Monday, December 31

MONDAY MOTIVATION: 2013 is Knocking at Our Doors. Are You Ready?

We're finally here folks! 2013 is just a few hours away. Everyone will soon be out celebrating - popping bottles of champagne in fancy dresses and clothes, blowing party horns and toasting to the New Year. But, when the ball has dropped and  the music begins to fade, can you say that you are really ready to take on 2013?

I had a wonderful holiday season. Although I was sick, I had the chance to relax, spend time with those that I care for and went on a small trip. In the time that I got to relax, I had the opportunity to really reflect on my year - all the successes, disappointments and lessons. I had a fantastic year full of so many blessings. But if you are like me, you may have also set a few goals for this year that you did not see come to pass. But that's okay. While it is awesome to accomplish everything on your to-do list for each year, I think it is more important to understand what has worked for you, what you need to let go of and what new mindset you want to create for the new year.

I realized that the best way to prepare for a journey to success is to create a few guiding principles for yourself. These principles will help you evaluate each moment and each decision that you make to see if you are headed in the correct destination.

Here are few simple principles that work for me and serve as an inner GPS for whenever I’m veering off of my path:

Let go... 
As we head into the New Year, it's important to recognize what hasn't worked for you and what you need to let go of. This can be letting go of any fears, old mindsets, past hurts, untrue beliefs about yourself or forgiving someone who hurt you. Maybe you need to let go of that double latte-whatever with extra whip cream each morning to finally shed those pounds. The point is that you have to let go of what hasn't worked in order to create a clean slate for 2013.

Be thankful
Get a gratitude journal so that you can keep track of your blessings. The more that you are thankful, the more that will continue to come to you. Make a habit of giving thanks every day.

Clean house
No, literally…clean your house! Clutter in the physical is an indication of the clutter in your mind. Take a day to organize your life so that you have the room for newness – new thought, new creativity, new opportunity, etc.

Don't talk about it be about it
There are going to be a lot of people proclaiming that “2013 is my year!” but come February when the excitement of resolutions wears off, we will see what separates the talkers from the doers. Create a vision for what you want and go for it! Start talking once you know for sure that you’ve put in the work and start to see results.

Keep your circle tight
I wrote about this in a previous post here, but it is so important to surround yourself with a group of people who celebrate you, support you and lift you up to be better. You need people who believe in your vision and who are currently pursuing their own visions. If you feel negative, stuck and limited look around at the people you spend the most time with. Guaranteed they have similar negative attitudes. Find a new circle.

Use these principles and add your own to them. I project big things in 2013 for you all!

I also want thank all of you for sharing this journey with me by reading my thoughts and perspectives, for commenting on the blog and through social media, for coming out to the workshop or sending me emails. Keep connecting with me! I truly appreciate it all and can't wait to share more with you in the New Year!

I have a really exciting year ahead of me including bringing 'Da Kink in My Hair to Atlanta this October (please check out the new website!) and at the top of the year in February I will be holding my second Millionaire Artist workshop (email for more info). Please stay tuned for announcements and details J

See NO limits to your potential this year!

Have a safe and blessed New Year’s night!!

trey xo


Friday, December 28

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder: Natural hair inspired art

As someone who's had an interest in natural hair for a long time now, it's been interesting to see all of the stories that have come out this past year. More and more black womyn have been embracing their natural hair and the result has been a mishmash of stories, both good and bad.

From airport afro pat downs, to Oprah and Michelle Obama embracing their natural curls to meteorologist Ronda Lee getting fired for defending her hair, there have been so much talk about natural hair in 2012! But one thing that has been missing (this year and always) is a simple appreciation of the beauty and versatility of our hair. The conversation always seems to get really we choose to wear our hair is seen as a reflection of our beliefs and politics rather than just a personal choice that is ours and ours alone.

Well, one artist has decided to simply celebrate the beauty of black hair, and has released a series of photo prints that do just that. As we head into 2013 we can only hope that the day will come where we are free to be ourselves without having to worry about the implications of our hair style choice on our career, our travels or any other part of our life. Until then, check out Andrea Pippins work and keep rocking that do, whatever style it may be!

Wednesday, December 26

The Conflict With 'Django Unchained": Slavery as a Comedy?

By now, I'm sure you have heard all the press and talk surrounding Quentin Tarantino's latest film Django Unchained. The film, in typical Tarantino fashion is quite unconventional in that it tells the story of a slave-turned-bounty hunter who sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner. 

There have been plenty of rave reviews so far including one from Oprah who called the film, “laugh out loud funny” and “cathartic”. Are we talking about the same movie? Folks, clearly this is not your typical Roots or Alex Haley's Queen film that shows the same image of slaves that we've seen for many years.

The reviews pouring in so far and pre-screenings have had quite a few people up in arms about the lightness in which the film is portrayed. Spike Lee spoke out this past weekend, stating that he refuses to see it. He later posted to his Twitter account that, "American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western. It Was A Holocaust. My Ancestors Are Slaves. Stolen From Africa. I Will Honor Them."

To find humour in a subject that runs so deep that we still see the effects of it to this day, does not sit well with a lot of people. One of the darkest moments in history is now a story that is projected onscreen for all people of all races to see and to potentially find humour in?

It is a difficult issue to draw the line on because as a comedian I understand the importance of humour. Especially with serious topics, comedy often serves as the medicine in a candy as it creates the ability to get a message across and reach people in a way that resonates with them. Humour often creates openness and dialogue. But, can you sugar coat a film about slavery?

We haven't seen a story told about slavery in a very long time as it is a topic that has increasingly become one that is swept under the rug for people to deny its current day impact. Perhaps, this film can serve as an entertaining way to appeal to the masses and re-start the conversation on our history.

