Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ringing in The New Year!

2012 is almost here & what a year it will be. I am super pumped for 2012. I am actually giddy thinking about it. 2011 started in Washington D.C and ended in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I lived on my brothers' couch and lived out of boxes most of the year. I saw Robin Thicke in concert, and he was as yummy as I envisioned. I finished out a job contract, and I started JostWrite. I finally discovered the care routine my hair loves. I learned the metro transit system for Minneapolis/St.Paul, MN. I planned my sister's bridal shower and had loads of fun at her wedding in August.  I visited Philly a significant amount of time in 2011 to visit a dear friend, and the city grew on me. I did less (significantly less) travel in 2011 compared to previous years. I am glad the year is rounding out.  I am a very independent person, but I learned the value of depending on people sometimes. I needed to learn trust and faith. I am also learning more and more about who I am and what I want.

To all my fans, readers and supporters, I am wishing you a wonderful New Year weekend and a beautiful and blessed 2012 ahead. May all your wishes come true in 2012. Fall in love, kiss more, be spontaneous, count your blessings, dance more, make sweet passionate love, be kind, be strong, forgive, be dependable and durable, dream bigger and declare your dreams. Wishing you all the very best in the new year! Your support & friendship mean so much to me. I am thankful for each & every one of you. XOXO

Here is JostWrite signing out from 2011 into 2012. See you all next year.


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Friday, December 30, 2011

My Adventure: Monsters to Slay in 2012

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2011 was one of my toughest year, but it was also one of my strongest year in terms of figuring out direction in the midst of uncertainty and chaos. There were days I was on the verge of a nervous break-down. There were other days when I was on a mountain-top high certain that life was beautiful. 2011 was a year I had to trust God with the entirety of my life. It was a challenging year, but it was also a year of growth. I am sure glad it is about to come to its end.

For 2012, I look ahead with hope. I am excited for all I have planned for the year. The monsters to slay and the priorities to accomplish. I am excited for the plans and dreams I have for both my personal and professional life.

In 2011, I wrote generic letters to my past and future selves, both of which I shared with you. In addition, I have written a future congratulatory letter to myself dated December 31st 2012. It is a letter that congratulates me on all the specific things I would have accomplished by then.  I got the idea from Jess Constable of MML. In my congratulation letter to myself, I named all the specifics intentions I would have completed, intentions in my relationship with God, my family, my significant other, my friends and others.  I also congratulate myself on completing my goals for my health and body, my finances, my writing and for JostWrite. I am excited to see how much of my intentions I would have accomplished by the end of 2012. I was never one to make resolutions, I rarely did. I am always aware of my goals for each new year, and those are the things I tackled. I do not plan to share my congratulatory letter, at least not yet. I am protecting myself from being called out just incase I bum out all year long and get nothing done. :) I don't want ya'll to have physical evidence on me. LOL.

However, since it is 2012, I am sharing 12 specific intentions I have for JostWrite in 2012. These are some of the monsters, both big and small, that I hope to slay in 2012. I am still developing strategies and tactics around each one, but below is the bigger picture:
  • Finish the first draft of a novel I am working on.
  • Finalize JostWrite's vision, mission statement, goals and objectives
  • Finalize JostWrite's business cards, logo, website, portfolio (online and offline) and tagline
  • Develop JostWrite's three seconds elevator marketing blurp.
  • Grow my client list
  • Effectively utilize social media and other marketing avenues to promote JostWrite
  • Keep blogging
    • Grow and develop 'Showcasing'
    • Introduce a new blog series I am presently working on
    • Have more guest bloggers on JostWrite
    • Guest blog on other blogs
    • Keep sharing my personal and professional journey
  • NETWORK: Expand JostWrite's network (both blog and business). 
  • Get on that "Pitching" bandwagon
  • Manage my time and schedule
  • Take classes: writing, blogging, business, networking, entrepreneurship...
I plan to work hard, but relax and have fun while at it. ABOVE ALL, I plan to keep God close, push through rejections and remain STRONG, BOLD AND OF GOOD COURAGE. I am looking forward to the beginning and the first of my best years to come.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Sweet Serving...

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"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Letter to my Past Self

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Dear JostWrite,
                       It is refreshing to know that I lived out this part of me in the past. The foolish choices, the pain and the joys are all memories. Good and bad, but still memories. The lessons I learned from been you are valuable for today and for tomorrow. I learned that regret comes truly from not doing all the things you want to do. My regret when it comes to you is that I did not exhaust you. I did not work you until you were used up. I let you lay to waste, and sometimes I let you befriend fear. However, those lessons are my light for today and for tomorrow.

                      I am not wasting much time with you, but thank you for teaching me what not to do, be or feel.

Yours with Love, 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I Smile...

31 Before 30 List...One Down!

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It is the end of 2011, and I think it is a good time to update everyone on my progress towards completing my 31 Before 30 list. I created the list about two months ago and decided to share my journey with all my readers and fans. I had always had a bucket list, but I carved a 31 Before 30 list out of it when I realized my life was moving ahead, and I had not kept up.

