Sunday, September 25, 2016

Who is S.H.E.?: H.E.R., Vol. 1

I was recently out on the west coast for business, and my four-hour meeting quickly turned into six hours…Lordt! Needless to say I was drained, jet lagged and time zone difference wasted. I had about a thirty-minute drive back into the city, and thought to myself why sit in atrocious L.A. traffic without great tunes to ease my mind. For the past week it felt as if everyone I followed on Instagram posted a thing or two about a new release entitled H.E.R., Vol. 1. I am talking heavy hitters like Alicia Keys (Pre-Girl on Fire #shade), Tyrese, Swizz Beatz, etc. So, I figured what better way to drive down the Santa Monica Freeway than to test out some new tunes.

Baaaaayyybbbyyy I had the easiest commute in all of my LA experiences. It seriously felt like my commute blew by in minutes, and I arrived at my destination too soon. I did not want to get out of my rental car, I really did not. It was the perfect soundtrack to a cool L.A. night. Windows down, breeze flowing, and hair blowing in the wind. For a brief thirty-minute period in time I was home on the east coast, because I had seriously zoned out.

The artist behind H.E.R., Vol. 1 is completely unknown at this time. You heard me….the artist is unknown. This is all part of the genius strategic marketing plan from the folks over at RCA, which screams Millennials (yeah for my team). Raises for everyone in marketing! You get a chance to experience the artist in their rawest form, exempt from all the pretention that too often drapes new and old artists. It is literally just about the music, which is something that I can totally appreciate.

H.E.R., Vol. 1 is a seven track EP that leaves you wanting more, and more. Again, kudos to the label’s marketing geniuses. Whoever S.H.E. is leads off the project with sultry, brassy vocals, which evolve into higher octaves and melodic ranges as the EP progresses. The project takes us on a cruise through love from the perspective of a younger heart. Many of the lyrics shed light on the age of H.E.R. with references to Uber, cell phone charging, and equating love to your mate putting their phone down (that’s real love in 2016).

While H.E.R., Vol. 1 gives off much youth, there are major infusions of wisdom and experience throughout the project. S.H.E. is wise enough to have no regard for the opinions of others when it comes to H.E.R. relationship, express vulnerability in telling and showing H.E.R. man how she really feels (that’s some grown ass woman shit right there), calling H.E.R. man out on his shit when he is acting up, and putting in time because H.E.R. man is worth it while falling back when he does not deserve it. S.H.E. also throws some old flavor into the mix by making a few odes to Aaliyah on Losing, and sampling Floetry’s Say Yes on Wait for It (say word).

H.E.R, Vol. 1 is clearly an exploration of love, minus the gloom and depression. Yes, love is full of ups and downs, but it does not always have to be traumatic and grim. While I am totally here for heartbroken Mary J. Blige (that new album is about to be straight fire, shoutout to Kendu), we should also appreciate H.E.R. and the natural high of being knee deep in love. If H.E.R., Vol. 1 is a prelude to Vol. 2 or whatever S.H.E. is going to title her full album, I am totally here for it! #tapsnailsimpatiently

Be sure to check out H.E.R., Vol. 1 on all of your favorite streaming platforms, and let me know what you think. Correct me when I am wrong, but please celebrate me when I am right!

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Life Hack: Failing to Plan

I read a really great article the other day on Huffington Post titled “This is Us. This is Our 30s.” In a nutshell it spotlighted the notion that many of us envisioned our lives to have gone in one direction, and in reality it went in another direction, and how we cope. There is an old mantra that goes “Failure to plan is a plan for failure.” I am a Type A Personality kind of girl, and demand that things be in order, to an extent. When it came to my life I was never much of a planner. I mean I knew after high school I did not want to work at IKEA for the rest of my ilfe, so I needed to further my education by way of college and that is exactly what I did. After that point in my life everything else sort of just happened, no lie. Many critical events in my life were based on experience and me wanting to be proactive in promoting change within myself and my life. For example, early in life I was going to be a Pediatrician, which required medical school, which required passing Organic Chemistry. One lab experiment gone wrong, and an entire outfit filled with holes from an acidic chemical later and I was heading to law school. My final legal capstone course was extremely rigid and was a preview of law school. Next thing I knew I was searching for a full-time job opposed to taking the LSAT…get my drift? This has been the story of my adult life for as long as I can remember. No, I did not run from challenge, I ran towards my destiny. I was not about to pursue a life that was unfulfilling and made me unhappy simply for the sake of being a doctor or a lawyer.

