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24 Hours in NYC

Mommy and Daughter in the City If you remember, a few months ago I visited DC with a friend. Well, my daughter became jealous, so I had to do a marathon trip with her as well. For bloopers and vlogs, follow my TikTok and YouTube channels. We decided to visit NYC because it was aContinue reading “24 Hours in NYC”

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

24 Hours in NYC

Mommy and Daughter in the City

If you remember, a few months ago I visited DC with a friend. Well, my daughter became jealous, so I had to do a marathon trip with her as well. For bloopers and vlogs, follow my TikTok and YouTube channels.

We decided to visit NYC because it was a quick trip with tons to do. We will definitely need to come back over the summer because there were a few places we didn’t get to visit (Rockefeller Center, Ground Zero, Empire State Building, etc.). We could have saved a ton of money if we used the subway instead of Uber, but c’est la vie.

Our Itinerary:

  • Breakfast: The Osprey
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Staten Island Ferry (free view of the Statue of Liberty)
  • Lunch: River Doc Cafe’ (Staten Island)
  • Time Square
  • Dessert: Paris Baguette
  • Central Park
  • Ice Skating (Central Park)
  • Dinner: Dollar Pizza

Travel besties, where should I go next?

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The First Cut is the Deepest…

When it comes to getting things done, the hardest part is getting started.

Many times, we are stifled by fear. The biggest fear we have is other people’s opinions. Are we good enough? Imposter syndrome. When I first considered writing, I was crippled by, “What if they don’t like it.” I decided to push through it, and write anyway.

As I moved closer to pressing that ‘publish’ button, I felt warm and nervous. I was nervous because I knew that once I published my book, I’d need to market it to people. People will then buy it and read it. What if they thought it was trash? My family and friends. I had a ton of ‘what ifs’ floating around in my head.

I let a few of my friends read it beforehand. I let them critique the book cover. I let them encourage me to move forward. So, I published it. I marketed it. The book began to sell pretty quickly. I was super excited. Reviews started flowing in. Even today, two years later, it’s my top selling book.

Then…it happened. My first negative review. I thought I couldn’t breathe. My stomach was in knots. I read the review multiple times. My head was spinning. After finally coming to my senses, I went to one of my writer groups and asked, “How do you deal with negative reviews?”

Their answers helped me grow so much. They asked, “Is the review relevant?”, “Is there some growth opportunity in the review?”, and “How many other reviews do you have?”. I pondered these questions and came to a few conclusions.

Growth from the first cut:

  1. Grow from the negative experience: There were a few changes I needed to make as an author to improve my novel. I went back and corrected some things to make it better.
  2. Change your mindset: look at the positive instead of focusing on the one negative. Appreciate the things you did the right way. Celebrate your accomplishments.
  3. Never give up: despite any setbacks, keep pushing forward. Never quit because you encounter an obstacle. Learning how to overcome obstacles make you stronger and smarter.
  4. Build a solid network: seek out others that you can learn from. Use their expertise to help you grow. And, always, make sure to give back.

The first cut is the deepest, but is so necessary. I wish you luck in your journey!

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Top 3 Spas Near Charlotte

I am in the soft phase of my life. Straight femininity over here. With that comes great responsibility. Really, I just want to be pampered. Anyway, here are the best spas near Charlotte! Make sure to check out my TikTok and YouTube.

The Spa at Ballantyne

Located in The Ballantyne, a luxury hotel, this spa’s focus is connecting you with nature. This soothing experience includes facials, massages, mani-pedis, and hair services. They are even open on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Treat Yo Self! This spa is in high demand, so I recommend booking services in advanced.

Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

The Spa at Rock Barn

Located in Conover, NC, just 45 minutes north of Charlotte, this European spa offers several packages to choose from. A unique feature of this spa is it has a salt cave. If the spa is your thing and you’d like to frequent it often, membership options are available. There’s also a golf course attached, if you’d like to bring hubby.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Shoji Spa and Retreat

This Japanese inspired spa is located in Asheville, NC, a little over 2 hours outside of Charlotte. This is a great spa for couples. There are a variety of packages to choose from. This spa uses locally sourced natural products, and has CBD infused products. Make sure to bring a swimsuit for the outdoor salt tub. When you’re not in the tub, you’ll get to wear a traditional black cotton Japanese robe and sandals.