I also had a quarter life crises when I figured the only regrets I had were the things I was yet to do. I needed to change that reality, hence my lists.

In the past few months, I completed three items on my list. To close out the year, I am sharing one that you all are aware of. In 2012, I hope to accomplish and share more of my progress with you all.

I started my own business as evidence with JostWrite. I have always wanted to start my own gig, and I was never satisfied just working 9-5.

JostWrite is presently focused on freelance writing. My dreams for JostWrite are bigger than what it is right now, i.e.freelance writing, but the journey of a thousand miles always begin with the first step. I have thought about starting a business and a freelance writing business ever since I was in college. I finally kicked fear out of my way and started. You can read all about how I birthed JostWrite here. It is still in its baby stage, but I have been blessed with so many opportunities already and it is only upward moving from here. I have worked with a couple of individuals and agencies, and I am presently freelancing for three clients long-term. It is exciting, and I am looking forward to more opportunities as they present themselves, as I network and as God opens up the door. My vision, mission statement, goals and intentions are growing each day. I am putting meat on the skeletons of my ideas. There are so many concepts and ideas I am toying with, but I am dedicated to "Start Where I Am and Keep Going." I have done portfolio presentations, met with potential clients, pitched story ideas and talked about JostWrite. I have been both accepted and rejected. I have made mistakes and learned from them. JostWrite has a few monsters to slay and some priorities to complete in 2012, one priority would be branding.

2012 is a great year. I believe my roots would extend deeper down, and I would have a better idea what my strengths are. I would also know how to better channel these strengths into opportunities. I am excited and looking forward to building my dreams and learning.

My goal for 2012 is "Be Strong, Bold, Confident and of Good Courage."

Watch this space in 2012 for updates on accomplishments from my "31 Before 30" List and "My Bucket List"

Monday, December 26, 2011

My New Christmas Traditions

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas yesterday. Mine was laid back and relaxing; I am thankful for the time I had to sleep, eat and watch movies back to back. I focused my mind on reflecting on Christ, 2012 and my journey so far. Knowing Christ is definitely worth my life, and I am thankful for his birth.

In a post from a couple of days ago, I mentioned that I am trying to acknowledge and create holiday traditions. I grew up loving Christmas, but in the past few years, I stopped celebrating Christmas and rarely acknowledge holidays in general. This year, I desired a change. For Thanksgiving,  I roasted my first turkey and made my first sweet potato casserole. I was conflicted on what Christmas tradition to start, but I ended up watching FOUR Christmas movies yesterday and texting everyone on my phone contact list to wish them a Merry Christmas.

I did not plan to do either of the two, but I realized I rarely ever send out Christmas greetings, and I had never seen the Christmas movie classics. Hence, without even trying or thinking too much about it, I created two Christmas traditions for me.

Next year Christmas, I will make sure to send out Christmas greetings; I might actually upgrade to cards. In addition, I will be watching Christmas movies on Christmas day starting with one or two of the classics. I would love love to have and decorate a Christmas tree next year. I am not promising that I would, but I said would love and would try. :)

Yesterday, I cuddled on my couch and watched:

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Mandie and the Forgotten Christmas

 A Golden Christmas 2

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Christmas Mail

   A Christmas Kiss

My goal today was to share one completed item on my "31 Before 30" list, but I guess I would have to share that tomorrow.

Enjoy your week, have fun and stay positive as 2012 rolls around. I am excited for all the good things it is sure to bring.

Do you have Christmas or Holiday traditions? What are they?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas...It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

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Merry Christmas to you and yours. I pray that the birth and celebration of Christ will equate the birth and celebration of good things in your life. Thank you all for supporting and encouraging me on my adventure with JostWrite. Thank you for reading and commenting. I know 2012 with JostWrite will usher in so much more for us all to share and be inspired.

Enjoy the time with family and friends as we celebrate our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. He is the sole reason for the season.

See you all next week!

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Friday, December 23, 2011

I Just Got Slapped!

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I had no plans to blog today, but I am sharing this.

I decided to head to a coffee shop today to get some work done, but I should have stayed at home. I was sitting at my table minding my business and seething, because the only electric outlet in the coffee shop was by the door. People kept on coming in and out letting the snow and cold in. My laptop needed to be charged, so I had no other option. I was minding my business and not trying to connect with anyone. I had a lot to accomplish before Christmas.

An older man came in with his friends, and as they proceeded to a table, they stopped at mine and he said "Would you tell my friends that we just got engaged?"

I laughed and said "Yes, we just did."

THEN he said "Cause you're so pretty that's why," and proceeded to pat my face. BUT instead of a soft pat, the man gave me a resounding slap. I was shocked. He was shocked. His friends were shocked. The whole coffee shop is shocked.

He is apologizing. He is red. He is distraught. He is asking his friends to apologize on his behalf. The entire shop is asking "Are you okay?"

I am shocked. I am upset. I peed my pants. I teared up. I pulled back in fear every time he touches me again as he apologizes. I was wondering if it was something I said or did.

