If this shampoo and conditioning session was any indication of my life right now, then I think I’ve finally got it!

If this shampoo and conditioning session was any indication of my life right now, then I think I’ve finally got it!

At the time, I thought this weave was cute.

At the time, I thought this weave was cute.

Life has a way of teaching you things. Every experience, if you look for it–or in some cases, if you create it–has a story. Today’s lesson started as an accident, but became a defining moment of realization about how I have been doing everything in my life. It’s the reason why I ended up shampooing and deep conditioning my hair.

It was 109 degrees today and I had a steak I wanted to throw on the grill. “Let me go in the fridge and grab the meat,” I thought as I snatched the door open. In what seemed like a 300-word essay of thoughts, I saw my last three eggs, thought I should move them, decided against it because I’m so slick I can grab the tenderloin and not disturb the vulnerable cold chicken embryos, palmed my parchment wrapped parcel and knocked the eggs on the floor. I immediately verbally scourged myself.

Juices and berries? Where?

Oops! The eggs need to fix this dry hair.

I grabbed a bowl and tried to salvage what I could because, if the floor isn’t “that dirty”, as I lied to myself, I could fry them and eat them. One must save! “Waste not, want not,” I reasoned, reminiscing on this time last year when income was nonexistent and our borrowed shelf in the pantry where we temporarily resided was bare. My mother pleaded with me not to eat the eggs, claiming toe jam as the culprit of my absolute death if I went on with my plan to cook the eggs. I paused.

What could I do with cracked eggs? Thoughts of uses for eggs poured into my head: Fertilize a plant, egg wash for baking bread, breakfast food, conditioner for hair. Bingo! I found my solution since we don’t have house plants and mom’s toe jam pronouncement prevented me from using the damaged goods for food.

 

The Shampoo and Conditioning

I’ve never been a traditional natural hair girl, blogging and vlogging about the nuances of managing kinky hair without harsh chemicals. Yes, I produced natural hair events and blogged, but I rocked a shaved head at the time, eliminating any need for the routine and product obsession I saw in others. Five or more big chops, endless scissor happiness and 7 years of no relaxers and still am learning about how to manage my hair.

Deep conditioning and cowash

Deep conditioning and cowash

Recently, I observed that my hair did very well with Shea Moisture coconut cowashes and deep conditioners, stretching and wrapping it with teeshirts overnight. I’d made progress. Then, after years of product testing, I noticed that swapping out Motions hair lotion with Monoi oil completed my perfect recipe with Jane Carter Nourish and Shine and Hairobics Hair Oil.

Since I’d shampooed this morning, stretched my hair and wrapped it, it made sense to add the egg and the deep conditioner for some extra healing. I wet my hair, added my concoction and after rubbing it through, flat twisted the sections to allow my hair to continue to stretch as the mixture set in.

After about 20 minutes, I rinsed my hair and cowashed it again to make sure to get the egg out. I rinsed it clean and my hair felt great. I proceeded with a dime size of both the nourish and shine and a dollop of the Monoi oil. I finger combed and noticed something that made me stop and mentally outline this post.

I had one section of 3C hair that stared at me in desirable curl perfection, in a sea of heavenly spiraled 4B hair. Where did that come from? Like, after all these years, my hair has been the bane of my existence and now this managable hair wants to act like it’s always been there? Like although I know I had Rudy Huxtable braids and had thick hair that 1980’s relaxers and heavy-handed stylists burned out, you want to grow back and heal the relationship to what I had with my hair before the trauma? Like now you want to a fall and separate into Instagram worthy coils?

Juices, berries and the Balsam of Gilead.

Juices, berries and the Balsam of Gilead.

This amazement only continued when I decided that instead of using my jumbo wide toothed comb, I would use my Denman knock-off. I am the 30+ woman who would squirm and kick her braider because of tenderheadness. I am the little girl who has been fabled to have run home from the kitchen of the woman who did hair in the house on the corner at night alone to escape the death grips of the woman’s hand with a pressing comb. I am the girl who has permed, weaved or shaved her hair her most of her adult life to avoid dealing with the woes of hair combing.