I'm still deciding on if I will go and check it out. Will you be hitting up the theatres this week to see Django Unchained? Who saw it yesterday? Let me know your thoughts and reviews!

Monday, December 24

Motivation Monday: The secret to long hair (and any other success)

All of us black womyn have struggled with this problem at one time or another. We want to let our hair be natural and just do its own thing. But sometimes we also just really, really want long hair! Whether you rock a fro, locks, braids, twist outs or straight hair we all have those days when we look in the mirror and just wonder when this hair is ever going to GROW!!!

Well, finally a group of natural hair bloggers have gotten together to reveal the secret to long natural hair. But this is something that can be applied in other situations as well - you have to watch the video to get it so check it out below!

Friday, December 21

Gender Roles: Would You Let Your Son Play With An Easy bake Oven?

I was at a baby shower a while ago and the room was festively decorated  with balloons and streamers in blues, yellows and a hint of pink. I was just taking in the decorations when a womyn appeared behind me and shrieked, “Pink?! She’s having a BOY!!” I did not give her the reaction that she wanted because I gave her some version of my who cares face. So, she turned around to another group of womyn and shrieked again. This time they fell for the bait and suddenly they were in a panic to get rid of the hint of pink décor.
I can not begin to describe how ridiculous I think it is to pre-determine gender roles for our children. Instead of enjoying the time and the lovely atmosphere of the shower, these womyn were caught up on décor and the idea that pink should be a repellent for boys.
This is why it is interesting to hear the announcement this week from toy manufacturer HASBRO, that they would be introducing a gender neutral version to their Easy Bake Oven. They will now offer it in a variety of colours such as black, silver and blue in addition to their traditional colored ovens. I’m happy that the company is making an attempt to appeal to boys as well since many little boys want to be chefs too. But, it remains disappointing that parents are still too caught on gender roles to cross the colour line.
I think we should focus on nurturing our children’s desires and interests and promote the mini chef in our sons or the architect in our daughters.
Parents ,this Christmas as you are picking out last minute gifts for your children and there happens to only be a pink/ purple Easy Bake oven left on the shelf, buy it. Most children don’t care about colour, we do. Then we teach them to care.
What are your thoughts, do you think that children's toys should come in gender neutral colours?
Happy Holidays All!!

Wednesday, December 19

Return of 'da Kink: US debut to begin in Atlanta

The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams--Oprah Winfrey.

I come from a tribe of womyn who have often packed up their bags to cross oceans, and borders to seek something better. Choosing to leave all that is familiar  in order to just answer something deep within themselves. My grandmother left Jamaica and spent nearly eighteen days on a ship to go to England to look for something better. My mother left England, and then Canada, to look for something better.... 

And from each of these womyn I have learnt the lesson that it is ok to leave everything familiar in order to look for something better, if your spirit requires it and if your spirit tell you to do it....

About a year ago, Spirit told me to leave Toronto and go to Atlanta. I struggled with this decision and played it over and over in my head. I prayed on it. Talked about it, and the answer remained the same. Spirit told me to leave.  And that I must leave now!  So I listened. I was scared and I'm still scared, yet I decided to not let fear paralyze me.  

One of my biggest and brightest dream has been to produce 'da Kink in Atlanta and to tour the play across North America! And now finally the dream is coming true! 

I chose Atlanta because after doing a lot of research on black theatre and also doing a lot of research on  theatre mogul Tyler Perry---I thought if Tyler Perry chose to produce his theatrical work in Atlanta and it turned him into one of the richest men in Hollywood, why not me!!!  I also read that Tyler Perry had produced his first major work at the 14th Street Playhouse, so I thought.... well, you know the rest!
I'm proud to announce that 'da Kink will be opening in Atlanta in October 2013 at the 14th Street Playhouse!!  To go with our announcement check out our brand new fancy website  courtesy of Decosta Entertainment!   A big shout out to Ben and Rena at Decosta who were instrumental in producing such a fabulous website. Very proud to be a Decosta client and very excited that we are involved in producing this amazing work in Atlanta! 

So folks spread the word, call up all your family and friends in the South to let them know! Or  better yet, my Toronto peeps get a plane ticket and come out to see it!!!  Yes hotlanta just got hotter and kinkier!!!  

We hope to be adding more dates and cities to the Atlanta tour so keep posted!

Thank you for your continued love and support! Please tweet our new website and facebook it to your friends for me.

much love
trey xoxo

Monday, December 17

MONDAY MOTIVATION: Living in Silence - Black Women and Depression

Why do I need to see a therapist, I am not crazy?!.. No one in my family speaks to a therapist - we go to church! God will handle any of my problems...That girl is so crazy, she needs to go to a therapist so they can medicate her...Nothing is wrong, I'm FINE.
Black women and women of color are 60% more likely to suffer from mental health disorders. Surprising? We don’t often see this image in the media or up for discussion. Mental health has always been seen as something that’s a “white issue” or that’s what “they” suffer from, not us. We are people of strength, endurance and resilience that have collectively and individually been through too many struggles to let emotion get to us. How can something as intangible as our emotions or mental state cause feelings of depression and wanting to give up on life? But most of us live in environments where our feelings aren’t given any weight and our emotions are somehow a measure of how much faith we have. But sometimes life has the tendency to pile things on. We keep pushing it aside because we have to wake up every morning and face the world. But then pushing it aside leads to a messy pile of emotions that become unbearable to handle.
The world around us tells us that feelings of fear, anger, jealousy, and confusion are the bad emotions of weak people. But, depression is a slippery slope that we can all head down if we don’t take the time and effort to check in with ourselves. No matter how spiritual / religious you are, or how much love and support you receive from family / friends, sometimes you need to seek outside help. Ladies, therapy is not a bad word.

