Early last year, my friend Nyasha told me that she was going to her home country of Trinidad for Carnival in 2017. It took me about 11 seconds to decide that I was going too. Playing Mas at Carnival was already on my Life List and I was turning 40 in 2017 - what better time to go? I had lived in Trinidad as a toddler and my Dad was born and raised there, so I've always felt a deep connection to my Trini side. I sent out an email to my closest friends inviting them to go with me and letting them know in no uncertain terms, that this trip was happening - no excuses. As it turned out, my bestest friend ended up being the only one who joined me - The Hubs. I initially was bummed but, in hindsight, the trip was exactly as it should have been. He's my road dog, my adventure mate, my companion - and so, it was he and I that hit De Road for one of the most exhilarating trips of my life.The Music For the last two months, I'd been prepping for Carnival by listening to THE hottest Soca mix of the year - DJ Private Ryan's Soca Starter. The day it dropped, I got about 25 messages from friends sharing the link with me. By the time we touched down in Port of Spain, I was well-versed in every single one of the road tunes for the week! My favorites are (of course) Full Extreme by The Ultimate Rejects - this was BY FAR the winner during Carnival; and Workout by Kes featuring Nailah Blackman; and Big Girl Now by Patrice Robert; and Carnival Good Morning by Peter Ram + KI The Band. I could go on - there are so many great songs. And they alllll made up the soundtrack for our trip. By the trip home, we were joking that we'd have to detox from all the Soca music - please know that it's been 6 days since we've been back and we're still sneaking on YouTube every other day to get our fix. The Fetes LISTEN. The fetes (or parties) during Carnival are no joke! Locals literally start partying after the December holidays and continue through Carnival into March. I spent several weeks lining up our fetes and purchasing tickets to all-inclusive events. There are some that are hot tickets - one of which I was able to snag - but all are big fun. Since TingZNice's blog post about her fete experience in 2016 was so helpful to me, I wanted to pay it forward and share that our favorite fetes were Phuket All-Inclusive and Soca Brainwash Heaven. Sunny Side Up was decent, but I'm guessing ValeVibe would have been more our style. And I would definitely skip ROAST Cruise. The Parade(s) Whew! By the time Carnival Monday rolled around, I was nervous because I was already 75% spent and I knew I had two big days to be on the road in the parades. But because we did J'ouvert Morning [channelling the nation’s history and folklore in what was once a rebellion against slavery] with Mudders International AND HAD THE FREAKING TIME OF OUR LIVES, we didn't get back to the hotel until about 11am (from heading out to J'ouvert around 3:30am), we were exhausted and decided to take a well-earned … [Read more...] about Playing Mas in Trinidad Carnival: Checking a Major Item Off of My Life List!
1. Zadie head wrap by The Wrap Life // 2. Rose Hibiscus Hydrating Face Mist by Herbivore // 3. January 2017 Flagship Edition: Palm by Day Designer // 4. French Toast Matte Lip Whip by Beauty Bakerie // 5. The Bloom Beautifully Self Care Box // 6. Pins from Shop Luella Ah, the end of 2016. Such a rough year for so many! Myself included. This was a taxing year, both professionally and personally, but I saw it through. On the work front, I continued to push myself to grow and take risks, which was a good thing but also demanding. And on the personal front, we weathered a move to a new house - while welcoming our first-ever set of tenants at our old house; we gained, and then lost a beloved pet; dealt with getting accustomed to new schools and new friends; and I continued to struggle with health issues (and my favorite Zumba instructor left!). To top it all off, we had an election that dumbfounded and crushed the spirits of many, including my own, and a good friend of mine is in her last days on this Earth. That said, there were many happy moments too: a wonderful birthday cruise; our beautiful new home; work opportunities in LA, OKC, Laguna Nigel, Arkansas, Miami and Chicago; a successful Blogalicious conference; a successful coaching program class; a successful surgical procedure; great seats at Beyonce's Formation Tour; a family hike on the Underground Railroad in Maryland; a family outing to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture; a fun-filled Thanksgiving trip; Middle School (!!), a new product line, and more.This year's Feel-Good Holiday Gift Guide is a combination of things that have brought be joy this year AND things that I'd like to incorporate into my 2017. Here's to a love-filled holiday season and a magical new year.Feel Good for My Fashion Sensibilities: Zadie Wrap Can I make a confession? I can't fashion a head wrap to save my life. And yet I am obsessed with how fabulous they look! I'm determined to make it happen and I bet this gorgeous wrap by The Wrap Life will inspire me to get my act together. I had a fun hair year: crochet curls, crochet braids, dark color and bangs! But every now and then a girl needs to just give it a rest and wrap her hair up in a fly scarf. Thank goodness for YouTube.Feel Good for My Skin: Herbivore Botanicals With all the travel I was doing at the top of the year, I made a decision to gift myself with travel products that felt decadent. I stumbled across Herbivore Botanicals on Instagram and I was hooked. I have their Rose Hibiscus Hydrating Face Mist, the Orchid Facial Oil Roller, and Coco Rose Lip Conditioner. It feels great to apply these products after a day of flying that dries out your skin. I also appreciate a brand with a solid mission and meaningful story.Feel Good for My Business: Day Designer I'm a planner addict. There's no denying. And for a long time, I've been hearing about this Day Designer! I loved my Goal Digger planner last year, but I'd … [Read more...] about Fergie’s Feel-Good Holiday Gift Guide 2016
This morning as I forced myself and my aching hips to go on a neighborhood walk, I was listening to the Call Your Girlfriend podcast on the topic of 'Chosen Family'. The girls were discussing their love of Thanksgiving (and Friendsgiving) and all this particular holiday brings (the good and the not-so-awesome). Two things they said that really stood out to me where:That the Thanksgiving holiday can have restorative powers when celebrated right; and There is no law that says that you must subject yourself to the pain that family gatherings can bring for some.I'm paraphrasing, of course, but you get the gist. Let's discuss, shall we?I remember smiling wide during my walk when they made the first point about Thanksgiving being healing in some ways (my neighbors probably thought I was/am looney). I totally get this feeling. For me, Thanksgiving means my family - both nuclear and extended, which is a coup. If I can have my children, husband, Mom and sister sharing a holiday together, I'm winning - no question. The traditions of it all bring comfort as well. For example, I know there will be turkey. And Mommy's peas and rice. My homemade cranberry sauce. And Hubby will have the pleasure of his aunt's sweet potato pies. The kids will gorge themselves on mashed potatoes and Shirley Temples. Everyone is happy. DebListSta (that's the name for my mom, my sister and me) will be in the kitchen, laughing and singing (Mommy and I literally sang "My Favorite Things" while cooking this year). It's good.And of course, along with the good, comes the challenging. For me, that means juggling travel logistics with a family of 5, crashing at my Mom's BF's house, and making time to visit ALL THE PEOPLE. My Dad and Stepmother; My In-Laws; My BFFs; and ALL of Hubby's extended family - there are dozens and dozens. Attending his cousin's wedding. Anticipating the looks and comments because I've gained so much weight. All the while, working like a maniac and trying to keep everyone happy and no one's feelings hurt. No lie - it was a lot.The second point from the podcast - about not having to subject yourself to the pain these gatherings can bring - I see from another standpoint: that of my sister. Because she's Deaf, family gatherings are always painful for her because of the communication barrier. This year she was proactive and had us download Ava beforehand (and she also limited her visit). I'm guessing that was her way of mitigating the pain. For my part, I mitigated (kinda) by planning our Thanksgiving rounds before even landing in Miami. Thankfully my Dad agreed to do Black Friday Brunch to lessen the burden of the actual Thanksgiving Day (where we already had 2 dinners INCLUDING a baby shower to semi-plan and attend). I also made 2 separate trips to visit my BFFs instead of trying to plan a group get-together - it cut down on the coordination and I got to spend different kinds of time with each. Work was definitely the monkey wrench though - I … [Read more...] about The Restorative Powers of Thanksgiving