I have never the kind of gal who had to be a Senior Manager by 27, married by 29, have two kids and a dog by 30, etc. I view that as planning for failure. You see life is not setup by time stamps, and it has no regard for your time table. It will play out exactly the way that it is supposed to, in its own time, not yours. I always feel a bit sorry for the girl who has her entire life road mapped to an exact science and date. They leave little to no room for happenstance, change of heart, and dammit just life! They are so consumed by their goals that they miss the opportunity to experience the journey of crushing said goals.  Experience, that is essentially what life boils down to for me, the journey along the way. How rewarding is landing that Senior Management position when you have not enjoyed the experience of the journey that got you there? It is the experiences along the journey that equip you with all the necessary resources to stay in your new position, and grow beyond the same.

As we get older it is natural to complete assessments of your life to determine where you are versus where you have been. It is completely unnatural and unhealthy to beat yourself up for not accomplishing a certain goal by a certain period in your life, or comparing your life to that of others. You are being unfair to yourself and discounting all of the hard work you have put in over the years to get to wherever you are in your life. So you chose to have a family before finishing your degree, or you quit your secure 9-5 to pursue your passion, or you and the guy you thought were going to get married are no more. So the hell what, that is called life Sugar, and to be frank....shit happens! 

Life is about finding alternate routes to get to your final destination. Just know that for every bad day, there are three good ones waiting in the wings. Stop taking inventory for what you do not have, and begin to take inventory for all that you do have. It will blow your mind once you realize how good you have it.

So, I demand that you forgo sizing up your high school classmate who appears to have it all via social media….designer threads, luxury foreign vehicle, and a McMansion. Remember that we only see her exterior and we have no clue what she deals with on the daily, and what she may have gone through to be able to acquire all of those “things.” You better pair that Forever 21outfit with that vintage Louis you inherited from your grandmother, hop in your domestic vehicle, lock the door to your tidy apartment or home, and hit the ground running.  Trust that your feet hurt after hours of dancing in $500 pumps just as much as they do in $90 pumps.

I am grateful for the life that I have, and I understand that it is the life that was designed for me. Anything that I continue to desire will manifest with patience, persistence, and perseverance. I will leave you with another old adage….”You want to make God smile, tell him your plans.” #keepyourheadup #itgetsbetterIpromise 

Sidebar: The picture above is of me and some of my closest girlfriends this past summer simply enjoying the lives that we have. #gratitude 

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Living in The Moment: All #Summer16

Soooooooo I have been M.I.A. all #Summer16, but for good reason. I was practicing the fine art of Living in The Moment. It has been absolutely amazing, and far more rewarding than I could have ever imagined. My summer consisted of sixteen, count em’….sixteen weeks of fun, sun, fellowship, and relaxation. Trust when I tell you that my spirit thanks me.

One great thing about Living in The Moment is that you come to appreciate the most basic things in life, discover new things in the world, and most importantly learn yourself. This is a total win-win in my book!

In #Summer16 I came to love social cigar smoking, basked in the gospel that my girlfriends spewed, and discovered new libations including a new selection of wines, hard cider and the almighty T.H.O.T juice. I danced, I danced a lot….in the rain (no worries as I was wearing my waterproof hair), in 90+ degree weather, in dive bars, in sophisticated lounges, in five inch heels, and in Converse Chuck Taylor’s. I became a self-proclaimed Wigologist, religiously celebrated others, and I hosted and attended countless Girls Nights. I took amazing selfies, had impromptu photoshoots in Harlem, and captured the most candid moments on film. I participated in planned road trips, as well as impromptu overnight trips. I reconnected with old friends and family, and made connections with many new folks. I fellowshipped with family and friends, and practiced loving those most important to me even harder. I demanded reciprocity from those family and friends, and was blessed in abundance.

I committed to exploring myself, and pushing the “safe” version of me beyond self-imposed boundaries, and dammit it felt good. I spent many nights alone, blasting jams from the 90s, sipping chilled wine, and getting further in tune with myself. I spent a few weekends doing absolutely nothing while I lay in bed napping throughout the day, snacked unapologetically, and binge watched some really great shows. I ate things that were healthy for my mind, body, and soul and felt really good afterwards. I also ate some shit that was not so good for my body without the guilt that typically follows. I wore bright lipstick, textured head wraps, fly sunglasses, short shorts, and Panama Hats. I let many things go….plain and simple, and this made life easier. I ran a few miles here and there and determined that I am pretty damn good at it, and realized that I should prescribe myself a daily dosage to get my endorphins flowing, stimulate my willingness to take on the world, and align myself for the day ahead (work in progress…). I decreased my worries and increased my carefree mindset after coming to terms with the fact that I cannot control the circumstances or situation, but only how I react to the same (to be continued….). I accepted people for who they were, and came to understand that life’s seasons are both purposeful and meaningful.

Bottom line is that #Summer16 was good to me, it did wonders for my spirit, and afforded comfort to my soul. It provided added value to my journey of living my best life, and granted me many life experiences. My practice of Living in The Moment will continue, but I will be back to blogging consistently in the process:)
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