Something #formymisses to Keep in Mind this Holiday Season: What You Give, You Get

Something #formymisses to Keep in Mind this Holiday Season: What You Give, You Get

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Photography by Myron Watkins

The holiday season is upon us, which has brought about some mixed feelings for me this year, however, one thing that hasn’t changed is my love to give. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that I have good taste (he he). But no, seriously, it makes me feel so good to put a smile on someone else’s face, and it makes me wonder why I don’t go out of my way to do it more often. Why wait for a special occasion when we can make our own?

After feeling slighted one too many times in 2017, this time of year also made me acknowledge my tendency to give away all the good shit up front. If I view you as my family or friend, I automatically want to help you with whatever dilemma you may be facing – no matter how it may inconvenience me. I support you in all your endeavors and want you to be the best you can be. Ultimately, I want you to be happy. But in 2017, and even long before that, I came to realize I was giving away my time, attention, effort, help, and concern to people – people who never even asked for any of it. And yet, I gave some more. I gave until it hurt.

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Photography by Myron Watkins

My intentions were good, I swear. But the truth is not every one will appreciate my gifts, and what I have to offer, so it is that much more important to be selective going into the new year – not selfish. I say that because I don’t want to turn cold and stop caring for others altogether, but I can be more mindful of who and what is most deserving. There is nothing naughty about keeping a little some of that good stuff for myself, too.

Everything That Goes Up . . .

Everything That Goes Up . . .

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Photography by Ajani Charles.

For most of 2017, my life seemed to be on the up and up. I worked my ass off and was finally booking paid modeling jobs. I’d just released my fourth novel in August and the 5-star reviews were slowly rolling in. At the start of November, I’d just landed a new job and would be granted a title change as well as a raise. Not only that, but I’d made it to my happy place aka LA for the second time this year. If you’d asked me how I was doing a month ago, I probably would have said something along the lines of, “Life is good.” And I wouldn’t have been lying.

After 5 days on the West Coast I was forced back to my “regular” life, but upon my return I gained more confidence and clarity in regards to my next move. I felt like God had sent me another message through the repetitive theme of my conversations over the past few days because while I was away, I kept being confronted by an uncomfortable ultimatum. According to old friends and new, in order for me to be successful, I would have to choose between my writing and my modeling – something my stubborn ass just isn’t willing to do at the moment. It was then I decided that the easiest way for me to compromise would be to shift all of my energy over to my blog. Suddenly, it all made sense.

I remember being on such a high coming home from Cali. It might have taken me until my late twenties, but I finally felt like I had direction. I felt like I’d “figured it out,” and I was ready to get back to work. Unfortunately, I hadn’t even settled back into my routine when life as I knew it . . . changed. And all it took was one phone call. My grandfather was dying and there was nothing else doctors could do.

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Photography by Ajani Charles.

I found out my Pop-Pop was diagnosed with cancer in July – which is partly why I pushed my release date for my last book back a month. Even then, I think I was in denial, though. I never imagined losing him, let alone like this. And even though I knew he was sick, his death still feels so . . . sudden.

One of the first things I did when I got to my home-state of Pennsylvania was to grab a notebook and try to write out my feelings, but I never even opened it. It’s been a month now and I am still struggling to process the reality of his absence. I don’t know how else to say the week and ½ before Thanksgiving was one of the darkest periods of my life.

Once I got back to Michigan, it got even harder for me to acknowledge the pain behind the details, so I went numb. Most days I find myself simply going through the motions. I’ve never felt so . . . uninspired. And yet, I am even more tempted to take a major risk on this shit. It’s weird.

All my life I’ve been told everything happens for a reason, and while I want to believe that, I also have to ask; what is there to gain from a loss of this magnitude? And for my misses who have taken a similar loss this year, how did you handle it? Because these days I am drawing a blank.

#formymisses Caught up in the Headlines: Racism at the Races & Why Art Always Wins

#formymisses Caught up in the Headlines: Racism at the Races & Why Art Always Wins

Regardless of whether you write, paint, make music, take pics; or if you are one of the lucky few who have been blessed with a combination of talents, I think we could all agree that now is a tricky time to be a creative. Artists around the world use our feelings and experiences as inspiration, which in my opinion, is what makes art so fucking amazing and necessary. But sometimes, these same feelings and experiences can also make the idea of picking up a pen feel like it weighs a thousand pounds. Sometimes it’s easier for me ignore my own thoughts rather than share them with you.