Shoji Spa and Resort

Whether you decide to go by yourself, with friends, or with Bae, you are bound to have a fantastic time!

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Kindle Vella: Corn Soup

Kindle Vella brings you stories released one short episode at a time, available on the web at http://www.amazon.com/kindle-vella and in the Kindle app.

Things to look out for if you’re new here:

Follow the stories you like to keep up with the latest from your favorite characters.

When you like an episode, give it a Thumbs Up to let the author and other readers know you liked it.

The first few episodes of every story are always free–after that, purchase Tokens  and redeem them to unlock episodes. Tokens may only be used to unlock Kindle Vella story episodes in the Kindle app and on the web at http://www.amazon.com/kindle-vella.

When you unlock episodes, you will receive one Fave  a week that you can award to the story you’re enjoying most that week. We’ll feature Top Faved stories so other readers can find them too.

Three friends reunite for Labor Day weekend in Brooklyn, NY to attend the West Indian Day Parade. They experience love, food, culture, and a renewing of their friendship.

Day Trip: DC

Have you ever taken a flight out in the morning, ate, and returned that night??

A few months ago, a friend of mine who works for an airline told me that on his off days, he catches flights to other cities for brunch. I was shocked! Why hadn’t I thought of that?!

So, being the explorer I am, I quickly posted on FB to see if any of my friends were interested. Many were! However, you know how it goes when it’s time to actually book [crickets].

I did have one actual taker! So, she and I booked our flight to DC. Our flight out was 7am and our return was flight was first thing the next morning. Twenty four hours in DC.

Flight to DC

For a trip like this, you have to pack light. She laughed because it was hard for her. My boo is a model, what do you expect…lol. We literally packed a book bag [insert Dora joke here] because we’d be traversing the city all day. We packed a change of clothes, toiletries, and money. She definitely packed more than I did. We laughed later because we literally wore the same outfit the entire day.

Getting through the airport was super quick because hardly anyone was there. Security took like two seconds.

Brunch

After our flight landed, our first stop was brunch. We are at Art and Soul. Let me tell you, I feel like we were on the set of Sex and the City! It was a perfectly clear day out, so we sat outside. At Art and Soul, there are tons of brunch options. We chose the Chef’s Special: it’s comes with an appetizer, entrée and dessert for a low cost of $38. We were busting at the seams by the time the dessert came around.

Brunch

Next, we visited the National Museum of African American History. Words cannot describe how moving that visit was. I applaud the curators because the comprehensive coverage of African American History from the 1450s forward was well thought out and emotional. You’ll need 3+ hours to visit. Tickets are free, but you must purchase in advanced. All tickets are timed.

We cute 🥰

Afterwards, we visited the MLK Jr statue. Of course a photoshoot was done. Behind us was the most beautiful view. The water! The white buildings! A clear sky. What more could you ask for?

Flying at in front of MLK JR

Then, we ventured over to Busboys and Poets. It’s a dope vibe. Part bookstore, part restaurant. All history and black-owned. Our waitress was new, but she did her very best. The food and environment was unmatched.

We ended our adventure with a movie and chill spot. We watched Woman King at Alamo Drafthouse. Omg! The movie was phenomenal! Viola Davis never disappoints. This movie theater is a dinner theater, which is great! Food and drinks are a must! And, they have reclining leather seats.

Presidential stand at Alamo

To cap off our night, we walked across the street to Metro Bar. It’s so cool because the bar is made from trucking containers. Similar to Box yard in Durham, NC. No cover. Cheap drinks and a lit crowd. The music is varied, but dope. It’s a cool hangout spot for all ages. If you don’t want to wait in the bar line, you can have a seat and order from the QR code pasted to the table.

We wrapped up our night by checking in to our hotel. Our flight was first thing in the morning. We were so tired.

