A Father’s Letter To His Daughter That All Of Us Could Stand To Read

Dear Little One,

As I write this, I’m sitting in the makeup aisle of our local Target store. A friend recently texted me from a different makeup aisle and told me it felt like one of the most oppressive places in the world. I wanted to find out what he meant. And now that I’m sitting here, I’m beginning to agree with him. Words have power, and the words on display in this aisle have a deep power. Words and phrases like:

Affordably gorgeous,

Infallible,

Flawless finish,

Brilliant strength,

Liquid power,

Go nude,

Age defying,

Instant age rewind,

Choose your dream,

Nearly naked, and

Natural beauty.

When you have a daughter you start to realize she’s just as strong as everyone else in the house—a force to be reckoned with, a soul on fire with the same life and gifts and passions as any man. But sitting in this store aisle, you also begin to realize most people won’t see her that way. They’ll see her as a pretty face and a body to enjoy. And they’ll tell her she has to look a certain way to have any worth or influence.

But words do have power and maybe, just maybe, the words of a father can begin to compete with the words of the world. Maybe a father’s words can deliver his daughter through this gauntlet of institutionalized shame and into a deep, unshakeable sense of her own worthiness and beauty.

A father’s words aren’t different words, but they are words with a radically different meaning:

Brilliant strength. May your strength be not in your fingernails but in your heart. May you discern in your center who you are, and then may you fearfully but tenaciously live it out in the world.

Choose your dream. But not from a department store shelf. Find the still-quiet place within you. A real dream has been planted there. Discover what you want to do in the world. And when you have chosen, may you faithfully pursue it, with integrity and with hope.

Naked. The world wants you to take your clothes off. Please keep them on. But take your glovesoff. Pull no punches. Say what is in your heart. Be vulnerable. Embrace risk. Love a world that barely knows what it means to love itself. Do so nakedly. Openly. With abandon.

Infallible. May you be constantly, infallibly aware that infallibility doesn’t exist. It’s an illusion created by people interested in your wallet. If you choose to seek perfection, may it be in an infallible grace—for yourself, and for everyone around you.

Age defying. Your skin will wrinkle and your youth will fade, but your soul is ageless. It will always know how to play and how to enjoy and how to revel in this one-chance life. May you always defiantly resist the aging of your spirit.

Flawless finish. Your finish has nothing to do with how your face looks today and everything to do with how your life looks on your last day. May your years be a preparation for that day. May you be aged by grace, may you grow in wisdom, and may your love become big enough to embrace all people. May your flawless finish be a peaceful embrace of the end and the unknown that follows, and may it thus be a gift to everyone who cherishes you.

Little One, you love everything pink and frilly and I will surely understand if someday makeup is important to you. But I pray three words will remain more important to you—the last three words you say every night, when I ask the question: “Where are you the most beautiful?” Three words so bright no concealer can cover them.

Where are you the most beautiful?

On the inside.

From my heart to yours,

Daddy

Source: DrKellyFlanagan.com / Connect with Dr. Flanagan on Facebook and visit his blog! He has some great advice the world deserves to see.

Still Sculpting

My hair is a ratchet mess.  So, as a result I am going to ignore my hair and post about my workouts because this hair needs to be shaped and dyed. Lawd have mercy.

Anywhoo, I have changed my workout regimen and I wanted to share.  Since this summer I have been working out with a trainer. I started out doing 30 minutes of cardio and weight training about 4-5 times a week, alternating between chest back and shoulders and abs arms and legs. I haven’t seen a difference in my weight but I have seen a difference in my body and I have felt an overall difference in terms of strength. The reason I haven’t seen much of a difference in my weight is because my body was converting fat into muscle and getting stronger.