I have a lot to catch you up on, but for now, let’s take it back to the weekend of the Charlottesville riots. I had briefly mentioned this post was coming a few weeks ago, but what I didn’t tell you was I was one of the models hired to work a NASCAR event representing a major car maker as a brand ambassador. Basically it was my job to smile, interact with potential customers and give away free stuff (because who doesn’t love free shit). Simple enough right?

I had worked at the speedway before, and despite my reservations, my interaction with crowd-goers was nothing less than pleasant and polite. However, as a woman of mixed-descent (Italian and Black in case you were wondering), I’m not going to sit here and act like I never once questioned how I would be received at what was sure to be a mostly-white event. The saddest part of it all was that out of all the smiles and “Thank Yous” exchanged, the image I took home with me is of a group of 3-4 teenage boys wandering around with Confederate flags tied around their necks like capes. Driving past the rows of trailers I saw too many Confederate flags to count.

Needless to say, the 45-minute ride back to Ypsi definitely had me feeling some kind of way. I normally don’t leave an event questioning how many people looked me in the eye and smiled . . .  only because I was still technically “serving” them. I mean, we all know what that flag stands for. We all know what it represents and why people still choose to display it. I refuse to argue its historical “relevance” here, there, or anywhere, so please don’t come at me with that weak shit. I know what it is by how it feels – a feeling that has stayed with me to this day.

And while I realize that all this might sound a little extreme to some, ask yourself: is it really? Is this not a perfect example of what our country is, and always has been? Is the promise of life in America one big smiling facade on the surface with a history of hatred and violence brimming just beneath?

Unfortunately, there is no escaping the constant bombardment of racist bullshit we are subjected to thanks to you know who. And I’m not here to pretend like it was my first time seeing that God-forsaken piece of cloth. It’s just that given the horrific events of that weekend, the timing of its message hit me harder than the random occasions I’d see it waving from some guy’s pickup truck. Partly why I’ve never really spoken about race on any of my platforms until today is because it can be so difficult to digest what is (still) going on in our country, and how that affects both sides of my family as well as myself. But now I see there is no running from racism. It’s here. It’s real. And it’s in your face.

Every day I am disgusted by the headlines that seem to meet me at every turn, but I am learning how to create through the madness. I have also come to realize that when it comes to race it is okay for me to talk about it. I can even blog about it. But I can no longer remain silent.

 

 

Feature photo courtesy of NASCAR.com*

For My Misses Who Can’t See Past Their Own Expectations:  Find Your Outlet and Shine

For My Misses Who Can’t See Past Their Own Expectations:  Find Your Outlet and Shine

Hey y’all I know it has been a lil’ minute since your girl checked in but I’m a writer, so you know I stay with a good story!  It is always a struggle to balance my ambitions, and this past month or so has been nothing less than hectic. At times it feels like a bit of an overload to be honest. It’s like I have so much to express I don’t know where to start. Without a proper outlet, I am easily overwhelmed by my own thoughts – which brought me here.

Back in June I had to press pause on my modeling in order to get my fourth book done. My original plan was to wrap up the “Fast Life” series on 7/17/17, with the release of “Paradise & Promises: An End to the Fast Life.” After all, July marked my 10-year anniversary as an author, and I am a pretty big fan of symbolism. However, some unexpected news on the family front clouded my mind with too much emotion to touch upon. As much as it killed me to do so, I had to push the book back by a month.

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Needless to say, I felt janky as fuck because I pride myself on being a woman of my word. If I say I’m going to do it, you better believe it will get done. Not to mention, it is my name on that cover which means when things go wrong, I take the fall. But hey, I still accomplished my goal – even if it was a little later than intended. And although it bothered me not to deliver as promised, I take pride in my work.

With that being said, I am super proud of how this last project came out, and feel confident about the series as a whole!  I had been working so hard for so long on this book, sorting out formatting and cover issues down to the last minute, that when it was finally done and the pressure wore off, I was left to process all these mixed emotions. I was so consumed by my characters and their story that once it was over, I didn’t know what to do with myself.

Now, I won’t lie, there is some relief in knowing I am finally DONE. Another part of me is sad, though, because I have to say goodbye to these characters I’ve grown up with, too. Overall, I am most excited to execute new ideas and continue to grow as a writer. As with any book, I am curious how I will be received now and in the future. It’s still too soon to tell.

