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Steal My Itinerary: RVA

BALLROOM

For videos, check out my Youtube and Tiktok channels. Make sure to subscribe and/or follow. I was scrolling on Instagram, as I usually do to find fire events in the city for my group Queens of Charlotte, when I happened upon a flyer by the one and only Davita Galloway. If you don’t know, not…

TWERK

A few weeks ago, I was on Beyonce’s internet searching for a Tabata class. I frequently like to incorporate new practices into my fitness routine to keep it spicy and new. Last week, I took a soca fit class. So, I assumed this would be similar. I also assumed since I’m relatively fit, it would…

Caribbean Reads for this Year!

Since finding out that my grandad is Jamaican, and after being immersed in part of the Caribbean culture with Carnival, I have been obsessing over ways to learn more about my culture and my roots. As if a sign from God, one of my favorite book pages on Instagram posted several book challenges we should…

New Year Resolutions

Every year, people ask you about your New Year Resolutions. This year, I decided to rename it. This is not my New Year Resolution. More so, goals I would like to accomplish next year. When I look back over the past two years, I am utterly grateful. I’m grateful for all of the people who…

CLT Farmer’s Markets

Southend Takes place each Saturday behind Atherton Mall off of South Boulevard. It parallels the rail trail. When I tell you it’s beautiful out there. You’ll feel like you’re in a Hallmark movie. The vendors sell unique crafts and treats. It’s child and pet friendly. During the holidays, they block off the street,and add a…

Table of Contents:

Girls’ Day in the City

Phantom

Atlanta Feature

Level Up

River Tubing

Peace that Surpasses All Understanding

Girls’ Trip

Writing My first Book

Kareem

My UTI Saved My Life

  1. Live a fuller life…intentionally in all things. Being ok with being different; I am extraordinary and my journey must exemplify…

BALLROOM

For videos, check out my Youtube and Tiktok channels. Make sure to subscribe and/or follow.

I was scrolling on Instagram, as I usually do to find fire events in the city for my group Queens of Charlotte, when I happened upon a flyer by the one and only Davita Galloway. If you don’t know, not sure how you wouldn’t if you live here in Charlotte, she is the GOAT. She is a fashionista who hosts the BEST events in Charlotte. She is the co-owner of Dupp & Swat with her brother. Let me tell you something, if you haven’t been to one of their events or their space, you are definitely missing out. But, I digress. 

So, I saw the flyer for a fashion show at The Mint. Another fabulous establishment. FYI, they have free events each Wednesday. And, if you’re a BOA cardholder, they offer random free visits throughout the year. The Mint Museum is Charlotte’s version of New York’s Met. Of course, I immediately replied, “In there like swimwear.” Not really, I wrote, “I cannot wait.” I try to look semi-professional online.

So, I informed my girls and we made a plan to attend. Last year, I attended Davita’s fashion show Haute Asiko and had to sit close to the middle because I arrived sorta late. I learned my lesson. I arrived a solid thirty minutes early. And, I’m so glad I did. There were only two rows of seats and half of them were reserved. Plus, I was wearing these beautiful boots. They’re gorgeous, but I cannot stand up for long in them. 

The show began with a fabulous introduction and a spirited host. The thing I loved about him the most was, he taught us about respect, dance, and the proper vernacular for the BALLROOM. Here’s what I picked up. The different groups were known as houses. There were five or six houses there last night. The host’s house was known as Teflar. If you’ve ever watched ‘Pose’ on FX, then you’d understand the culture a little more. He did throw out some other shows that explained it better, but I cannot remember their titles. I should have written it down like he suggested. 

He taught us that the dance where a person falls flat on their back with one leg slightly angled up is called a dip, not a death drop. Next, he taught us the five elements of Vogue: catwalk, duckwalks, hands, spins and dips, and floor performance. For each element, he had the houses come out and demonstrate. It was fantastic. 

At the end of the night, the host had a panel where guests could ask questions to leaders in the industry. It was so insightful to get inside knowledge of this aspect of life.

A bonus, I met DJ Fannie Mae. Other bonus, I saw Dutchess from Black Ink Crew and Ohavia, also known as O. I had such a fabulous time! Make sure to support the arts, physically and fiscally.

Thanks for continuing to read about my adventures. If you hear about an event or class that I should take, leave it in the comments!

TWERK

A few weeks ago, I was on Beyonce’s internet searching for a Tabata class. I frequently like to incorporate new practices into my fitness routine to keep it spicy and new.

