Houston to the Bay – Part 3
I’m here! I’ve settled in (slightly) thanks to a new church home and new friends, so now it’s time to engulf myself in the community. I realized that I missed Houston not only because of friends and family, although that’s a huge part, but because I created a life and a routine. I had my favorite restaurant (God I miss the food of the South), my dry cleaners, my health care providers. I also was a part of the community whether it be volunteering my time or donating my dollars, I made my mark there and that was exactly what was missing in my new town. I had yet to do any volunteer work, I have not found new health care providers (I’m still hesitant about that. The relationship you build with the person who has seen every inch of your naked body is hard to shake. I’ve seen the same OBGYN for about 15 years! I don’t know if I can let another stranger in. No pun intended.), or a reliable dry cleaner and tailor.
For 2019 I made a vow to myself to get out and BE a part of the community. Start networking more, volunteer my time to my people, and finally find an Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., grad chapter to join. I don’t have much evidence to give for this particular effort because it’s only the beginning, but I do know that the more you invest in your community, the more you feel as if you are an actual resident and a part of the place you pay your taxes.
I encourage you to get out and see what makes your neighborhood so special. Attend community events. We have local music, art, and wine festivals during the warmer months, so I make sure to take part in those. This year, I’m thinking about volunteering to help where needed. Attend a local High School Sporting event. Shop local! Sit at your local coffee shops. This is a great way to get to know the business owners, the people, and get an idea of your neighborhood’s personality.
I’m on my way to celebrate my sorority’s founders day and I’m excited about the networking opportunity, but also about meeting new people. Pushing myself outside of my comfort zone has been the one method that has made me the most comfortable…Ironic, huh?!
In whatever transition you are faced with, step into it. Even when you’re fearful. Take the leap, and God will handle the rest.
Houston to the Bay – Part 2
One of the hardest things to do after the age of 30, is finding new friends. Typically, most of us have friends that we’ve known and grown up with since grade school, in addition to friends we met in college. I, personally, have friends that I’ve know since prior to kindergarten! I am not hesitant to befriend or chat it up with people, but 1, it’s harder to actually meet people like we used to do on the playgrounds at recess, and 2, I have more to lose as a full adult, than I did as a kid. The one thing that is easier, is the ability to determine if certain people are for you, or not. I quickly know if I want to continue my relationship with another person, or not, and when to remove myself from the equation; mostly because I know myself a lot better than I did at the age of 8.
Although it may be easy for me to be friendly with people, it’s not that easy for me to allow them to be a friend. I don’t let people in that easily. However, I knew that once again, if I was going to make NorCal my home, I had to build a community of friends. So here is how I did it…
The first step is to make the decision that you were ready to meet new people and to let your guard down, just a tad. I’m naturally an introvert, but I know how to “turn it on” when required. After you make the decision, you have to do something about it. I realized that did not move all the way to California to sit home and do the exact thing I did in Houston. So, I joined a Google Group for the area that was full of young, black professionals in the Bay Area and started to pay attention to the events that were posted, but attending none. It’s a slow process, y’all. I live in an area where a black person finding another black person is like looking for a needle in a haystack and when you find each other, you without provocation join in together with the electric slide! It’s a celebration! So, I decided to host a meet up at a local wine bar and invite all of the young, black, and professionals in the Google Group. I was so excited to see about 20+ people show up! We all mingled, played games, exchanged numbers and was treated to a few bottles of wine by the owner. He said that he loved to see what we were doing. I think he was shocked to see so many black people in his establishment. We did stick out like a black sore thumb, but we appreciated the sentiment.
Relationships blossomed from that event, some were empty “let’s meet up for lunch” promises, others actually developed into Facebook friends, and some ended up becoming true friendships. At the event, I ended up meeting another PYT from Houston and we immediately clicked. I also met another Baddie from NY who later hosted a Friendsgiving at her home where the community was ultimately built. We created a group of friends who vacation together, party together, pray together, celebrate each other’s wins, church together, and simply have fun!
It’s worth mentioning that none of us in our group are actually from the Bay Area, which, I think, unites us. We were all looking for the same thing; solid relationships, a family unit, people with the same interests, people to lean on, and we found it in each other.
The one thing I’ve learned about myself, is that vulnerability is not a bad word. Although everyone does not deserve access to your vulnerability, it’s perfectly fine to open up, meet new people, and allow them the opportunity to earn it.