This this time I brushed my hair and the hair glided through that baby like the basketball off of Steph Curry’s finger tips. I did an internal praise dance in my heart at what had transpired. Brushing my hair did not hurt!

I Got My Entire Life!

Short hair, don't care.

Short hair, don’t care.

This hair epiphany wasn’t only an indication of me finding the right products and styling routine, it was proof that I got my life. Like Tamar Braxton, “She needs to get her life”-life-gotten. Like, I almost shouted and woke up my mom but I might have been slapped-gotten. Like, Cam Newton just proposed to me and we never had sex and I waited to get the ring and now we are the subject of everyone’s Christian-love-like-Ciara-a’nem memes-gotten. Like I just graduated from Howard University and I have an internship at BET but just had a meeting with the CEO about a job with a $20K sign-on bonus-gotten. My whole life is LIT.

I’m not overreacting, not even a little because if you understood what my life has always been and what it’s shaping up to be, I am very confident that this seemingly small feat is just proof that I’m finally understanding the flow of a happy and

Probably having flashbacks to the press and curl

Probably having flashbacks to the press and curl

abundant life. I’ll share a quick back story that I have battled depression the majority of my life. Even after experiencing business success and knowing what it means to be spiritually focused, I hadn’t grasped what happiness meant. In fact, it was evasive, even with money, accolades and the attention of admiring friends and family.

Things hit rock bottom one year ago when a financial reversal had me moving from pillar to post, with my health-challenged, aging mother. Like God always does, he came through, moving us into a home bigger and nicer than anywhere we’d ever lived and placing me at a dream job with ample pay to land us solidly where we needed to be. Just when I thought I could exhale, the company experienced a downturn and I was let go. The peace of God kept me together the first few days.

The Tenderheadedness of My Life

Head wrap doubling as an I-don't-want-to-comb-this solution

Head wrap doubling as an I-don’t-want-to-comb-this solution

I’ve learned that Jehovah had never left me, even when I slept on the floor in a house filled with weed smoke in the heart of South LA with strange visitors coming in and out. Now, losing the job wasn’t the death of me. The quietness of not having anywhere to go every morning and the calm of not having to go out every day to avoid being in an uncomfortable, unpleasant living situation while working hard to generate income to pull me and mom out of that mess gave time to process the reality of what I’d been through in the previous months.  Add to that, the dream job had quickly become a nightmare of micromanagement, stifling my creative ideas and draining me of energy and motivation. The calm after the storm brought on the winds of a concealed depression.

Only a few weeks after being let go, I’d landed two amazing clients in my business so money was not an overwhelming issue. However, completing my work and being present to deliver my best was becoming harder to do. When the dark feelings began to risk these wonderful relationships, I sought professional help.

The Deep Conditioning

I sobbed uncontrollably when talking to the girl managing the intake for mental health services. “I don’t want to go through this the rest of my life,” I wept. Understanding my concern and the trigger of lingering guilt about the job loss (I learned later that I was just the first of many let go, including key leadership staff), the social worker comforted me by sharing the experience of another woman who went through intensive therapy and was able to return to full-time employment. Her words led me to sign up for a six-month long group therapy program called Dialectical Behavior Therapy supported by individualized therapy and possibly treatment with medication.

I met the group facilitators that same week. They had smiles on their faces, almost like happy cherubs. It was refreshing. One man, had been through the therapy before and he acted as the big brother therapy tutor who helped ease any reservations people had about being there. I learned that many of the other group members weren’t “crazy people” but rather people out on disability from work or who had come from similar traumatic circumstances that brought them down from an otherwise ideal existence.

I later met a seraphim, my individualized therapist. Interestingly her name was Sera. This was a second career for her. She was a high powered East Coast executive who now was sitting before me doing psychotherapy and doling out career advice. She explained what happens in our minds and bodies when we experience prolonged trauma and assured me that with the pattern of unfortunate circumstance I’d experienced in my life that my reactions were normal but that I would indeed recover.