What is a pretty girl supposed to do now?

I should just go back home to nurse my wound and shame.

Now, every time he walks by, he apologizes. However, he is doing more harm than good...can you please stop walking by me or talking to me? I don't want you to hit me again in error or worst still swallow me when you open your mouth.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sex and Labor: A Demand and Supply Issue

Many of my readers know that I write  for Making Noise, Inc., a non-profit  in Washington DC focused on advocating on issues of injustice in the continent of Africa. Making Noise uses the arts, media, drama and blogs to move its mission forward. The post below was written by yours truly and published today. Many of you who read my blogs also know that issues of injustice in all form, but specifically human trafficking and orphan/adoption/foster care, make me cringe. This post is about the roles demand and supply play in advancing human trafficking.

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My favorite class in high school was Literature, but I had to go to economics class. I thought I had escaped required classes when I left for college, but Microeconomics was also a core requirement for all incoming freshmen.  The only thing I had to remember, because it was pounded in day after day, were the laws of demand and supply. I sat through several classes wondering how each one furthered my desire to write, change the world and get wealthy while at it. A few days ago, a light bulb that had probably turned on in many other minds, save mine, was turned on. I realized that these laws play an underlying role in the business of human trafficking. The law of demand states that if all other factors remain equal, the higher the price of a good, the less people will demand that good. Human trading is a deeply emotional transaction for the victims; unfortunately, it is a game of profit for traffickers fueled by a demand for cheap services, labor and commercial sex acts. Click here to continue.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Showcasing: When Loosing is Positive

My showcasee for December is a dear friend of mine. We have stayed good friends since we met during  freshman orientation in college. We have stood by each other and called each other out over the years. Her story is one of patience with the work that needed to be done on the inside in order to bear fruit externally. In addition, God in her life clearly illustrates that He is faithful and the journey of a thousand miles always begin with a first step. Be Inspired!

"I want acceptance. I want to belong. I desire to amount to something."

These were Kelly Burlingame's thoughts and desires when she started out at Winona State University (WSU)  in Winona, Minnesota. However at five feet and three inches, Kelly weighed 230 pounds and felt like garbage.

Years of emotional and physical abuse had led her to seek comfort in food. The abuse started when Kelly was nine and continued until she left for college in LaCrosse, Wisconsin just before her nineteenth birthday. "I was told for many years that I was a mistake, and I should never have been born. I was told that I was fat, ugly and would never find anyone who would truly love me. When you spend parts of your childhood and all your teenage years hearing these lies, there is a place inside of you that believes it whether it is true or not," Kelly said.

To ignore the pain, Kelly ate and the pounds crept in. Her dad was not in her life.  Abuse was a constant from when she turned nine. A seed of rejection was planted, it took root and grew.

I met Kelly in 2002 at WSU during freshman orientation week. Kelly was, and is still, a fireball of excitement. Her joyous spirit caught my attention, unbeknownst to everyone including myself, we were watching an act.

"I was shy and withdrawn in high school, but I wanted to be accepted. I did not want to be the girl who was abused at home and teased at school. I decided that when I came to Winona I would makeover myself, because no one knew me here." she said.

For Kelly, her makeover was to be loud, obnoxious and in charge. “My goal was if someone did not hear me, I would be loud and obnoxious. I would speak out loud and make sure they heard me." Her new personality was a brave front to hide all the pain she was feeling.
Kelly was in Lacrosse for a year, before she moved to Winona. While she was there, she prayed to God. "I asked him for a home, where I could be loved and accepted."

God answered her request in the form of a Christian Campus Ministry called Chi Alpha (I met Kelly at a by Chi Alpha event). It was at Chi Alpha that Kelly began to feel like she had a place; however it was hard for her to accept it. "I was loved by these people and they felt like home, but I assumed that everyone was pretending. It felt new. Years of hearing that you are a mistake makes it hard to believe that anyone really would want you.”

Kelly also had a problem believing that God loved her. In her head she knew, but in her heart, she concluded he was lying. Her experience with rejection and abuse tainted her knowledge of God “I felt like my biological father rejected me. He got my mother pregnant and left. He did not stay to protect me. I felt God must be lying."

However, God used Kelly's first semester and her years at Chi Alpha to lay a foundation of his love, and in her second semester he began to address her eating habits and her weight. At a Christian conference in January 2003 and for the first time,  she felt God impress upon her heart her addiction to food. Prior to that, Kelly never felt full. She did not understand the concept of eating and walking away when she was full. She would eat until she felt stuffed and could not bear another bite. After the conference , she became personally aware of when she had had enough to eat. That was when Kelly began to see the pounds drop, her pants were looser and at the end of that year, she weighed 200 pounds.

But by 2009, six years after, she had gained the weight back and weighed 225 pounds.