Now that I have my strength up I am changing my work outs. It’s all about toning and sculpting right now. So, I am spending less time in the weight room and focusing more on body weight exercises (strength training exercises that don’t require free weights).  These workouts are also all the cardio you need. It’s no joke. I hate them but they are definitely worth it. The exercises I love to hate most are Burpees, Mountain Climbers, Plank Walk Pop Up, Pike Push Up, Squat Jumps, Dragon Walks, Hindu Push Up, Assisted Pull Ups, Pike Elbow Up, Driving Knew Push Up, Side Plank… etc… See the video below to know what I am talking about.

I have to admit I’ll miss the weight room though. I loved being the only woman in there representing and lifting more weight than some of the men but I need to chill out unless I plan on looking like a damn man. So… the dance room it is for now… and the weight room will be only twice  a week with less weight and more reps.

This video is no joke. I can’t do all of these exercises but I do what I am able to do. Check it out.

Let’s get it ladies so we can be butt nekkid in deez streetz!. I kid. I kid.

11 Ways Successful People Start Their Mornings

Onward and upwards er’body! Let’s meet our new goals this year and learn from the best!

Interesting article to share via Marc and Angel Hack Life Practical Tips for Productive Living

By Sam Of Financial Upside

The day may have 24 hours of equivalent length but every hour is not created equal.  Beginning the day with a purpose and a plan increases your chances of success.

In her book What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, Laura Vanderkam writes, “Seizing your mornings is the equivalent of that sound financial advice to pay yourself first.  If you wait until the end of the month to save what you have left, there will be nothing left over.  Likewise, if you wait until the end of the day to do meaningful but not urgent things like exercise, pray, read, ponder how to advance your career or grow your organization, or truly give your family your best, it probably won’t happen.”

Here are 11 smart ways to start your day.  I would suggest that the most successful people do the majority of these things during the first couple hours of their morning as part of their daily routine.

  1. Get an early start.
  2.  This extra time will help you avoid speeding tickets, tardiness and other unnecessary headaches.  In addition, most markets and businesses open by 9 A.M.  Whether you work from home or commute to an office, the more time you’ve had to digest the day’s news and obstacles ahead, the greater advantage you’ll have over your competition.
  3. Review your Focus list.
  4. What is your number one goal right now?  What’s most important to you?  What makes you happy?  Design your time around these things.  Remember, time is your greatest limited resource, because no matter how hard you try you can’t work 25/8.
  5. Review your TO-DON’T list.
  6. A ‘TO-DON’T list’ is a list of things not to do.  It might seem amusing, but it’s an incredibly useful tool for keeping track of unproductive habits, like checking Facebook and Twitter, randomly browsing news websites, etc.  Create one and post it up in your workspace where you can see it.
  7. Exercise.
  8.  Other than the obvious health benefits, movement increases brain function and decreases stress levels.  Developing a consistent habit of exercising is a discipline which will carry over into your business day – Apple CEO, Tim Cook, is in the gym by 5 A.M. every morning.  If you can, go outside for a walk, or jump on the treadmill and start out slow.  This will jump-start your metabolism and your day.
  9. Eat a healthy breakfast.
  10. Your brain and body speed are a function of what you intake.  Bagels, muffins and sugars have the tendency to slow you down.  Fruits, proteins and grains help provide a consistent stream of energy without the sudden drop-off.   Try a mixture of orange, apple and lemon juice with a spinach omelet one morning and let me know how much better you feel.
  11. Kiss your partner goodbye.
  12.  It sounds cheesy, but most truly successful people have a great home life.  Acknowledging your partner (and kids) mentally relaxes you, allowing you to focus on the day ahead.  Don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re striving to be successful so they may benefit as well.
  13. Practice 15 minutes of positive visualization.
  14. In his program Get the Edge, Tony Robbins explains the importance of gratitude visualization first thing every morning.  In a nutshell, spend roughly 15 minutes thinking of everything you’re grateful for: in yourself, among your family and friends, in your career, and the like.  After that, visualize everything you want in your life as if you had it today.  The effect?  Elevated certainty in everything you do, and always being in peak state.  Despite how ‘new age’ it sounds, it’s had incredible effects on associating success into my every-day life.
  15. Put first things first.
  16. Successful people recognize that not all hours are created equal, and they strategically account for this when planning their day.  For most of us, our minds operate at peak performance in the morning hours when we’re well rested.  So obviously it would be foolish to use this time for a trivial task like reading emails.  These peak performance hours should be 100% dedicated to working on the tasks that bring you closer to your goals.
  17. Eat that frog.
  18. Brian Tracy’s classic time-management book Eat That Frog gets its title from a Mark Twain quote that says, if you eat a live frog first thing in the morning, you’ve got it behind you for the rest of the day, and nothing else will be more difficult.  In others words, get the tough stuff done first.
  19. Connect with the right people.
  20.   Relationships are the basis of business – communication is the basis of relationships.  Successful people associate with people who are likeminded, focused, and supportive.  These people create energy when they enter the room, versus those who create energy when they leave.  Connecting with these positive people in the morning can set you up for a positive day.
  21. Stay informed.
  22. Whether you prefer National Public Radio or the Wall Street Journal, spend a few minutes each morning learning about what is going on in the world.  Not only will it educate you, it may change your perspective or inspire your actions for the day.

