Wednesday, September 28, 2016

This is Awesome

I don't know if I have ever done this, but let me just say the new show on NBC by the name of This Is Us is absolutely amazing.  It's been a long time since I felt like I could actually relate to a character on a show.  I know what you are thinking - you like Grey's Anatomy so you can relate to them because you are intelligent.  Or my absolute favorite of, but you enjoy Black-ish because they look like you.  Ok, whatever to both statements!  

There is so much more to me than being intelligent and being a black chick with a fro.  In case you didn't also notice from my photos, I'm a thick chick.  I mean, my blog is actually called The Plus Diaries so, um....yeah.  People who look like me are not seen on my television screen.  You're probably thinking, but what about Gabby from Empire?  I can see where your point would be valid, but I don't really relate to her character on the show.  However, a character I can relate to right now is Kate from This is Us.  

Kate is a beautiful woman.  She's intelligent.  She's doing her best to help her brother along in his career.  She's trying to lose weight.  She's in a support group for people with body issues.  And we learned last night that she has been struggling with her weight since she was a child.  Basically Kate, played by the ever talented Chrissy Metz, is absolutely awesome.  However, she does deal with some things I've long struggled with.  Last night, that was really evident.  

There is one particular scene that really made me jump.  She was at a party with her boyfriend (who I'm honestly not a fan of) and he wanted to dance.  She wasn't really feeling it at first, but she finally got out there.  Before she could even start dancing and get liquored up, she noticed the other party guests staring.  Want to take a guess at what they were looking at staring at?  I'll give you three and none of them should include the awesome outfit she had on...

They were looking at one thing and one thing only, her weight.  I've heard my entire life that you want to be the woman who turns heads in the room.  However, I don't think they meant for me to turn heads because I am one of the biggest people in the room.  Do I understand that people may just be looking at my outfit?  Of course!  But I am also well aware of when people may be looking at me and laughing at me being a plus size woman around so many skinny friends. 


I get it.  I've been going through this my entire life, probably just like Kate.  It's taken me so long to get to a point where I can look in the mirror and say my outfit is awesome instead of saying damn, I look fat and no matter how many times I change, I'm still going to be fat.  Please understand, I still have my days.  It was just last week I told my friends and posted on twitter I'm having a fat day.  I know my truth!  It's just part of me.  But here is one thing I can tell you - I refuse to be a prisoner to my own body negativity any longer because I am so much more than the skin color and skin flab you see!  

Bad days are going to happen.  If you're not having a bad moment, you are not living life right.  Not every single outfit you are going to put on is going to be perfect, but I guarantee you will be able to find one good thing about it, even if it is just the shoes.

I'm looking forward to watching This Is Us during this season and many seasons to come.  Honestly, I'm excited to see how Kate develops and to see how her childhood played a factor into the adult she we see today.  More important, I'm excited to see what I can learn from her character and how she carries herself.  

So back to my original statement - I'm so glad to finally see someone on TV who looks likes like!  I'm happy to see someone on TV who has the same insecurities as me when they start to dance.  I'm so happy to see someone not skinny on TV who works out (yes, she was in a gym last night), but can't ever seem to lose the weight.  I'm finally happy to see a representation of the life I've lived for so many years.  Thank you NBC for stepping outside of the box and being absolutely diverse! 

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Update on Taylor - part II


I've been rather reluctant to write this update.  Not because I don't think it is important enough to be shared, but because this update actually hurts a little bit more than the first update.  For those of you really needing to catch up, you can read from the very beginning by clicking right here.

If you want me to be honest with you, I'm pretty sure the Taylor I once knew no longer exists.  When I see Taylor in the hallway, it's just not the same.  The person who would once stop and talk to me now is just focused on whatever task they are trying to accomplish.  When Taylor needs something to help complete a job duty, Taylor speaks as little as possible.  

Truth be told, I miss Taylor.  We had some pretty cool conversations and Taylor had an interesting personality.  I would like to think the Taylor I once knew still exists somewhere deep down inside.  Why do I think that?

Even though I'm medicated, I don't think my personality changed.  However, if you really know me, I would really like for you to tell me what you really think.  My medication is great (in my opinion) and I truly like how I feel when I am on it, but I also know myself and was very mindful to tell my doctor or any changes I noticed.  

When it comes to Taylor, we just don't know what to expect anymore.  We don't know if the personality we saw early on is really Taylor or if that was medicated Taylor.  We're not sure if a reduced medicated Taylor is the person who caused the initial issue or if it was just Taylor.  There are so many questions we do not have answers to.  Unfortunately, depending on how Taylor is outside of the office, Taylor may not know either.  

Here is what I do know - it hurts me to see a person have such a drastic change.  I hope for Taylor's sake this storm doesn't last long.  But if it does, I hope Taylor's family and friends are truly there and handle Taylor with the patience and give the confidence needed to go through this.  



Photo credit: fhwrdh via Visual Hunt / CC BY
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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Failure is not an option

I'm all about trying new stuff.  It you don't try, you will always wonder if it was going to work.  When you try and it doesn't work out the first time, you're supposed to learn from it.  Well, this is exactly what happened to me on Thursday - I tried something new and I learned from it.  



I tried doing a tweetchat on this past Thursday.  I had been part of several of these and I wanted to try one for myself.  Needless to say, I thought it was an epic failure...but it wasn't.  Ironically, the next day, I already had a meeting scheduled with my talent manager.  She asked me how it went.  I could have told her it was absolutely horrible and that no one participated (which is true), but I had already decided even though I knew it was a failure, I refused to not take something from the experience.  