Fast forward, I’m feeling alive, more than I can recall ever feeling over a span of time. The tools that my

Recent afro gloriousness + soul glow

Recent afro gloriousness + soul glow

angels have given me has renewed my joy and productivity and has helped me move through any challenging days. I was given a nod of approval earlier today by Sera, that I had come a long way and was headed toward incredible success and happiness in my life.

She left me with this: “As we have this last appointment, I want to share with you the secret of life.” My butt cheeks clenched because I didn’t know if she was going to drop some mysterious cue-alien-music wisdom or give me a gem. She peered into my eyes and said, “Life is FOR you. Life is for you, Jasmine. It’s not against you. Everything in your life has blessings, even if the circumstances are bad. There is a blessing there and remember, life is for you.”

By repeating this, she was emphasizing that I could look forward to life behind something I can be hopeful and optimistic about, even moving through the extremely difficult times with a focus on the gifts life, and God, still provided me. The intense mental conditioning for a mindful, happy life has relaxed the hard to manage parts and led me to a smooth-as-whipped coconut oil outlook.

Head Wrapped

It’s all setting in. My oversized hand-me-down San Diego State t-shirt is wrapped securely around my head, allowing the creams and oils to do their thing, making tomorrow’s final primping to turn out perfect. I sit here allowing all of the lessons and blessings of my becoming settle in. Sure there will be a few strands that got bent the wrong way while drying, but nothing that can’t be edge controlled into place.


It has taken years of shaving off bad people and hiding behind the weaves of inauthenticity to get to a place where I can see the blessings of a life spiralling way up. I’m here for it, mindful of it and graciously wrapping myself in this phenomenal realization. And you know what? I’m going to let that keep soaking in.

7 Ways to Get Revenge With Your Paper

7 Ways to Get Revenge With Your Paper

Beyonce Formation Red LobsterBeyonce is, in fact, a motivational speaker. On top of that, not only has she perfectly and strategically timed the dropping of the Formation video and Superbowl half-time show announcement, but the song and videos together are enough to write home to mom about. VSB and Blavity already did and Fire & Wheel got the hot sauce t-shirts ready for the International Black Family Reunion.

While I wrote the list below of things the video did for me, the most epic part of the song for me is unequivocally the line “best revenge is your paper”. At one time, the Ambitious Diva mission was to be a catalyst for women who felt success was the best revenge. Granted, I know we can’t spend our lives giving someone who has wronged us continued consideration and mindspace, it still feels REALLY good to get revenge.

If you’re about your paper chase, and whether you’re working in corporate, doing hair, blogging, coaching, designing — whatever — you have accomplished so much already that if someone tried to think any thought that minimized you, you have already proven your unreserved flyness and could just stop where you are and STILL have your revenge. But no, we won’t.

Our resilience is strong and someone telling us we can’t, being emotionally or physically abusive, or otherwise violating our overwhelming queenness, may serve as motivation for us to keep shining, keep chipping away at our goals, keep selling, keep launching, and keep winning. This kind of revenge is the best because it’s long lasting and gives us a sense of pride in soaring over those that tried to hold us down. We glow and then dab on ‘em.

I see you sweetheart. I see EVERYTHING you’re doing out there. I’m not stalking but I see a lot of you on Facebook and Instagram and in the media, on TV shows, in Essence magazine, or any number of places because your work is being recognized. And as a fellow Ambitious Diva, I’m doing the proud mama slow claps and shouting, “That’s my girl!” Get it mama!