In November of 2009, God was ready to move Kelly out of the rut she had let herself get into. A friend she had met in the summer called her out on her weight. He told her he was concerned for her and her weight. "We were talking about dating. The next thing I thought was “Here goes another guy rejecting me, because I am fat”. I told him that yes, I am fat, but does that mean you do not want to date me?" In response, he told her that her weight was not a deciding factor in their friendship moving into a relationship, but he was more concerned for her health. Kelly felt something inside of her break; she started to cry uncontrollably and hung up the phone.

However, that conversation was the breaking point for Kelly. Everyone else had always told her she was beautiful, but no one called her out on her weight. No one had told her to get healthy. Kelly felt God was saying through him that "I love you, but I am concerned for your health." She decided to make working out a priority; she brought a treadmill. The weight gradually started to come off, but a few months after using it almost nightly, the weight loss hit a plateau. She then sold it and joined a gym, and the weight began to melt off again.

Then God focused in on her choice of foods. "I loved my burgers. I loved my fries. I could finish a bag of cookies in one sitting, but I knew I had to change my eating habits.”
That was a huge challenge for Kelly. She felt God whispering in her ears to come to him when she felt depressed and sad. On days  she would want to stop at McDonalds for a quick fix, she would hear God speak gently to her heart “Kelly, you already had dinner.” or “Kelly, there is food at home."

It was very difficult to go to God, but she did it. Kelly gave up fast food and soda. She began eating smaller portions, fresh food, vegetables and fruits. She gave up processed boxed meals and frozen meals. She also gave up red meat for about a year and a half. Today, now two years after her breaking point, Kelly has lost sixty pounds. She weighs 155 pounds and wears a size eight pants. A whooping 75 pounds less than she weighed at her highest of 230 pounds and a size 22 jeans. This has not been an easy journey, but for her it was worth the while. Her desire is to weigh an all time low of 130-135 pounds.

With each triumph is the nagging voice of fear, but she finds the strength in God through bible verses like Jeremiah 29:11. "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

As she continues on her journey, her biggest fears are that she is destroying her body by running four to five times a week and that she would gain the weight back. “God has given me peace that what I am doing to better my health is good for me.” Going to God during her times of weakness has also established his love for her and trust in him. It has worked an even bigger miracle in her heart, “He has set me free from myself,” she joyfully proclaims, but also quick to point out that this change was not based on her weight loss.

“The inner healing had to manifest on the outside. I had pain on the inside, and it manifested on the outside in the form of addiction, food and weight. I was healed over my father’s rejection and that manifested outwardly in me choosing God over food. As I went to God, the reason I went to food was healed. Two years ago, if someone rejected me, it would have taken me weeks to get over it. Now, in a day or two, I am over it, because I know God would never leave nor forsake me.”

Her greatest joy is running; if someone told her three years ago that she would run and would love it, she would have said "Shut up!" In two years, Kelly has ran a five kilometer, a ten kilometer, one official half marathon and two unofficial half marathons. For many people, who do not struggle with weight issues, we are unaware of the daily activities that we achieve without stress, but Kelly was overjoyed to announce that she could finally cross her legs just like a lady. A feat she had not been able to achieve because of her weight. In addition, her self perception is better and she is dreaming bigger, activities like white water rafting and living in an African country as a missionary are paramount on her list of things to do

Kelly is excited to share her story, a messy story that God has turned into a message. She acknowledged that it was a painful, hard and long journey.   A journey she hopes to share with other women. She advises that “you cannot just lose the weight and expect everything to be good; the weight is just the leaves and branches. In order to kill the tree completely, you need to dig up the root. The root for me was not the pounds hanging on my sides or all the food, it was rejection and not truly knowing that God loved me.”

The last time I saw Kelly was in May 2009, months before her breaking point. Two years and seven months later, I saw Kelly again. In our usual style, we screamed and ran to give each other an "I have missed you, and it is really good to see you" hug. My dear friend has lost 60 pounds in the past two years. She is still counting, and I am happily counting alongside her. The journey was not one of joyful dropping of pounds and dress sizes. It was more than a decade long journey that is culminating into joy unspeakable and a deeper healing that far surpasses her sculpted booty and leaner cheeks.


We got 99 problems, but new growth ain't one. Hit me...

I found this picture, and I thought it was both true and funny. #NaturalHair #HairLove
I might just have to keep posting more of these, because there is so much more from where this one came from, :) I got this from Natural Hair Problems.

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My Reading List for 2012

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I love reading.  