Since I have been involved in a few of these myself, I now have a plan.  Before you even ask, nope, not telling you my plan.  Just please know and understand, next time I decide to offer a tweetchat, it will definitely be better than the first.  Just for the record, my calendar is a lot more colorful than this.  

I already have some ideas and I even have a date for when I want this to happen.  Don't worry, I will gladly let you know details once everything is finalize.  

Here is what I want to say to you - just because it doesn't work out the first time doesn't mean it is going to work.  It means the second time could possibly be awesome or it could lead you to an idea to something a lot better.  Don't give up, fabulous people!  Your time is right now, so go make some things happen! 


via GIPHY


Photo credit: J'Roo via VisualHunt / CC BY-SA
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Monday, September 19, 2016

The truth about blogging

Let me just be straight up - blogging is hard.  This isn't just me sitting in front of a laptop or my tablet and writing.  This is my brain working hard to make sure the right words come together.  Blogging is getting the right photos and GIFs together.  And don't get me started on when I'm actually taking the photos myself - I have to have great lighting, make sure it is edited properly, and don't even get me started on proper placement.  I mean, in a recent post, I used an analogy using ice cream and I had to place the photo where it would make sense.  

It's hard to be a blogger.  I currently only blog part-time, but I eventually want to get to a point where I am making a decent income with my blog and everything that comes under my blog umbrella.  I don't think there is anything wrong with that, but I also know it is not going to come overnight.  

I cannot tell you how many late nights I have stayed up because my blogging brain keeps moving!  I am constantly thinking about how I can say something.  I keep a notebook with me just so I can write down ideas.  If I don't have that notebook on me, I use my phone.  To be honest with you, I have written ideas on my hand.  

So, let's talk about these ideas.  I'm not just talking about post titles - quite frankly, those do not come until the end.  I'm talking about photos, topics, and where I want certain paragraphs to tie the entire post together.  My blog black book (yes, it's really a black book) means so much to me because any ideas I have for the blog and anything under the blog umbrella goes in that book...eventually.  



I cannot stand to hear someone say on see someone write on social media all you do it write.  Seriously?  You have no clue!  The funny part is the same people probably making these comments probably cannot put together a solid opening sentence to catch my attention.  See the GIPHY above?  That's how I feel sometimes - I'm standing still, but my ideas are constantly flowing all around me.  

You have no clue what it is like to come home after work and type because your mind won't stop until you do.  You don't get what it is like to wake up in the middle of the night and jot down the idea because you know you won't remember it once you wake up in the morning.  You don't understand how hard I work during lunch, when I'm supposed to be enjoying a break from the hustle and bustle of my day job.  The only time my blog stuff doesn't go to work with me is when I know I'm not going to be in the office during lunch.  That's it!  Even when I'm sick, if I am well enough to sit up at least an hour, I'm working on my blog - checking stats, writing notes, sending emails, doing my best to make contacts, and other things that can be productive for this blog.  

I take care of this blog like I take care of myself because it is a reflection of me!  I honestly think you can see if I'm having a rough day, a weird day, or a wonderful day based on the language I use.  I love the fact you get to know a little bit about me based on my posts.  That's why I believe in being transparent because I want you to know me.  This blog helps you know me and I don't plan on changing that.  

So, bloggers and wonderful readers of this blog, what do you think about my blog?  Bloggers, how do you keep people wanting to come back and read more?    

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

This business is for my pleasure

Most afternoons when I get home from my day job (which I do love), I spend time cooking (if I need to), eating, taking some time in my bullet journal, working out, and working in The Plus Diaries!  However, there is one thing I don't think a lot of people understand - The Plus Diaries just isn't this blog.  There is so much more stuff under this umbrella of one name.  There is a non-profit section.  There is a podcast section (coming soon).  There is taking the time to set up and complete interviews for this blog.  There is my inner MUA and stylist that loves helping people feel and look their best.  There's a little bit more, but I figured that was enough to get my point across.  Basically, I work hard and I hope that my blog and everything under my blog is a reflection of the hours I put in to get this complete!  



That is so true!  I do type with a purose and my purpose is to provide a great blog that you will want to keep coming back to and even follow because you don't want to miss anything I may type!  I appreciate you and I absolutely love you because your support means so much to me.  But then, there is that dirty side of this blogging and business life and unfortunately, it comes from the people close to me and who I thought would be behind me one hundred percent.  

For any of you tyring to do anything out of your comfort zone (including a business, going back to school, getting ready to move to a new place), let me tell you one thing - it will not work unless you have a group of peole who understand you and what you are trying to do.  Here is a surprise - that group of people (which I recommend you keep very small) will be strangers who will eventually turn into friends.  How do I know this?  Because it has happened to me.

  
I've told you time and time again, I believe in being open and honest with you!  I will always do my absolute best to let you know of the things happening in my life that are important to this blog and to the business itself.  Don't get me wrong, I will retain a level of privacy, but when it comes to this safe place, I have no problem telling you how it is and the things I have learned so far (which is constantly changing) along this business journey.  That brings us to the meat of this post tonight.  

Almost three months ago, I wrote a post about things I had learned about blogging.  I can already tell you, it is time for that post to be re-evaluated and probably a new post should be written in order to give it proper justice.  But until then, feel free to read the post from June by clicking here.  In the post, I talked specifically about my blogging journey, but this post is about the journey as a whole.  Believe me, they are two very different things because honestly, it's coming from a totally different perspective.  In order to make this more easy to follow, I'll break it up into three categories - friends, family, and time.  After those specifics are complete, I'll tie them all together with a broad view of things, but I may break those down just to make it easy too!  