Last week, I took a soca fit class. So, I assumed this would be similar. I also assumed since I’m relatively fit, it would be a breeze. It was not, but it was fun. I had no idea that I had not been using certain muscles that I used today [Insert the correct names for booty and thigh muscles].

Listen, back to my original thought, I was searching for a new fitness class and I stumbled upon this class. Soulaira is a fitness studio located in Atlanta. She specializes in twerk, yoga, pilates, and climax control. She also has merch on her website, if you’re interested.

The class began with a warm up and introduction of how to twerk. I am so glad she gave the fundamentals. I realized that the movements I was doing in the club was not right. I was using the wrong muscles and technique.

Next, she taught us several routines that included booty pop, wining, thrust, and how to walk in heels.

Listen, this class wore me out. I think every woman in America should take this class. You will learn to be sexy, how to move properly, and to love yourself. This is the most intense, fun work out you will ever do!

She ended the class with positive affirmations. I could literally feel my spirit getting lifted. This was an entirely enlightening experience. Pardon my alliteration. I guess that’s my inner English teacher coming out.

Are there any other fitness classes you’d like to see me participate in? Post it in the comments!

Caribbean Reads for this Year!

Since finding out that my grandad is Jamaican, and after being immersed in part of the Caribbean culture with Carnival, I have been obsessing over ways to learn more about my culture and my roots. As if a sign from God, one of my favorite book pages on Instagram posted several book challenges we should participate in this year. One of her slides featured Caribbean books. And, OMG!!! I was like, “Duh, why didn’t I think of that?”

So, I went on a quest to find several books written by Caribbean authors to feed my book-eater appetite. I started with the most obvious book, “Dear Haiti, Love Alaine.” I started this book in the fall, but life got busy, so I didn’t finish. I picked it back up this week to finish, and I’m so glad I did.

Anyway, here are a few Caribbean books I plan to consume over the next few months:

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine

Summary: Alaine Beauparlant has heard about Haiti all her life…

But the stories were always passed down from her dad—and her mom, when she wasn’t too busy with her high-profile newscaster gig. But when Alaine’s life goes a bit sideways, it’s time to finally visit Haiti herself.

What she learns about Haiti’s proud history as the world’s first black republic (with its even prouder people) is one thing, but what she learns about her own family is another. Suddenly, the secrets Alaine’s mom has been keeping, including a family curse that has spanned generations, can no longer be avoided.

It’s a lot to handle, without even mentioning that Alaine is also working for her aunt’s nonprofit, which sends underprivileged kids to school and boasts one annoyingly charming intern.

Source: Amazon

Women Writing Resistance

Summary: Essays on Latinx and Caribbean identity and on globalization by renowned women writers, including Julia Alvarez, Edwidge Danticat, and Jamaica Kincaid

Women Writing Resistance- Essays on Latin America and the Caribbean gathers the voices of sixteen acclaimed writer-activists for a one-of-a-kind collection. Through poetry and essays, writers from the Anglophone, Hispanic, and Francophone Caribbean, including Puertorriquenas and Cubanas, grapple with their hybrid American political identities. Gloria Anzaldoa , the founder of Chicana queer theory; Rigoberta Mencho , the first Indigenous person to win a Nobel Peace Prize; and Michelle Cliff , a searing and poignant chronicler of colonialism and racism, among many others, highlight how women can collaborate across class, race, and nationality to lead a new wave of resistance against neoliberalism, patriarchy, state terrorism, and white supremacy.

Source: Charlotte Meck Library

Facing the Sun

Summary: Told from multiple viewpoints, follows teenaged friends Nia, KeeKee, Faith, and Eve as they experience unexpected life changes the summer a hotel developer purchases their Caribbean community’s beloved beach.

Source: Charlotte Meck Library

Learning to Breathe

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Indy, sent to live with relatives in Nassau, struggles to conceal that she is pregnant by rape. Turned out by her aunt, completely broke with only a hand-me-down pregnancy book as a resource, Indy desperately looks for a safe space to call home. A yoga retreat might be the place. But Indy is about to discover that home is more just four walls and a roof– it’s the people she chooses to share it with.

Source: Amazon

Hurricane Summer

Summary: Tilla has spent her entire life trying to make her father love her. But every six months, he leaves their family and returns to his true home: the island of Jamaica.