Every couple of months I daydream about having taken an alternate path with this blogging thing. What if, instead of becoming a conference producer and marketing network owner and business coach, I focused on my actual blog instead? I really tried to keep up my lifestyle blog but the other stuff kept taking precedence. Still, I wonder what it would be like if I had poured all of my energies into the creating the lifestyle blog of my dreams. Since, 'ain't nobody got time for that' at this stage, I try to get my lifestyle blog fix by reading up on some of my faves.Check them out:A Beautiful Mess. What I love about this site, among other things, is that it truly is a 'lifestyle' blog. The sisters cover everything from food to photography to DIY and more and are unapologetic about sticking to one niche. Since the trend nowadays is very much to master one area and stick to that, I really appreciate their gusto for covering all of the things that make them happy - singular focus be damned. From a #girlboss standpoint, they are pretty baller as well: an app, a subscription box, courses, stamps and more - you name it, they're on it.Damask Love. Let's be honest - it's rare that you see DIY bloggers of color. I'm not sure why that is (and if I'm totes wrong, please enlighten me), but in my 10 years of blogging, I've only run into a handful. So that's part of why Amber's site is so refreshing for me. More than that, though, is that her bubbly personality shines through the screen and she makes crafting seem so...DOABLE...even to a artistically challenged mofo like me whose default art expression is collage because it only requires cutting and pasting. I also appreciate that she has a day job and creates content for Damask Love in her spare time. I remember those days and it's so, so commendable.A Cozy Kitchen. You know that one newsletter that lands in your inbox and you ALWAYS open it? Well, that's Adrianna's RSS feed for me. (TBH, there are like 3 others that I always open - more on those in another post). It's because I am enamored at the way she weaves her food stories into her life's happenings. It's so much more than reading 'a food blog' - she's telling her best girlfriends what happened with her over the weekend and sharing a fave (and decadent or charming) recipe, to boot. Last year I bought her book, The Year of Cozy, where she offers recipes, activities and such to essentially live richly (my blog's motto), and she even has a coloring book coming out this fall. AND I GET TO MEET HER IN OCTOBER at Create+Cultivate. Breathe, Stacey.Pizzazzerie. Courtney's blog is just so much FUN! She takes entertaining to new heights and I never tire of her themes parties and all of the trappings that come with them. If you ever need a party idea or a pick-me-up filled with confetti and sprinkles, this is the place to go. She's also published 3 cookbooks and is a G when it comes to styling shoots and creating posts for brands. I've been … [Read more...] about My Fave Blogs These Days
Will I lose cool points if I told you that I had a stamp collection when I was younger? I can still smell the acid-free pages now if I close my eyes. My collection kicked off when my Great Uncle Victor sent me a bunch of stamps from his wordly travels. With that jumpstart, I made sure to carefully cut out stamps from letters we received from family and friends around the world. I'm willing to bet that my mom still has my stamp album somewhere in her house.I'm always intrigued when I learn of people's collections. I like that the subject matter of what they collect makes you ask questions, like "why [insert items]?" or "when did you start?" It was results in a story that gives you a glimpse into their spirit. Speaking of my mom, she collects bells. My sister collects Chuck Taylor Converse sneakers. I collect coffee mugs. (Well, let's call them tea mugs since I don't drink coffee, lol). I am drawn to them because they represent an opportunity for reflection, self-care and peacefulness to me. Tea is one of my Secret Energy Sources. And last week, I learned that my friend, Amanda of Dude Mom collects snow globes. Benefits of Starting a Collection. An Outlet for Creativity. More often that not, our passion for certain things doesn't always get the attention it deserves through our day jobs or extracurricular commitments, so having an outlet for that is important to honor our multitude of interests. Since I'm #teammultipassionate, I'm all for ways to showcase your love for certain things, people or places.Develops Unique Expertise. Just by the simple act of collecting items, you'll find that you are slowly becoming an expert of sorts on that item. You'll quickly learn the best places to find them, their history, their value, their meaning, and more.Expands Your Network. Birds of a feather, right? Finding others who share your passion automatically creates a kindred connection. You might find entire groups of folks interested in the subject your collection and, voila!, you've got a new network. That way, when you're BFF is bored to tears when you're busy talking about your latest vintage mailbox find, you can turn to your fellow collectors who will be more than hype to celebrate your haul with you.The really great thing is that you don't need any instructions or memberships of even lots of cash (unless you set out to collect antique cars or vintage Louis Vuitton bags). Just pick something that means something to you and GO! … [Read more...] about living richly tip no. 4: start a collection