Friends:


What can I say about friends?  I have some really great ones, but I also know I have some really cool acquaintances whom I would not let ten feet within my business zone.  Some people are just around for what they can get from you.  Don't get me wrong, I offer a friends and family discount.  Key words - friends and family!  This doesn't mean I am hooking up a friend of a friend or a family member that remembers changing my diapers, but I haven't seen since I really began to remember my own life.  Nah, that's not how I roll!

You have to have a solid circle of friends who do not want to see you fail!  Yes, I said it.  There are honestly going to be some people around you that are waiting for you to fall flat on your face.  Quite frankly, they get excited when something goes wrong in your life.  They get even more excited when they see you scrambling to make something work.  Oh, things are going to go wrong in this business - spelling error hear, grammatical error their (see what I did) and a few other things, but that's the only thing they are going to see - the failure.  They are not going to see you sitting down to read a post three times before you let it go live.  They are not going to see the possible draft you have made and all the marks in your blogging journal.  They are not going to see the calendar you use to keep everything straight (because if they did see it, it would blow their minds).  All they are going to see if your mistake and happily point it out to you (and they may even do it on a public platform).  However, for every one of those, there are going to be five strangers (people you don't know face to face) who will give you a raving review, a beautiful comment, or a like or retweet on Twitter.  It may turn out to be the strangers who give you the best support because if you find a community of people on social media who do the same thing you do (i.e. blogging, bullet journaling, music, etc.), they are going to understand and realize nothing is perfect in our blogging world!  It's good to have people like that in your corner, even if you never meet them.  

You will also need to keep a small group of friends who are willing to see an error and give constructive criticism.  There is a difference in between helping someone and being straight up rude.  

Going back to Twitter - do not be surprised if the majority of your likes and retweets come from people you have never seen face to face.  Social media is cool to me because it is building a community and a support system for when you feel like you are failing.  Your live friends may not get it, but your social media buddies who do the same thing may have gone through it before and can give you some solid advice.  Whether it is Twitter or Instagram, make sure you follow back people.  I'm not telling you to follow everyone who follows you.  I'm telling you to see who is out there and if you are down with what they are doing, support them.  However, keep in mind and be wary of bots.  I go on a blocking spree every single day, simply because I refuse to have that madness on any of my sites!   

Last, unless you trust your friends, DO NOT GO INTO BUSINESS WITH THEM!!!  I know you may love what you do and together you might be the dream team, but do not ruin a solid friendship over something one of you are not going to put all your effort into.  The thing about going into business with a friend is the fact of having the relationship and feeling like you can talk to them no matter what is going on.  However, in five years when one of you are ready to move on and the other one is not, unless you have a solid friendship foundation, expect a rocky road to be ahead.  I can assure you, it will be nothing like the ice cream.  

Let's move on to the next category - family.


Family:


Let's just be honest - family can be the worst!!!  Some of my cousins, aunts, and (maybe) uncles are probably going to read this and get all in their feelings.  But, seeing as how I have lived in my current city for five years and not once have any of them made the effort to come visit, I really do not care that I wrote what I wrote and the feelings I may have hurt.  Consider it another part of my transparency, even when it comes to blood.

Family is hardly going to support you because they knew you when you did this or they remember when you did that.  Sad part is, those same people doing all the remembering are probably in worst shape now than they were when you were young and dumb and allowed to make a few mistakes.  It's called living and learning lessons!  For me, it is called living and getting some great material for this blog and for my collection of short stories I'm working on.  

With my loss, I have been able to help at least two families.  I would not have been able to do that without having gone through it myself.  Believe me, I hated it and I still do, but I know that I went through it all for a reason.  Now, I don't feel as if my story of my son gets told in vain.  

If your family is on your case and causing you so much grief, start trimming limbs off your family tree.  Then, remember the small number of friends I was telling you about earlier?  If you want, turn some of them into family.  They are probably treating you better than your blood relatives anyway.  Plus, isn't it cool to be able to pick family?!  I mean, I have nieces and I have no siblings and I'm not married!  How in the world did I get nieces?  I have a close friend (aka my twin) with three beautiful girls.  That's how I got nieces.  

Last, but certainly not least, let's talk time!  


Time:


I know you love your business because I love mine.  However, you have to learn to take some time for yourself.  This week, I decided to take a mini hiatus (not doing a lot of blogging) and the business side of my giant umbrella is going to be taking a break starting Friday.  During those times, I do not respond to emails (well, I do have an auto-reply) until I am off break.  You have to take a break because your mind needs a chance to rest.  I felt myself getting ready to crash, so I knew it was time.  Listen to your body.  


Bloggers, business owners, MUAs, etc get invited to events.  Make sure you are choosing your events wisely.  You don't want to have events three nights in a row and you get to the night of the event you really want to attend and you are too tired.  You know missing the event would be a bummer, so you get yourself together and drag yourself there.  Is that really any fun?  It can't be!!!  

I know you want to support everybody because for most of us, human nature takes.  However, make sure you take the time to support the people who truly support you.  I'm not saying be at every event held because that's impossible because they cannot make it to every event you have.  On the other hand, a text, email, or even sending a card goes a long way.  I know it is cliche, but honestly, little things do count.  

Now that we have covered the three I wanted to really hit home, let's talk about a few things on the broad spectrum.


Cancellations:


Nobody likes to put in work for stuff and then get a last minute cancellation, unless it is weather related.  You cannot help that.  I would include sick, but I've known people who have been troopers and handled their business with a box of tissues in their hand.  However, just up and cancelling because you don't feel like doing something is absolutely unprofessional!  I've been burned a few times when it comes to being a MUA and personal stylist for an event.  What did I learn?  Make a contract.  