Moving to a new city is not easy, but nothing in life is meant to go through alone. Building a community is not easy, but we deserve it. We all have the right to a cheering squad, both personally and professionally.
The last transition step is to serve my community. We’ll chat about that next time.
Houston to the Bay – Part 1
Well, I’m approaching 2 years as a Bay Area, California resident. As you may know, I moved to California from Houston, Texas. Not because of a job. Not because of a boyfriend or husband…but because of a dream, an assignment, if you may. Let me walk you through it….
September 2016, I was laid off from my job in Houston but decided to stick around and work on my podcast (Which was amazing. Within a few weeks, I went from pre-recorded to a live internet radio show). At the end of the year, as my lease was approaching expiration, I decided to make a move to California, as I had always dreamed, and follow through on the words I just spoken a few months prior. I prayed about it, submitted a few job applications, received a call and three rounds of interviews within one week! In December, I was hired and allowed to work from home until I made the move. SN: The job was a contract position, but I knew that if I wanted to live out my dream, I would have to trust God and take a leap of faith. I’m also very sure that if God determines it, He will make the provisions.
Fast Forward to my relocation in February of 2017. I bought a one way ticket to Oakland and didn’t fully realize how my life was about to change COMPLETELY!! My first 9 months were Hell! I went from excited, to hopeful, to depressed in a matter of a few weeks. I have studied, “treated”, and seen with my own two eyes, the signs and effects of depression, and I just knew I was in the middle of it. I would wake up in tears, fall asleep in tears, shower in tears, drive in tears, and it was a feeling I had never had to deal with. I thought that I was homesick, so I would fly back to Houston, at least once a month. After coming through it (I’ll enlighten you on the how a little later), I realized that it was all a part of the pruning process. God was cutting away everything I was familiar with and everything that I thought I was, to prepare me for everything He wanted me to be. I was isolated, with no friends and no family, so that I could get closer to God; so that I would have no distractions when He spoke to me. That horrible feeling I felt was because I was uncomfortable and one thing is for sure, there is no growth in comfort. What I was experiencing were growing pains. I was encouraged to move back, reassuring me that returning to Houston does not make me a failure, but that was never a part of my journey. Although I was in the middle of a tornado, I knew that my assignment could only be completed right here in NorCal.
So, how I got through it? I prayed through it. I have a Type A personality, I need rules (Just to break them. I’m also a radical), processes, and a plan, so I did just that; through prayer, I made a transition plan. I knew that becoming a part of the city would make this place feel more like home. I had to stop depending on my trips to Houston, for comfort, and push, fight, and pray through the pain.
There were three areas I wanted to focus on:
- Church Covering
Right after moving here, I found a church that I loved, with people that I loved, a message that was straight from the Word (no religion and no tradition), and a Pastor that I loved, but I had not yet committed. I was still deeply connected to my church home in Texas that I have been a faithful member of for 20+ years. However, I made a decision that if this is my home, I needed to plant seeds here so that my harvest would grow here. Bloom where you are planted, right?! I joined the church and immediately got connected and plugged in. As I started to become more involved, I started to smile more. I felt part of a community. This was now “My church”. I created a schedule and a routine. I had something to look forward to. Most importantly, I was sitting under a leader who was teaching me and forcing me to grow in areas that had not yet been watered and tended. I found a man and woman of God who prayed over me and with me.
Today, I’m deeply connected in the church, with no regrets. Through my faithfulness, God has put me in places that I would have never imagined and my church family continues to grow! So, Church Covering…check!
Although I found a church family that, without hesitancy took me in, I still lacked a core group of friends with the same interests as I, so that was the next task to check off of my list.
I hope that my story, and steps will assist you if you are thinking about moving, have moved, or are afraid to pick up and go.
Until next time,
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
I love time alone. The Holidays are here and although there will be a number of Holiday parties and gatherings, I would much rather like to stay in, get snuggled in my comfy cozy lounge wear, and curl up in front of the fire. I’m not against inviting friends and family over, but I hope they don’t show up expecting a huge show, cause it ain’t happening. If you are anything like me and prefer to stay Home for the Holidays, I have written out a few ideas to stay in the Christmas spirit and your pajamas.
- Whip up a batch of your favorite hot beverage, Wassail, Hot Cocoa, or a Hot Toddy, and binge watch all of the Christmas classics such as Home Alone, A Christmas Story, The Best Man, The Holiday, The Preacher’s Wife, or Die Hard?…don’t ask.