When I am reading a good book, I am transported into the very essence of the plot, and I float through my everyday activities, because I have become a character in the book. I take on the book’s setting, its nuances and adventure.  I am always aware of how words are merged, the rhythm of a paragraph and the flow of sentences. The coupling of old words and unfamiliar ones make my toes tingle. When I read an awesome sentence or paragraph, I stop and wonder what the writer was thinking in the space he/she wrote and edited that sentence or paragraph.  I love and collect books; the smell, the folded edges, the feel of the cover and the turn of pages are a few of the reasons I love holding books. My favorite things about books are the journeys they take you on, the seeds they help plant and the trees that these seeds grow into. Books help me believe that anything is possible, that life and its quirks can be conquered. Books give me breathe, they help me fly and they allow me to dream the impossible. I would take a good book any day.  Some of the books below have been on my list for a while, and others are new. I chose each book for different reasons, and my goal is to get through each book before the end of 2012, and hopefully learn something as a person and writer from each one.
I have read both Chinua Achebe's books when I was younger, but want to read it again. I saw The Color Purple as a play, but never read the book.  I already started both A Woman in Berlin and Memoir of a Geisha, but never finished them. I am looking forward to reading all these books and more in 2012.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Flaming Hot and Fiery: Chantal Biya

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This is the second in a series of profiles I am writing on Africa's First Ladies for Afrikan Goddess Online.

If you are yet to hear of the Banane, then you read about it first on Afrikan Goddess Online. Meet Chantal Biya, Cameroon’s First Lady, and her show-stopping hairstyles. She is popularly known for her flashy hair-dos and flamboyant wardrobes, but at Afrikan Goddess, we will be introducing you to the heart and soul behind Chantal Biya. 

To read more, click here.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Sweet Serving...

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"If you have an impulse to do something, and it's not totally irresponsible, why not do it? It may just be the journey you've always needed." Timothy Hutton, actor

Saturday, December 17, 2011

All I Want For Christmas...25 Things

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Growing up, I loved Christmas. However, lately...I'm not sure why Christmas has become just another day/holiday for me. For goodness sake, it is a day to celebrate the birth of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Even that had done little to get me excited about Christmas in the past few years. Like every other day, I let it come and go. I made a decision to intentionally acknowledge and celebrate holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. I want to create my own holiday tradition. Death to the Grinch!

For Thanksgiving, I roasted my first ever Turkey and baked a sweet potatoes casserole. I also wrote a thankfulness blog every Friday in the month of November. I am not sure what I would do for Christmas; I am thinking something small to start off my yearly tradition. I am not giving gifts, at least not, this year. I might spend the rest of the week contemplating what small Christmas tradition to start. Death to the Grinch!

However, while I am stuck on what to do, give or start for Christmas, yours truly is very aware of what she wants for Christmas.:) I love giving and receiving gifts. I pray I get a few if not all of my wishes this year. :)  I cannot wait for when I am better equipped to give out gifts again.

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These are what I want for Christmas:
  • A spa treat
  • A HTC EVO 4G Phone
  • Gift card to Mall of America
  • A skydiving gift card
  • Xmas/New Years with the Love on my life
  • An all-expense paid trip to Nigeria, California and Guatemala
  • Gift Card to a vintage bookstore
  • A furnished apartment in Uptown Minneapolis
  • Hawt single guys on every floor of my apartment building
  • The Color GOLD!
  • A visit to DC to see my siblings
  • A quick winter
  • A forever home for all orphans and abandoned children
  • A State of the Art kitchen
  • A camera...a Nikon Bad-ass camera
  • 2 new clients...Long-term clients
  • A new car
  • Hugs and Kisses plus Love and Joy
  • Death to Student Loans
  • Trip to New York to see Lion King on Broadway
  • A kiss when the ball drops in New York
  • Pain-free heels
  • An all expense paid spree to Victoria Secret
  • My own personal male masseuse
  • A date to see a play or musical. A MALE date. Girlfriends, fall back! I love you still.
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Friday, December 16, 2011

My Adventure: I am Scared...

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Yes, I am scared. I am scared my writing and JostWrite would never make it out of its humble beginnings. I am scared that no one would be inspired by anything I write, do or have to say. I get scared often, but I am daily learning to keep one foot in front of the other. I am assured that "everywhere the sole of my foot shall tread upon has been given to me." I am assured that hard-work pays. Lots of H-A-R-D FREAKING W-O-R-K.

Last night, like a few other nights in the past six months, I was scared. Most days are good. I believe in what I am doing and want to do. Concrete plans are taking shape in my head, and I know my intentions for 2012. I am writing down my ideas and stepping out on some of them. The future is bright and promising on most days. However, some days I feel like I am on the path to ruin my life if I do not get a part full-time job soon. As I job search, I am debating if a full time or part time job is best for my situation. I would let my finances and some other factors dictate that. I need to find a job anyways. :)

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I experience panic and fear when I sit at my computer thinking of ideas to pitch, how to pitch it and whom to pitch it to. It is freaking scary. I have gotten rejected and also accepted. I have had sleepless nights...loads of them, but deep down in the core of me, I know this is what I want to do.It is a thousand miles, but I am taking the first steps. My newest daily adage, thanks to Jess Constable of MML, is "Start where you are and just keep going." I repeat that to myself daily. When I get all down and under, I write or I get on the positive thinking and self-talk bandwagon. I also get my bible out and pray; that is how I have dealt with the voice of fear

Last night was different, I was on my computer when I began having feelings of inadequacy about what I love and do. Most of you are aware of the voice of fear that tells you that you are making a mistake by thinking your dreams would ever come true. I decided to go to bed, but I laid in bed, looked up at the ceiling and absorbed the silence in my room. It was frightening.