Celestine’s Secrets to Length Retention

around the way curls   long curly hair length retention how to get my hair to grow
I have to be honest… I haven’t always taken care of my hair. My hair used to break off, have excessive split ends, and at one point fall out. In 2007, I became a vegan and charged my overall diet and that is when I began to see a huge change in my hair. IT STARTED GROWING… Like a weed! I started taking better care of my body, exercising, doing yoga- vinyasa and Bikram, and taking vitamins- a Multi- vitamin, B-Complex, Biotin, and Vitamin E.
My diet and exercise regimen has continued and evolved since. I am now a vegetarian/pescatarian- I do eat eggs (organic cage free)  which are great sources of protein, a major component of maintaining healthy hair, and fish, organic salmon in particular. Most of my diet consists of vegetables and some fruit, nuts, and protein. I attribute my length retention to my diet, nutrition, and exercise. However, maintaining the health of my hair has been a new learning process for me.
My ends are quick to split! So I’ve recently been religious about sleeping with a silk night cap to prevent damage to my ends while I sleep. I also started to give my ends a weekly overnight grape seed oil treatment and I am very careful about combing and brushing! I used to rake through my hair with a vengeance but I am now more careful and patient and I always apply a conditioner in the shower before to soften the hair and help with set detangling. I try not to brush my hair when it is dry and I always brush from the bottom of my hair to the top. I also do a weekly protein treatment and deep conditioner which leaves my hair looking healthy and keeps it strong so I won’t be forced to cut too much hair when it’s time for a trim.
(BUT SHE STILL DOESN’T LISTEN  TO ME WHEN IT COMES TO MIXING HER LEAVE-IN WITH ALOE VERA GEL SHE IS STILL USING NON-LEAVE IN AS A LEAVE-IN AND I WANT TO PUNCH HER FOR IT. SMH. THIS IS ANT BTW AND CELESTINE IS MY SIS IN CASE YOU DIDN’T KNOW)
Surprise, Surprise! It has to do with her diet. Hey Fran Hey is somewhere shaking her head like, “I BEEN told you snitches that!”

I Got DANdruff In My Hair!

I know no one understands why that title “I got DANdruff in my hair” is so funny to me. My dad told me when he was in grade school he and his best friend would terrorize his teacher by yelling “I GOT DAN..druff in my hair!” Say it out loud. Do you see why the teacher was so annoyed by his psuedo-cursing? Isn’t that funny??!!
Anywhooo, real rap I have dandruff. It happens every winter. For some reason, my scalp thinks it is doing me a favor by creating layers of dead skin to shed and keep my head warm. It isn’t severe dandruff but it is enough to notice. I have also been dealing with a really tender, throbbing head. For some reason, after washing and moisturizing my hair, my scalp will ache afterwards. I can’t figure out for the live of me what is going on but with the help of Antoinette (although this can easily be done solo), I attempted some self medication to relieve and revive my scalp using tea tree oil as the active ingredient and jojoba oil as the carrier (it can be any NON-mineral or NON-petroleum based oil).