Last week I had the opportunity to attend an event put on by the Women’s Health in Women’s Hand’s organization. The event was to launch their Mental Health initiative – an initiative started because of the realization that it is the number one issue that women come to their organization for. Although, there is a silence in our community in speaking about mental health, the numbers they receive seeking help screams out the need for more programs like this.
The event featured an awesome lineup of speakers – author Kim Green, author and psychotherapist Farzana Doctor, and author/poet Staceyann Chin – who are all wellness advocates and very active in breaking the silence and stigma around mental health in our community.
The room was filled with such support, laughter and sharing as the panelists were very candid about their own experiences as well as members from the audience sought clarity for their own issues. It was beautiful to see a room full of women who were unashamed, open and willing to be so vulnerable.
The message of the night that was made clear that seeking help is not about being medicated, as often times doctors try to diagnose and push prescriptions. Seeking therapy is about accepting that the load you are carrying is too heavy to carry by yourself.
So, take this week to get silent, check in on your mental and emotional state. Are you really fine or have you just become too used to saying it? If praying, meditating, speaking to a pastor or friend works for you then do that. But, if all of those things still don’t seem to be enough to calm what you feel, don’t be afraid to ask for help. The strongest sisters are the ones that are the most willing to be vulnerable.
Have a happy and peaceful Monday!
P.S. To learn more about the Women’s Health in Women’s Hand initiative visit here.


Friday, December 14

What the world lost today - reaction to the Connecticut school shooting

Usually when I'm at a loss for words the only thing that can make me make sense of things is writing it down. This shooting today was so senseless. It left my heart aching and my pen crying...

Students being led out of their school during today's shooting in Newton, Connecticut

What the world lost today

Today the world lost children reciting their ABCs with wide eyed innocence. We lost hand made art on the fridge. We lost chalk on blackboards. We lost hugs from moms and dads.

Today we lost notes passed between BFF's wondering does he like me? Circle yes or no!  We lost tag played on the school yard. We lost first crushes, first bras, first kisses.

We lost missed curfews. We lost pimples on the tip of noses.  We lost OMG. We lost LOL, so of course we lost laughter...We lost driving licences, graduations and proms. 

We lost giggling girls on phones.  We lost lanky boys with sweaty palms at school dances. We lost first dances and stepping on toes.

We lost college applications. We lost flipping burgers.  First pay cheques. We lost numerous facebook updates and we lost many, many tweets.  We lost drinking first beers, so we missed the  hang overs too. We lost first loves and of course we lost broken hearts.. 

We lost back packing across Europe. We lost keys to first apartments.  We lost wedding invitations.  Birth announcements and baby showers.

We lost future politicians, activists, teachers, social workers, doctors, lawyers, managers, singers, writers, poets, life changers, believers, advocates---- sadly, today we lost who they might have been. 

We lost big love. We lost desperate hope. We lost our belief in all that is good. 
We lost true love when we lost our children. 

And most of all America we lost the war against guns. 

Where do we go from here?

The Curse Of Media [Mis]Representations: Not All Black Women Are Bold, Brash & Bawdy

 Guest blog by: Nikki Coco

'Strong Black Woman' is a badge of honor that we have been wearing for too long. If we are to be completely honest about the reasons as to why many Black women are good at hiding their softness, let’s remember the onslaught of reality television shows that people rely on to provide us with a snapshot of segments of the society at large. Quite plainly, it’s easy to create a picture, when you’ve been privy to only one side of a given story for so long.

Alas, not all Black women were created equal: meaning some are able to withstand more triumph than others -- with some not being very emotionally strong at all underneath the layers. Now, while the media would have us believe that most, if not all Black women are brazen, brash and bawdy, thanks to a smorgasbord of shows like RHOA, Basketball  Wives and Love and Hip Hop – all aligning so well for the purpose of transmitting the message by way of the likes of the Nene Leakes of the world -- the idea that tyrant, despot and Black woman are one and the same, at some point we’ve gotta be conscionable enough to say, “I’m just not buying what you’re selling.” Somewhere amidst being caught up in the hype, illusion and fanfare we forgot that when we are with the ones who can welcome our demonstrations of love and nurturing with an air of appreciation and acceptance – we too enjoy interludes of coddling, sappiness, and gleefully emoting…if ever we were granted an opportunity to be able to do so, without accusations of playing a part suited for someone else.

There comes a time when we must put a stoppage to it all and come to the realization that vulnerability is indeed beautiful. The problem with Black women with respect to vulnerability is that it has never been deemed permissible, nor has it been expected throughout our collective history. How on God’s green Earth are we expected to be vulnerable when we have a slew of people waiting on us to be clothed, fed and nurtured at any given time? In order for Black women to begin to feel more comfortable enough to reveal their vulnerability, we have to allow the space enough for them to be able to so do.

The beauty of vulnerability lies in the idea that we all naturally fold at the point of exhaustion. Even more, it requires ample strength in character to willingly display authenticity and do away with the façade that is entwined with the staid image of the inexhaustible, dynamic, Energizer Bunny that is the dominant perception that has been built around Black women. Nobody is going to believe us when we consistently say that everything is fine and dandy or that we are strong and tough enough to handle things on our own. 

I believe it remains important to iterate that it’s well beyond the time for Black women to tear down their layered fortresses and hop along the self-love, self-help bandwagon that all the world has increasingly embarked upon. A while back, I was perusing Facebook when I was serendipitously met with the following quote via a friend’s timeline: “Silence doesn’t always mean ‘yes.’ Sometimes it means I’m tired of explaining to people who don’t care to understand.” 

