I don’t have cable (#savemoney2018), which means I don’t consume news, conventionally. Instead I learn about what’s happening in the world via the internet. Whether through daily Google Alerts or news clips that pop up on my feed, I can typically piece together major news stories with some light sleuthing. My favorite sources of news, however, are blogs. Not only do they report on popular stories, they also provide social commentary, life advice and plain old funny reads.
Here is a list of a few of my favorite blogs (and bloggers), and I hope you check them out.
- Very Smart Brothas –
- VSB has been a staple read since circa 2013. Creators, Damon Young and Panama Jackson, consistently produce hilarious, down to earth content that engages the young, black and “bougie” reader. In fact, the “bougie” aspect of their posts is what drew me to the site initially. They have an ongoing series called “Shit Bougie Black People Love…”. While hilariously satirical, what they highlight is spot on (i.e. overtipping, 90s nostalgia and Lupita N’yongo).
- VSB also covers everything that you want to read. From politics to relationships to mundane life stuff, it’s a one-stop-shop. This blog stands out from others because of the stories it tells. The writers ALL have a unique voice that leaves you wanting more. I love VSB* because the content is interesting, fresh and woke. The writers tell it like it is and that’s something we need more than ever. Check VSB out here on The Root.
- *I own a VSB “Bougie Black Girl” shirt, so you know it’s real.
- Blavity –
- Founded in 2014 by Morgan DeBaun, Blavity is a media outlet and tech company for Black millenials. Blavity, which combines the words: black and gravity, is the woke, Black Buzzfeed. You can’t help but love it. Even though I listed it second, I probably read more content from Blavity than VSB. Yes, it takes on a more serious tone, but the posts are incredibly informative and enlightening. I’ve never felt more up-to-date on the news. They talk about everything: foolish Google engineers, the latest Trumptivities and of course, all things Black. I read articles on Blavity and I feel awoken and inspired. And Blavity, as a company, is pretty lit too. They get millions of viewers every month, and acquired Travel Noire and Shadow and Act (also, two great blogs) in 2017. Bless your life and read Blavity now!
- xoNecole –
- In 2015, Necole Kane (popularly known as her online persona, Necole Bitchie) totally rebranded herself and created a new site called xoNecole. xoNecole’s “mission is to promote positive images of women of color as well as empower, educate and inspire millennials through our interviews, beauty, fashion, lifestyle, career and travel features”. Essentially, it embodies black girl magic. An array of interesting content is featured. They cover the latest news in pop culture, talk about real women issues and how to solve them, and cover amazing people doing amazing things. I learned about Kahlana Barfield (InStyle’s Fashion Editor) after reading an interview she had with xoNecole. And who doesn’t love Kahlana Barfield? If you want to add real content to your life, then read xoNecole. You should also follow their IG, it solely features WOC, which can only improve your feed.
January 5, 2018 in Lifestyle
I have a confession. I am a frequent dieter. This year, I have lost the same 10 pounds, four times. While I like to say that demonstrates my resolve to accomplish what I focus on, I’m a bit ashamed that I can’t stick to my weight loss goals. No matter what I am happy for the new year, as I hope that it will push me to fully achieve my summer body. In 2018, yes, I have started a new weight loss and diet program – Weight Watchers. But before I decided to do that, I considered redoing the Whole30; which brings me to the purpose of this post; what’s Whole30 and why I will never do it again!
*Disclaimer: The Whole30 could be great for you. My friend has done it twice and she always looks and feels good after.
What is the Whole30?
The Whole30 is a nutritional reset to how we eat. According to the program’s site, it’s designed to “help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system”. To do this, you must cut out all food groups that Whole30 deems “unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting and inflammatory”. These food groups are mainly sugar, grains, dairy and legumes (oh, and no alcohol….). The diet only last 30 days, and outside of what’s mentioned above, you can eat anything. Sounds like the perfect diet, right?