I was trying to not to have to go down the contract route because I wanted to be different and flexible.  However, if I have already cleared my schedule for you and you up and decide to cancel or do something else, I will probably not even make an attempt to work with you again.  Why?  Well, I cleared my schedule so that means my block of time was devoted to you and you have made me potentially lose money (unless someone contacts me last minute).  Again, since I cleared my schedule, that means I could have been doing something else fun.  These are the reasons I have a strict cancellation policy in place and the cancellation fee (aka deposit) is due at the time you sign the contract.  You can email the contract and send the funds via PayPal, but without the funds, the contract does not exist!  Just make sure you are very clear on your contract because people will try to play you!  


Branding:


Be very careful of the places you go.  One photo at a wrong place at the wrong time can be career ending.  You do not want one photo to ruin something you have worked years to build, but it can happen.  Also, please make sure you go out looking presentable.  I cannot hand you a business card with my contact info telling you I am a personal stylist and look like I just rolled out of bed or out of a gym!  You are going to roll your eyes at me and throw my card in the first trash can you see.  And you know what?  I wouldn't blame you not one bit.  The best marketing and branding tool I have is myself!  Therefore, I always do my best to be decent and photo ready while I'm in pubic.  Now, if I'm at home or at the house of one of my friends and not worrying about being seen out in public, you can easily find me in sweats.  However, you better believe that if we decide to go shopping, I will be going home to change clothes.  


Discounts:


I know that I mentioned I give a friends and family discount earlier, but I want to touch on this again.  Be mindful of the friends and family who always expect the friends and family discount.  You could give them a discount one time and they always bring it up.  You may have to kindly let them know of the policy change and that you will expect all your coins when services are rendered.  Please, I am not above wiping all the makeup off your face if you cannot pay me, especially if I have already given you a discount!  Try me...


Be Thankful:


Ladies and gentlemen, your business does not happen without support.  You didn't do this by yourself.  I'm not doing this by myself.  You had a rough day and you needed to vent, thank the person who was there to listen.  You couldn't get an idea to flow properly and someone helped you talk it out, thank them.  You were invited to your friend's house and they let you take over a part of their bar to write, thank them!  You were feeling overwhelmed and someone did not let you give up, thank them!  You were not having a good day and someone had a feeling and sent you a text, thank them.  Without readers, this blog doesn't exist, so THANK YOU!!!  You mean more to me than you will ever know or understand.


Well, concerning the business side of things, these are the things I have learned on this three year journey...and hopefully counting!  Blogging, well growing in general, it takes time.  Nothing will happen overnight so keep going.  I promise you, you are doing a lot better than you think! 

Photo credit: moore.owen38 via Visual hunt / CC BY 
Photo credit: jessicafm via Visualhunt / CC BY-ND
Photo credit: Shayla Em Follow

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Music + friends + fashion = awesome night!


Last night was one of the best nights of my life, even though it also ended up with me being super tired today! However, it was totally worth it - from the music to the fashion.  I could not have imagined a better night and I'm thankful for the wonderful peeps I was with to make it so great.  

I attended a concert last night where the main event was Maroon5, with their opening acts being R City and ToveLo. The funny part is that the person I was with wasn't really familiar with the opening acts, so she thought.  However, we rocked out all night long and the people we were sitting around made it even better.  

Although the music was absolutely awesome and Maroon5 performed all of my favorites, I had the most fun looking at the fashion and enjoying the fact a lot of people love to take fashion risks at concerts.  

As we were walking out, we saw an older woman wearing a sheer dress and basically only had on underwear.  I know as I described it, you are probably thinking ew, and I am sure a few people looking at her were thinking the same thing.  Personally, I found her outfit intriguing and I wish I had taken the time to ask her for a photo.  I told my friend that I liked the outfit the lady had one.  I was expecting her to look at me and just laugh, but she actually agreed with me.  She said she enjoyed seeing people who are willing to step out of the fashion box because she knows that she would not do it herself.  

Of course we saw plenty of dresses and tops that were absolutely fabulous.  Basically, I feel like I had a window shopping adventure while enjoying some great music.  Nothing wrong with that, right?


I have learned this is what life is all about!  Go have a good time.  Take some risks.  Enjoy the life you have been given and make the best out of every single situation that is thrown your way!  

Photo credit: Shayla Em

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Saturday, September 10, 2016

Thursday Announcement

If you haven't been keeping up with my life in the past 72 hours, you probably didn't know I had a rather interesting Thursday.  I mean, I had to post something on my Instagram (which I'm about to explain) that morning, then someone tried (but failed) to come for me on my Twitter.  Of course, I wrote about that ordeal too right here.  I'm a blogger (which I think he had no clue), so what did you really expect?  However, that caused this post to be late...simply because I try not to post 2 blogs on the same day.  

I pride myself in being honest with my readers.  Sometimes, that means I have to give you a bit of a story before I get to my reason for the post itself.  Let me go ahead and warn you, this is going to be one of those times.  


Thursday morning, I woke up and I had some new followers on Instagram.  I absolutely love getting new followers and most of the time, I follow them back...if I think they are cool.  If I can tell you are a bot, I automatically block you.  I just don't have the energy to deal with all the madness.  But it was one particular person that really got on my nerves...even though this is not the first time it had happened.  
One of my new followers was strictly all about flat tummy tea.  If you haven't heard of it, I honestly don't see how you have missed it.  Literally, it is everywhere, but it is not going to be on my page!!!  