- Invite your closest friends over for a pajama party. Crank up The Temptations Silent Night, whip up a charcuterie board, fresh baked cookies, egg nog, and bring out the games, for a fun no pressure game night. If you can, gift your girl gang with a cute Christmas coffee mug to use throughout the night. You can snag this Santa Mug here.
- Cook your favorite dish and dessert, grab a glass of wine and get started on those new year plans and goals. Write out what you have achieved this past year and start looking towards the goals you will smash in the new year. If you are a vision board kind of gal, then get those magazines, markers and glue sticks out and get to visualizing!
- Do nothing. Don’t feel bad about it. Do you boo!
Whatever you choose to do to celebrate the season, I pray you enjoy yourself, your friends, and your family.
Merry Christmas, y’all!
FRIENDSGIVING IN TAHOE
Living away from family and friends can be difficult on anyone. We’ve all grown up with family traditions and when you are no longer able to participate in those traditions, you create your own! In 2017, I was invited to a Friendsgiving Dinner with about 30 other strangers. I waited until the last hour to decide to go and show up to a complete stranger’s home, but was overjoyed when a familiar face ( I met my now friend, then stranger, about 3 weeks prior, at a separate meet up) opened the door. Actually, her adorable 2 year old opened the door which made my decision to go even better.
It was at the event where I met my amazing friends who have become like family, so naturally we had to do it all over again. This year, we decided to pack up the cars, the kids, and the crockpots and drive up to Lake Tahoe for a little more intimate Friendsgiving weekend…with only 15 (including 4 children and minus 4 adults who couldn’t make it) this time. We rented a cabin at Northstar that slept everyone comfortably and had a great Black time cooking, singing, dancing, eye rolling, dominoes, laughing, and great conversation.
If you want to plan a getaway with a large group, and no Real Housewives of Tahoe drama, here’s how we succeeded.
- Only invite those you are actually friends with! Don’t invite people just because they just want to go, or you need to fill a room. That can create an off balanced dynamic and may not end well. Everyone in our group were actually very familiar with one another. We’ve all hung out at each other’s homes and have been around our kids, so trust and chemistry wasn’t issue. Plus the kids were comfortable with one another and really like each other.
- We had two people spearhead the weekend. One person took the reins and sourced the cabin, provided 2-3 options, and we settled on one. The other person grabbed a few of us and met and planned the activities, the meals, and travel arrangements. Once the plans were made, they were sent to the group to choose what activity and dish they would like to be responsible for. The least amount of people you have involved in the minute details, the smoother the event. Here is where we lodged. Northstar Resort.
- Since we planned to cook all of our meals there, we made a decision to make breakfast a group expense. The planners of the trip arrived in Tahoe early and did the grocery shopping for the house. One person paid for the bill, and we divided the cost amongst the adults, which came to less than $14/person. This cost also included snacks, and food for Friday night. A steal, right?! Speaking of Friday night, we had the best gumbo and fried fish I’ve had in a while!
- Friendsgiving Dinner was the big one! Everyone pitched in and made a traditional Holiday dish. I personally wanted to create a table that made everyone feel special, and a space where we can all sit together and break bread. You can read about the table in the November issue of the IASH Blogazine here.
- We researched the area prior to our departure and created a list of events like, hiking and snow tubing, but because there wasn’t enough snow on the ground yet, we weren’t able to tube. Also, the hiking trail was an hour drive away and didn’t allow us time to drive there, hike, and return back to the cabin in time to start dinner. We improvised and hopped on the Gondola hung out at the ski lodge, with hot cocoa and wine, around the fire pit and allowed the kids to play in the snow that was there.
Although we weren’t able to participate in the activities we planned, we reveled in each other’s company, which was the real reason we planned this trip. We took the fun to the cabin, hung out in the hot tub ( I fell asleep), made s’mores and enjoyed hot cups of wassail!
Always remember the real reason you decided to plan any friend or family trip. At the end of the day it’s about the people you’re with.
Have you taken a trip with a large group of friends? Where did it go? What tips do you have to succeed?
A few years ago I created a list of 101 goals to achieve in 1001 days. You can read that post and list here. Setting goals are a great way to be intentional with your life and your decisions. Writing those goals down not only makes you accountable, it puts the wheels in motion. Once it’s out there, it’s a signal to God and to self to get the process started. The 101 in 1001 list definitely activated some things for me. I sat back and watched my own words become my own reality. Once the list was created, I subconsciously started to move in the direction of achieving those goals, simply because I spoke them. If you don’t get anything from this post, please get that your words are powerful. What you say, you will convey. Since we have to power to create the life we live, use that power to create the life you WANT to live.