“Divas getting money…”

In some ways Formation is the 2016 version of Bey’s Diva and we are all here for it. So if you are ouchea like Dub C hollering “Got to get the scrilla got to get the scrilla got to get the cash hey come on got to get it,” here’s 7 ways to get it and get revenge with your paper:

  1. Digital marketing for brands. This one comes at the top of my list because, duh, I have a digital marketing agency and it all started from my love for writing and technology. In this rich media-for-all landscape, if you have a background in marketing or blogging, you have many of the skills required to start your own digital agency. That is, if you’re organized, have sales and leadership experience, and are obsessed with providing great customer service. Go forth and be bossy.
  2. Teach some of what you know with an online course. With sites like Udemy and Skillshare, you can share much of your hard earned knowledge with the masses and make money. While both of those sites take a portion of the profits, you have other options to teach online. Using sites like Rainmaker, LifterLMS, ZippyCourses or even a WordPress membership plugin like S2 Member, you can distribute bite-sized courses like this one and keep 100% of your profits.
  3. Launch a tech startup. This should be an obvious suggestion considering you have lots of resources at your disposal to learn to code. Whether you use Codecademy, Khan Academy, General Assembly, Hackbright, Treehouse, Pluralsight…do you see where I’m going here…you have so many options both free and paid to learn software development. Don’t know how to code and still want to launch a tech startup? Watch this videofrom the founder of Kollecto.
  4. Sell your designs. There are a ton of resources you can use to sell your designs. Society6, Minted, Printful, Spreadshirt, Zazzle, Patternbank, Spoonflower and Teespring are some of the ones I’ve looked into. So far, I’ve launched a few different campaigns on the latter which allows you to upload, choose product and print using a crowdfunding type feature. With most of these, you have to share profits, but it beats having to source different printing vendors and merchandise plus the trouble of shipping.
  5. Start a boutique. It helps to have Akilah of Online Boutique Source on your side if you’re looking to do any kind of ecommerce store. Start with a search of wholesalers or use merchandise that you’ve made and sale at market price for profit. Just like with the other design options mentioned above, you can opt to choose a vendor that does drop shipping for easy startup and to test whether the products sell, or use a platform like Woocommerce to upgrade your WordPress site and ShipStation to help you as you manage on hand inventory and shipping.
  6. Blogging and Event Influence. The girls on Bloggers Like Me are all examples of women with a passion for writing who have or are aspiring to make money blogging. Whether using blogging to drive traffic to an existing business or to blog AS your business, start writing using Blogger or WordPress for free. Or you can purchase a hosting account using my favorite Dreamhost (Bluehost is another highly rated option), and then install WordPress onto your new hosting account to start blogging. Sign up for Adsense, any number of blogger ad networks like Clever Girls or Glam, Commission Junction, LinkShare and the affiliate programs of companies that have them to earn advertising commissions. Since your influence and reach is VITAL, be sure to have an email autoresponder service like Mailchimp hooked up to your site with the SumoMe plugin opt-in features to capture the emails of your sites visitors with an enticing offer. Leverage your email list, blog readers, social media account followers and offline community connections to pitch to PR firms or individual brands so you can partner with them to push their campaigns. Have your sponsorship kits ready ma’am and your PayPal invoicing on deck.
  7. Start a freelance side hustle using any number of your many, many skills. My first real effort at entrepreneurship started with a written proposal on what is now Upwork. That very first proposal EVER landed me my first gig. Eventually, I started to specialize in marketing support and direction because I had experience. You might be a graphic designer, a business plan writer, a voiceover actress or do some other really cool thing that other people need. Fiverr is another option and although you might start off offering a basic $5 service, your upcharges are where the bread and butter rolls in. Use social media to promote your services and share your portfolio. If you want to ditch those freelance marketplaces (although I say use them merely as a secondary way to market your business and generate leads), you can go the traditional route of offering a service to people you already know have a need directly through sales calls, teaching at local organizations (a GREAT way to get leads) or hosting your own tweetchat using hashtags related to the problem or service. However you do it, do it.

Baby, this is just a small bit of what you COULD do. Just know that you have an abundant opportunity to get money and get revenge with your paper!

Are you a woman of color seeking help or community around your startup? Visit ambitiousdiva.com/blackgirlsstartup and take the survey to help us build the next great entrepreneurial community.