This was the quickest trip I’ve ever taken! I highly recommend trying it. We’re considering Maryland, Chicago, or Houston in the future.

Be sure to check out my Youtube and Tiktok channel! Like, Comment, Share….

West Indian Day Parade

Homie called me up a few weeks ago and said, “Hey, have you ever been to Brooklyn for Carnival?” I was like, “Nope.” Of course, I checked that it was ok with my family, but I said yes!

Dress by Shein — swimwear by Matte Collection

I’ve been to Caribbean Carnivals in Atlanta, Miami, Charlotte, Columbia (SC), and Raleigh. I hope to go to Caribana in Toronto and Cropover in Barbados soon. I’m torn as to which one I’ll attend first. Those two happen around the same time.

Any who, I packed my things up and made my way to Brooklyn. Being that I’ve been to events like this in the past, I was well aware of what items to bring. If you’re not sure, check out my previous post.

Jouvert

We attended two Jouvert events. The first was Bumpers N Paint. The DJ was lit. The crowd was super hype. We had paint and chalk plastered on us from ear to ear. Thankfully, our Uber driver had leather seats because we were a mess. The only complaint I have about this event was the price of drinks and the food being set up so late. The watered down drinks for $15 for a small drink and water bottles were $5. The event started at 4 and ended around 10. The food didn’t get set up until about 8pm.

The second was free with the city. This one occurred the morning of the parade, September 5th. The city blocks off several streets and allow a sunrise party up and down the block. The bands played real steel drums, cowbells, and a guira. The older crew dressed up in fancy costumes. I especially loved the ladies in the all white dresses; goals! The party went on til the parade started. We strutted to the parade in a décor of white and gray handprints, and a sprinkle of other colors.

Parade

Eastern Parkway was lined up on both sides with vendors. The vendors ranged from food to drinks, or trinkets you could buy. One vendor gifted my friend with a bead bracelet for his daughter. There are people selling flags and grilled food. It looked like one large family cookout. I loved every second.

Once the parade started, we were front and center on the barricade. My friend pretended like he was going to jump over, but we ladies were not amused. The parade began with city and government officials. Then, the Mas bands came thundering down. The music was too lit to not indulge. We danced and whined. Hoards of people jumped the barricade to dance alongside the trucks in the street, while the police turned their heads. Honestly, it’s probably for the best.

The thing I loved about the entire parade was the overwhelming excitement and love up and down the block. When I first mentioned that I was going to this parade, everyone made it seem like I was going to get shot out there. Now, I’m not saying there isn’t a risk, but it was not as nearly pronounced as they made it seem.

To see more pics and videos from my trip, check out my Youtube channel.

Other Things To Do In Brooklyn:

  1. Brooklyn Museum
  2. Prospect Park
  3. Grand Army Plaza
  4. Take a train ride
  5. Jewish Children’s Museum
  6. Brooklyn Botanical Garden
  7. Ode to Babel Bar
  8. Our favorite restaurants: Natural Blend (vegan), Kokomo’s (black owned), Island Burger, Mandeville Cafe, and Footprints (super cute outside eating area; Caribbean)
Former Costumer of Missy Elliott
Streets of Brooklyn
Footprints
Ode to Babel
Strangers wanted pics with us

Which adventure would you like to see me go on next?

My Daughter’s First Caribbean Carnival

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I’ve been playing mas for years. My daughter has seen me pack and unpack feathers and bedazzled bras for fifty million times. This year, she asked if she could go. Of course I said yes! My little 25% Caribbean heart (my granddad on my mom’s side is Jamaican) jumped with pride.

So, I picked a smaller one for her first time, Raleigh, NC. She absolutely adored it! She still says that she’ll never play mas (I’m sure that’ll change), but she definitely wants to come back.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be in NY and Miami for Carnival. If you see me, make sure to say hi! Also, check out full details on my YouTube channel. Also, you can follow me on Instagram and TikTok.

Have you been yet?

A Teacher Tomorrow

Today was the first day I wore my diamond wedding ring to work in 4 years.