All I can really say for sure is that I have been going hard all year, and it seems as if my dreams are finally starting to manifest. I can’t quite describe it. But I can feel it. In the few weeks I took a break from blogging, I have seen and heard so much that I want to share with you guys, like my experience working a NASCAR event as a brand ambassador the weekend of the Charlottesville protests, where I witnessed some young white boys walking around in Confederate flags draped like capes. Then there are the amazing 4 days I spent in LA trying to recoup from it all, but I’ll be sure to touch on those adventures in another post. Just know I am back. I am on fire. And I am hungrier than I’ve ever been.

What the Price of Instant Gratification Could Cost You

What the Price of Instant Gratification Could Cost You

I want what I want and I want it now! Sounds familiar right?

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Waiting is hard, especially when we live in a culture that has been re-designed to fulfill our desires at the push of a button. But in the end, what are our wants really worth when we don’t work for them? And is instant gratification really a bad thing?

I don’t remember where I was or what I was doing, but I could sense this need for instant gratification slowly seeping into every aspect of my life, and not just online. Perhaps you have yet to notice, but the evidence of short-term satisfaction is everywhere you look. From the way we shop down to the way we love one another, the beauty of social media is the ability to exchange ideas and opinions with the rest of the world; however, there is no denying the negative ways this tool has shaped our lives as Millennials. And while none of our needs are new, our expectation of what is ‘fast’ is 10x faster than our parents’. Because who has time to wait, when you have a million other things to get done?

More and more retailers are helping us not leave the house by offering same-day delivery. Bits and pieces of the daily news are sprinkled throughout hashtags and timelines as we bullshit through our workday. Quick fun has become more important than learning regardless of age. Practically every beauty product on the shelf claims to offer ‘instant’ results, even though 90% of their labels are nothing but lies. Excuses provide us with material things we don’t have the money to buy. And sadly, some of our closest relationships suffer when Facebook or Twitter is preferred over what could have been a five-second phone call.

Personally, I noticed this habit popping up most notably when dating. I had to check myself when I realized that as soon as I meet a guy I like, I become obsessed. He’s like my new favorite song and I can’t get enough of him. I’m clocking all his moves and interests online. I make an effort to talk to him damn near every day. But the problem with this is that by having these needs fulfilled so soon, actions lose value. I came to realize that I cannot place expectations on foundations that haven’t been built yet, or else my trust would crumble. So instead of day-dreaming about romance and what the future holds, I am allowing the person I am interested in to meet me there. As time goes on, even the smallest gestures will mean SO much more.

So while instant gratification can serve as a great source of motivation, my point is it can also hinder us from what it is we really want, ultimately leaving us unsatisfied. I also think that most of us treat the future like a myth until we wake up the next day, which is why it is so important to practice self-control and accountability before you are faced with long-term consequences. From now on, when I set my goals the first thing I look for is long-term value, without allowing short-term pain to distract me from my success. And while patience might be one virtue I have yet to fully grasp, I can’t let my need for instant gratification cost me something I can’t afford to lose – my future.

#formymisses On The Up and Up: Do You Ever Wish You Could Float Away?

#formymisses On The Up and Up: Do You Ever Wish You Could Float Away?

I am a hustler. And I pride myself on my grind, whether acknowledged or not. My ambition keeps me on the go, and as an author, my mind is always racing just as fast. As a sensitive-ass Pisces, I tend to overthink just about every situation I find myself in whether business or romantic which also doesn’t help. I can admit that in the midst of all this inner-torment, there are times where I have neglected to take care of myself properly, beyond my external appearance.

Ask any author and they will tell you any time they are under deadline their lives practically unravel. I wish I could say I was the exception, but with a release date for my fourth project less than a month away I’m sure you can understand why ya girl is so stressed these days. The day I got a call from fellow-blogger and fashion stylist, Latrice, inviting me out for girl’s night at Inception you know I was down! Her invite came right on time.

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I had seen postings about flotation therapy online, mostly on Instagram, and it definitely peaked my interest; however, the actual experience was even better than I expected! I loved the clean white space and the spa-like feel throughout the building, and I still want one of those fireplace things for my house (lol)! I also found the other services they offered to be interesting, especially the brain training and I look forward to going back and trying everything at least once.

Now I understand the idea of stepping into a small space or an enclosed pod might make some people nervous, but I can assure you, you have nothing to worry about. And if you use your time wisely, you will see how true this can be once your 60-90 minutes is up.