I didn’t last the 30 days. I lasted a pretty long time, but Valentine’s Day happened….by Valentine’s Day, I mean the sales on candy the day-after VDay happened. While I didn’t make the 30 days, I was still proud of myself. I felt great! My skin was clearer, my stomach was flat and I had lost 10 pounds. The diet was tough, but worth it.
Within a month, however, nearly all of my progress was gone. I had quickly put that weight back on and I found myself eating more of those “unhealthy, hormone-imbalancing” foods more than I did before. Plus, after doing more research on the diet, I found that U.S. News ranked it #37 of its Best Diets. There were only 39 diets on the list.
Essentially, Whole30 didn’t work for me for three reasons. Elimination diets are bad. Elimination diets are bad. Elimination diets are bad. Well, that was one reason. But this is my most important takeaway after depriving myself for a month. Maybe some people are disciplined enough, but totally eliminating entire food groups from your diet is unrealistic and punitive. I understand why the idea of a full body reset is appealing. You do feel good. But diet and weight loss programs should be sustainable and aid in holistic healthy living. So I do the diet for 30 days…great. But after that I wanted to (over)reward myself. I ate too many of those discounted Valentine Day candies. I drank a few too many cups of wine. I overindulged in every single thing that I had missed out on over the course of the diet. Yes, this says a lot about my self control. However, the Whole30 gods should account for the aftermath of the reset. It’s human nature to want to reward ourselves for after an accomplishment. As such, there should be a caveat in the program that guides participants through transitioning back to realistic daily eating. Let’s call it the Whole30 | Part 2: Back to Reality.
For some, the Whole30 can work wonders. Whenever I obsess about my weight, I think about how I can do it for the month and quickly lose 10 pounds. Then logic prevails, and I realize that at present, this diet doesn’t work. While the many success videos on YouTube might make you think otherwise, Whole30 won’t help you in achieving lasting healthy patterns. And that’s the true ultimate goal, to be healthy and happy, which isn’t based on a pants size.
December 28, 2017 in Advice Column
The journey to self love is a unique one. We all reach the end of that journey at different times. Some of us grow up with an admirable level of self confidence, pride and contentedness. While others have to fight and dig and fail, in order to determine what it means to truly love one’s self. The latter must ask what does that look like, how does one achieve it?
I compare this journey to Alice’s falling down the rabbit hole; tumbling and floating between what I love, like and hate about myself. When I float, I am genuinely happy. I feel beautiful. I’m a new woman, who can take on the world. But floating is rare. I am normally tumbling. And while tumbling, I forget about the new woman I’ve become. Instead, a tiny condescending voice in my head reminds me of what I haven’t accomplished, of why I’m not good or pretty enough, of what I need to change. Tumbling is hard. It is a lonely and dark state that discourages progress and stunts my experience with love and appreciation of self.
In 2018, I want to float through my journey, not tumble. So how do I do that? I asked close friends what they did to find internal peace and achieve self love. Here’s what they said:
I practice self love by…
- Taking care of yourself. Making sure that you are in good mental and physical health – recognizing that those are intertwined.
- Working out regularly and eating well ensures that I feel energized throughout the day
- Sticking to self love tactics
- Hanging out with people who are positive and actively help me to reach my goals
- Believing that I am valuable and worthy of care
- Finding positive points in each of my identities (how I’m valuable as a sister, friend, daughter, girlfriend, etc.)
- Seeking spaces and people that reinforce and support the idea that I am valuable and worthy of care, respect and love
- Cleaning myself and my environment, eating food I enjoy, asking for help when I need it, advocating for myself to those that treat me like poorly, taking a day off, wearing nice clothes, getting my hair done, massages, facials, calling friends and family, napping…
- Trying to do things that’ll truly make me happy
- Honoring, recognizing and being content with every part of me – from what I see as positives to negatives in who I am.
