Bacon, Mariah Carey, and Wi-Fi: A Random List of What I’m Thankful For…

Every year we mention the things we’re thankful for, but I wanted to put together a list of things that are not typically on everyone’s list but still hold a special place in our hearts.

  1. A strong Wi-Fi signal–  I don’t always have a strong signal, but when I do… Thank you Lord!
  2. Google–  Information at your fingertips.
  3. Clean Public Restrooms–  Unfortunately, these are few and far between, but when you find one, it’s truly refreshing.  Otherwise, I brace myself for muscle cramps, “holding it” until I get home.
  4. (Speaking of restrooms….) Good, Quality toilet Paper
  5. Moving Dollies– Whether you’re moving into some place or moving out, these things are always SO helpful.
  6. Mariah Carey– We are lambily.  She’s freakin’ A+mazing!
  7. Janet Jackson– And I’m a part of the “Jan fam.”  <–Uhh… yeah!  Also awesome!
  8. Bacon– Self-explanatory.
  9. Pumpkin Spice Lattes (Yeah, I’m one of THOSE people.)
  10. The ability to block people on social media (Again, self-explanatory.)
  11. Bags flying free–  Thank you Southwest.  🙂
  12. Paraben-free makeup– No breakouts please.
  13. Chick-Fil-A– Sent from heaven.
  14. Matinee Movies– I can get in and get out before the crowd gets overwhelming and annoying.
  15. Lyft or Uber, whatever– Hey, as long as I don’t have to drive when I’m on vacation…
  16. Movies with Denzel Washington– This is not even up for debate.
  17. Emojis and GIFs– Some things can not be expressed with mere words.
  18. Back scratchers–  They come in handy when no one is around.
  19. Disinfectant spray– Protecting us from germs since 1889.
  20. Anyone who is reading this- Because you guys ROCK.  🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!

P.S. Just so we’re clear, neither Mariah Carey nor Janet are random, but this list is.

What is something random that you’re thankful for?

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The Ashleys of the World

A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I went to a restaurant to grab a bite to eat. We ate at a well-known franchise restaurant, nothing too fancy. Though we’ve been to this restaurant a number of times, this particular day, our experience was different. The service has never been horrible; it’s usually pretty decent. A friendly server named Ashley greeted us. At first glance, Ashley was just like all of the other servers that we’d encountered at the restaurant. She was dressed the same. She took our order the same as the waiters who had served us at the restaurant before. Nothing was out of the ordinary . . .initially. By the end of the night, Ashley had proven to be different from any other server we’d come across.

Ashley was kind and attentive. She always seemed to be a step ahead when it came to serving our table. Before we could ask for anything, she had already had taken the initiative to get things done. She had efficiency as well as foresight. She knew menu well. She knew the restaurant policies. When we struggled to use the paying device at the table, she immediately knew what was wrong and became our tech-savvy hero. Not only had she anticipated any problems, but after their discovery, she had already strategized the proper solution.

My friend and I quickly became aware that this girl was definitely on top of her game. She easily stood out among any of the servers we had ever had before—not just at this restaurant, but in ANY restaurant we had ever been too. We were so in awe of her incredible service, we just had to tell her what a great job she’d done. When we called her over to express our gratitude, she graciously accepted the compliment. However, what she told us next left us floored. THIS. WAS. HER. FIRST. DAY. We could not believe it. How is that even possible?! This young woman was so great at her job; we’d assumed that she’d been a veteran in the restaurant industry. In fact, I’ve experienced great waitressing before, but none of them had even come close to her level of attentiveness, competence, or efficiency.

My friend and I insisted that she call the manager so we could inform him of how well she was doing. When the manager walked over, we were stoned face, not giving him the slightest indication of what was going on. He was a bit hesitant when approaching our table, but then he asked if everything was okay and whether or not we had any concerns. Then my friend and I broke into smiles and said something like, “Ashley was AMAZING! You all definitely need to keep her on your staff.” Then we went on and on gloating about her amazing service. He smiled, seeming pleased, and thanked us for our feedback.

So, what’s the big deal? Why am I taking the time to make a huge fuss in a blog post about the waitress who served my table? Firstly, I think that, unfortunately, great service is hard to come by these days, so it’s refreshing when you experience it. Furthermore, whenever you experience wonderful service, I think it’s important to compliment and encourage someone in that field because they do not have easy job dealing with people on a regular basis. They have to deal with so many preferences, outlandish requests, and a variety of attitudes. (Trust me, I know because I used to bus tables a long time ago. The stories that I could tell ya . . .)

Secondly, I learned something important that day that I felt obligated to share with my readers. You do not have to be limited by the restrictive low expectations of those in your environment. You don’t have to fall victim to their assumptions of mediocrity. You can excel exponentially beyond the measures placed around you.

