January is a busy month for my family. We have 5 birthdays in the month of January. My girls have a 7 year age difference with birthdays 2 weeks apart. This year I opted out of having traditional birthday parties and convinced #boothang that we should take the girls to Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls, Ontario. While the girls have been before with their grandparents, this was our first time as a family. I must admit I think deep down I was more excited than the girls! A chance to relax, rest, and enjoy all the amenities that the indoor water park resort had to offer--who could ask for anything more?
We headed straight to our suite to unload our things, after we received our wristbands and meal vouchers. Then it was straight to the water park from there. Slides of all sizes and speeds are available for the adventurous and those who like to play it safe. We enjoyed a few family slides together, but had to convince our youngest that she could handle it. Wolly mammoth, Vortex and Niagara rapids run were some of my personal favourites. Through all the screams and my laughter, she survived and now she can go and brag to all her kindergarten friends. Other than the slides, we relaxed in the lazy river and jumped in some waves at the wave pool.
Of course all this family fun time can make everyone hungry, so off we went to get some eats. I'm so glad that we purchased a meal plan and didn’t have to worry about leaving to go leave the lodge to get food. Nice and convenient! This was a great way to spend quality family time, celebrate life, and enjoy a taste of summer-like feeling indoors (especially with the winter we've been having). The Knights will definitely be back. Hopefully with a few friends next time.
Have you been to Great Wolf Lodge? What was your favourite part of your stay?
A few years ago, my uncle had a sore on his leg that he wouldn't get treated. I really think had he just seen a doctor and did his due diligence, the outcome would have been very different. He chose not to do that. As you can imagine the sore got worse and then became infected; which eventually led to him being hospitalized. The prognosis was that the infection was too far gone and had become septic so amputating the leg was the best long-term plan. He refused. When I asked him why during a visit he said: "My leg is a part of me and if it's gone, I won't be whole." Default to secrecy, my uncle was a schizophrenic. Days later while waiting for my grandmother to come for her morning check-in, he closed his eyes and was gone.
My son was about six when our uncle passed away, but it left a lasting impression on him. About a week ago we were having a conversation and I was impressing the importance of being authentic to your true self.
It was then when my unfiltered boy said "Don't you think you are being a hypocrite?"
I paused and my instinct was to become a reincarnation of my Jamaican mother and give him a tongue-lashing as to why children should never 'bright up demself with big people!' But I decided to scratch the surface to see where that comment was coming from.
"Why would you say that?", I ventured.
He exhaled and said, "Because you're only your real self sometimes and you are telling me to always be my real self. You should just be you all the time mom and not care what other people think. Uncle Locksley was himself all the time. He didn't care what people thought and he even kept his leg to prove it. "
As much as I hated to admit it, #myguyshii had a point. Due to some traumatic, unexpected events that happened throughout my life, I learned to cope but not actually start healing the wounds until long after. This resulted in me becoming really introverted in a lot of social spaces and wearing a mask for those that weren't apart of my inner circle. The fallout of these events and subsequent suppression lead to an anxiety disorder.
In that moment of transparency with Shii I realized that not only did I have anxiety, but I absolutely let anxiety have me. And last week on the eve of my 39th birthday I made up my mind to be the realest role model my son has; and become my truest self again in spite of the anxiety. My anxiety may never go away, but it doesn't mean that I have to allow it to rob me of the person I used to be.
The last time I wrote, I talked about the things Shii taught me as I delved back into the world of dating. I've taken a bit of a sabbatical from it all, though I must say that I learned a lot from the experience. But anxiety does what it tends to do in most areas of my life. It stifles me. And while there are rarely do-overs in life, I kinda wish that those individuals had a chance to meet that version of B. The awkwardly quirky, fun-loving, quick-witted black woman who loves to dance and sing. Who does a happy dance when her favourite foods are made. Who watches a movie at least 100 times, and will laugh or cry every damn time like it's the first. And whose fashion sense has two extremes--runway dreams or hobo-chic. She may gets lost sometimes but always fights her way back.
Twelve months shy of 40, I'm committed to getting more of a handle on my anxiety. I want to live the life I was meant to live. So that I can shine and share my light with more people. The universe has said as much. After all it's been conspiring this moment for 39 years and counting, I just didn't know it. Thanks Shii and Uncle Locks for helping me finally see that.
I tell Shii about my recent life goal.
His response: "You got this mom!"