- Meditating, contemplating and journaling
- Repeatedly saying mantras that are (1) self affirming, (2) self-fulfilling and (3) that replenish and pour into who you are and who you want to be
- Finding activities that you love and actually doing them
- Looking in the mirror with pride and confidence
- Respecting myself and being self accountable for pursuing a higher standard
- Having a daily reminder (in your phone or written where you can see it (bathroom mirror) that says whatever makes you feel
- Self-reflecting…which tends to happen on Mondays
So today, I resolve that I will do these things. I won’t do all of them, but I will find what works for me and implement them into my daily life.
I want to discover and embrace true love of self in 2018, and I think that this (affirmations, personal care, reflection) is a start in the right direction. What will you change in 2018 to be a better YOU?
December 13, 2017 in Career
I was watching the third season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt when I first heard of TaskRabbit. Initially, I didn’t know what it was, but I got an idea after Kimmy bustled through the city, performing a number of odd jobs for money. TaskRabbit is the answer to one’s personal assistant problems in our shared economy society. So who is the current face of the tasker startup? Stacy Brown Philpot was assigned as the company’s CEO in 2017 (prior to that, founder, Leah Busque, held the title), and has been making waves in the business world for years.
After graduating from college, Philpot began her career at PWC and Goldman Sachs, working on tech deals in investment banking. In doing this – working with tech IPOs – her interest in entrepreneurship grew and she applied to business school. Enrolling in Stanford as a Bonini fellow, Philpot was in the right place to develop her background in applied innovation. She then worked at Google, rising through the ranks, ultimately becoming the Senior Director of Global Consumer Operations.
Philpot’s work ethic, drive and accomplishments are incredible. She is inspiring in her obvious fluidity and flexibility in working and thriving in different industries. Her career trajectory is inspiring. Philpot began working as many of us do, as an analyst in a corporate office. She was a small fish in the Wall Street Pond. However, she grew and has made an unmistakable impact in her work. More than that, Philpot is an example for young women (especially those of color). Only 6.4% of CEOs are female. Philpot gives me hope, as well as reminds us that we can be authentic at work, thrive with hard work and opportunity, and lead in the face of challenges.
Philpot’s money perspective (taken from her interview with Marie Claire) is a common one. We all want to live better, richer lives than our parents. This is the crux of the “American Dream” (I use that phrase with caution) – gaining increasing social mobility and wealth with each generation. Philpot reflects that:
“When I was 14, I remember wanting a Coach bag, and my mother couldn’t afford it. I decided at that age that I was going to grow up and get a job so that I could buy as many handbags as I wanted. And no one was ever going to stop me. So when I got the job, I always thought, How do I make sure that I can afford to pay off my bills and then buy my handbags? The Coach bag evolved into other things that I wanted to spend my money on—I love to travel. But thinking about earning a salary is very different from equity. You come to Silicon Valley and learn about wealth creation. It is a fundamentally different way of thinking about building your life, including your financial life. Growing up in Detroit, wealth creation wasn’t part of what we talked about at the dinner table. And so that was so different. Now I have an opportunity to give back, to contribute to other causes, to create a legacy for my family that no one else had. And that was a powerful change for me.”
This perspective is a gem in that it is so relatable. Many of us have what was Philpot’s Coach purse; the item we wanted, but couldn’t have while growing up. That purse drives us to reach our goals and achieve our dreams. What else is notable is that Philpot highlights a fundamental problem that many of us face in debunking personal finance. That’s that we simply don’t learn about it. Philpot’s right. “Earning a salary is very different from equity”; this is a basic principle that goes untaught. Philpot ultimately recognizes that one must evolve and learn how to manage her financial life.
December 6, 2017 in Career
What is the role of the modern day side hustle? Should it be an easy way to make extra money? How much energy should you put into it? Side hustles no longer need to be a means to an end, instead they can be a source of joy, passion and real sustainability.
Here are 11 potential side hustles that will combine your true interests with an extra line of income.