When Tilla’s mother tells her she’ll be spending the summer on the island, Tilla dreads the idea of seeing him again, but longs to discover what life in Jamaica has always held for him.

In an unexpected turn of events, Tilla is forced to face the storm that unravels in her own life as she learns about the dark secrets that lie beyond the veil of paradise—all in the midst of an impending hurricane.

Hurricane Summer is a powerful coming of age story that deals with colorism, classism, young love, the father-daughter dynamic—and what it means to discover your own voice in the center of complete destruction.

Source: Goodreads

The Star Side of Bird Hill

Two sisters are suddenly sent from their home in Brooklyn to Barbados to live with their grandmother, in Naomi Jackson’s stunning debut novel
                                          
This lyrical novel of community, betrayal, and love centers on an unforgettable matriarchal family in Barbados. Two sisters, ages ten and sixteen, are exiled from Brooklyn to Bird Hill in Barbados after their mother can no longer care for them. The young Phaedra and her older sister, Dionne, live for the summer of 1989 with their grandmother Hyacinth, a midwife and practitioner of the local spiritual practice of obeah.
 
Dionne spends the summer in search of love, testing her grandmother’s limits, and wanting to go home. Phaedra explores Bird Hill, where her family has lived for generations, accompanies her grandmother in her role as a midwife, and investigates their mother’s mysterious life.
 
This tautly paced coming-of-age story builds to a crisis when the father they barely know comes to Bird Hill to reclaim his daughters, and both Phaedra and Dionne must choose between the Brooklyn they once knew and loved or the Barbados of their family.
 
Naomi Jackson’s Barbados and her characters are singular, especially the wise Hyacinth and the heartbreaking young Phaedra, who is coming into her own as a young woman amid the tumult of her family.

Source: Amazon

Patsy: A Novel

A beautifully layered portrait of motherhood, immigration, and the sacrifices we make in the name of love from award-winning novelist Nicole Dennis-Benn.Heralded for writing “deeply memorable . . . women” (Jennifer Senior, New York Times), Nicole Dennis-Benn introduces readers to an unforgettable heroine for our times: the eponymous Patsy, who leaves her young daughter behind in Jamaica to follow Cicely, her oldest friend, to New York. Beating with the pulse of a long-withheld confession and peppered with lilting patois, Patsy gives voice to a woman who looks to America for the opportunity to love whomever she chooses, bravely putting herself first. But to survive as an undocumented immigrant, Patsy is forced to work as a nanny, while back in Jamaica her daughter, Tru, ironically struggles to understand why she was left behind. Greeted with international critical acclaim from readers who, at last, saw themselves represented in Patsy, this astonishing novel “fills a literary void with compassion, complexity and tenderness” (Joshunda Sanders, Time), offering up a vital portrait of the chasms between selfhood and motherhood, the American dream and reality.

Source: Amazon

Where There are Monsters

In this powerfully engaging collection of short stories, Breanne Mc Ivor lifts the tropes and characters of Caribbean folklore and places them among the concrete, glass and heat of a hectic, recognizable, crime-ridden Trinidad. These are not simply modern or modernised folktales, but beautifully crafted, fully formed contemporary stories by a hugely talented writer who uses them as narrative vehicles to address weighty questions about human nature and Trinidadian society. What choice is there for a young man, besotted with an upperclass woman, when what stands between him and her, is the humiliating poverty he’s trapped in? What monster does he embrace to break out of his situation? To what extent do we also become victims of the violence we inflict on others? A young man, consumed by his inner monster – a Loup Garou – destroys the woman whose love sustains him. A mother comes face to face with a daughter who is about to marry the kind of man who, she believes, would turn out to be a monster like her daughters father. In The Cannibal of Santa Cruz, a young woman grows into recognising and accepting the flesh-loving monster which lives in her.

Source: Amazon

Clap When You Land

In a novel-in-verse that brims with grief and love, National Book Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other. 

Source: Amazon

How to Love a Jamaican

Tenderness and cruelty, loyalty and betrayal, ambition and regret – Alexia Arthurs navigates these tensions to extraordinary effect in her debut collection about Jamaican immigrants and their families back home. Sweeping from close-knit island communities to the streets of New York City and Midwestern university towns, these eleven stories form a portrait of a nation, a people, and a way of life.