Most recently, I left the world of administration to return to teaching. This has been the best decision I’ve made in a long time. I was an assistant principal for four years. As a teacher for 10 years, I always thought admin was the path I wanted to take to improve my career. Many of my colleagues also glamorized the transition. Man, I was highly mistaken. And, let me clarify, my experience is not everyone’s experience. Some people love it and do an amazing job.

My last goodbye

I do not regret my decision to get my second master’s degree or my decision to apply for the position. I excelled as an administrator, but I wasn’t happy. Until the pandemic, I really wanted to continue the leadership path. 

If you decide to become an administrator, there are several things you need to understand. One thing is you will work long hours. Your responsibility load is through the roof. You may not get a chance to eat or pee during the school day. Your spouse may think you’re having an affair. The biggest thing is, everything is your fault; good or bad. Even if it technically isn’t, it is. You take the blame from students, teachers, parents, and district office personnel. It’s beautiful when you get positive recognition, but those moments are few, and far in between. Most people come to you to complain about everything that is going wrong with everything. I became weary. My husband noticed my mood change. I was exhausted all the time.

Over the past two years, I had constant pain in my hip and shoulder. I visited several doctors who indicated that I was perfectly healthy. I lost weight. I limited my exercises. The pain never went away. I thought I was going to have to suffer the rest of my life. After I resigned, I took the entire month of July off. Guess what, the pain magically disappeared. 

South Beach with my babies

My time home during the pandemic changed my life. I enjoyed spending time with my family. I experienced new outdoor activities. And, I became a published author. It challenged my thinking. I decided to go back into the classroom.

I missed building those positive relationships with the kids. I missed the lightbulb moment, when the kids understood something you’re teaching. I missed my free time and summer breaks.

My AP friends 🙂

Today, I walked into my new classroom at a new school and nearly cried. I didn’t realize how much I missed being on the other side.

Cheers to a fantastic school year.

Hiking the Mountain of Success

Early Saturday morning, I stood at my kitchen island packing my hiking backpack. I gathered up all of my materials and mentally prepared myself for the day ahead. I was excited, but also nervous. I didn’t know what lied ahead of me. It was still dark as I headed out. The sun began to peek through as I made my way to Crowder’s Mountain. Someone who shall remain unnamed called me Dora the explorer, but that’s a story for another day. I frequently participate in activities that expand my circle of experience. As I pulled into the parking lot and saw my friends circled up, I felt my heart grow. Their friendship and this experience gave me so much insight into my leadership style and how I manage to find success in my everyday life. I hope that my thoughts and experiences help you find a way to trek your own mountain of success.

  1. Be prepared

There were different ways I prepared for this endeavor. I had to prepare mentally, physically, and literally put my backpack supplies together. For the weeks leading up to the trip, I trained. Albeit, it was probably not enough because I was sore as all get out for the following days. But, I trained. I ran and walked further and further on the treadmill and elliptical machine to help build up my stamina. I wore a mask to help simulate the breathing difficulties I might face. That morning, I had to make sure I had all of my supplies. I packed sunscreen, bug spray, hiking poles, a change of clothes, food/snacks, gum, Chapstick, a jacket, and water. Without all of these things, the experience would have taxing.

In life, you have to be prepared for whatever journey you plan to take. Your career aspirations will always match your preparation. What have you done to take your career to the next level? Are you working to reach your goals? You may need to take some classes, learn new skills, or change your circle of friends.

  1. Network

On the hike, I met some of the most amazing people. As we hiked, we talked about careers, our futures, money, etc. It was so nice to connect with people of varied backgrounds. Not only were they dope, but they also offered new insight. In order to grow, you must gain new insight into whatever area you’re looking toward. If your circle is not encouraging you to grow, you may need to look for new folks. Also, I made connections with people who offered skills I could bring to my school to enhance our community. In life, I like to constantly allow opportunities for me to grow and work with people of diverse backgrounds to help make the most of my leadership opportunity. 