- The world’s oldest profession is childcare, right? It’s easy and fun (arguable, yes). Depending on the kid, it’s very low maintenance work. Feed them, turn on Sesame Street, and relax…Elmo will take care of the rest. This hustle is perfect for students or anyone with part time jobs. You set your schedule and it require as little as a few hours a week. Whatever the case, you’re the boss. Build a short list of clients, charge the average price based on the state you live in, and voila, you have a profitable business that can last for years. The payoff: ~$15/hours (scale based on number of kids) /Apps to use: Zum, Urbansitter, Care.com
- Yes, the world of smartphones has made us all photographers. However, if you have an eye for capturing the perfect image or just a way with IG filters, than think about monetizing on that craft. People still want professional pictures because let’s face it, an iPhone can’t always do the trick when it comes to special moments. While the initial costs might be high (buying a quality camera), the future returns are worth it. Use visual social media accounts to market your craft and bookings will roll in. The payoff: depends on your rates, ~$50-$100/hr (imo)
- Ideally, we are at our best when we are most productive. So put your free time to good, profitable use. Run other people’s errands for money. We live in a sharing economy and you’d be crazy not to take advantage of it. Again, with this hustle, be your own boss. Sign up for TaskRabbit and decide when you want to work and what you want to do. Take on as many or as few tasks as you want. The payoff: ~$2,000/week…That’s a lot, right? Well hop to your first task!
- Like TaskRabbit, companies such as Lyft and Uber embrace our modern day, sharing culture and economy. Do you have a car? Sign up to drive for a ride sharing company. Even if you don’t have a reliable set of wheels, most companies will allow you to rent or lease a car for a fair price. Again, YOU set your hours. On top of that, your car is your workplace. You can truly be your most authentic self and get paid for it. With this hustle, to make a decent amount, be tenacious and a good driver (nothing’s worse than a poor driver review). The payoff: ~$20/hour
- I love AirBnB! When I travel to a new place, my typical worry is sticking to a reasonable budget while I’m there. With AirBnb, however, I save about 3/4ths of what I would spend on a hotel room. Instead of $175/night, I find decent spaces (with all amenities) for $50-70. AirBnB finds are simply amazing! Join in on this movement. If you have an extra room(s) in your home, list them on the AirBnB site. You’re not using it, so what do you have to lose, right? Plus, depending on price, ambiance and location, you can make money every day of the month. The payoff: varies based on the factors listed above
- Does everyone compliment your baked mac and cheese? Do you consider yourself to be a master baker or chef, at home? Monopolize on those talents. Set a menu of your best recipes and sell your art to family and friends. Social media is your oyster…take advantage of it! Choose delicious visuals and make frequent posts on Instagram and Facebook. Build and expand your client list, and you will have the start of a fruitful business. The payoff: Varies
- I believe that dogs are our spirit animals. If you do too, then start a small, dog walking (general pet care) business. This venture will give you the opportunity to interact with as many warm, fuzzy animals as you want. The needs for pet owners are endless. Because of the daily grind that we all endure, someone might hire you to feed his cat, or give her dog their meds. Whatever the need, there is a market here. Start in your local neighborhood (targeting people you know) and provide common services (like walking, sitting or check-ins). The payoff: ~13.50/hour /Apps to use: Wag! and Rover
- Knowing how to clean and organize stuff is a talent that should be treasured. Personally, after a long week at work, the last thing I want to do is spend my Saturday cleaning. Hence, I am 100% willing to pay someone else to do it, and I’m sure that many others feel the same way. So if you got it, flaunt it! Become a professional cleaner and/or organizer. Establish your reputation (do odd jobs, market through word of mouth) and you can get paid for doing something you love. The payoff: can be ~$40-50/hour / Apps: Merry Maids or Alfred
- Everyone has a soundtrack to their life. Don’t you want to be the person that plays the songs that make up that soundtrack? DJing will allow you to do this. Take your love for music and spread that love to the masses. This particular hustle poses an important barrier to entry – buying equipment, but once you have that, then the gigs will follow. In the meantime, use your smartphone and make fire playlists. Get the crowd pumped and your pockets will thank you! The payoff: Varies based on venue