Well, how do you know this person was strictly all about flat tummy tea?  Simple - every single picture on the page (which was only about 5) was a before and after shot of people on the tea.  Quite frankly, I'm not even sure if they were the same people in the before and after pictures.  

A few weeks ago, I had seen a post on twitter about a plus size blogger doing the flat tummy tea challenge.  What I thought was interesting (and sort of cool) was that another plus size blogger called her out on it and basically told her she just lost all of her credibility.  I know those were strong words, but they are absolutely true!  If you are a plus size blogger and you are proud of being a plus size blogger and even if you lose weight, you will still be considered a plus size blogger, WHY would you be willing to lose your audience for another possible check?  It just isn't worth it to me and I am sad this fellow plus size blogger thought it would be worth it to her.  

Even when I was smaller, I was still pretty solid and it took me a while to embrace that part of me.  I have even written about the fact of being afraid to get back down to a size 14 because of the way my body is built.  Quite frankly, 14 didn't look good on me as a teen and seeing as how I am definitely a more developed adult, I just can't see it looking good on me now.  

I am very clear about me taking care of myself though.  I eat right, but I will indulge every once in a while.  I work out.  For the second month in a row, I decided to keep a fitness tracker in my bullet journal to help me with that endeavor.  I mean, as I write this post, I'm eating a bowl of strawberries as a snack!  There are ways to lose weight and maintain weight without turning to something weird to do it.  

As a plus size blogger, I hope I never do anything to make you look at me and think are you really serious about your craft?  I hope you can look at my blog and see how serious I am!  I love doing this and I couldn't imagine not doing it.  I will make sure everything I do shows you how serious I am and I know for certain my talent manager will not allow me to do anything that could possibly hurt or discredit myself or anything I have ever done to get to this point.  

Big or small, short or tall, be happy being you.  But if you do decide you are ready for a change, make sure you take care of yourself because you only get one body.  Use it wisely!
  

Basically, this is why I ended up posting what I did on Instagram.  I was really over people following me trying to promote a product I obviously don't want anything to do with.  If you clearly look at my profile on all of my social media, I state to you that I'm a plus size blogger (to save space, it probably says #psblogger).  I have no problem with what I do and I have learned to appreciate my entire body, with a few body hating days in between.  When I do decide to get behind a product, it will be something I have used and not just showing off a product to get a good photo.  This blog will not be sold to the highest bidder and I refuse to sell myself as well.  

Photo credit: Shayla Em

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Friday, September 9, 2016

Backstage Pass with Glen Bramlitt

It's a beautiful thing to be able to pick up a pencil, pen, marker, needle and thread, yarn, or whatever you desire and make a piece of art to showcase your personality.  The creation can come in the form of a blog, a new outfit, a beautiful blanket, or whatever else your great mind has imagined.  Those are all well and good, but for the creative mind of Glen Bramlitt, he prefers drawing.  
Tattoo Design
Although his perfect artistic work space would consist of a place with plenty of natural light, music, lots of white space, along with a few spotlights, he wouldn't mind traveling and getting inspiration from a vacation in Fiji or spending some time in the Mediterranean.  His artistic mind is constantly working and it is evident, especially in his hobbies.  Although he loves drawing as a part-time career, he also enjoys doing it as a hobby.  Some of his other hobbies include airbrushing, woodworking, logo design, and tattoo design.  If it's artistic, he probably enjoys it.
Actual tattoo
Growing up in Jacksonville, Florida, Bramlitt had a very interesting childhood.  He moved around a great bit.  Although tiring, the moving led to him having a very vivid imagination.  In fact, if he could, he would have the ability to fly so he could be able to go anywhere at anytime and get inspired!  

Though Bramlitt studied engineering in college, that is also when people started to take notice of his ability.  His mom had always seen the artistic talent of her son, but college really put Glen on the artistic map!  During a few of his classes, he would get bored and draw caricatures of his professors.  Of course, his ability made him rather popular around campus and eventually, led to someone asking him draw his first portrait.  

All he needed was someone to ask to draw a portrait for it to turn into one of his favorite things to draw!  Drawing people is so fun for Bramlitt because it forces him to pay attention to even the smallest of details - certain features, proportions, and even shading.  We all have a certain look and he works hard to not miss anything about a person.  

Bramlitt enjoys being an artist because it gives him the opportunity to create something from nothing.  For him, there is nothing like having a blank canvas with a subject or a free imagination to create whatever he desires.  Once his work of art is created, he loves the "wow" factor he gets from his creation.  It's a feeling he doesn't quite know how to put into words.  

When he is not drawing, Glen enjoys working on some hobbies (even though some of them are still very artistic), enjoying a glass of wine, and trying his hand at digital art.  

For any artist, he has this piece of advice - don't try to be a perfectionist while your skills are developing.  The more you draw, the more you will perfect your craft.  Don't be afraid to mess up and learn new techniques.  

If you are looking for a unique gift for someone, give art a try!  Glen will be happy to help you!  Feel free to check out his website.  From there, you will find his contact information, as well as more details about his work.  

And Glen, we at The Plus Diaries look forward to seeing many more of your beautiful creations!  We cannot wait to see what you come up with next! 

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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Kickoff!

Let me tell you about a few things I was going to do before I actually started this post.  1 - I was going to write a disclaimer because I really don't want to offend anyone, but then I thought this dude really was rude and not worthy of a disclaimer.  2 - I thought I already had a title, but then my mind started racing because there is so much I need to say, so I figure waiting for a title is the right thing to do.  3 - Just because I write this blog, but love the fact that my readers and followers give me all types of inspiration, I was going to wait and do a poll to see if I should do this post....but this one is too important for me to pass up.  

