On Becoming a Better Me …


Image result for becoming a better me

An excerpt from last month’s post:

And then there are those areas where I am not doing as well :-(. Since work began, I struggle to maintain a realistic exercise routine. My eating habits have become shaky with one snack too many and much more eating out. I snooze a little more than I should in the morning :-). I am working on these things; slowly, but surely I hope to transition to a space where my work-life balance is more consistent with ongoing self-care. In the meantime, I remain thankful that I am here. I am happy. My heart sings. I am full of joy <3.

In an effort to celebrate the small victories and make a public proclamation in hopes of holding myself accountable, I am sharing an update. For exactly two weeks I have added another layer to the creation of my new life: I finally got my butt in gear related to my health and wellness! Two weeks ago I saw a dietitian to get assistance on a detailed eating plan – my visit was the launch I needed to make some significant shifts in my eating habits. A few days later, I went out for a bike ride – which I hadn’t done in over a month – and the next day I started boot camp. For the last 14 days I’ve followed a detailed eating plan and done some form of exercise every single day. Last Thursday I started practicing yoga … once again … as a way to help me create some quiet time and get some deep stretching in after cardio. The scale is slowly creeping in the right direction, but more importantly I feel amazing! I’ve slept better, I have more energy throughout the day, and I have a different level of internal joy. From experience, I know this is because I am taking care of myself and reaping the benefits of a healthy diet alongside regular physical activity. I guess I’d love to make it through boot camp with a little less pain or take an advanced yoga class and be able to hold every pose, but I am patient with myself. Otherwise, I don’t have any major fitness related goals – simply to be better each day than I was before. Stay tuned :-).

Here is to investing in becoming a better me.


Hello October: New Seasons + New Opportunities = New Blessings



It has been three and a half months since I moved and two full months since I’ve been on campus. Time is flying! There are so many wonderful and challenging aspects of my transition; here is a short recap.

The best news is today I sit and am grateful for what this new season of my life brings. I can’t say enough how different things are – the pace of the city, demographics, and options for recreational activities – but my time here has brought with it a unique set of adventures. For the first time in my life, my circle extends well beyond my age group. I’ve found great joy in welcoming people into my space who are decades or even generations away from me, but a delight nonetheless. I’ve spent more time close to natural bodies of water. The beaches and riverfront are beautiful here! I’ve done well by making it to one or both at least once a week and found these experiences calming and refreshing. Although I am still struggling with some of my new normal, I veg out a lot more now. After the hustle and bustle of work and school for the last five years it is nice to come home and do … nothing! I’ve enjoyed this down time and reminded myself this week that it is completely okay to allow myself to rest and recharge as much as needed. It has been so long since I have been able to do this that it feels strange. I enjoy my own company in a new way. I think this revelation may be challenging for some people in my life, but I am learning to embrace the occasional solitude of my evenings and weekends. I indulge in quiet mornings when I can look out the window and enjoy some calm before the work day begins. I welcome evenings when I am cell phone free and able to simply relax without the constant movement of conversation. Even as I sometimes wrestle with the quietness, I am slowly moving to a space where I am enough. While I have always been a hard worker, I am learning to create a balance where I give what I have and then retreat. The extent of what I have to give is generous so I am also embracing my capacity to authentically be me without feeling the need to diminish or undermine my gifts while acknowledging how much I can realistically do within a day, a week, or even a month. For this revelation, I am grateful.

And then there are those areas where I am not doing as well :-(. Since work began, I struggle to maintain a realistic exercise routine. My eating habits have become shaky with one snack too many and much more eating out. I snooze a little more than I should in the morning :-). I am working on these things; slowly, but surely I hope to transition to a space where my work-life balance is more consistent with ongoing self-care. In the meantime, I remain thankful that I am here. I am happy. My heart sings. I am full of joy <3.

Interviews with My Favorite Fashionistas


Through the decades I have become clearer about my strengths – those areas where I excel and am sometimes a role model for others. Unfortunately, fashion is not one of them :-). While I think I put pieces together to look nice enough, I struggle with things like accessorizing, matching unconventional prints, or choosing daring pieces to add to my wardrobe. I have resolved to do my best, but continue to want to step out of my comfort zone when it comes to fashion so I consulted with my three favorite fashionistas. In the post you’ll be introduced to each of them, learn why I selected them for this post and hear their perspectives on the following statements/questions: describe your fashion style; who are your fashion inspirations; how do you shop and coordinate pieces; and what tips would you offer women wanting to be more daring when it comes to fashion and coordinating? I learned a lot and hope you do too!