Take a moment and create a list of 101 goals you would like to achieve and allow yourself 1001 days to achieve them. They don’t have to be huge, just make a list of desires from your heart. In the end, if there are a few left over that went untouched, don’t be hard on yourself, just carry them over to the next 1001 days.
I have created a list of a few my goals for you, below and I decided to keep some to myself. Everything isn’t for Everyone. 😉
As you can see, my goals range from lighthearted to life changing. I hope you all decide to join me in this challenge and level up!
Listen, the last year and a half has been an emotional roller coaster, to say the least! When I moved from Texas, I was not fully prepared for the state of mind, discomfort, and eventually growth, I was about to embark upon. In my time of isolation, I mapped out a plan to make The Bay my home. By following through with this plan, my journey has become a lot easier to bear.
The three areas of my life that shape and heavily impact who I am, and eventually who I become are, friends/family, spiritual growth, and servicing my community.
I am deeply involved in ministry in both the church I attended in Texas and now the church here in California. It was very important for me to find a church community that was not focused on religion, but focused on relationship. A Church that cares about the community, the people, and the Kingdom.
Obviously, all of my friends and family are in Texas and not having that support system near me took me waaayyy out of my comfort zone. I think that was the hardest adjustment for me. Although, I love being alone, having a community and a support system is crucial for the psyche. At the end of the day, we need people.
“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Serving my community brings a great deal of satisfaction. I’ve been extremely blessed in my life and to not share and serve others is a disservice. I’m working on this last phase of truly becoming acclimated in my new home. Now that I’ve found a great Kingdom building church, amazing friends, I’m seeking ways to serve. My first step, reach out to the local chapters of my sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. If you’re reading this, you’re in the Bay, and are a member of AKA, holla at your girl!
Although these phases were applied to my life due to my relocation, you can definitely apply them to your life, wherever you are. Start where you are. You are not a tree, move. Move your place of residency. Move your state of complacency. Move your current relationship. Whatever it is and wherever you are, if you are not happy and/or growing…MOVE!
SHOP THE LOOK: Y’all know that I’m not shopping this year, so there are a few items, pictured, that are no longer available for purchase, but I have linked similar items that I would most definitely purchase, so I suggest you do too! FYI: This jumpsuit is on sale in both colors at 30% off!
Black women really are magical. No for real. Is there really nothing we can’t do?? I don’t think so. The problem is, not everyone is exposed to this knowledge. The BIGGER problem is not every BLACK woman knows their magic, sees their magic, or even believes in their magic.
To be clear, a black woman’s magic encompasses the beauty, power and resilience we all hold, as defined by the #blackgirlmagic phrase creator CaShawn Thompson. CaShawn goes on to explain, “I say ‘magic’ because it’s something that people don’t always understand. Sometimes our accomplishments might seem to come out of thin air, because a lot of times, the only people supporting us are other black women.”
For the record, women, in general are forces to be reckoned with. However, I make it my duty, as a black woman, to first look to a black female creator, curator, artist, designer, and, or business owner whenever I have a need. I take extreme pride in building a team full of BLACK. GIRL. MAGIC! And you better believe that I’m sharing all of their goodness….When I know, you know.
It’s too often that we don’t get the recognition we deserve, the funding we qualify for, or the platform we’re worthy of. It’s up to black women, to push other black women to the forefront and market them, support them, acknowledge them, share them, and most importantly, spend their money with them.
Black women are out here killing the game, taking over all industries, and saving lives. Literally! Recognize your own magic and celebrate the women around you. Sprinkle it everywhere.
(Black) Women who created the magic
Photographer: Rena O Productions
Makeup Artist: Wendy Bhola
Manicurist/Pedicurist: Face and Body Day Spa
Headwrap: Chi Chi Lamour
Earrings: Xpozher Accessories & Home Boutique
Watch: Big Chop Accessories
Sequin Jacket: Melodrama Boutique
I. Am. Woman Shirt: Black Vibe Tribe
White Denim Shorts: Vici Dolls
What female black owned business are you digging right now?
Photos shot by Rena O at the Le Meridien Hotel in Houston, TX