Now that we have gotten those formalities out of the way, let me get to the meat of this post. 

Football season is officially back and I could not be more excited!  I am a football fanatic!  My team is the Washington Redskins (I grew up watching them before my state had a team).  However, because I grew up in North Carolina and not too far from Charlotte, I definitely cheer for the Carolina Panthers as well.  My neighbors have probably come to hate football season because of my antics, even during the late Sunday and Monday night games!  Don't believe me?  Just take a look at the conversation I had with my mom earlier today.  

Well, with everything going on with athletes fighting against some of the injustices happening in our country right now, there was no doubt the National Anthem was going to have some controversy.  Let me just say, there was definitely controversy.  But what I didn't expect for me to end up in the madness.  
During the performance of the National Anthem tonight, Brandon Marshall (of the Denver Broncos) decided to take a knee.  Now, I hadn't heard about him doing this earlier in the day (because this is obviously news), but I could have also been distracted with the news of Tim Tebow possibly playing baseball in my current city next year.  Yep, I like baseball too, but only when I'm at the ballpark because it's boring to me on TV.  Back to football!  

I'm pretty confident after the first TV shot of Marshall taking a knee (which in my opinion, they kept going back to him for no reason - we saw him take a knee and we got it), he started trending on twitter.  Yes, I saw a particular post that caught my eye and I retweeted it.  I would share it with you here, but it involves about 3 photos and I'm not trying to go through all of that just to have another photo in this post.  However, you are more than welcome to go to my twitter feed and check it out for yourself.  But that isn't the tweet that was just too extra tonight.  

I posted a tweet about it being ridiculous about what people were saying about Marshall.  I tweeted it and I meant it!  One gentleman who replied to my tweet actually ended up being pretty cool and we had an interesting conversation.  The other person (yep, he's not worthy of being called a gentleman) was the one with the foul thing to say.  

We are all entitled to our opinion and just because I may not agree with you, it does not mean I am going to disrespect you or make an effort to hurt your feelings.  In saying that, let me be very clear about something - this person did NOT hurt my feelings.  In fact, he made me laugh.  And just because I enjoy being a blogger, I should have actually thanked him for giving me more material to work with tonight.  I mean, I'm kind, so why not thank him for helping me out?  Since I believe in being open with you (because how else are you going to get to know me), I decided to take an adorable little screenshot so you can see EVERYTHING I posted and the one little tweet this person thought was going to hurt my feelings.  


So, as you can see, I didn't hide anything.  I didn't try to block anything, not even either of our names.  You are probably wondering why didn't I didn't block his name?  Easy answer, if you are person enough to tweet it, you are person enough to suffer the consequences.  In this case, the consequence is me blogging.  It's just what I do!  This very photo right here is what you will also see on twitter (just in case he decides to delete this madness), on my Instagram, and on my Tumblr.  Yes, I realize I am probably setting myself up for more madness by posting my links, but I will handle it the same way I handled this person - with dignity, grace, and without losing my good ole southern religion.  I'll just bless his and anyone else's hearts and keep it moving.  

I guess he thought he was saying something to me that would make me mad or even hurt my feelings.  Nope!  Quite frankly, I thought it was funny because anyone who knows me (and I mean really knows me), will tell you this one thing - stuff just rolls right off me and I am either not going to be bothered with you ever again or I am going to write about you right here.  There's really no in between.  

Dude, I've had this true color of my nips since my breasts started developing when I was in the second grade (and more than likely before that).  Yeah, I don't know anything about a training bra because I went from a t-shirt to an A-cup.  And, if you are a dude and you think cleavage (of any size) is nasty AF (I really hope you all know what AF means because I'm not going to say it), I'm going to question your sexuality.  I'm not going to judge it (because believe me, I've done plenty to make people scratch their heads), but I'm definitely going to question it.  So exactly, how did you hurt me and what did you accomplish?  

Let me tell you how he hurt me (again) - not at all!  In fact, you hurt yourself because you didn't look at my profile long enough to realize I was a blogger.  And if you did see that I am a blogger and still tweeted it, you obviously didn't mind me blogging about it or you for that matter.  Now, let me tell you what you did accomplish - you gave me something new to write about tonight because I already had a post planned.  Seriously!  The photos and everything were already edited and in their folder ready to be strategically placed in the post.  However, thanks to you, the dude that appears to like giraffes (which are ironically my favorite animal because they are tall), for helping to make this post possible!  Hey, I have to give credit where credit is due, even if you (the person) is rude and disrespectful. 

So, this is how my football season started.  Definitely not how I expected it to happen, but my days are not complete without something abnormal happening.  Here's to a wonderful football season and all the controversy it is going to bring.  Cheers!  

Photo credit: Shayla Em

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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

No More Excuses!

I have a really amazing set of people in my life whom I consider to be my close friends.  My circle is only about 10 strong, but those 10 people are truly blessings and each one of them bring something unique to my life.  Now, just because I love the 10 doesn't mean the 10 know each other or they know the same things about me.  There is still some privacy I like to maintain and I don't think there is anything wrong with that.  Also, I know who I can tell stuff to and who I cannot.  I just know their sensitive points and they know mine.  It's just a respect thing.  Why the long opening?  Well, the rest of the 10 are about to get told something only 2 knew about - 1 because they encouraged me to do it and the other because she helped me to get it accomplished.  