Ashley provided impeccable service leaving an unbelievable impression on my friend and me. Though we expected nothing out of the ordinary, she exceeded our expectations. She wasn’t limited in the quality of service that she provided simply because it was her first day. She took the limits off, and so should we. Each day we should strive to not only to do better, but also to BE better individuals. How someone handles the position of service is very foretelling of a person’s character, and Ashley’s character speaks volumes. Individuals like Ashley should not only be commended, but should be esteemed as role models of how to be considerate and treat people with kindness and respect.

We should strive to provide quality service, no matter whom it’s for. I’m sure when she went to work that day, she probably didn’t think that the service she provided would inspire someone to write a blog about it, but it did. Now no matter the journey she takes in the future, she now has a documented account of the impression that she’s left on a stranger. Maybe future employers or business partners will look at this as a reference on how professional and wonderful she is. In the future, she is free to refer to this link if she likes (and I hope she will), because I’ll back her 100%. Good on ya, Ashley! You were absolutely amazing! And to the “Ashleys” of the world who are approaching life the same way—in such a diligent and thoughtful manner—thank YOU!

Will My Vote Make a Difference?

Here’s to one last rallying cry to get you all to vote. I’ve heard so many poor excuses for why some people are not voting. For example, you were frustrated by the last presidential election. However, not all elections are based on who resides in the White House. That’s not how American government works.

This midterm election involves the election of members of Congress, who either reaffirm the president’s leadership or object to it. Voting for members of Congress is crucial for the checks and balances of the president. There are many critical issues on your wellbeing coming up for review and debate, such as Medicare and Social Security. Further, given the toxic, divisive state of America, laws could potentially be passed that effect us for years to come. Whatever progress we have made over the past years, could essentially be reversed. Future investigations, lifetime appointments in lower federal courts, redistricting, and healthcare—all will be affected by this election. This election is also crucial for a lot of STATE-level policy.

I get it. We’ve been disappointed by elections results before. I understand that the idea of the Electoral College exercising some form of control in the presidential election gave some of you great pause. However, if you’re really about that life of being “woke” and socially conscious, then at LEAST uplift your local community by voting for your city council, school board, and local attorney positions. Do you want criminal justice reform? Do you care about the quality of teachers in your children’s schools? Do you care if your parents and grandparents have enough to cover their medications and healthcare? Yes? Then you need to vote. Otherwise, don’t claim to care if you’re just going to sit on your hands.

Still not convinced?  I ask that you consider this question posted by a commenter I saw on Instagram:  If our vote isn’t important, then why are people fighting so hard to suppress it?

 

 

 

The Hate U Give: A Film That Challenges Us So Beautifully

(NO SPOILERS) After returning from my recent trip to the movies, I’m blown away. The Hate U Give is a drama film based on the 2017 novel by Angie Thomas. The film, so beautifully directed by George Tillman Jr., forced you to confront your biases. Though the individuals on the silver screen were acting, their storylines were very real. Identity, love, fear, forgiveness, rage—all are themes in the film. It was a depiction so relatable that it caused a collision with fiction (the script) and reality (America’s actuality).

With each scene, I felt the tugging of my emotions. I smiled at the warmth of love surrounding family. At the sight of injustice, my body tensed up with anger. I fought to hold back tears while viewing moments of pain.

This film challenged a very real brokenness within our criminal justice system, as well as the brokenness within man, such as prejudices, irrational fears, and misperceptions. The Hate U Give showed that although these negative perspectives and toxic attitudes are learned in our society, they could be overcome with unity, justice, and compassion. Superb acting. Incredible writing. Exceptional film.

When a society continues to hate and misjudge, it can spur a continuous cycle of  devastation.  Allow yourself to have a moment of in-depth self-reflection.  Come face to face with a reality known by far too many.  Accept the challenge.  Go see it.

Vote It, Like I Talk It

I could give a long, drawn out speech about why midterm elections are important, but I’m not going to do that (at least not today anyway). I’ll just cut to the chase. Below are helpful links to help you figure out what exactly is going on during this upcoming election. Your time is precious, so check out some of the crème de la crème of political info to help you be on your merry, electoral way! (And don’t worry, for those of us who love to read, there will be more posts that are elaborate in the near future.)

This Is How We Do It

Want to know exactly how to register to vote? Here is a helpful link for you.  Already registered? You should still check the status of your registration (see previous link). If you heard that some voters in certain locations may have been purged from the rolls of registration, that’s not fake news.  Also, make sure your driver’s license or state i.d. is valid (up to date, without errors, etc.) by visiting your local DMV office.  For more information, visit your state’s DMV website by clicking here and follow the necessary prompts.

I Just Want It To Be Over

Check to see if you can go ahead and get voting out the way in your state via early voting.  Once you click the voting link above, scroll down to the chart at the bottom of the page and learn whether your state allows for early voting and whether the deadline has passed or is fast approaching.