  1. Don’t leave anyone behind

The trail that we took on Crowders Mountain is listed as strenuous/ moderately difficult. Our leader instructed us to think of others as we took this journey. We had to wear a whistle in case you got lost or there was danger. We were to exchange phone numbers with others for the same reason. The final thing he said before we began was to never leave others behind. Everyone was not on the same fitness level, therefore, we had to stop to let others catch their breath. We stopped for drinks and restroom breaks. We monitored how each member felt to ensure we were safe to move on.

Outdoor Afro Charlotte

In life, we need to check on our people. See if they are doing ok. How can you help? Also, If you know of an opportunity that your friend qualifies for, help them out. Mention it to them or mention them to the opportunity. Once we move up in life, we must find ways to reach back and pull others up. If you’re in a position to give knowledge or enhance others, do it!

  1. Overcome Obstacles

The mountain, like life, has many obstacles. Instead of rocks, you have racism. Instead of tree branches, you have limited opportunities. Instead of rain or fog, you have financial or health issues. We all have challenges to overcome, but like hiking the mountain you have to take it one step at a time. Start small and build up to where you need to be. It may take some time to get there, but like the peak, seeing the view made the hard work worth it!

  1. GPS

One thing our guide stressed to us was the importance of knowing how to use your map and your GPS. In life, you don’t know how to reach your final destination without following a plan. Talk to people. Do your research. Find the path that will allow you to reach your goals. Just like a map is printed, write down your plan. When you constantly see your vision, it manifests itself.

Remember, when things get tough, that means you’re closer to success. You’re life is not falling a part, but falling into place. Whatever goals you hope to reach, I hope you get there. But we can’t just hope, we have to put work behind it. James 2 says, “Faith without works is dead.” Once you create your plan, you have to go at it. Work your tail off. But once you obtain it, don’t forget to reach back and help others. That’s how we continue to grow as a community. We are not in a competition. If one of us wins, we all win!

Ride it with my Surfboard

Surfing is definitely not the same as paddle boarding!

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A few weeks ago, a young lady posted in one of my Facebook groups that she was interested in learning how to surf. So, being the adventurous person I am, I obliged! She also mentioned that there was a black surfing conference in California every year in June. Initially, I was super interested. Now, I think I’ll be too embarrassed to try in front of all those people.

The three of us researched the closest surf lesson we could find. Charleston, SC. The school, Isla Surf School. We drove three hours, down to the coast for our lesson on Folly Beach. We worked with Jake (not from State Farm) and he did not disappoint. He taught us on land for the first 15 minutes, then we practiced in the water for 45 minutes.

FYI, make sure you pay for parking. I ended up with a ticket by the end of the day. Lastly, after your lesson, walk over to Loggerheads for a seafood lunch.

Isla Surf School

“If you can stand by the end of class, I’ve done my job”

Guess what y’all, we each stood up at least once by the end of class. Here are some pointers if you decide to surf in the near future!

  1. Never wear a two piece: Y’all, my bottoms kept falling off when I jumped up on the board. I’m pretty sure I mooned the entire ocean. Poor kids…lol. Also, they gave me this “rash guard” shirt to wear to prevent me from getting rubbed too much. So, you couldn’t see my cute swimsuit anyway. Insert sad face…lol.
  2. You will fall: and that’s ok. It won’t hurt. Be prepared to fall off the board the first few times. You will either slide off the board or fall backwards. Either way, you’ll end up in the water and it won’t hurt. Be careful that you don’t get hit in the face with the board.
  3. Body: don’t bother trying to keep your hair done because the waves will demolish it. Thankfully, I have locs, so my hair was fine. But, others, their hair looked crazy afterwards. You will need to have some level of fitness to surf. Your arms/ upper body strength will need to be on point to continuously pull yourself up.
  4. Never give up: No matter how hard it gets, never give up. When those waves are rising and your board is thrashing around, just keep trying. The feeling of standing up on your board for the first time will wash away any pain you thought you had from pulling up. Feeling the wind blow past you and hearing the folks in the water cheering is an experience everyone should have.

Overall, I prefer paddle boarding over surfing. However, I will definitely try again!