While it is true that some women speak up about their respective experiences, in ways that sometimes place them in vulnerable positions – often they’re confiding in people who actually don’t care. A key message I would offer to women who have been silencing their load is: be mindful of who you confide in and around whom you let your guard down. The uncanny mind reader in most women knows just who to confide in and around whom to keep their lips sealed. As women it has been duly noted that we have been blessed with extra-sensory, intuitive abilities to be able to discern many a situation quite accurately. When in doubt, trust in it. The key is being vulnerable with the right people, at the right time. 

Nikki is an educator and writer, whose musings cover a broad range of topics incuding but, not limited to: politics, love, education and cultural criticism. You can follow her on Twitter @artculturemusic.

Wednesday, December 12

Meteorologist Rhonda Lee fired for defending her natural hair

Rhonda Lee
Years ago when I expressed to my family that I was going to loc my hair, my grandmother expressed great concern and outrage about it. Her exact words were, “It’s hard enough being black! Why would you want to do that! No one is going to hire you with hair like that! It's messy and looks unkempt and you will never get a good job." 

I dismissed my grandmother but her words rang in my ears and I guess to some extent I took heed to her warning and decided that if I was going to loc my hair then I would have the neatest locs in the world!  Thus, I have spent thousands of dollars maintaining the up keep of my locs. I religiously go to the hairdresser whenever I notice there is a hint of new growth. I twist and retwist each loc every spare second that I have and every partner that I have has been dragged into the routine of helping me re twist my hair for me when I don't have the time to run immediately to the hairdresser! And I secretly gloat when people stop me and tell me how "neat" my hair is and they don't even look like locs!  

So far I don't think having locs has prevented me from excelling in my career, yet I also know I work in the arts and us artsy types tend to be much more lenient and accepting of personal expression! But, I know things are a lot different for my corporate sistas, so I was surprised and yet not really surprised when I heard about meteorologist Rhonda Lee who lost her job at KTBS-TV for responding to a derogatory comment from a viewer about her natural hair.

Now just to set the record straight she was NOT fired because of her natural hair. She was fired because of a facebook post where she responded to a viewer, who posted the following message on KTBS-TV’s page:

 “the black lady that does the news is a very nice lady.the only thing is she needs to wear a wig or grow some more hair. im not sure if she is a cancer patient. but still its not something myself that i think looks good on tv. what about letting someone a male have waist long hair do the news.what about that (cq).”

She responded with the following:

“Hello Emmitt–I am the ‘black lady’ to which you are referring. I’m sorry you don’t like my ethnic hair. And no I don’t have cancer. I’m a non-smoking, 5’3, 121 lbs, 25 mile a week running, 37.5 year old woman, and I’m in perfectly healthy physical condition.

“I am very proud of my African-American ancestry which includes my hair. For your edification: traditionally our hair doesn’t grow downward. It grows upward. Many Black women use strong straightening agents in order to achieve a more European grade of hair and that is their choice. However in my case I don’t find it necessary. I’m very proud of who I am and the standard of beauty I display. Women come in all shapes, sizes, nationalities, and levels of beauty. Showing little girls that being comfortable in the skin and HAIR God gave me is my contribution to society. Little girls (and boys for that matter) need to see that what you look like isn’t a reason to not achieve their goals.

“Conforming to one standard isn’t what being American is about and I hope you can embrace that.

“Thank you for your comment and have a great weekend and thanks for watching.”

Do you think that she should have lost her job, do you think this is racist? And do you think black womyn who work in the media have a responsiblity to keep up "appearances"...... does that just come with the territority? Would love to hear your thoughts! 

Monday, December 10

MONDAY MOTIVATION: Sally Field and Elie Wiesel show us that every ending is a new beginning

Oprah and Elie Wiesel

I was catching up on a few weeks of Oprah and saw two interviews that were very different but spoke the same message to me. I have a feeling this is a message that some of you need to hear too, so I wanted to share it with all of you.

Sally Field was on Oprah’s Next Chapter last week, to talk about her new movie Lincoln where she plays the first lady, Mary Todd.  But like always, the conversation with Oprah got personal real quick and soon she was talking about her mother, who passed away during the movie’s filming.

Elie Wiesel is a holocaust survivor, author of dozens of books, and a Nobel peace prize winner. He was on Soul Sunday yesterday to discuss surviving open heart surgery at 82 and his latest book, “Open Heart”. In it he talks about the anxieties and worries that he faced as he lay on the hospital bed expecting the worst, the questions and the thoughts that went through his mind as he lay facing his death.

Both Field and Wiesel are successful - they have accomplished a lot in their careers and they’ve spoken openly about all that they overcame. And both were very open and honest about their own insecurities as they face a transition to a new part of their life.

Wiesel’s book describes in great detail the moments where he lay facing possible death and one of the questions he asked himself was whether he had done enough. This from someone who has won a Nobel Peace Prize!

Field’s talks about the struggle she faced after her mother died - on Field’s 65th birthday. With three grown children who have moved on to their own lives, she describes feeling lost for a while. It’s something we can all relate to, that feeling we have whenever our roles in life change and we struggle  to find our identity, our place in the world.

But watching both interviews I kept coming back to the same realization. As much as they have both accomplished, there is still much that they have left to do and it’s clear from the way they speak of their future. Although they've lived many years and done so much, they are both open to the new experiences that are coming their way. Throughout the interview Field keeps talking about the new part of her life that is just starting and her excitement about the future.

Iif we search our depths we all know that there is something in us that we have left to give to the world - our higher purpose maybe, or our contribution to the world. And as we work on our latest project, script or job we get so focused on what we are doing that we can lose ourselves in our work. Then suddenly, like everything must, something changes. We lose our job, our script gets rejected or funding for our project gets cancelled.

And in this moment we face our greatest test. It is in the moment of this change or loss that we must decide how to move forward. Whether we succumb to our insecurities and give up, or whether we decide to embrace the change and look for the good that will come out of it. 