Before I started working with my current Talent Manager, I was actually signed to an agency for two years.  Once that contract ran out, I found it best to part ways with them.  However, there is something that kept bugging me about them - the lack of attention I was getting. You know, I would keep up my end of the bargain - show up to meetings on time, make sure I scheduled my monthly appointments (whether in person or online), and I made sure to take jobs when I was available to do so.  However, it just never seemed to be enough and I kept wondering why and then I remembered something the owner kept saying to me...you're too short.  


It's no secret that I'm short.  However, it doesn't bother me and some of the photographers I've worked with even said your height is nothing a good pair of heels cannot fix.  I enjoyed those photographers, but I particular enjoy my Talent Manager because she doesn't allow me to give up because of things other people have told me.  

In her own way, she motivated me to submit to be a plus model during a nationwide search.  Yes, I know it is a long shot because there are plenty of beautiful plus divas around this nation.  On the other hand, I feel really good because I at least had someone urging me to do this.  My other friend actually helped me shoot the video I needed and helped me answer a few of the questions since I'm not really sure how my friends describe me!  

Then, last night, I took another leap of faith - I applied to be a model with a store that is starting a plus line.  They told me I didn't need experience, but I've had the pleasure to having a little bit of experience...even if someone kept telling me I was too short.  Again, I don't know how this is going to turn out, but at least I have tried.  

Since I believe in being open with you, I will let you know how both of these things turn out.  I'm excited about it, but I'm also nervous because it is a new experience and definitely me stepping out of my comfort zone.  Yes, even though I have experience, there is always a bit of nervous energy when I step in front of a camera.  Why?  Each time I shoot, I want to do something different and show a little bit more of myself and I accomplish that mission each time.  

Here is my challenge to you - I want you to do something that takes you out of your comfort zone.  I understand it is going to be scary, but I can promise you it will be absolutely worth it.  Even if you get a rejection, don't think of it like that.  Think of it as you learning something new so you can keep elevating to where you are supposed to be!  Get to it, people! 



Photo credit: Casey Brannon of Casey Brannon Photography

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Monday, September 5, 2016

Foodie File - Zucchini Boats!

A few weeks ago, I started seeing a dish floating around social media.  When I figured out what it was, I was a little bit excited because I absolutely love zucchini!  Well,  when I learned I could basically make these however I wanted, I was even more excited.  So, tonight, I will take this opportunity to tell you about a meal I tried for dinner, with my own twist .  Tonight, my meal was zucchini boats!  

Empty Zucchini boats
Since I didn't really know if I was going to like how these turned out, I started out just using two zucchinis.  In order to make the boats, I had to empty the zucchini.  In other words, I had to scoop out the insides of the zucchini I was getting ready to use.  Don't worry, I put that to good use later in this meal.  Once I had the zucchini scraped down to where I was pleased, I placed them in the dish I was going to use to bake them.  

To fill my boats, I decided to use other veggies and shrimp.  Yes, I know I talk a lot about using shrimp, but it is filling to me and it is less calories than turkey meat.  I decided to cook the shrimp earlier and have it ready.  Because I like to measure everything, in each boat, I used one ounce of shrimp.  

The veggies I decided to use were mushrooms, spinach, and tomatoes (yes, I know that is technically a fruit).  Of course, I added cheese to the mix.  And yes, I measured that too.  Just so you know, each boat consisted of one fourth a cup of shredded cheese.  

Zucchini boats (pre-oven)
Now, let me tell you about how I was able to get this delicious dinner.  I used organic olive oil to coat the inside of the boats.  Then, I placed some of the shredded cheese.  After that, I placed the mixture of shrimp, mushrooms, spinach, and tomatoes into the boat.  Once the boats were filled, I placed more shredded cheese on top.  Then it was time to place my version of the zucchini boats in the oven.  

I set my oven on 350 to preheat.  I put the zucchini boats in the oven at the same temperature and let them bake for 30 minutes.  During some of the time the zucchini boats were in the oven, I took the opportunity to make my topping, which was a zucchini puree.  

Zucchini Puree
Remember when I told you about the inside of the zucchini, but I would use them later?  Well the time has come.  I wanted to make a topping for my boats, so what was better to use than the inside of the zucchini?  I used my mini food processor to make my topping, which consisted of zucchini, half an avocado, onion (to taste), one teaspoon of organic olive oil, and fresh cilantro.  I let my food processor work its magic until it was at a consistency I was happy with.  Then, it was time to take my boats out of the oven.  

I didn't really know what to expect, but I have to say I was highly pleased with the result.  Quite frankly, I think my boats looked beautiful, but I wasn't finished just yet.  Now was the time to add the topping to my boats.  By the way, I used two halves of the zucchini to make my dinner and to my surprise, I was full!  Like seriously, I honestly didn't even think I was going to make it through all of my second boat, but I did.  

Zucchini boats (post-oven)
Well, once my boats were out of the oven, it was time to top them.  To top them, I used one fourth of a cup of sour cream total for both boats.  I didn't add sour cream to the ingredient list because use it only if you would like.  Once the sour cream was placed on the boats, that is when I added the zucchini puree.  Just because I love cheese, I added a little bit more shredded cheese on top of the sour cream and puree.  But as you can see from the photo, it wasn't that much more cheese.  

So, this was my dinner for tonight.  I have those moments where I enjoy being a foodie and tonight was one of those nights!  When you decide to try this recipe, please let me know what you think.  Also, please let me know of any changes you make because of what you like.  I enjoy trying new things and that means I need some recipes!  

Final Product


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Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Working Plus

When I was in college and starting my job search, I did like a bunch of normal college students and participated in a job fair.  This is actually I how I was able to get internships.  Well, my college department offered additional things for us in the engineering department - including an engineering job fair and mock interviews.  It was during the engineering job fair when things got a little bit crazy.  

