case for the first day of high school.  It was!  In fact, it was even better because I was immediately able to hang out with upper classmen because of my cousins.  In other words, I had protection for the first day of school and that was pretty cool.  

Now, because of the class schedule of my high school, I had up to 8 teachers in one year.  Therefore, I am only going to focus on one teacher from each year.  Hopefully, this will help me navigate through these last few years of my K12 education. 

In ninth grade, I had an absolutely awesome English teacher.  Mrs. Price was tough, but she was good.  However, she did call me out in a good way because on a test where a great majority of the class made a C or lower, I made a 96.  I remember her because she really made me focus on a subject that I did not particular right.  I actually ended up having her again in tenth grade for Creative Writing.  She really made me focus on my writing that year and I believe I am a better person for her pushing.  

Keeping with the English classes, in tenth grade, I had Mrs. Kennedy.  This lady absolutely rocked!!!  She tried to get me moved to Honors English in tenth grade and I told her that I didn't want to leave her.  However, she made absolutely sure that I was in a higher level English class in the eleventh grade.  Mrs. Kennedy was great and she saw something in me that I didn't begin to understand until after I was no longer in her class.  One of my classmates was having issues in the class and she picked me, out of the whole class, to help them by taking notes for them.  I felt really good about getting the chance to help someone, all while being able to maintain great grades.  She really made us write in that class.  I didn't enjoy it at the time, but I totally appreciate what she instilled in me.  The only thing I had to learn by the end of that year was how to spell surprise.  Yep, I used to have a real issue with that word, but I think I have a better handle on it right now.  

Eleventh grade year was the only year I had a favorite teacher that wasn't an English teacher.  However, my English teacher was awesome.  However, this was the year of AP History!  Mr. Bowen made my year!!!  I was a history buff, but he turned me into something that I never thought I imagined.  Ironically, we were just leaving his class when we got word about what was happening in our country on September 11.  The next morning during the Pledge of Allegiance, he told us, "I hope this means a little bit more to you this morning".  I remember a friend of mine breaking down during this time and that was really touching.  This was also the one year in high school I was a cheerleader.  It was a great year, even though this tragedy existed.  After 9/11, he really tried to make us understand something that was hard for us to grasp at such a young age.  

We are finally to senior year!!!  And we are back to the English teachers.  Mrs. Chapman ended my school career on a high.  She was the final class I had to pass to get out of high school.  I say it like that because I just needed English to pass (LOL).  Mrs. Chapman was also preggo, so we had the chance to throw her a baby shower.  However, she made us read like crazy!!!  In fact, I still have those books and all the notes that I took.  This year was fun because she understood that we were trying to get out of high school, but yet we still had to learn.  She found a way to balance those two things and she made that final semester of my school career priceless.  

Why did I write this?  Well, I wanted to really take this time to appreciate some wonderful people in my life.  All of my teachers made an impact on my life, but these people mentioned here just really touched me in a special way.  During these years, during the waking hours of my life (and yours too), we spend our days with people that educate us  Yes, our parents (at least in my generation) made sure we learned at home, but we also had great educators that made sure we were getting what we were supposed to be getting while we are school.  

I am so thankful to have been blessed with wonderful teachers.  Grant you, some were strict, but they got their point across and each one of them left something in me I took to college and I still carry today.  

Appreciate your teachers.  Learn from them.  Learn from each other.  Carry what you are taught in all areas of your life.  You will never know what you are going to need to pull out from your memory to help you get through the day.  

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Lady in red

Ok, I've been working on a draft all week!  Seriously, all week!  And yes, I'm still working on it, but I'm enjoying the process and taking a trip.  However, you will see the post soon enough.  

Tonight is brought to you by the color red.  Well, Saturday night (last weekend), was brought to you by the color red.  About a month ago, I attended a My Favorite Things party.  I had never been to one before and wasn't sure what to expect.  However, I ended up having a great time and getting some wonderful gifts.  If I remember correctly, I got a wine glass, candles, lip gloss, and a few other things.  But let's talk about this red stuff on my lips.

Apparently, Revlon makes this really awesome Ultra Matte HD Lipcolor.  The thing is, when you get your gifts at the party, you have no clue what you are getting.  So, when I opened this gift, I didn't know what to think.  Don't get me wrong, I love lip color, I just always thought I did not look good in red.  Well, this is what I learned - I was just wearing the wrong red.  

I took a risk and tested this lip color while going out over the weekend.  I was really pleased with the look and I think I wore it least that is what people were telling me.  To top it off, I had on some beautiful red pants from Old Navy.  Basically, I was all the way matching!  