"What if" questions filled my mind. It was endless hours of questioning, tossing and turning until I fell asleep. I woke up this morning and the first thought that popped into my head was Psalms 37...I got up to read it and verse 7 stood out to me

"Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him; fret not yourself because of him who prospers in his way..."

It finally occurred to me that I got anxious last night when I was reading successful blogs and stories of writers who started out like me. They all SEEM so much more smarter than I am...keyword is "seem." I wrote a blog titled "So Long Insecurity" a while back that addressed when we look to others as better than we are.

I made up my mind when I was college to enter my friends' success with joy at all times even when my life is nothing to write home about. I am going to apply that to other writers, freelancers, bloggers, business-owners, entrepreneurs...the whole world actually. My journey is my journey, and I going to appreciate and rejoice when others succeed even when mine is yet to knock the door. No jealousy, envy, insecurity, fear or feeling of inadequacy allowed here. I know obstacles would come, but it is all part of the journey. I am ready and willing to walk it with God on my side.

Beloved, You are Loved Absolutely!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Introducing Sia Nyama Koroma!

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My newest assignment with Afrikan Goddess Online is a weekly series on the First Ladies of Africa. I completed the first article which went up today about Sia Nyama Koroma, Sierra Leone's First Lady. It was inspiring to research and write about her. She is doing a good job for the mothers and children in Sierra Leone; her cause is maternal health and infant mortality.

I am excited to dig my teeth into this weekly series; I am more excited to educate myself about the efforts of the women and the issues I might not be aware of. I will be posting a weekly blog post to let you all know when an article is published. The goal is to publish every Monday; if anything changes...I will keep you updated. A few of the profiles might be written by another talented AG team member, and I will still annouce it here and give credit to whom credit is due. :)

I submitted my first draft for next week's article today. While you anticipate its publication, read all about Afrikan Goddess Online Africa's First Lady of the Year, Sia Nyama Koroma, here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

£18,000 in Exchange for Four Teenage Girls...

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The fight against human trafficking is daily challenged by the news of more victims falling prey; children and women are always the most vulnerable parties. No nation is immune; it is happening in my home land of Nigeria, in Atlanta, Georgia, on the streets of India and during "business" meetings in Europe. It is hard to know who is trustworthy as I go about my daily living. I feel like my neighbor next door and the waiter serving my meal could both be intertwined in the selling and buying of innocent people. The end result of money and power makes me cringe.  I am appalled, but the questions that never seem to stop bugging me is "What drive humans to stoop to such levels of evil? How can a woman or man look into the eye of a child and think "A premium meat for sale?" I guess the simple answer I can muster is "The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?" (Jeremiah 17:9)

A few minutes ago, I read the story of a mother and her daughter accused of selling underage girls for sex in the United Kingdom. The pair were exposed when they offered children as young as 13 to former News of the World investigative reporter, Mazher Mahmood. The fee to deliver four teenage girls to a party at the luxury Dorchester Hotel, Park Lane, central London was £18,000. Mahmood was working undercover. The pair, Angela Martin, 46, and her daughter, Natasha Martin, 24, have denied any intention to carry the sale through to completion. They are claiming it was a ruse to swindle money out of Mahmood, who they assumed was a fixer for wealthy Arab men. A "ruse" that included showing him a couple of teenage girls as evidence of what they were capable of providing. 

Whether, the intention was to swindle or to sell children for sex, I hope these women go to jail for a long time. Nothing justifies using children as sex tools or as a ruse for fraud. The bank-load of money made off the backs of helpless children and women is inexcusable. People are making money and a living off trafficking; we cannot afford to turn our ears and backs. The victims could be anyone. There are news stories emerging every day, from the arrest of people involved in a mob-linked sex trafficking ring to the story of Pakistani men in the United Kingdom grooming young girls for sex. I am overwhelmed and saddened. It all needs to stop, and no other way can it be stopped, but through awareness, education, action, international sanction, No-tolerance and a fight to the finish. There are many organizations standing up to fight for freedom for all people regardless of status, race and nationality. I am aware and involved with agencies like A21 Campaign and Making Noise Inc. These are two organizations in a myriad of organizations that recognize the issue and are doing all they can to fight. No action you engage in is too small to raise the profile higher in the international circuit and to create awareness for people without knowledge. 

Children should not be an avenue to satisfy lust. Actually, no one should be enslaved to satisfy lust, greed, evil or selfishness. Not any child, teenager, woman or man. 

Another question: "Who were the teenage girls paraded before Mahmood, and what is being done about their plight?"

Monday, December 12, 2011

10 African Women In the Diaspora to Watch in 2012

The article below was written by me and published in the Afrikan Goddess Online December edition. I expanded my knowledge and also had fun putting this together. A few of these women I was not aware of until recently. What do you think? Who do you think should have been on this list, but wasn't?