In ‘Light Skinned Girls and Kelly Rowlands’, an NYU student befriends a fellow Jamaican whose privileged West Coast upbringing has blinded her to the hard realities of race. In ‘Mash Up Love’, a twin’s chance sighting of his estranged brother – the prodigal son of the family – stirs up unresolved feelings of resentment. In ‘Bad Behavior’, a mother and father leave their wild teenage daughter with her grandmother in Jamaica, hoping the old ways will straighten her out. In ‘Mermaid River’, a Jamaican teenage boy is reunited with his mother in New York after eight years apart. In ‘The Ghost of Jia Yi’, a recently murdered international student haunts a despairing Jamaican athlete recruited to an Iowa college. And in ‘Shirley from a Small Place’, a world-famous pop star retreats to her mother’s big new house in Jamaica, which still holds the power to restore something vital.

The winner of the Paris Review’s Plimpton Prize for ‘Bad Behavior’, Alexia Arthurs emerges in this vibrant, lyrical, intimate collection as one of fiction’s most dynamic and essential young authors.

Source: Amazon

For video and pics of my journey, make sure to join me on Youtube or Instagram!

New Year Resolutions

Every year, people ask you about your New Year Resolutions.

This year, I decided to rename it. This is not my New Year Resolution. More so, goals I would like to accomplish next year. When I look back over the past two years, I am utterly grateful. I’m grateful for all of the people who encourage me and brainstorm new ideas with me.

I’ve met so many wonderful people. And, I know it’s against thug code, but I love y’all. I’m so serious. Sometimes, I sit with my friends in cars or in a lounge and we just think about all the ways we can improve in our careers, businesses, and side hustles.

In 2022, I published two books. I also created a social networking group here in Charlotte. I have made countless friendships. I changed careers (sort of). And lastly, I have found a community of people to travel and party with.

So, for next year, I plan to continue to grow my social network. I’d like to publish a few more books and host book signings. I’d love to turn my books into movies or tv shows. I’d like to continue growing my podcast. And, lastly, I’d like to continue to be a woman who creates new goals and achieve them.

What’s your plan for 2023? Comment below!

CLT Farmer’s Markets

Southend

Takes place each Saturday behind Atherton Mall off of South Boulevard. It parallels the rail trail. When I tell you it’s beautiful out there. You’ll feel like you’re in a Hallmark movie. The vendors sell unique crafts and treats. It’s child and pet friendly. During the holidays, they block off the street,and add a DJ and more vendors. The market takes up several blocks.

Camp North End

Happens each Wednesday. The vendors are stationed near the food court at the same space the Mad Mile Run Club meets on Tuesdays. There aren’t quite as many vendors as South End, but there are still great finds. I especially love the juice guy! Plus, it’s in the afternoon (around 4pm), so you can grab food and peruse. It’s a great way to spend the afternoon.

Uptown

This one also takes place on Saturday morning and has a decent amount of vendors. It’s in the parking lot near a church off of South Boulevard near the Nascar Museum. I love that there are tons of food vendors. You can grab a fresh cup of coffee and a pastry while you check out the other vendors. We always buy fresh produce and honey. They also have fresh meat and fish.The parking is free, which is great for Uptown.

Rosa Park’s Farmers Market

Runs June through September at the West Complex off of W. Trade St. near Uptown on Tuesdays from 3-7pm. It’s jammed packed with food demonstrations, giveaways, entertainment, and a plethora of vendors. They accept all forms of payment, including SNAP/EBT. Parking is across the street in the parking garage (Free).

Charlotte Regional Farmers Market

This is by far the largest farmer’s market in Charlotte (not including flea markets). There are four large stalls filled to the brim with multiple vendors. They have tons of produce, meat, flowers, etc. I’ve even seen a yellow watermelon. There are folks who sell homemade soap and body butters. The bonus, in the parking lot, there are food trucks. I’ve seen Jamaican food and a lady who makes mini-donuts. It’s packed each Saturday, but there’s tons of parking.

To see footage from my visits, check out my TikTok and YouTube channels!

Shayooooo

I’ve been trying to see Burna Boy for over a year! Now, I finally have!I first heard and fell in love with Burna Boy when Beyonce released an Afrobeat song years ago on her Black is King album. I was like, “Who is this voice!?”

So, I immediately began listening to his music. I was in love. His initial songs included ‘Ye’, ‘Gbona’, and ‘Kilometer’. Y’all, I was hooked!So, I scoured the internet for his tour. He was all over Europe and Africa. I couldn’t afford that. But, I saw that he was listed in the Afro Nation Festival in Puerto Rico for March 2022. I bought tickets immediately.