A year after her mother’s death Field’s is excited about being able to do what she wants and is looking forward to enjoying her new home and this latest new phase of her life. Weisel is happy to continue teaching and lecturing, as long as it gives him time to spend with his family. Both have had a long and eventful life, and as each experience comes to an end they continue to look for the new adventure, something we all should aim to do.

Are you going through a big change in your life now? Meet me in the comments and let me know what is ending and what your hope for the future is. Change can be scary, but if you remember that every ending is a chance for something new to start it can also be a very exciting and joyful time. 

Friday, December 7

Watch The Throne: This Womyn Has Taken Oprah's Spot As Richest Black Womyn In The World!

Well folks, Queen Oprah has officially been de-throned as the richest black womyn in the world. Oprah has held this spot for quite a few years now but it has just been announced that the new leading lady is Folorunsho Alakija of Nigeria.

This 61 year old’s $3.2 billion empire is comprised of being owner of oil company, FAMFA OIL Limited as well as the head of successful fashion label Supreme Stitches. I love that she is an artist! She founded the company after studying fashion design in England and went on to make custom creations for Nigeria and West Africa’s elite.

I love Ms Lady O and the media empire that she has created, but it is really great to see another face on top. I'm happy to see successful black womyn’s faces in diverse industries being recognized for their accomplishments. Especially to see a womyn who is not from North America. We too often see the same people in the spotlight all the time which can sometimes send the message that these people are an exception. When we start seeing new people get recognized, it tells us that we too can accomplish big things and defy the norm.
Talk about the sky is the limit! Beautiful to see this womyn achieve her billionaire artist dream.

What do you think of the new richest black womyn, are you happy to see a new face of success?

Wednesday, December 5

Money can't buy you happiness - are you doing what you love?

Do you spend your days doing exactly what makes you feel fulfilled?

It's in those enlightenment books that we read, in Oprah's life classes and in many, many religions. But it’s something that is still hard for us to grasp. Life should not be spent chasing dollars, it should be spent living!

We spend our days shuffling back and forth to jobs that we hate, so that we can pay the mortgage on our dream home (which we never have the time to enjoy), own the fanciest phone (yet we ignore our friends’ calls because we’re always too busy) and drive the flashiest car (which takes premium gas which, of course, is just another expense). And even when we are in jobs that "we like" we count down the days until the weekend so that we an escape the office. 

Imagine what the world might be like if money, and all of the things that money can buy, didn’t matter. If we all had our basic necessities and there was plenty of everything for everyone. We could all do the things that we love all of the time and no one would have to be stuck in a job that they hate. 

But it's not only the fact that money is a necessity that makes this idea impossible. More importantly is the fact that in reality most of us don’t even know what our passion is, and way too many people go through their whole lives not realizing what it is that they love.  

My work is my passion – I do it because I love it and it excites me. Which doesn’t mean it’s never hard, but in general I enjoy what I do. And yet, some of the decisions I make are because of money – for example it’s hard not to think about ticket sales while working on marketing for a play. Even as I am able to do the thing I love daily, I realize that money has more of an effect on my choices than I realize.

Check out the video below and meet me in the comments section to let me know if you know what you would be doing if money were not an issue or if you are already doing it every day!

PS. The recording, and this concept, is not new. You’re hearing the voice of the late Alan Watts, a philosopher who was way ahead of his time. 

Monday, December 3

MONDAY MOTIVATION: Dear Gabby Douglas, Waiting for Your Father's Apology Will Not Heal Your Hurt

Guest Blog By: Safia Bartholomew

Gabby Douglas won the hearts and respect of the world this past summer when she made history as an Olympic gold medalist for the American gymnastics team. But, an unfortunate story that was also discussed throughout this time (besides the ridiculous criticism of her hair) was of her absentee father. This is of course a story that many little girls and women around the world can relate to. 

She recently revealed to People magazine that although her father wasn't present in her life, he did attend the Olymipc games to cheer her on. But, it was a text message from him after the games requesting for her to "autograph some things for me" that broke her heart. She reveals that she now wants an apology from him. I sincerely hope that her father does apologize for the hurt that he caused her. But, the unfortunate case is that in most cases she won't get it. There are plenty of grown women today that are still waiting on apologies from their daddies. There are so many more people in general that are anticipating the day that the person who did them wrong will finally apologize and accept responsibility. They too are still waiting.

See the thing is,  I think we have all been set up since our kindergarten days to believe that once someone hurts us they will automatically apologize. Remember when Johnny kicked you in the playground and your teacher would come running over demanding that Johnny apologize. He would say sorry begrudgingly but his apology would give you instant satisfaction and you could carry on about your day. As we grow up, we come to realize that life without a moderator to demand apologies for us means that the apologies come far and few between. So what do we do now? How can we move on when the person we care about/ once cared about is still out there seemingly not acknowledging the pain they caused.

One of the hardest things to do is to let go and forgive the people that hurt you the most. You replay their wrongdoings over and over in your head like a clip out of a bad movie. These people have claimed space in your heart and mind, holding you hostage from truly being free and as happy as you deserve to be. I've had friends in my life that I've allowed to take up space in my mind, as I sit waiting for them to make it right. But, Oprah said something awhile back that really stood out to me and I try to remember everytime those terrible movie clips decide to hit replay again. She described the story of an ex-friend who she harbored much hurt and anger towards for many years. Basically, one day she was out shopping and she saw that very person laughing outside of a Tiffany store having a good time. She was in shock and could not believe how happy that person was. I love this story! Doesn't that illustrate exactly how it feels to be so affected by someone who has clearly moved on and is living and enjoying their life meanwhile you are stuck in rewind?