I met Denny while attending college. She has always been one of my fashion icons. One thing that sets Denny apart is her ensemble is always coordinated from head to toe – literally. She changes her hair style a few times a year, experiments with colors, is not afraid to shake up the color of her make-up, and adds unique accessories to finish it all off. One of the unique things I appreciate about Denny is that like me, she is a curvy woman and constantly reminds me that fashions knows NO limits. Here are her responses:

My fashion sense is a mix of vintage and eclectic.  I’m obsessed with previous fashion eras and one-of-a-kind pieces. My fashion inspirations are Tracey Ellis Ross, Solange Knowles, Lauryn Hill, Grace Jones, Bianca Jagger, Alexis Colby, and Crystal Carrington – my favorite characters on DYNASTY – LOL! [I shop] anywhere that I go; I sift through racks and grab the pieces that jump out at me.  I seldom go for wardrobe staples.  Once I get my go to, I coordinate around it based on color and texture, usually going for the color that is least obvious.


Her words of advice for people like me: I meet a lot of people that say “That looks great on you.  I couldn’t do it though”.  You won’t know if it’s for you until you try it.  I say go for what you like.  You’d be surprised how amazing it would make you look AND feel.  You can always add a piece that makes you feel comfy to that outfit.  It’s like bringing a friend to a party that’s not really your scene, but you promised you would attend and ending up having a ball.

Mik was a part of a crew that I called my brown version of SATC! We met during a time when I’d relocated across the country away from all of my family and friends. Mik was rocking a pixie cut before I knew what the hairstyle was and before it caught on in mainstream circles. Two things stood out to me about Mik: her ability to put any room to shame with even a $5 ensemble and her taste in shoes. A former co-owner of a shoe boutique and true entrepreneur at heart, Mik inspires me to step away from thoughts that I have to invest oodles of money in clothes to feel good about what I’m wearing. She replied in the following words:

I am a combination of bohemian chic and classic wear with a touch of vintage. I like structured pieces paired with clothing that is flowy and comfortable. I tend to mix bold/trendy with classic staple pieces. I don’t necessarily have certain individuals as fashion inspirations, [but] I do enjoy seeing what Solange is wearingJ! I [also] have favorite brands that I like to recreate depending on which look I am going for. For Boho/whimsical: Free People; Classic: Chanel, Tahari; Funky: Betsey Johnson; and Edgy: Diesel. When I’m shopping I start with a statement piece (asymmetrical top, bright color, dope shoes, bag) and I will build from there. I don’t like busy prints or “matchy-matchy”. Only one item will tend to “stand out” at a time. The rest will act as a backdrop. I am an avid thrift store shopper who refuses to pay top dollar or ANY article of clothing.


And her advice for those like me :-): Make sure whatever fashion risk you’re considering represents you. Nothing is worse than seeing a woman uncomfortable in her clothes, i.e. tugging at garments, not being able to walk correctly in a shoe, appearing tense or self-conscious. I say get a few fashion magazines and see what catches your eye. Start small. Try a pop of color, mixing a print or two, or simply adding accessories can change an outfit dramatically [like] a ring, necklace, bag, or sunglasses.

And last, but certainly not least is Yeezy! I met Yeezy in graduate school and realized immediately that it is impossible to miss this fashionista. An avid runner and vegan, Yeezy’s style is complimented perfectly by her calm and caring spirit, infectious smile, and some sort of accessory that gives each outfit a pop. Yeezy wears chunky accessories, has a daring clutch to match, and often finishes out her ensembles with some mixed pattern. The irony is that most of my experiences with Yeezy were in the classroom – so she brings her A-game no matter where she goes. I love it! Here is what she had to say:

I would describe my style as feminine (I love playing with tulle, ruffles, lace, and bows), creative, and versatile. I’ve been told that my style is also a little retro. I have a few style crushes and Yara Shahidi and Michelle Obama top the list. For someone who is into fashion, I also feel like getting dressed is its own creative process. I am inspired by different things, whether it’s scrolling through Instagram and discovering a new designer or blogger, or traveling and exploring other cultures. I draw inspiration from different places and ideas and make it my own. In the past, I have been a creature of habit. If I found a store that I really liked, I would continue to shop there over and over again…for everything – LOL. More recently, I have enjoyed discovering new designers and brands. With the internet and social media, it is easier than ever to find unique pieces from all over the world so I have also been shopping online more for the past few years. I prefer to not wear what everyone else is wearing so thrifting is also a cool way to find one of kind pieces. When it comes to deciding what to buy, I try to be intentional. I purchase things that I love, that I am drawn to, and that I will want to wear over and over again. I can also imagine different ways I can style it, which doesn’t mean it must be something completely plain, but that you can style it in different ways – maybe it’s layering it over another shirt, wearing it casually and then dressing it up, etc. Coordination is key. For me, coordinating pieces starts with the overall look I am trying to create and then I go from there.


Her fashionista words of wisdom: Have fun and try something new! Naturally, my style has evolved over time and there are plenty of times when I have looked at pictures from the past and have thought “What am I wearing?” LOL. At the time, I owned it though. So, do not be afraid to move out of your comfort zone when it comes to trying out new looks and whatever you wear, wear it with confidence.

You can follow Denny on her Facebook page and Yeezy on her blog: Style in Full Bloom.

Happy Birthday to Me!


Birthday 17

If you’ve been following my blog or if you follow me on social media, you know I love a great celebration and I LOVE celebrating my birthday. This year is no different, although special in its own right. In many ways, I feel like I have come out of an incubation period. Attending school full time for the last five years has brought both challenges and rewards. I’ve grown a lot professionally and personally, made some tough decisions, re-aligned my vision, and feel ready for this next phase of my life. If you read my last post, you know it’s been almost 5 weeks since I relocated. In just a week and a half, I’ll begin to explore my new campus as a full-time faculty member. There are lots of exciting happenings so I am pausing this morning to reflect on where I am today and what I’ve learned along the way. Here you go:

  • Each year I am reminded of how much people will put themselves first. And day by day I am learning to do the same – put me first, establish and maintain boundaries, and not apologize for protecting my peace.
  • This journey has reminded me that life is definitely about grace, but also about intentions. We have the power to reshape our paths – to say yes, this is not how my story is going to end. But this requires work. It requires that we are clear about what we want and willing to stay the course until we have it.
  • Life is beautiful! More than anything else, this new journey has reminded me of how beautiful life is, how kind people are, and how much love there is out in the world. The media tries to convince us of otherwise, but my faith in humanity is restored time and time again.
  • And to that end I will close by saying I love my life. I’ve had seasons when I wasn’t able to say this and mean it wholeheartedly, but it feels damn good to say from my core that I have created a life that I love. I recognize both the blessings and responsibility that comes with that so I fully commit myself to serving and sharing my gifts with others.

Happy birthday to me <3!

The Start of a New Book


I’ve been writing about new beginnings and new chapters for a while now :-). I often post these pieces around the New Year, my birthday, or times of major transitions – I’ve had a few of these since starting this blog. But this season of my life is what I calling an entirely new book.

I relocated a little over three weeks ago and have spent the bulk of my days getting resettled, finding my way around my new city, and creating my new home. All the typical emotions of starting a new venture accompanied my move: fear, excitement, anxiety, and uncertainty. But I am pleased to report that my time here has been incredibly fulfilling. People are nice – I didn’t realize how much I missed that. More often than not, everyone takes an extra moment to add a personal touch to customer care and share a bit about themselves. The scenery is beautiful. This is my first time living so close to the beach and I love it. In an effort to not take my proximity for granted, I am trying to commit to a minimum of extended weekly visits just to sit and enjoy – so far I’ve exceeded my goal :-). My neighborhood is peaceful. I’ve enjoyed getting out on the nature trail for long bike rides – the trail is accessible so no need to drive somewhere with my bike … just to bike. I have been forced to slow down. Things move A LOT slower here. It took me a while to realize that many people are moving at a different pace. At first it was annoying and I am sure these moments will arise again, but in the meantime I have decided to embrace it. I drive a little slower, I move into my days at a different pace, and am I working on releasing expectations around how quickly others respond to requests :-). I am grateful. I recognize that everything about me being here is amazing and exciting – a blessing of all sorts. I am grateful for this opportunity and look forward to sharing more as I transition to my new appointment this fall. In the meantime, here are a few of a couple of my favorite pictures from the beach <3.