Unfortunately, a few days before the festival, they announced that he would not be there. My heart dropped. That’s 50% of the reason I bought the ticket. So, of course I couldn’t fully enjoy the festival. Read about Afro Nation here.

Fast forward to October. I booked for Carnival in Miami. My plan was to fly in Friday after work and stay til Monday. A week before Carnival, I found out the he was going to be in Miami Friday. His concert, however, started before my flight landed. Heartbroken again!

At that point, I decided to find out wherever he was going to be and say, “F it! I’m flying out!” I looked at his schedule and saw that he’d be in the UK in June. So, in my head, I planned to go.

As good fortune would have it, he added an Orlando date in December at the Addition Financial Arena. The Lord knows how to take care of his children. I booked the ticket, flight, and hotel immediately.

And, baby, this concert did not disappoint. First of all, DJ Prince hyped the crowd up with a mixture of old school and recent music. He played reggae, hip hop, and afrobeat. It was a nice way to warm us up because before we knew it, Rotimi ran on stage. I lost it! What a terrific surprise. He even jumped off the stage to mix with the audience. My face still hurts from smiling so profusely.

Listen, Burna Boy came out on that stage with sparks flying everywhere. The audience jumped up and danced the entire night. He performed all of his bangers; even ones he made with Ed Sheeran and the one for ‘Wakanda Forever ‘. On stage, he had 6 dancers dressed in white. He had a live band and drumline. Everyone danced in syncopated steps, intermingling in and out of each other.

Towards the end, people began leaving, I guess to get an Uber home before the crowd released. But I didn’t. I was enraptured in the vibe. It felt like I was in a trance with each note and move.

At the end, he said, “Bye guys,” and walked off the stage. At first, I was hurt. I was having flashbacks to Dreamville when Moneybagg Yo legit just angrily walked off the stage. But this was a ploy. A set up. He came back and performed ‘Last Last’ to a massively hyped crowd. It was the perfect ending to the show.

We sang our hearts out with him. At the end, he waved and blew kisses before walking off the stage. My trance was released and I could move on with my life, completely satisfied.

Thankfully, I booked my hotel a mile from the venue. Instead of waiting with the millions of people that covered the arena grounds, I decided to walk back. Thankfully, I’m pretty fit. It was an easy walk, and others were with me most of the way.

I highly recommend attending one of his concerts. It’s life altering!

To see more video and photos, make sure to check out my TikTok and YouTube channels.

Make sure to like, share, and subscribe!

Top 5 Gifts for Her: Holiday Edition

I personally believe that shopping for women is way easier than shopping for men. But, maybe I’m biased. For years, I struggled with coming up with things to say when my husband asked what I wanted for Christmas. The problem is, when you’re grown, you can buy anything you want. So, I sat down this year and nailed down things you can never go wrong with.

Do you have a special woman in your life? Well, here are a few easy gift giving ideas to ease your Christmas burden.

Books

Being that I am an author, I may be a bit biased. Check out her wish list or TBR (to be read) list on Goodreads or Amazon to see what she’s missing. I can guarantee she’ll be pleased with your choice! If you’d like to shop my books, hop over to my page or you can check me out on Amazon.

Jewelry

You can never go wrong with some bling. Try a cute ring or necklace. If you’ve been married awhile, an updated wedding ring wouldn’t hurt. Or if she’s more urban, get her a blinged out grill. In the summer, she’d look good in a cute sparkling anklet. 

Candles

We love beautiful scented candles. Especially for baths or relaxation time. Make sure it’s in a pretty holder. Try to find some with soothing scents. If she’s really earthy like me, try some sage, eucalyptus plants, or incense and/or holder.

Trips

We don’t just want the balcony experience either. Try new places (not Miami, Vegas, or Atlanta). We want to travel the world. Book a trip to Greece or Italy. She’ll love you more for it. If you want your relationship to last longer, you need new experiences together.

Gift cards

Think about her favorite stores and add it to your cart. Some favorites among the ladies are Starbucks, Target, Wal-Mart, or simply a Visa gift card that she can use anywhere. If you know her favorite nail salon, massage parlor, or esthetician, get a gift card! We spend a lot of money to look as fabulous as we do. Help us out a little.

Bonus

If you have it like that, property would be another great option. You can never go wrong with real estate!

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below.

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