This isn't to say that Gabby just needs to simply move on. But, she does need to forgive her father and accept that he is going to be the way he is until he decides to change. Who knows when he will finally wake up and decide to be a father. In the meantime, she needs to find peace with it and enjoy this incredible journey that she is on whole-heartedly.

As some motivation for this week, if you are dealing with the wrongdoings of others still haunting you let the following words from Maya Angelou soak in as you set yourself up to clear some emotional space for 2013.
In the sweet shadow of Thanksgiving I am giving forgiveness to everyone I thought ill treated me. I want to enter the Christmas month with a clean slate. I want to think that everyone I know can enter the last month of this year free of any ill will between us. Let us all go into December 2012 free, giving and expecting the good thing.
 I'm ready to start December off with a clean slate.Who's up to join me? Let me know your thoughts on the Gabby Douglas situation. Also, what are you going to do to start this last month of the year to let go of any resentments towards others. Meet me in the comment section to discuss.


Friday, November 30

Kill the gays: Ugandan anti-homosexuality bill up for debate

It’s truly shocking to me that while gay marriage is being legalized in countries like the US and France, Uganda is choosing to move in the other direction. You may have already heard about the bill being debated in Uganda. The media calls it the “Kill the Gays bill” and officially it’s called the “anti-homosexuality bill”, but whatever it’s called it is appalling and the thought that it may get passed is frightening.

With estimates that there are at least 500,000 gay people living in Uganda, activists there are said to be preparing in case they need to start evacuating suddenly. Only 4 months ago they were celebrating the success of Uganda’s first-ever pride parade, with almost 100 people in attendance.

There are a lot of factors involved in this story, including a history of European colonization and evangelism that is directly linked to Ugandan views on homosexuality. But to pass a bill that encourages violence against a group of people is inexcusable. All governments should have to protect their citizens and this bill does the opposite.

The purpose of the bill is to “prohibit and penalize homosexual behaviour”; homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda with current penalties that go up to 14 years in prison. The anti-homosexuality bill originally included death penalties for certain “offences”. It was first introduced 3 years ago and after international pressure from governments, NGOs, LGBT and human rights activists some revisions have been made, and now it is up for debate again. The revised bill has not been released so there is still a lot of speculation about whether or not the death penalty is still included.

The anti-homosexuality bill proposes the same punishment for sexually assaulting a minor as it does for parents or people in positions of authority who engage in same-sex relationships (in the original the punishment for either of these was death). There is also a lot of language about protecting children and youth from predators. By throwing pedophiles in with gays, they stigmatize homosexuality and it helps get the bill passed faster. Well, if you’ve been following Canadian politics this strategy should be familiar; it’s the same argument that REAL Women of Canada presented this week at hearings about a bill in Canada that would protect trans human rights.

I’ll be watching closely to see whether or not the international community will be able to prevent this bill from being passed. You can help by signing this online petition and, if you’re in New York there will be a peaceful protest at noon TODAY (Friday, November 30th) Uganda Mission at 336 East 45th Street.

Guest post by Eden Hagos

Wednesday, November 28

Profile of an Artist: Rick Gold of Design Company, The Stem Group

One thing that I want to do with this blog is to help shed light on other artists of various industries who have a dream and are choosing to chase it and that are passionate about the work that they do. Ryszard (Rick) Gold of design company, The Stem Group, is one of those people who you can tell is in love with what he does. I had the opportunity to connect with him and ask him a few questions about himself and his company. 

For artists who are looking to get into the design field and for those who are trying to figure out branding (web design, logos,etc.) for their own careers, I suggest you read on for great advice on this. Connect with Rick as well, he's a friendly guy!

Hi Rick, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for my readers. First off, tell us about the Stem Group.

The Stem Group allows me to combine all my personal skills and experience into a single outlet. Extensive creative and technical prowess, an insatiable quest to be at the leading edge of technological knowledge and the passion to education others allows me to make a living doing what I love. Customer service is my specialty, preferring to form long term professional relationships with my customers. 

The Stem Creative offers general graphic design services, like cards, logos and other marketing materials, and specializing in website design and development, including micro sites for small businesses and individuals. Video production services are offered to businesses and individuals as well.

The Stem Support offers service, support and training to users of Apple Computers for situations that are not covered under warranty. Physical damages to Apple devices such as glass replacements are handled as well. 

There's a difference between those who dream about doing what they love and those who actually do it. What motivated / inspired you to start your business?

The desire to be my own boss, not having to deal with the corporate ladder. The ability to do what I want and have the risk be my own is very attractive. The flexibility of owning my own business also allows me to spend time with my boys!

What notable projects or clients have you worked on?
Having worked a bit for you (Trey Anthony Studios) was a fantastic experience! My largest client to date has been the Canadian Association of Geophysical Contractors. Over the years I've designed three websites for them, many print ads, events videos (one of them helped win the CAGC the Mayors Excellence Award) and a year long recruitment video project that has near 5000 copies in circulation.
Working in a creative industry, how do you stay motivated and passionate about your work?
Being constantly creative is a challenge for sure! That is why I have my support side to keep things interesting. It's nice to be able to switch gears from Photoshop & Final Cut to troubleshooting a sticky Mac OS X issue or making a smashed iPad pristine again. I get the passion from my job from my clients reactions, knowing they love their website makes a long week of slogging through code completely worth it!

What tips/advice would you give to an emerging talent who wants to follow a similar career path as you?

Look ahead always.. be on the forefront of the cure and never let yourself fall behind it. Adapt to changes in the industry and never undersell yourself by charging penance for what you know is quality work; at the same time don't charge prices that keeps your services out of reach of the small and medium business that are most likely supporting your friends, family and community.

Since my blog caters to a lot of artists and emerging artists who are looking to get their name and brand out there, what would you say is the best advice for them in going about collaborating/hiring a design company to illustrate their brand through web design or other design work?