A Little More Than …



It’s my graduation week and to say I am excited is an understatement to express all I am feeling this week. I’ve had more moments than I anticipated when I am overwhelmed with joy, but just as many moments when my eyes fill with tears and I can’t quite place the emotion or sentiment. What I am reminded of is that anytime you – I – see someone walk across the graduation stage, their experience is much more than earning a degree. Albeit important, the degree may be one of many things I and others like me reflect on during times like this. When I think about most are the sacrifices related to time and resources, the late nights of reading, writing and revising, and all the hope – without any guarantee – of what I wanted to be on the other side of my degree attainment, it’s easy to place all the unexpected sentiments. These last few years have been so much more than attending class and checking off degree requirements. They represent a belief that if I made minor adjustments and sacrifices, I would be better positioned to spend the remainder of my life doing what I love professionally. This season has been filled with saying “no” to spontaneous travel, or an impromptu get together with friends, or a community service commitment all because school-related deadlines lingered. It’s been a time of uncertainty, grief, emptiness, accomplishment, triumph, and exhilaration at the same time! I am ELATED to end this season of my life and genuinely excited about all that is ahead. I am excited about the new position I will begin in the fall, as well as looking forward to having some much needed down time this summer. I am grateful for the journey. But whenever you encounter someone who has an advanced degree, please make sure to take a moment to congratulate them – know that their return to school required much more than attending class and performing well on exams. Please don’t undermine their accomplishment by asking about when they’re going to have kids, or get married, or any other obscure standard for success. Celebrate them! Love on them! Give them a hug … I am sure they need it!


Dr. …

Fertile Void: Life After …


She Beleieved

For those of you who have followed my blog, you may recall that 2017 marks the 5th year of its existence. 5 years since my life drastically changed in more ways than I can recall. And 5 years since I recommitted to living out loud, starting with returning to school to pursue my passion of working in higher education. 5 years since I traded in the tangible rewards of a stable job with benefits for a passion pursuit with anticipated endless rewards. Throughout this time I’ve written through the ups and downs of my journey – the sacrifices and rewards, along with major shifts in every area. It’s been both the most exciting and exhausting 5 year-period of my life. And then it happened … exactly 3 weeks ago I accomplished what I know will remain one of the greatest achievements of my life – I successfully defended my dissertation and was announced as Dr. Me J! The moment I had been looking forward to, pressing towards, and focused on for much of this leg of the journey. A moment I will never forget and am working earnestly to continue to find small ways to celebrate.

Some say reaching the milestone of a successful defense is much like a wedding ceremony: months or even years for some are spent planning, organizing, saving, and deciding. But within a few hours the party has come and gone, everyone returns home, and it seems like your big event went by all too fast. For those fortunate couples, your life has changed in other ways. Maybe you are taking a fabulous honeymoon vacation, or moving into your first home, or welcoming a new addition to your family. Perhaps you are changing your name or relishing in the joy of having a forever-partner. Or maybe the thought of having new family members, opening gifts, and looking at wedding pictures serve as reminders of your new normal. I’d venture to say my defense and completion of the doctoral program parallels the experience of having a wedding in many ways. I have made small steps towards my dissertation for the last 5 years. It has been a labor of love and a body of work I am extremely proud of. I’ve spend endless hours writing, editing, researching, and refining. I’ve sacrificed attending events, celebrating major achievements, and spending money elsewhere as writing deadlines loomed or I was simply limited financially by having a part-time income.

When my big day finally arrived, a wonderful village of friends and former classmates stayed around to congratulate me after everything was official. Another close friend took an extended vacation to be with me throughout the week, forcing me to stay in the moment and not rush along to the next thing. The weeks that followed have been filled with SLEEP, catching up with friends and family, and wrapping up this semester of teaching. I feel like I have a whole new life in every way imaginable! It is wonderful to be able to sleep in without guilt of missing a writing deadline. It’s liberating to not check email obsessively as I wait for feedback from my committee. And it’s exciting to know that this is just one major milestone of many – I have so much to look forward to over the next few weeks and months.

I am so grateful for this time and after attending the Female Faculty of Color Conference last week, I am working intentionally to operate in a space of “Fertile Void.” Although I still have work to do – tasks to complete – I am focused on relaxing, resting, slowing down, and being present. One of the speakers at the conference described this as a time when we are ripe with possibility – fertile – but not filling the space with new projects. I am remaining in fertile void for as long as I can. Thanks for taking the journey with me J.

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