Who would have known that my mental health advocate/life coach would be in the form of an 11-year-old?
He did, he tells me. And who am I to argue.
Here's my truth moment. I have an 11 year old and up until recently, I never dated. For various reasons, I put anything resembling a love life on hold. Now don't get me wrong, I didn't join a nunnery but instead decided that life was less complicated if I just focused on my career and my boy. After all, isn't that what all self-sacrificing single moms are supposed to do?
Short answer, hell no! So after some convincing and realizing that before I blinked #myguyshii would be a teenager with his own dating experiences, I told myself there was no time like the present. Being out of the game for over a decade, I must admit I am flustered. Things have changed so much... Is it acceptable to go Dutch? Does this independent woman foot the bill? How long should you wait to call between calls? How soon is too soon to start dating exclusively? With all of these questions whirling around in my head and getting advice from a trusted few, the best advice that I got about dating was actually from the most unsuspecting individual...my little human.
1) Just Go With It: One thing I love about Shii is his love of spontaneity. In his world anything goes, in mine not so much. Seeing him just go whichever way the wind blows has helped me apply that thought to dating. As a person who has to plan everything to a tee, taking a page out of Shii's book has allowed me to loosen up, enjoy the experience and let my hair down so to speak. With dating, especially in the beginning it's best to just take things as they come along so that there is not so much pressure from either party. It's also allowed me to just get to know people without it being heavy or forced.
2)Consistency is EVERYTHING: My son needs consistency for our mother-son dynamic to work. I see how having a level of consistency is not only necessary but fulfilling. In my opinion, the people that I have really found a connection with have been the ones that I have developed some type of consistent routine with. Whether it be calls or texts or even making our availability to one another clear from the jump; it has helped keep my interest up and I am fully aware of the expectations.
3)Say what's on your mind: Sometimes navigating through these new waters has me holding my tongue on a lot of things so as to not come across as too opinionated, picky, etc. But after having a recent tête-a-tête with Shii, I find that he always respectfully speaks his mind, even if you don't like it. Being that of an introverted extrovert, I find it difficult to be upfront about things at times. But in dating, you have to be. Especially when you are learning someone new and vice versa. If you don't set boundaries and expectations, things can go off the rails should they move forward. Which leads us to #4...
4)Take your ball and play somewhere else: The whole purpose of dating is to find a suitable mate right? Then why do we waste so much time accepting people's bad behaviour and coasting along in relationship that truthfully don't serve us? Most young kids, well mine at least, have no qualms about taking their ball and finding someone else to play with if things aren’t going the way they want them to. I've taken a page out of his book. No matter what level my relationship is at (even casual dating), if I am honest and direct and the relationship is not giving me what I need, I'm out! It saves a lot of wasted time, possible heartache and probably even garners me some respect for keeping it real.
5)Always have fun: It's easy to get so laser-focused on the idea of dating that you could get wound up. Getting fixated on trying to be the perfect version of yourself can sometimes translate to being dull as a doorknob. You don't want your suitor to think that they would have more fun watching paint dry. I know that it can be hard regardless of how long one's been out of the dating game; still it's important to have fun and allow your personality to shine. In the words of my soon-to-be tween, "I'm a Shii and my job is to have fun." He wholeheartedly believes that; and when it comes to me and dating, so should I.
So there you have it. Unbeknownst to him he has given me some true wisdom about the basics of dating. And truthfully, they have actually helped me more than I realized. Sure the more complicated nuisances are way more than child's play; but for now the tips work for me. Do you have any suggestions on how to navigate the dating scene?
This little girl was my EVERYTHING! She was the reason I pushed through the hard times, she was the reason I got up everyday, and she taught me how to love in away I never knew I could. She was my first born, Zynaye! She was the best baby ever and I’m not just saying that because she’s mine. She never cried, slept through the night, and was always smiling. She was a joy to have as a young single mom navigating through life.
We were blessed to have an amazing man “Boothang” join our team of two, showering us with love and attention. While Zynaye is fortunate to have a very present father, which she has an amazing relationship with, we experienced having a man in our lives and home daily. This was different for the both of us, but I believe we all adjusted pretty well.
A couple years later we were blessed with princess Ariyon which completed our family of 4. Zynaye prayed for a sister and God answered her prayers. While they fuss and fight, the bond that they both share is heart warming.
While I appreciate the relationship that I have with my daughters and admire the relationship they share, I believe it is very important for each daughter to have one on one time with me.This week Zynaye and I had a mother daughter day downtown Toronto.