If a deal sounds to good to be true, it probably is; if the price has 5 digits for a website and logo, move on. Absolutely most important, do not ever agree to using a pre-designed template for any of your branding products, this is exactly what those $300 website deals are all about. It's important to stick out, and it's wise to invest a little money in a custom website, logo, cards, etc. And if you can, have the same team do all the work so you can have a consistent branding across all your marketing materials. Invest in the branding instead of the mahogany desk!

Best ways for readers to connect with you?

Connect with me on any of the below mediums. I'm most active on Facebook, check out my page and connect with me there!

Monday, November 26

MONDAY MOTIVATION: 4 tips to help you set and reach your goals

With November almost over, it’s getting to that time of year where people often find themselves wondering where the year went. Before we know it Christmas will be here and then we’ll be ringing in 2013! It might seem far away, but just remember how quickly the past 9 months have flown by and you’ll realize the same thing that I did. It’s time to start thinking about your 2013 resolutions.

I know, I know…some of you will tell me that you don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. There are usually 2 reasons that people give for not making NY resolutions. Either you don’t see the point of waiting until the new year to start on good habits OR because you never manage to keep them.

If you’re in the first group, kudos to you for being able to work on yourself throughout the year; that’s what we all should aspire to. This is exactly why I suggest everyone start thinking about your goals now.

Here are 4 tips that I find extremely helpful when setting and working towards my goals:

1.       Be specific. Don’t just say that you want to learn a new language. Your goal should include as many specifics as possible. What language do you want to learn? Is the goal to learn to speak, to read, to write or all of the above? And how long do you have to complete your goal. By setting a specific goal that is tied to a particular time, you make it easier to hold yourself accountable and to know when you’re veering off track.

2.       Set small steps to help you achieve a larger goal. Any large goal can be broken down into easier to handle parts that will increase your chances of following through. Many of us set goals to lose weight. But you need to go even further and decide how you are going to do that. You might choose to change your eating habits, to exercise more or to do both. Not only should you know how much weight you want to lose, and by when, but you should have daily goals for your nutrition and your exercise, and weekly or monthly weight loss goals. By breaking a big goal into small pieces it makes it less scary and also allows you to celebrate the smaller accomplishments as you work towards the final goal.

3.       Prioritize. Pick two or three important things to work on. You don’t have to (and probably can’t) change everything in your life all at once. If you set a long list of goals you risk becoming too overwhelmed to follow through on any of them. Instead, make a list of all of the things that you would like to work on and then rank them in the order of importance. Pick the most important ones to take on this year, and put the list somewhere safe. Once you've accomplished the first few goals, you can always go back to your list!

4.       Keep going. Just because the year is over doesn't mean you have to give up on the 2012 goals that you haven’t quite completed. Even if you didn't actually start on one, if it’s important to you and you've been wanting it for (at least) one year, it’s worth trying again.  Use the other 3 tips and you can be sure to accomplish it, along with any other goals that you make for 2013.

Have you accomplished your 2012 goals yet? Will you set any for next year? If so, please share them in the comments. I’d love to see what your goals are as I work on my own!

Friday, November 23

I Am Not My Hair: Jada Pinkett Smith Pens A Letter to Those Who Criticize Willow's Cropped Hair Cut

I just love the Smith family - their talent, ambition, work ethic, the love that they have for each other and I love that the kids are allowed to go through a phase of just figuring out who they are without tough restrictions from their parents. Jada's parenting style has been criticized numerous times in the past as she has chosen to not dictate how her children should dress and style their hair. I debated a few issues in regards to her parenting style not too long ago, but one thing that I refuse to argue is people taking offense to Willow's shaved head.

We should be celebrating Willow for her apparent non-attachment to her locks. Her fearlessness when it comes to hair is inspiring because not too many children never mind womyn are brave enough to rock a shaved head while putting their face completely on display. As womyn, especially black womyn, we hide behind our hair. The longer and fuller our hair, the more beautiful and feminine we feel. Remember being young and finding ways to wrap a towel or sheet over your hair so that the length was cascading over your shoulders like hair? We would wear it all day as kids, flipping it over our shoulders mimicking the way we see women with long hair on tv do.This attachment to long hair and ideals of feminine beauty has gone on for generations, so it is amazing to see such a young girl reject it.

Instead of criticizing her, we should be promoting her actions. Not just for her but for other young girls and womyn to see that as cliche as it may sound and India Arie sang it best, I am not my hair. There has to be an absolute freedom in looking in the mirror and the first thing that you see is face, not hair. With short, cropped hair you can't hide from yourself. That bravery is what I appreciate in Willow and all of you short, cropped and pixie haired beauties.

Check out the letter that Jada posted on Facebook in response to people's criticism of Willow:
A letter to a friend…

This subject is old but I have never answered it in its entirety. And even with this post it will remain incomplete.

The question why I would LET Willow cut her hair. First the LET must be challenged. This is a world where women,girls are constantly reminded that they don’t belong to themselves; that their bodies are not their own, nor their power or self determination. I made a promise to endow my little girl with the power to always know that her body, spirit and her mind are HER domain. Willow cut her hair because her beauty, her value, her worth is not measured by the length of her hair. It’s also a statement that claims that even little girls have the RIGHT to own themselves and should not be a slave to even their mother’s deepest insecurities, hopes and desires. Even little girls should not be a slave to the preconceived ideas of what a culture believes a little girl should be.

More to come. Another day.


Well said Jada and I applaud you for this! I'm taking notes for if I have a little girl in the future. I want her to feel beautiful and strong regardless of what her hair looks like and what society uses to measure her worth.

What are your thoughts on Jada's letter and Willow's short hair? Would you allow your kids to sport a cropped 'do or is that a decision that should be made when they get a bit older? Meet me in the comment section, would love to hear your thoughts!