She Doesn’t Even Go Here

If you are currently living outside of your home state where you’re registered, away at college, or won’t be able to go to the polls on Election Day due to special circumstances, you may be eligible for absentee voting (aka “mail-in voting”) for your state. Click here to see if you meet the necessary conditions required to mail in a ballot.  For further information on the myths often associated with voting via absentee ballot, click here.

Who are these people!?

Don’t realize who is going to be on your ballot? Find out who the candidates are and what they support on BallotReady, a non-profit, nonpartisan organization that provides voter guides for this upcoming election. Simply type in your city and state, and it will provide you background information on the candidates in your area.

Cómo se dice, “Vote,” en español?

If English isn’t your first language, click this link here to view voter’s guides available in up to 11 different languages.

What’s going on in my neighborhood?

This link takes you directly to the local elections site of your state/territory.

Where do I go from here?

Learn where the location of your polling place is by typing in your address here.

Who you gonna call?

There are so many shenanigans going on in the world today. If on Election Day you smell trouble brewing at your local polling place, you can contact this organization immediately with questions and help protect your right to vote.

Long Live the King of Pop

Me being silly at the Wax Museum 🙂

Today marks the King of Pop’s birthday. The legend would have been 60 years old. Ever since I can remember, Michael Jackson has inspired me—everything from constantly borrowing a friend’s Moonwalker VHS tape every chance I got to trying to mimic his signature moves. I even forced friends and family to watch his music videos and documentaries with me over and over again. I’m sure they enjoyed it though. (Hey family, if you’re reading this, sorry, not sorry.) I’m even convinced that my first words were, “Michael Jackson.” (That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.)

I have always been awestruck by his musical genius. His artistry had always been innovative. His performances were always breathtaking. His talent is unmatched and his skill is incomparable. He’s inspired me to strive for excellence on my own personal journey.

One thing that we can glean from the superstar’s life is that we should work hard, dream big, and maintain a giving and humble heart. Though he is no longer with us, may we continue to be inspired not only by his music, but by his creativity, work ethic, excellence, and his philanthropy.   May each and every one of you all’s journey be filled with purpose and love.  Blessings.

Pure Essence: Friendship

All smiles.

As Helen Keller once said, “Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” On a lighter note, I’d like to adjust that quote with, “Walking with a friend at the Essence Festival is better than walking it alone.” By no means am I trying to take anything away from Ms. Keller because she makes a valid point that true friendship blossoms amidst adversity. However, taking on the adventure of Essence Fest has got to be in the top five tests for true friendship, right? My own personal girls trip this year was a testament to that fact.

An estimated half of million flooded the streets of New Orleans on Essence weekend. Multiple sets of friends packed the Convention Center and the Superdome. The city was filled with the kind of laughter that only inside jokes could provide. There were tons of friends with sparkling, custom-made jackets, each one holding the group name they’d dubbed themselves for the weekend. My friends and I were excited for the adventures that lie ahead, but little did we know all that was in store.

I’m supportive if you’re the type to thrive in solo traveling. By all means, enjoy yourself. However, would I recommend Essence Fest as a solo traveling spot? Probably not. There are just certain adventures, like this one, that require the presence of friends. And even though all of my close friends weren’t able to attend, I made the best of it with the ones who could. I don’t know where I would have been without my two girls, TaCarla and Crystal, by my side to get me through the weekend. We had each other’s backs for sure.

We compromised on places to eat so that everyone could enjoy the experience. We made sure that each one of us got to enjoy a major event tailored to our specific tastes each day. We held spots for each other, navigated crowds, and stood in long lines. We stood for hours just to watch an event even if only 1/3 of our trio was interested in seeing it. And though my friends were a little too shy to take photos of their fave celebs, I had no shame and did my best to get pictures for them.

My friends were just as equally supportive of me as well, e.g. waiting for me to change after a concert from high heels to flats because my feet were over it. One of my friends even had her hairdo messed up, and almost suffered a neck injury, from a surprise crowd surfing incident at one of the events that I wanted to see! My poor friend handled it so graciously though, all in the name of friendship. (And don’t worry; her neck and her hair are doing perfectly fine, lol.)

Should you decide to attend an event like Essence in the future, it is to your benefit to attend with friends who have your back and are loyal to the core. Trust me on this. There will be plenty of times during the festival (and throughout the rest of your life) that you will need a solid support system. But be warned, only the truest of friends can handle the shenanigans of such an epic weekend, flaky acquaintances need not apply.

Friends . . . how many of us have them? Well, I certainly do.

Being Silly
Serious face. -_-
This is the “Yeah, right. We don’t believe you” pose, lol.

(Special shout out to my girls pictured here.  I love you y’all!  Smooches!)