I hate to gross you out but I wanted to provide a visual of my dandruff. It is not that bad but it is consistently shedding.

My hair was previosly washed, so I did this treatment on dry hair. I started by mixing my Jojoba and tea tree oil together in a bowl. You do not want to burn your scalp with the highly concentrated tea tree oil so make sure you are putting 5x more jojoba than tea tree. I did not measure anything but I can guess-timate that I added 1 and a half capfuls of tea tree oil to 1/4 cup of jojoba.

In order to make sure that this mixture was reaching as much surface as possible on my inflamed scalp I decided to put my hair into 8 straight backs and apply the oil to my exposed scalp area. Honeychild, it felt like heaven.

I know that I will have to repeat this process about twice a week to stay on top of the dandruff because just one application does not do it for me.

I hope this helps any of the tender-headed, dander sufferers out there like me. We in this together!

I ♥ My…

I’ve been fighting some demons lately. It all stemmed from having to look through 222 of the pictures from the photoshoot we did with Vivid Vignettes. I analyzed and scrutinized every picture. I’ve got to be honest it’s not easy being photographed next to slim Shanti while I’m struggling to have a healthy body and body image. I almost let it get the best of me until I saw a picture of the new healthy and fit Jordin Sparks online and it inspired me to just keep on keeping on. I really want to be a source of encouragement for all the women that wrote me and show me so much love when I initially came clean about my weight issues. So, instead of feeling sorry for myself and getting stuck in comparisons I worked out and wrote a list of some of the things that are unique to me and that I love about my body….

If you’d like to hear it, here it go

I My…
-extreme and somewhat deceiving arch of my back
- huge dip in my nose
- smile
- big ass head
-curve of my breasts
-flat but oh-so-cute feet
and lastly my
-big ass soup coolers
Sometimes you need a little reminder ☺
What’s on your list? What do you love about you?

Shannon Breaks Down How To Get Clear Skin!

I, Antoinette will be trying some of her methods. I know all about clogged pores and breakouts in my twenties. I just about never leave the house without some kind of foundation on and I’m tired of feeling like a slave to it.

Her Tips:
Adding more greens and fiber to your diet
Adding Flax Seed Oil (good fat) to your meals
Exfoliating with Baking Soda
Using a moisturizing facial soap
Omega 3 Pills

Are you dealing with acne? What are your tricks of the trade?

Caring for the Love Below

                                                                                                                                                                     

So summer is approaching upon us rather quickly. With summer comes pool parties, vacations and whether we like it or not swimsuits! Often times we are so preoccupied with how our bodies look in the bathing suits that we are surprised by the tarantula legs poking out of the crouch of our suits once we are finally in them! Don’t get caught in a hairy situation! The hair   below need not be ignored ladies!
I find that pubic hair maintance is very common with white women. My cousins on my mother’s side are white and I remember being shocked and curious when I realized that they completely shaved and at times designed their public hair regularly! Is it simply a taboo conversation amongst black women or are we all just froin’ it top to bottom?! 
Perhaps it is an uncommon ritual within the black community due to the aggravation and irritation that occurs after shaving or waxing in the form of itchy, painful and unsightly ingrown hairs. A  Ingrown hair is when a hair strand has been cut short and grows back under the skin. Afro textured hair is more prone to become ingrown due to the coiled nature in which it grows out of the follicle. It simply does not protrude straight out the skin but curls and gets trapped within the skin causing raised, irritated bumps.