An organization at the engineering job fair was trying to find minorities and of course, I gave it a try.  I talked to the recruiter and he told me about the organization he was representing.  I was highly intrigued, but then the conversation came to an end, but not before a dangerous twist.  The recruiter told me that I needed to changed my look.  

Now, I admit, I probably had red hair extensions at the time.  Once I figured out red looked good in my hair, I kept with it.  But it wasn't my hair he was talking about.  I distinctly remember him telling me I needed to lose weight in order to find a decent job.  Then he went into this story about how he lost over a hundred pounds in order to be able to find a job.  Me being me, I just nodded and agreed, but I walked away thinking you're crazy dude.  I thought he was more crazy when I had an interview with his organization and they offered me a position I ended up declining.  Not that I didn't want to move to the west coast, but the position wasn't permanent and I needed a permanent job to make a decent living.  

Considering the time I graduated from college, I was highly blessed to not be working in my field of study for less than a year.  In fact, it only took me nine months after graduation to find a job.  I had five interviews in two weeks and one of them worked out for me.  Although I had lost weight from college, I was still considered a plus size woman.  I'm smaller now than I was when I first was hired and guess what?  I'm still considered a plus size woman.  And guess what?  I'm still working with the organization that hired me five years ago. 

Yes, I'm excelling in my job and I make sure to do my work, but there is also another piece to the puzzle - I always make sure I look decent while at work (even on the days I have to work outside).  

In a 2014 study, it was shown that obese women made less money than our smaller counterparts.  In the same study, it was proven this was not the same fact for men.  For overweight females, we (yes, I'm including myself), do not tend to have visible jobs.  We tend to get forced in a kitchen as cooks, washing dishes, or anything else not considered glamorous.  Think about it - when is the last time you saw an obese greeter at a restaurant to get you to your table or even a plus-size waitress?  Have you ever seen an obese flight attendant?  Doubt it.  What about someone working at Disney as a princess or even walking in the parade?  Nope!  

What happened to hiring people because of their brain power or because of how loyal they have been to you and your company?  The glass ceiling keeps getting harder and harder to break.  However, most hiring managers are male and it is no big secret that males are visual creatures.  But don't get this twisted - I'm not bashing males for being themselves or skinny women for being skinny.  What am I doing?  I'm being upset that some plus-size women think they are not meant to dress nicely or meant to be sexy, just because of a few extra pounds.  

Ladies, particularly my fellow plus-size ladies, you have a right to be dressed nice and feel beautiful.  Designers are starting to take note that our bodies are worthy of the few extra yards of cloth needed to make our garments.  I mean, look at Ashley Nell Tipton - plus diva and winner of Project Runway.  Her line is out in a few stores and taking the market by storm!  Wonderful, right?  And what about Gabi Gregg?  Personally, I think she has one of the most awesome swimwear lines on the market for us plus divas and she always looks like she is on fire!  I could go on, but how about adding your name to this list?  No, you don't have to be famous, but you can look and be fabulous!  


With the change of season coming, I ask you to step out of your box and give a new look a try!  There are so many designers and they are learning how to dress our bigger bodies appropriately.  You might just be surprised at what you find and you will probably find something else you like.  And once you try those clothes and buy them, do me a huge favor and actually wear them!  Don't just keep them in your closet to hide, show them off and show yourself off!  

Ladies, no matter what size you are, remember this one thing - you are beautiful!  Now, I know you are probably wondering why are you not posting any photos of yourself in this post?  Easy questions get easy answers - I want you to post photos of yourself of when you are beautiful.  Just fyi, you are beautiful all the time, so post away!  Nah, I don't have to see them (unless you want me to), but go feel and be beautiful!  

Here is what I need for you to do - dress for success.  I know it doesn't seem fair, but you have to dress appropriately.  Now when I think back on it, I have never gone to an interview without at least wearing eye shadow.  I know for certain I didn't always have on a full face (because I hardly wear it now), but I know I have always made myself look a little bit more presentable.  Don't get me wrong, I don't think I'm ugly, but I also know that men (which has been part of my interviews but one), are visual creatures...which I have stated earlier in this post.  Now, please don't show up to your interview looking extra, but do show up looking decent and looking like you want the position for which you have applied.  Don't give your skinny counterpart (that may potentially have less experience) the opportunity to get your position because they knew how to dress and you did not.  

So, here are a few tips I can give to you (just from my own experience) about the office:
1 - Be confident in your work and in your looks.  There is nothing more wonderful than a confident woman knowing she looks fabulous and having the brains to back it up.  
2 - Always dress for success, even after you have the job!  There are some days I wear jeans to my office, but I still look presentable.  In fact, some people even ask me who are you liking nice for today?  No reason other than me wanting to look awesome.
3 - If you think you look good in it, don't let people tell you that you do not.  Honestly, some people are jealous and the only way they know how to say it is to be mean and tell you that you don't look good in it.  
4 - Make sure to do mirror checks before you leave the house in the morning and do a final makeup check before you get out of the car.  I know we only make one first impression, but if you think about it, we make a first impression each morning we step into our place of business.  
5 - Be yourself.  Not everyone has a mainstream look and if your look falls out of mainstream, don't worry about it.  Look like yourself and be comfortable with your look.  

Well, that's all I have for you!  I hope you find this post helpful and a little bit inspiring.  Plus diva, thick chick, curvy lady, or whatever name you wish to call yourself, you have the right to be and look fabulous.  Never let anyone tell you otherwise!  

Photo credit: celinecelines via Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

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