Dear California, Pick Your Poison

Dear California, Pick Your Poison

If it’s one thing beyond my faith and my love for my mama that I will openly proclaim my undying love for, it’s my ride-or-die-ness for California. And not only California–my adherence to Southern California, Compton-repping, and a proclivity for reformed gang members.

There is so much to love about California, namely year round warmness and an environment where snow boots and bomber jackets can stay tucked away only for a weekend at Big Bear, only to be quickly returned for a two hour descent back into beach-hood. I’m no surfer, but because of living only 20 minutes away from a beach 99% of my life, I would consider myself sand and pier fluent.

What I am not fluent in is being in the rain. I give all rain lovers profound eye rolls and my only fantasies about cold liquid falling relate to Slurpees and cool mists at outdoors restaurants that line the coast. Not rain. Not rain that is nonstop for more than ten minutes. Not rain that won’t go away for the next week.

This kind of torture only gives me pause and appreciation when considering the annual fires that plague us every October. I sing rains praises only for the brief moments I remember being stuck inside because ashes and embers fell on my head and I couldn’t get my weave dirty and coughing has and never will be cute. I thank God for rain only because the flood of Noah’s day washed away all haters and no one needs haters. Yet today, when I see parts of the inner city that I used to brag about never flooding, actually flooding and joining the ranks of flood and mudslide riddled affluent areas, I need to take a seat.

But I can find it within my soul to be okay with the rain. Afterall, I’m self-employed and location independent. I can literally stay in my bed and work from my laptop and phone and not see a drop of rain, much less, actually feel it melting me away a la Evilene. In fact, I actually cracked a smile when fantasizing of spending my entire day watching OWN, flipping through a good book, and sharing videos of people hitting the dolphin or screaming “What are thoooooose?!”

I actually planned my day to do just that. All of the work I needed to get done wasn’t work that needed to be done today. It was a bonus. So sleeping in nestled under two blankets, wearing stretchy, soft pajamas decorated with illustrations of sewing notions, whilst my head sunk into my overpriced feather-stuffed pillows seemed great. Imagine that. A day planned for being an unmotivated diva.

Instead California decided to remind me that not only does it rain and that El Nino was returning to wash away all hopes of a warm winter, but that it is, in fact, documented as earthquake country. At 6:42 a.m. when I was dreaming of dating Drake,  J. Cole and Cam Newton simultaneously, the earth began doing the NaeNae under me, jolting me out the bed like Soulja Boy as he turns his swag on. Okay, okay, it wasn’t as bad as the earthquakes that have come before–Northridge, Bay Area, even the catastrophic one in Long Beach ages ago–but it was enough to make me rethink moving my emergency preparedness kit from my Amazon Wishlist and into my Prime two-day delivery cart.

Oh, but wait, there’s more. I turned on the news to see how big it was and to find out whether anybody got any damage. The reports were all good. I could get back in the bed, right?

Not so fast according to Mega Doppler alerts and sadistic reporters smiling as they mentioned all the flood warnings and road closures and one minor detail: There will be tornadoes in some areas.

What the what?

Hold on California! I thought bad traffic, fires and mansions falling down a hill in a Malibu mudslide were enough. Now you wanna act like tornadoes can come through like Tyler Perry on Oprah Winfrey’s network?

Naw homey. No, no, no, no, no.

We ain’t even got driving down the street right. We haven’t even yet mastered how to have clean air although we claim to be the greenest, cleanest eating, healthiest people. We haven’t even gotten bacon at In-N-Out burger after a public outcry on April Fool’s Day. But now you want to introduce entirely foreign weather patterns?

*grabs my coat and passport*

Look, I’m a Californian, born and bred and I don’t know anything about storm shelters or food storage and much less how to keep my afro from reverting in our rare autumn humidity, so this here tornado thing ain’t something I can get used to. I moved back from New York and New Jersey TWICE to avoid demise by inclimate weather, so being at home at high-rent-having, $800-biz-incorporation-fee-burdened California is NOT the business.