- The advent of the internet and social media has allowed everyone to be a professional at something. In this case, blogs and content are everywhere. Do you love to write or edit? Become a freelance writer. Contribute to your favorite blog. This will allow you to build your reputation and ability as a writer. Once your writing improves, find freelance gigs and put your researcher cap on. You will make money, while doing what you love. Essentially, be our generation’s Carrie Bradshaw (or Khadijah James). The payoff: Varies
- Life events like weddings, proms, graduations and even, day to day happenings, all have one thing in common. Women (and men) need someone to get their hair and makeup on fleek. If you have a knack for that, then consider getting paid for these services. This is a side hustle that will never go unneeded. Determine what services you want to provide and market, market, MARKET! Use social media (especially instagram) to visually showcase your skills. This will drive your clientele and make your hustle, a thriving one. The payoff: $35-50/ client
I first saw Spike Lee’s 1986 She’s Gotta Have It, when I was 15. I had wanted to see it for years, but I knew the subject matter was a bit risqué to get parental approval. (Strangely, my cousins let me watch Love and Basketball when I was only six…). Anyway, Nola’s passion and energy, which shined through in bright red even under the black and white lens, did not disappoint. I found the story’s premise – female sexual freedom and the exploration of sexual identity – to be so intriguing. I was inspired by Nola’s openness. Her insatiableness. Her cold treatment of men. I knew that when I grew up (which should’ve been now at 23) I would be Nola Darling. I would be unabashed, free in love, openly seeking what I want in a man, even if there are three of them.
While my teenage dreams have changed and I am no Nola, I respect those that are, and sometimes, unashamedly live vicariously through them. The Nolas of the world are free, unafraid and can do anything; which brings me to the 2017 Nola Darling of Spike Lee’s first joint reboot. The new Nola truly fleshes out the many levels of her personal and sexual identity. She doesn’t believe in labels. She isn’t embarrassed of her desires, her passions. She captains her ship in a spectacular and inspiring way. Her experience reflects the essence of our generation’s Renaissance Woman. She’s Gotta Have It 2.0 is about freedom, exploration, personal identity, and self-discovery. It’s everything we as millennials want packaged in ten enthralling episodes.
What exactly makes Nola’s experience one that resonates with so many of our own?
Unapologetic. Being unapologetic in 2017 is what have been taught to strive for. We are not our parents or grandparents, as such we should not have to apologize for being who we are. Nola has this concept down pact. She is unapologetically black, female and polyamorous. Her comfort in her identities serves as a lesson to us all. Why apologize for who we are when it doesn’t fit the standard? What is the standard, anyway? Like Nola, we must embrace who we are. Others be damned.
Free. Along with being unapologetic, Nola is a free, passionate spirit. She doesn’t subscribe to labels. Enjoying sex doesn’t make her a freak or a hoe. She doesn’t tie herself down to one category or even one man, because she doesn’t need to. Instead, Nola is free to explore and discover the endless possibilities of what life offers.
Nola’s freedom is also realized in her artwork. Her street art campaign, “My Name Ain’t”, is the visual embodiment of what women deal with every day. Nola flips the patriarchal ideas that women are property, that women have to service men’s needs. My name ain’t yo ma…. because it’s not…and Nola shows us that we can reclaim our time and freedom by reminding men of who we are.
Willing to understand and discover. I commend Nola for taking the time to work toward achieving self-understanding. Nola’s character doesn’t rely on the stereotype of the strong, black woman. She is strong, yes. But there’s no underlying need to be perfect or superwoman. And even though her journey to realization is slow, Nola sees that she has a problem. Another deviation from the norm is that she doesn’t turn to prayer, she instead tries a variety of unique, healing techniques. She settles on therapy. Again, this is something we can all take a note on. Therapy is not bad. I repeat, therapy is not bad. It helps to talk about your issues with someone who can offer an objective opinion. Nola, like many new black, female characters in television, shows us that even the carefree black girl has some stuff that needs to be worked out. More importantly, we must never stop discovering ourselves, even if it seems difficult at times.
Nola is our Renaissance Woman, and her fierceness and energy for life should inspire us as women.