Check out those lips!  Ok, that was a little weird saying that about myself, but for real though, I think this looks amazing on my lips!  It has taken me so many years to try red on my lips again, but I am so happy to have received this gift at the party.  

Honestly, other than my eye shadow (which you obviously cannot see), lip color was the only thing I wore for make-up.  It was just too hot to do a full face and walk around The Vista for a few hours.  But let me tell you, it was so much fun!  

Here is what I want you to do - take a chance with some different looks!  I tell people the same thing all the time, but yet was too afraid to try a color.  I can honestly tell you this will not be the last time red will be on my lips.  Now, I just need another excuse to wear it.  

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Waiting for an answer

I would love to think I'm part of something special in this great big world we share.  I think this blog is pretty special, but maybe I'm bias.  I think my day job is special because I know I'm helping people.  I think all of my relationships are special because even if they hurt, I learn something.  But when it comes to church, here recently, I'm starting to feel a little less special.  

I feel like I have found something great to be part of in my church.  I'm not out in front and I like that.  Believe it or not, I love people, but I could care less about being at the front of a crowd.  I don't have to be seen to be heard (all the time) to make a difference.  I'm perfectly fine sharing the light, instead of being forced into the bright light of popularity.  Lately, I feel like I'm being forced into something that I did not sign up for.  

I've been praying about a decision I know I need to make and each time I think I have it figured out, something happens to let me know that's not what you are supposed to be doing and I stay put.  Here's the problem right now - when something starts to keep me up at night, I think that is a problem.  

When I started this activity, I was all in.  I'm still all in, but I feel like some people are trying to make me be all in and then some.  There is only so much I can do.  I'm one person, with a life, a full time job, an amazing blog, and another project up my sleeve.  Not saying that God's work isn't important, but I know that I serve God in my own way in other aspects of my life.  

I don't know what decision I'm going to be led to make, but I know that whatever decision it is, it will be in His will.  He loves me enough to help me make this right choice.  

Saturday, June 4, 2016

The me files

I have learned you seem to enjoy me more when I'm all the way open about the things I'm experiencing.  You like it when I talk about being sad.  You like it when I talk about my antics.  You like it when I talk about my hair (actually, I think yall liked that one the most).  Not saying you don't enjoy it when I do a backstage pass, but you seem to enjoy me the most when I'm talking about me.  Well, right now, you are about to get a big dose of me.

I had been torn between two topics today.  Honestly, both of them came to my mind this afternoon.  Actually, both of them happened because of a photo.  I had calmed my nerves, but then I saw the photo again on my other social network.  Those feelings just came flooding back.  I'll eventually make it to the original topic, but right now, I think it is time to talk about my reaction.  

Anxiety is a real brat.  It hits me when I least expect it.  It makes me wish things I don't want to wish.  It makes me feel things I don't want to feel.  It makes me sick when I want to feel on top of the world.  Yes, all of this happens while taking medication.  And yes, my med is working because that list was a lot deeper a few months ago.  However, no matter what med I take, it doesn't take away the fact I have feelings and emotions, even though I try my best to mask those.  

Without telling you exactly what the photo was (because it honestly belongs in another post), I want to talk to you about my reaction.  Had my past not be my past, I probably would have acted a lot differently, but I just couldn't help myself.  As happy as I am for everyone (yes, I'm happy but my reaction is my truth), I feel just as much hurt for myself.  

Some days, I think my life is taking all these positive steps forward and then a noun makes me feel like those positive steps are only in my imagination.  I'm not exactly sure how to explain it because you will never get exactly where I am coming from, but I can explain my reaction.  

When I saw what I saw, my heart jumped.  It jumped in excitement, but them it sank with disappointment...disappointment in myself for being young and dumb and disappointment in myself because I am not even close to the goals I had set when I was a teen for this stage of my life.  I've been making an effort to use my Tumblr account more...well, more talking and not just about my photos.  Here is part of what I posted today...

For those of you not familiar with Tumblr, let me help you out.  It's just like Twitter, your most recent post is on the top.  The only thing I wish you could see was the time stamp between these two posts.  These could not have been more than 4 hours apart.  When it comes to my anxiety (yes, I can only speak for myself and my own experiences), it changes so quickly.  The top post is basically the beginning of an anxiety attack that started at work and didn't end until I showered and washed my hair tonight.  Why did it end at that point?  I guess because I was totally relaxed.
I was so excited this morning about getting my ticket to see Maroon5 with my amazing friends and then because of a photo, my world changed.  Yes, it may sound dramatic to you, but yes, it was my world.  