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The world is moving forward, and African women are moving right along with it – both at home, and right here in the Diaspora – so that it is no longer shocking to see a woman of African descent on her way up to the highest pinnacle of her abilities. However, there still exists that feeling of pride when one finds out that the woman featured in a magazine, newspaper, or in other news media, being recognized for an achievement, is a woman of African descent. We still relate to the names and the faces in a way that elevates a sense of self and a sense of pride. These ten ladies are bound to make you gush with pride in the coming year, so watch out! 
To view the list, click here!

JostWrite Favorite Things

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I love nail polish, and I love it in all shades. My friends sometimes visit just to use my colorful collection of nail polishes. I wish I had the money to get a pedicure and manicure every weekend, but since I do not, it's my treat to myself most weekends.

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I am also a fan of chipped nail colors, but I do not like when my colors come halfway off especially barely two days into polishing my nails. A few weeks ago, I found the answer to keeping my nail colors fresh for days. My newest favorite item is Sally Hansen Advanced Hard as Nails with Nylon and Retinol clear nail polish.  I use it as a top coat. My mom was first to use it after I bought it. she was in awe when her colors were still intact four days out. When I used it, I also had the same results and I  was sold. My nails started to chip at the edges six days into application (double sold). If you have a problem with nail colors coming off 30 seconds after application, this might just be something you should invest in.  I am sure you will also be won over.

I love to look at my nails when it is adored. It makes me smile.

Disclaimer: This is not an official review for Sally Hansen. No payment was issued as a result of this review; I am just telling it as it is and as I like it.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Sweet Serving...

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"I would rather be a 10 at what I am gifted at than a 5 at what others think is important." AdeOla Fadumiye (JostWrite), writer.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My Adventure: Birthing JostWrite

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I was eight when I made the decision to write. I read a lot, and I still do. Before I was eight, I was reading everything from biographies to fictions and poetry. I read both Nigerian and foreign literature. I read books like Koku Baboni, Sugar Girl, Oliver Twist, The Drummer Boy, Othello, Jane Erye, The Lion and The Jewel and A Midsummer Night's Dream. My dad also had a few boxes in our storage filled with his books, books he had read while in the army and in college. After I grew dissatisfied with my assigned school readings and my age appropriate books, I would sneak into the storage to choose from my dad's stash. He is an extensive reader, and he had a lot of books in his collection, some were not appropriate for me. However, I was just a young girl in love with words. Books about the Berlin wall, the Pearl Harbor attack and also Thrillers filled with sex and violent scenes filled my childhood.

I remember exactly where I was sitting when I made the decision to write; I was sitting on our housemaid's bed. Her room was one of my reading hideouts. My hideouts were the places I hid while my sister helped my mom and the maid in the kitchen. My other hideout was behind the biggest couch in the living room. I spent hours behind our stripped mud colored couch straining my eyes in the dark against words in a book, but I had been discovered and reprimanded too many times to want to go back there. Hence, the maid's room. I cannot recall the book I was reading, but the author was female and Nigerian. Her biography on the back cover stated that she either started writing or published the particular book I  was reading at 16. Right after I read that, I told myself "I can do this too." I immediately grabbed a pen and a new notebook to pen my first story. It took a few months to complete. It was about a girl who lost her mother and was sent by her father to London after high school to live with his sister and to go to college. She got involved in the wrong crowd and ended up getting pregnant. The last time I read that story, I laughed out loud at my bad writing. :) Even though I wrote like a two year old and the end results of my writings were bad terrible, I longed to produced sentences strung into one another. My desire was, and still is, to tell a story.

When I went to high school, I excelled in Literature. I was a star literature student. I was a good student, but literature was my thing. In high school, I also met a friend and alongside her, my love for writing grew permanent roots downward and I flourished. I met Ogecha Diane Haruna. She is a triple treat. She could write, she was a powerful singer/songwriter and she drew captivating images. She did it all effortlessly, and every time I read her stories, I told myself I could do even better. I realized she was good, not only, because she had a talent,but she wrote a lot. While we were in class, she wrote. In between classes, she wrote. During recess, she was writing, drawing or singing. From her, I learned I needed to keep doing it and doing it and doing it to get better. We wrote some one or two songs together. Ogecha is currently a gospel artist. Geez, I was not surprised when I came across her on Reverbnation, she is made for great things. Support her! 

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Today, I still love to write. I love to create stories and move a creative scene from my head to paper. Sometimes, I start writing not knowing where I am headed, but I always choose a road and it led somewhere in most cases. In college, I got busy with school , but I wrote in my journal. I sent in an article to my undergraduate newspaper; it was accepted and published. I did my internship and was recognized as a writer so I wrote press releases and also wrote for their magazine, newsletter and marketing materials.I also started an anonymous blog in 2006. In June 2011, when my work contract was nearing its end, and I had no other job offer, I decided it was time to put the thought that had  been swimming in my head for a few months into action.Three months earlier, I had communicated with Ogecha on Facebook, and she encouraged me to go for it. Then, I got two random calls a couple of days before I officially launched my first public blog as JostWrite. One was from my sister and another from a dear friend, and they both said "Ola, why are you not writing? You should be doing this professionally." I had not told anyone what I was thinking, but I was praying. Oh geez, I was praying. :)