But hey, we still are home to Kendrick Lamar, Kobe and Steph so I guess I can live with this.

I mean, California, I’m complaining but I can’t legitimately complain. Life is good. I can deal so long as I don’t wash down this hill, get swallowed up by a chasm caused by an earthquake and then get sucked back out by a tornado. I wish I could choose which way to go in the case of my unfortunate demise, but all I can ask of you, dear Cali-caliente, is please, only offer me one option. I can’t handle all three.

Please and thank you,

Not Here For This

 

10 Things I Was Thinking When I Watched Drake’s Hotline Bling

10 Things I Was Thinking When I Watched Drake’s Hotline Bling

If you’ve paid any attention to my personal Facebook feed (friends only, sorry), you can see my left ring finger is itching. Everybody is bae as far as I’m concerned, because, you know, prospects.

Things aren’t any different with Drake, because although I love me some Serena and actually knew her as a kid (#straightouttacompton), I was overjoyed when she said he’s just a friend. Then, when baby boy came through with Hotline Bling, I was all in.

Here’s what I noticed.

  1. Didn’t none of them girls look like me. While I’m happy that some thickums were represented (I am a devout plus-sized adherent) and although we can argue that it was the lighting in the scene of the call center, didn’t none of those girls look like me. By me, I mean well, me.
  2. Drake can’t dance, but his efforts were noble. There’s this thing that happens when you’re a girl who likes guy a lot. He can make a complete fool of himself, but you’ll find a way to be like, “Aw, but he’s so cute though.” This was me when my man was doing a  Bob Fosse-on-Broadway version of the stanky leg.
  3. The dancehall girl probably was the same one who choreographed Sean Paul’s Gimme The Light video. I don’t know who’s hot in dance since Big Les, JLo and the girl with the dookie braids on In Living Color rocked Doc Martens and knee pads, but ol’ girl (the girl that most closely resembles me, but who was in the shadows of low light and a baseball cap to protect her identity, I’m guessing) was getting it IN. She had me wanting to thunder clap and pon di river to some Elephant Man.
  4. The video could have easily had Kanye in it and we wouldn’t have known the difference. Art imitates life, and hot artists borrow from each other, says this article. Immediately, when I saw all-of-the-flashing-lights (insert audio from the appropriate Kanye tracks) I was like like, “Ye directing?” This video seems extra 808s and Heartbreakish. *Kanye shrugs*
  5. Was the AC on? Why is Drake wearing a hot, red, bubble goose? Hoodie too? Cosby sweater? My man must have been cold (or super hot because of the lighting on the set) because his get up was ultra Canadian wintery.
  6. 24-inch Brazilian hair was on sale. Lord knows I am the most natural hair non-obsessed person who ever blogged and produced events for those with natural hair. I love me a good press, perm (I have been SO tempted to resume my creamy crack addiction, but my kinky hair begs me to leave it be), and some bodacious, stupid-long weaves. Whoever was in charge of purchasing hair for this video obviously got a hold of a bulk deal because all them sisters hair was the length of two Subway $5 foot longs. P.S. They all has spinal issues too because that’s some sway-backness for real. Just kidding. I’m hating.
  7. Drakes head moves a lot. Like why all the head wobbles on non-head wobble dances? As attractive as a wobbly bearded-Drake can be, that was lowkey unsexy.
  8. Drakes pelvis moves a lot. So, yeah. That cancels out #7.
  9. All those people in a box made me feel claustrophobic. As appealing as dancing in a little box with Drake is, three other girls in a tiny little box dancing with Drake and I would make me feel kinda like an exhibit at a little watch-these-little-Drake-dancers sideshow.
  10. Drake’s eyebrows are on fleek. Men are grooming more than what they used to when 90’s hip hop ruled the world, but my dude eyebrows is making me visit my neighborhood nail lady for my $10 wax.

See for yourself here.

And for giggles…

Image still courtesy of Digg and Apple Music