My anxiety attack today didn't look like me having shortness of breath (not to be confused with my asthma attacks) or me wanting to run and hide.  Today, my anxiety attack looked like me sitting at my desk at my office trying to keep myself together and not bust out into uncontrollable tears.  The top post was my way of dealing with the anxiety attack.  I couldn't write an entire blog post, but I could get something off my chest.  It helped me get through my last couple of hours at work.  My anxiety attack wasn't me almost passing out, it was me just sitting there and thinking dang, my life really sucks right now.  Ok, so you don't like the wording, but I'm giving it to you right now without a chaser.  One day, I'll tell you about the different anxiety attacks I've had, but for right now, please understand this - I don't have the same anxiety attack each time I have an anxiety attack AND neither do your friends or family who suffer from an anxiety disorder.   

I wish I could tell you this will never happen to me again, but that's not true.  As for me, I don't think you ever get rid of anxiety, I think you learn how to live with it and live with it fully.  I guess I'll eventually have to explain that statement too.  However, here is what I do believe - one day the photo that caused the attack will no longer bring on feelings of anxiety, but instead feelings of joy.  I cannot wait for that day to come.  But if it never comes, I will have the tools I need to deal with all the emotions the photo will throw my way.  

Thursday, June 2, 2016

I love my clothes

This post is a bit different because even though I talk about fashion, I don't always talk about my fashion.  Sometimes, I feel like my style is a little too much for people and that people will not like it.  However, even though I take risks, people still like what I wear.  Tonight was no different.  

If you have known me for any length of time, you know I could care less about matching.  I think mixing colors and patterns is neat.  Now, I don't go overboard, but a little bit of mixing goes a long way.  What do I mean?  Well, I thought you would never ask.  

As you can see, matching is not a problem for me because I don't have to match to look cute.  Let's handle this first - some of you are immediately looking at my bra strap.  Here is the deal, I'm a plus diva and my boobs are no different.  It doesn't matter how much weight I lose, my boobs remain.  Currently, I wear a F and G cup, depending on the style of the bra from Lane Bryant.  Yes, those are the only bras I allow to hold my boobs.  So, when wearing these types of shirts, I will do my best to match my bra with my tank.  I could put on a strapless bra, but they are not comfy to me.  When I'm out having a good time, comfort is more important than me feeling bad about my bra strap showing.  Now that we have that covered, let's move on.  

My shoes are a beautiful mint color from Shoe Carnival.  I was so shocked to find these shoes in my size because the more generic color was sold out.  How weird was that?  Tonight, these shoes served a dual purpose - cute and also comfy because my new foot tattoo is in the process of healing.  

Jean are from Old Navy.  Are you surprised?  You probably are not.  These are a coral (or peach) color - whichever one you want to argue.  They are super stretchy and forever comfortable.  Just because I'm a big girl doesn't mean that I cannot pull of colors.  Stop telling yourself that darks are the only colors you can wear.  

The cami came from Cato Plus!  It's a deep brown that brings out the print in the outer top.  Now, I haven't shopped at Cato in years, but when I go, I do find some pretty awesome things.  

The floral top (which I was surprised I actually liked because I'm not a huge fan of floral prints) also came from Old Navy!  This top is a mix of creams, tans, and browns.  Absolutely beautiful mixture of color to go with the brightness of my jeans and shoes.  

Well, jewelry is important.  I believe jewelry can pull together so much!  So, even though not the same colors at all, the jeans and tops (including the bra straps) pulled together.  However, I had on these mint colored shoes (because they were comfy).  How in the world did I make this work?  Easy - jewelry!!!  

Forgive my hand in the background, but I really thought this was the best way for you to see the color.  Although not a mint, it is still a shade of blue.  Then, the blue on my Guess pocketbook pulled all three shades together.  Where can you find these earrings?  You can't!  Believe it or not, I actually made these myself.  

If you check out Diva Dezynes, you will see my mom is a jewelry maker after she finishes her day job.  I'm not a jewelry maker like her, but when we spend some time together, she can convince me to make some pieces.  Well, these are a few of the pieces I have made.  

I had to figure out how to use the peace symbols.  Once I noticed she had some other beads in her collection to semi-match, it was a go!  Again, not the same shade of blue, but it was still enough to tie everything together.

For dinner with some amazing people tonight, this was my outfit!  Something simple and quick, but it still received a few compliments.  Never be afraid to take a chance with your clothes.  Mix them up and make dozens of outfits when the natural eye only wants to see one or two outfits.  Have some fun and enjoy your clothes!