I gave birth to JostWrite in June without a concrete plan. JostWrite is my growing baby. It is my baby and whatever I dream for it, choose for it and think towards it is what I get. I have subscribed to the 10,000 hours of work. Hard work. Networking. Sharing. Opening up and professionalism. I was excited when I signed my first client right after I started talking about JostWrite, but that gig lasted two weeks. When It was done, it took another four months between my sister's wedding, a move from DC to Minnesota and leaving town to visit DC for a month, to sign my next client and a few days after that to sign the next. I am thankful to be able to live at home for free. :)

This is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, building and growing a business. I just want a 9-5 job sometimes, but with each person I write for and each organization that commends my job well done...I realize this is what I want to do.

I have decided to share my journey with you. My journey will include questions like whether getting a part -time job to fund myself is the way to go or should I get a full time job and have JostWrite be a midnight hustle. I would be sharing my failures, my fears, my mistakes, my successes and my joys. I would be sharing the steps towards creating a logo, a website, a brand, mission statement and vision.I will try to be as open as much as is possible, but you will be getting glimpses into some aspect and a full glance into others.

I ask that you join me on this scary, but worth my while journey.

Beloved, You are Loved Absolutely!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Sweet Serving...

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"Miracles sometimes happen, but more often they're made of faith and wit and hope and imagination, to say nothing of sweat." Tom Walden, writer

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Concept: Immemorial Pearls & Lacy Thongs.

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Alas, she needs no introduction, because she is nameless. She is the lady in the street, and the freak in the bed! She is my dilemma! She is your dilemma! She is our dilemma!

Ludacris in Usher's "Yeah" eloquently rapped and branded us all into a concept, however, it is not new! I hear men declare her as who they want in their woman, and I hear women proclaim her as who they are or want to be. But, who is “the lady in the street and the freak in the bed?”

Is she the one we label sophisticated and erotic, but cultured. Maybe she is obligated to be cautious in her deliberations, yet defined in her outlooks. Maybe, she is expected to be unbiased while wrapped in 700-counts Egyptian cotton, but exhibit sturdy yet sensitive virtues on a first date.

Is the Super-Woman of firm proclamations and restraint? Is she a lie that society wants to create or a fa├žade that feminists want to believe in?

The feminine identity has been tossed into a warped version of itself. The vision of what it means to be a real woman now confuses me, because it seems just as limiting and overwhelming as the version we were trying to break free from.

In addition, we are to be just like the Proverbs 31 woman, and to be sincere, sometimes, I want to find her and wring her neck. I want to find her and tell her that her perfection is sickening. However, I realize that she is also nameless, because she is an epitome and a standard. I am not like her today, but I could be someday, and I could give her name if I choose.

I have since realized that there are many ways to be feminine. So, I do not insist that you take off your pearls, put on some thongs and dance on tables. I also do not insist that you take off your thongs, put on some pearls and serve some muffins. Alas! I do not insist that you put on both your immemorial pearls and lacy thongs.

I only insist that when you discover your power and when you speak out, I ask that you refuse to turn that power around and act the same supressing way towards the men and the women in your life who are still defining who they are. I ask that you do not suppress, disrespect or label. I ask that you start BE-ing, but in that BE-ing...,you might have to fight!

I only insist that you do take a stance towards your womanhood. In the end, whether you choose to be a lady, or a freak or you subscribe to being both, you define yourself and your dreams. Your subscription defines how far you walk, and you will have to fight.

So where do I stand? When we define womanhood, I ask that we look at the definition of femininity and ask ourselves how do I live this out?  I ask that you let femininity be soft and strong, not obnoxious. Let it not be defined as a mat to be walked over, but a neck that influences. Let it be ambitious and ladylike. Let it not be head snapping and manipulative, but let it be sexy. Let it be assertive, outspoken, nurturing and respectful. Let it not clamor for its own, but let it fight for what is right. Let it not stem from a place of anger or the definition placed on you by your society, your culture and your past. Let it be ambitious and introspective. Let it be everything that it is, but never let it be a man.

Let it be defined from an open heart dedicated to excelling while nurturing the next generation of women who are still growing up. Let it take into account that some women are hurt and some are angry, but let it not excuse bad behavior. Let it recognize the hurt and its perpetuators, but never let it keep pointing fingers. Let it be defined as Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, Middle-eastern...all races. Let it have wavy hair, straight hair, curly hair, coiled tight hair, brown, blond and black hair. Let it be a career woman, Let her stay home as a housewife. Give her the freedom to choose one or the other. Let her give in to the core values of femininity while discarding the lies that come with it.

I ask that the goal should not be to construct a new, equally restrictive counterdefinition of proper womanhood,

Why? Because the post-modern woman was defined, and she, in her joy over her freedom from suppression and in her sexually liberated will of equality is still found humming "I love Big Poppa"

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