Thousands of pounds of Epsom salts are dissolved to make the water in your tank denser than the Dead Sea so taking a nap on water is surprisingly doable. And to be honest, I’ve never been able to float in a pool or the ocean no matter how hard I tried so to finally be able to float was a special kind of feeling for me. From the moment I laid down, floating was effortless. I didn’t have to fight it. All my muscles were relaxed. At one point I laid there with my hands behind my head and my eyes closed. The water is warm, the air is salty, and a faint light in the corner adds to the calming ambiance. The fact that you’re nude throughout all of this adds an extra element of freedom which is always a plus in my book. I immediately noticed a change in my breathing once I was settled, which became much slower and deeper. Not going to lie though, pressing pause on all my plans, ideas, and desires was kind of hard at first. A few minutes in and I’d finally found my peace and quiet. There were times I even forgot I was in water.

At the end of my hour, I showered off any excess salt under the Vitamin-C infused aromatherapy shower located in my private room which smelled really, really good. I remember joining the rest of my group in the lobby and feeling incredibly refreshed. It is almost like your brain has to adjust after being so relaxed. The best way I can describe the feeling you get afterward is “float brain.” It’s almost like everything feels brand new, including you.

Last Friday was the first time in a long time where I was actually able to give my mind a chance to recharge. The sense of calm I left with lasted for hours, and made sleep that night that much better. I woke up ready to work a Nascar event as Brand Ambassador early the next morning, off 4 hours of sleep, and yet I didn’t feel tired at all.

And while I went home that night feeling calm and relaxed there are so many more benefits to floating. Not only can you deepen your perspective on life, tap into your creativity, and confront those good or bad memories, you can also relieve pain. As your mind enters a deep state of calm, your body cannot help but follow, giving you a chance to reset and realign. There is a list of health benefits for those who suffer from anxiety, depression, insomnia, and high blood pressure just to name a few. The location I visited was called Inception in Farmington Hills, Michigan but you’ll have to check out their website http://inceptionep.com/ for additional services and pricing. And if you don’t live in Michigan, don’t worry there are plenty of health and wellness centers like these springing up all across the country so a quick Google search should steer you in the right direction depending on where you live.

So the next time you are thinking about going to get your hair or your nails done, don’t forget to take care of what matters most – and that is your mental health. Cause as much as I love to walk around with my hair laid or show off my fancy nails, that post-float glow is something that has to be experienced before it can truly be understood.

When Was the Last Time You Had A “Rough Night?”

When Was the Last Time You Had A “Rough Night?”

 

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Photo Courtesy of movieweb.com

Hey guys, guess who got exclusive screening passes for Rough Night two days before it’s official release? This girl!

So you know I had to come straight to the blog and share all the juicy details with my misses. And while movie critics rarely know what the hell they are talking about, I am no movie critic. I won’t steer you wrong.

For those of you who haven’t seen the trailer yet and have no idea what I am talking about, just imagine meeting up with your five besties from college (Scarlett Johansson, Jillian Bell, Zoë Kravitz, Ilana Glazer, Kate McKinnon) 10 years later for the littest bachelorette weekend in MI-yayo. Then imagine one of your friends kills a stripper and you have to work together to cover it up or you all could go down for manslaughter. Pretty crazy, eh?

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With already-high ticket prices on the rise, it can be hard to decide which movies are actually worth seeing in theatres, but just for the record, this is not one of those movies where all the funny moments are shown in the previews and now you’re stuck sitting in a dark room wasting more than an hour of your life, wishing for your money back. And while I will admit this scenario might not be funny in real life, it is pretty hilarious to watch it play out on the big screen. I literally laughed from beginning to end. And not those, “oh, that was kind of funny,” little giggles either. I’m talking about leaning over on the person next to you cause y’all are both laughing so hard you can barely keep your eyes open. It was that funny.

I definitely picked up on some Hangover vibes as the storyline progressed, but it was cool to see women as the focus. With plenty of cocaine to share, old swinger neighbors, and a deep “sea of dick,” this movie definitely earned its R rating. Alice and Pip make every scene they’re in that much more outrageous, and Peter, the groom-to-be, had me cracking up. As stressed as I am juggling these writing/modeling projects, Lord knows I needed that laugh. Needless to say, this is probably the only rough night I wouldn’t mind reliving.

So if you are feeling a little stressed out right now (like me) or if you just want to get together with your girls for a fun night out this weekend, Rough Night is a must-see summer movie. If I had to rate it, I’d give it a 4/5.

Peep the trailer below before it comes out tomorrow!