We started the day with a dental appointment, then headed to lunch at Warehouse at Yonge and Dundas.
Right after lunch I surprised Zynaye with an event solely for her. I found a great event for young girls while perusing on Facebook. One Girl - I AM Enough at the WE Global Learning Centre located at 339 Queen Street East. I thought this would be perfect as she begins at a new school in the fall. Also being a pre-teen, building her self-esteem and confidence is critical. I also figured she would be the only black young lady in the group; so I am always seeking ways to make sure we are at the table.
As stated from One Girl – I AM Enough:
As girls we can be our own worst critics. How we view and compare ourselves to others can really have an impact on our sense of self-worth and the way in which we go about finding our place in society.
I believed these topics would be a great to start the school year off right, and remind Zynaye of all her awesomeness.
I always want my children to feel special and know that I always have time for them. I want them to be able to stand for themselves and others. I hope that I can continue to maintain meaningful one on one time. What one on one activities do you do with your children individually? Please share, because I’m always looking for ideas for the next date.
This weekend we had the pleasure of attending the Black Beauty Brunch in Toronto. Showcasing all things melanin, over 140 gorgeous women brunched, shopped and sipped at T.O. Jam Factory.
Black Beauty Brunch curator Monique London proved three times is a charm. The decor was rustic elegance. While the beautifully draped family-style tables set the vibe of togetherness and sisterly love. To start, guests noshed on fruit and light appies offered up on a sharing platter. This allowed for attendees to mingle with each other and shop from the black-owned businesses on site before the brunch fare.
The brunch menu provided by Simone’s Caribbean Restaurant was scrumptious! It not only offered variety, but had tasty North American favourites with staple Caribbean cuisine. Desserts by Sweet Treats were all the rave as well. Kudos to the culinary team.
No great event would be complete without entertainment and education. Our favourite female DJ, DJ Lissa Monet had us jammin to the 1s and 2s. She’s a Black Beauty Brunch all-star and never disappoints. Can she score the soundtrack to our lives already?! (LOL)
The roster of speakers had the whole room glowing with messages of empowerment. From Dr. Natasha S. Browne candidly speaking on mental health and wellness in the black community to Zahra Ali’s expert tips on business entrepreneurship and branding, each seminar gave us the tools needed to propel our inner bossbabe.
Black Beauty Brunch continues to meet our expectations and then some. We will definitely be back next year!
What does it mean to be married in 2018? Are you busy keeping up appearances, sharing social media posts that only reflect how sweet and great your relationship is? Let me keep it real! It took me the past 7 years to finally feel like I have hit the sweet spot in my marriage. My husband and I have experienced many challenges along the way, but over time, I have tried to do my part in being more understanding and not making mountains out of mole hills. Like most things in life you reap what you sow. If I don’t put in the effort and compromise, how can I expect positive results?
I know someone may be reading and say, “I don’t know if marriage is for me?” While that may be true for some it is important to always put 100% into making the relationship work. I will speak for myself, one of the things that keeps my marriage going is that we are genuine friends. We joke, play sports together, disagree, love, and spend time with our friends separately. I believe we have found the balance to pleasing ourselves and each other.
I don’t ever want my husband to feel like he can’t be himself with me; and I hope he never feels pressure to reach some unrealistic expectation he thinks I have. I love who he is and believe that we are great when we’re apart but a force when we’re together. We don’t compare our relationships to our friends or those who we see on line that we admire #theellises. But we do reflect sometimes on keeping it real with each other and trying to better our communication.. We enjoy having date night, or just laying up in the bed watching tv.
By no means am I an expert; but my advice to those who are married, find your sweet spot and marinate in it. Don’t share every little thing with everyone. Most important, keep God at the centre of your relationship and I can almost guarantee the good times will outweigh the bad.
For those who want to be married but haven’t found that special someone yet. Don’t settle! What is for you is for you! Be open to getting to know people, building meaningful relationships, and be honest about your intentions.
If you are busy watering your own grass you won’t have time to see who’s grass is greener!
Travelling for business can be a pain for any parent. I dealt with this first-hand when I recently went away for work. I honestly was in knots just thinking about how things might fall apart in my absence; but then I got my mind right and devised a plan. And while not foolproof, it definitely eased the travel jitters and tears for all parties involved.