                                                                           

Here are some tips to keeping the love below tamed and presentable in your summer swim suits



1. Begin by cleansing the area well with a gentle soap to ensure that all dirt is removed 
2.   Follow by exfoliating the skin with a scrub or loofa to remove any excess dead skin and clogged pores. (The cleaner and clearer the skin the less potential for irritation and “extra” layer of skin that may become an entrapment for the hair.)
3.Soak in a bath or apply a damp warm towel to the area to soften the hair. 
4.Determine your method of hair removal: razor blade, waxing, depilatories which chemically remove the hair (for example Nair)

Razor blade  make sure the blade is not dull, rusted or impacted with hair from previous use. Always apply a shaving cream (hypo- allergenic) before shaving. I recommend for additional softening of the area to apply your favorite conditioner and use that as your “shaving cream”. Works wonders. Use a single blade razor because multi bladed razors cut too close to the skin and can lead to razor bumps and ingrown hairs. When shaving  ALWAYS SHAVE IN THE DIRECTION THAT THE HAIR GROWS.

Waxing is another option. Although considered the most painful option many claim that it is the most effective because the hairs grow back more slowly and more finely than shaving and chemical treatments. The reason being is the hair is pulled directly out of the follicle in entirety rather than simply being cut. There are plenty of At Home Waxing kits  to choose from or you can go to a trusted salon to have the process done professionally.

Depilatories can be purchased at your local drugstore. By following the directions you can have a smooth bikini line in seconds. The chemicals in the cream dissolve the hair proteins which can then just be simply wiped away. The problem with depilatories are if not removed in the appropriate amount of time they can burn the skin as well as cause allergic reactions and skin irritation. 

5.After whichever process you use, make sure to cleanse once again with a gentle wash or witch hazel. 
6.If any ingrown hairs occur, do not pick at them with your fingernails. Use a sterilized tweezer and attempt to pull the ingrown hair from the skin. Disinfect afterwards.

Get your hair ready for the summer ladies from head to toe! 

Join Antoinette’s Get Me Bodied Home Work Out Plan

I find that my most common excuse for not working out is my so called ‘lack of time’. But I’m realizing now that incorporating exercise into my daily activities is really not that difficult or time consuming.  The exercises below only take about 15-20 minutes at the most and can be done is the comfort of your own home (with the exception to the cardio work outs at the gym 3x’s a week). 
And if you’re not able to get to the gym 3x a week there are some home work-out videos that target cardio in addition to toning and it’s then all the more reason to incorporate 15-20 minutes a day to taking care of your body. 
*Keep in mind that the gym can be replaced by a fitness class, dance class, zumba etc.
                                                                                                                                                              
    Monday    
45 push ups: 3 sets of 15

Source
45 reverse push ups: 3 sets of 15

Source
50-75 crunches

Source
*Gym- Cardio 45-60 minutes
    Tuesday    
45 Squats (with or w/out weights): 3 sets of 15

Source

40 Leg Lifts Side and Back (each side)- 2 sets of 20

*Gym- Cardio 45-60 Mintues
    Wednesday    
*Gym- 60 Minutes of Cardio
Some Arms, Shoulders, Back and Abs (Various Machines)
Source

    Thursday    
Relax/Stretch/Rest

Source
    Friday    
Various Ab Exercises..
.

                                                                                                                                                           
 Can’t Make It To The Gym? Here Are Some Alternatives 
Do my “at home” workouts back to back without stopping to increase the cardio
Walk up and down the stairs of my apt
Dutty Wine and Jam around the house to my ipod
Get off the train a stop early and walk to work
Also, THE WORKOUTS IN THE VIDEO BELOW IS THE ISH!!!

 Worried About Sweating It Out? 
Not wanting to work out because of your hair? Read these helpful tips on how to save you style while working out.

 Take the Pledge! 
Alright, so this is my goal. So, who is with me? Come up with your own workout plan but promise to dedicate 15-20 minutes a day to taking care of your body. 
WHO’S WITH ME? 

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