Happy Friday All!!

Thursday, November 22

Africa for Norway: Africans fundraising for dying children in Norway

I came across this interesting video yesterday and wanted to share it with all of you to get your reactions. It’s a video by Radi-Aid to encourage Africans to send their radiators to help people who are freezing to death in Norway. It’s a parody of “Do They Know it’s Christmas” by Band-Aid, a video made in 1984 by a collaboration of artists including Bono, Boy George, Paul McCartney, Phil Collins, George Michael, Kool and the Gang and Sting. Even if you haven’t seen the video or didn’t know the history behind it, you’ve probably heard this song; it was the highest selling single in UK chart history until 1997!

At first, I thought the parody “Africa for Norway” was a bit mean spirited. After all, the purpose of the Band-Aid video was to raise money for famine relief during the 1984-85 famine in Ethiopia; it raised millions of dollars for famine relief and inspired another song (We are the World written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie) which raised even more. So why would someone want to make fun of a song that was written with great intentions?

Well, after listening to the original and checking out a few comments online it became obvious that there are a few issues that people have with the Band-Aid song. The lyrics are very divisive (us versus them) with one controversial line that says “We'll, tonight, thank God, it's them instead of you.” And then there is the extremely inaccurate, yet commonly portrayed image of Africa that the song gives (“Where nothing ever grows, no rain or rivers flow”).

Africa for Norway calls out the stereotypes portrayed by the Band-Aid song and it does so in a funny and inoffensive way.

Here are both the original Do They Know it’s Christmas video and the Africa for Norway videoCheck out both videos and let me know what you think.

(Reposted due to trouble with links)

Monday, November 19


In 1993, Jay Z and his friend Damon Dash sold his record out of Dash's car.... and well the rest is history! Tyler Perry spent his life savings to make a musical that people did not attend!  He was homeless for a time and spent many months living in cheap motels and his car!   Finally in 1998, he was successful and never looked back! 

What Jay Z and Tyler Perry have in common is that they didn't give up and they also invested in their own dreams, spent their own money to make things happen!  By investing in their dreams both of these men have changed the face of the entertainment industry. Yet, by  having the support of the black community they also have changed the way in which urban culture is viewed by the mainstream!  The only way we can make changes is if we as artist choose to invest in our own projects, but also reach out to our various  communities  to support our projects.

I have invested thousands of dollars in my own productions and some have been very successful ventures and some have lost me money but I still kept/keep going, because I believe in my work, believe in my talent--Believe that I have something very important to offer this world!Lately,  I've been really impressed with the numerous innovative ways that artists are now choosing to invest in themselves and their work, and their dreams. 

My brother, Darren Anthony recently started his own indiegogo campaign to raise money to turn his successful play, Secrets of a Black boy,  into a short film entitled THE REC, with the hopes of eventually making it into a feature.  He is a few thousand dollars away from his dream and I would encourage you to support him!  We need to support artists who are changing the "game." To find out more about THE REC and to support Darren's work check out this video. 

I recently had the pleasure of meeting playwright Katori Hall, one of the few black womyn to have her play on Broadway. Hall shared with me that director Kenny Leon was instrumental in going to the community to raise 3.1 million dollars in order to bring her play to Broadway!! Wow! 

As I'm currently embarking on my own initiatives to raise money for my own production of 'da Kink in Atlanta, I was inspired by Kenny Leon's tenacity to raise such a great sum.  Suddenly, my own efforts to balance 'da Kink budget didn't seem so daunting and I realize I just have to raise the money, one dollar at a time!  

So,  trust me folks in the next few weeks I will be rolling out an initiative to get donors, investors, and supporters on board and yes I will probably be clearing out all my life savings once again to make my dream of bringing 'da Kink to Atlanta happen!  I believe money talks, money changes the game and money changes the way we are able to tell our stories!  I strongly urge you, if you want to see more diverse stories on stage, on television and in the media, it's time you put your money where your mouth is! Let your money talk! Invest in your artists! And also invest in yourself! If your dream is important to you spend your own money as well!

Please also remember to donate to Darren Anthony's production and help him actualize his dream! In the next few weeks I will be using my blog once per week to highlight various artists who need our community support to make their dreams come true! If you have an initiative please feel free to contact me and I will try my best to support it and help you spread the word!  Every penny counts, donate even just $5 and if you've got it, donate MORE!!! Let your money talk! 

Friday, November 16

Rough & Tough With Your Afro-Puffs? Solange is The Latest Victim of the TSA Afro Pat Down

What's she hiding in there??
Airport security has become extra tight these days, because even a womyn's afro is seen as a potential threat to national security! There have been several cases reported recently of TSA agents giving womyn's lush and textured hair a quick pat down to make sure nothing of threat is hiding in it.

Recently, Solange Knowles experienced this same treatment at the airport when TSA asked to check her hair while traveling. She later tweeted:

Discrim-FRO-nation. My hair is not a storage drawer. Although, guess I couuld hide a joint up in here. *Blames "Romnesia" (my wigs name).

I honestly can't believe that security has gotten to this point that even our hair is getting the frisk at the airport. There are a number of black womyn who are calling discrimination on this matter  as they believe that if they were of another race or had long / flowy hair then they would not be victim to this kind of treatment.
I think that TSA should be doing what they can to keep us all safe and protect us from potential harm but I wonder if this is necessary and it is quite humiliating to get your hair palmed through at the metal detectors in front of everyone.

What do you all think, is this just another form of airport profiling, this time aimed at black womyn and their hair or do you feel that everyone should be subject to a pat down if suspected / necessary? Has this happened to you at the airport?? Meet me in the comment section and let me know what you think.

Have a great weekend!