Do a dry run of the schedule: Routines are essential in our household, especially since so many people have so much to do at any time of the day. It's really has become a well-oiled locomotive and I am the conductor 99.5% of the time. Getting my mom to spear-head the chauffeuring to and from extracurricular activities, as well as oversee the at-home stuff (i.e. reading time, signing practice sheets, etc) really helped to have #myguyshii see her as the stand in caregiver and authority while I was away. Doing a dry run can help to avoid any tactics such as "kidnipulation" or temper tantrums that may occur when someone else steps into execute daily schedules.
Leave a love letter: On the day that you are leaving take a little extra time to pen a written note to your your one letting them know that you are going to miss them while you are gone, but will be back soon. Throwing in a factoid or two about your destination can also ease the angst and make your little human feel like they are going to. For instance, the last trip that I went on I left a letter for my son in the mailbox letting him know where I was going, how I was getting there and when I was coming back. I also asked him to think of some questions that he wanted me to answer about the place I was visiting; and asked him to look up 5 interesting facts about my destination so we could compare when I got home.
Reach out daily: Face Time is a Godsend whenever I go away. It gives me the chance to interact and get some quality face-to-face with Shii. He also feels less tense about me being away because he's actually seeing my face and/or hearing my voice. Go one step further and designate some time to read a bedtime story or watch a show so you can have some special bonding time, just like when you are at home.
Go site seeing: Try and find some time to get around the city you're in. While I can totally relate to the hectic schedule that you may have when you are there for professional reasons, finding the cool places and popular tourists attractions can make you a superstar with your kids. I suggest making a virtual storyboard or video of what you saw while you were on the move so you can share it with your bambino when you get home. It'll also be cool yo get them excited and possibly plan a trip to that spot for pleasure rather then business. After all, all work and no play makes mom a dull girl!
When preparing what I would wear for Essence Fest, I visited 2 of my favourite consignment shops in the city: Play it Again Val’s located in Ajax, and Plato’s Closet in Scarborough. I was able to find some easy flowing pieces that would be great in the Nola heat and fit perfectly in my carry-on luggage.
Finding this kimono was everything for me. I really wanted to find a fun piece that was colourful and really made a statement! I decided to pair a teal dress I had in my closet; and it was the perfect combination. Also, the kimono was perfect for the venue as the Superdome was a bit chilly. Kimonos are a great accent piece to customize any outfit choice seeing as they are so multifunctional and can be found in a multitude of colours and patterns.
For my next OOTD, I went back to my closet. About 2 years ago , I bought this black-and-white dress, but never got a chance to wear it. The tags were still on so it was like shopping in my own store and scoring a killer deal. I knew this dress would be easy breezy as I walked to and fro from the convention centre. And as much as I love colour, I also live for black and white; so I didn’t mind going to the other side of the colour spectrum.
I absolutely adore rompers. They will never be out of style for me. With so many ladies rocking stripes since Spring, I was glad I found this piece for an awesome deal. The fit and quality of the fabric were on point and I had the perfect pair of sandals that complemented the jumper for a chic nighttime vibe.
Overall my outfits for Essence Fest were a hit: fashionable, functionable, and affordable.
Don’t be afraid to check out your local consignment store. You’ll find some really unique pieces, perfect for any event.
Happy Friday Jr!
Tough, optimistic, neat, enthusiastic, intelligent, and loving were the adjectives used to describe me from my eldest daughter.
I haven’t always been big on celebrating birthdays but once I turned 30, something shifted. I started to reflect more, and appreciate more of what life had to offer and realized that I had to make the most of each and everyday.
Since my baby girl absolutely loves being a princess and dressing up for church, she has quite a few dresses. Red, blue, polkadot, striped just to name a few. Every week we go through her closet to get her outfit ready for church, and she usually has a say of how the outfit will come together.
She gets in front of the mirror and twirls and says, "Wow! I'm a princess!"
With that princess mindset, you know mommy does not have a princess budget. I frequent my local Value Village to snag beautiful dresses that little ones have outgrown, often finding ones that have never been worn.
Can you tell which of these dresses were bought a regular price?
Take a guess?
3/4 these dresses were found at my local thrift store. I know, I know! I'm always saying give it try, but for real, use all the money you'll save to splurge on the extras. Get your nails done or grab pizza with kids. With the rate that my girls are growing, and the way I love to shop, I want my coin to stretch as far as possible.
You can really find some great treasures like this dress my eldest wore to a wedding over the holiday season.
Happy Friday JR !