A Year In Selfies

A little over a year ago, I posted an ode to the first year of my thirties, toasting what was to come.

Then I took a break.

Halloween 2016. I was a Spider Queen!

Year 31 was a year of growth, both personal and professional. It was a year of putting myself out there and dating, a year of expanding my makeup artistry into freelancing, a year of honing my writing skills and creating projects I am happy to work on (and can’t wait til they’re finished to share with y’all!) It’s been a year of being honest about where I see myself as a professional, what I want in my personal life, and really having the best time experimenting in between.

Game Night Selfie!

It has been a year of being social, and actually taking time to enjoy life and not making work my be all and end all.

Quite a bit of that was finding my new love, who encourages me to rest and enjoy the fruits of my labor. I’ve done more traveling this country in the last few months than I have in years, and it’s been amazing to have these new experiences. Naturally, having her by my side to experience it with me was doubly amazing and made it even more special. In finding her, I found more of me, and that’s been valuable.

New Year, Same Fabulosity!

I brought in the new year with my closest friends, good drinks, and loud music. I had the best time and needed a day of sleep to recover (alas, I don’t bounce back like I used to.) I’m still evolving my personal style. I’m still experimenting with colors. Still loving my frohawk. Still taking up space unabashedly. Trying to remember to take my own damn advice sometimes. Trying to remember to call people more, let folks know that I love them, let folks know that I care; no matter where my life takes me or how busy I get. Doing my best to support my friends’ events when I can make them, and sending them love, light, and good vibes when I can’t.

Valentine’s Day Slay

I’m still loving and recognizing my beauty. I am still remembering I deserve love. I am enjoying celebrating myself, and happy to have someone to spend holidays and love with.

It’s basically been a year of finding and nurturing love and relationships of both the romantic and platonic nature. It’s been a year of growing professionally and trying to find a space where both my soul and wallet are fulfilled equally. It’s been a year of trying to find balance.

I’m still working on the balance, but it’s definitely getting better.

Birthday trip to the National Aquarium in Baltimore!

By the time I was ready to celebrate year 32, the growth of the past year was at the forefront. The work I’ve done on myself, both by myself and with my therapist, has put me in a place where conflicts roll off my back. Uncertainty is always going to be present, but I have learned how to deal with it and keep moving forward. I’ve had to learn to forgive my past mistakes and let them go. I’ve had to constantly remind myself that “no” is a full sentence that does not require explanation or apology. I’ve had to be honest about people and situations that are toxic to me and give myself the space and permission to let both go without guilt. It’s work that has carried through to my personal new year.

Birthday dinner slay! Top and necklace from Old Navy.

Year 30 was good to me. Year 31 was even better. I welcomed year 32 with open arms, with open heart, with anticipation of the most wonderful times yet to come.

I’m back, y’all. Happy birthday to me. 🙂

Positivity

Sunset on 30

I’ll be 31 in three days.

Hmm.

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Sunshine and melanin.

Last year, I was getting ready to turn 30. I had a lot of expectations for myself that I was supposed to reach before I turned 30.

I was supposed to be a lawyer.

I was supposed to be married.

I was supposed to have children.

I was supposed to have a Master’s degree.

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But do I HAVE to take this pic, though?

Since I’d done none of these things by 30, I felt as though I really didn’t have too much to show. Like, what am I even doing with my life?

I’m not a lawyer.

I’m not married.

No children.

Can’t even decide what to study to get a Master’s degree.

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Smile!

However…

I made new, wonderful friends.

I co-own a business.

I’m getting published.

I’ve tapped into my creativity in ways I’d never done before.

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Grass + bare feet= happiness

Most importantly…

I’m happy. I’m the happiest I’ve been in a while.

I’ve learned that success is measured by different factors.

I’ve learned that all accomplishments should be celebrated.

I’ve learned it’s important to never stop believing wonderful things can happen for you.

I’ve learned how to really embrace me and all of my facets.

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Here is my fierce. Let me show you it.

30 has been so good to me. I can’t wait for what 31 brings.

Happy birthday to me. 🙂

Photo credits go to my wonderful business partner, friend, and lil sis Stephenie Valentino. See more of our work on our Instagram!

Positivity Stories

Introducing: Roses In Concrete Photography

So, I promised y’all on Wednesday that I’d give y’all a little more info about where I’ve been the last month.

Short answer:

Longer answer:

Drawing

Fancy!

So, remember when I had those pictures done in January? My wonderfully creative and talented friend Stephenie and I thought that we would do a photo project (we’re still doing it. but that’s under wraps and construction!)…and then thought…but we’re awesome photographers. Why don’t we just make it a business?

And there you have it.

It’s been weeks of paper work and planning and meetings, but we’ve made it official.

We’re entrepreneurs!

This has been a serious undertaking (and we’re still getting things together,) but for those of you that are local to NY or NJ: we officially open for business beginning next month. Feel free to contact me personally using any of the methods here, or you can get hold of both of us via the Roses in Concrete Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Don’t think that I’m abandoning here. This blog and all of you that read it mean the world to me, and I don’t want to leave y’all! I would say you’ll have to get used to the once or twice a month posts until we can get our business a bit more steady, but I’m not going anywhere.

Hope y’all hang in here with me for this ride! Have a wonderful weekend, y’all. 🙂

Blog Stuff Positivity Stories

Philosophy in Blue

Although I pursue photography as a creative outlet and enjoy taking pictures of others, I hate having pictures taken of myself.

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That’s hard, considering I’m a makeup artist and kinda, well, have to take pictures of myself in order to sell my services. Selfies are easy, though. It’s just my face. My skills are pretty good. I’m pretty much the selfie queen! I bet y’all don’t know how many I take before y’all see the two or three I ultimately post, though.

It’s a lot more than just two or three, let me tell you.

Is it a confidence issue? Maybe. I was always one who hid as a teenager. Even with all of the work I’ve done to help build myself up, I still use the fact I have such a fancy camera to stay out of pictures.

I mean, someone has to take the pics, right?

At any rate, it’s hard to proclaim myself a fashion blogger and y’all rarely ever get to see me in any fashion.

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I can’t keep allowing myself to hide like this. Even with the strides I’ve made to put myself out there, go out and socialize, make some new friends and have some new experiences…I still shy away from something as simple…as a camera.

Something’s got to give.

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I figure that in some cases, the best thing to do to combat something that scares you is to just do it. I called up a talented photographer friend of mine to come and take some pics of me for the blog. So y’all could see me. So I could really see myself.

And maybe not be so scared.

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Don’t get me wrong. I got some hangups. I looked at the shots like…but my belly. But I’m so wide. But, but, but. Just all types of self-depreciating thoughts flowing through my head. I wouldn’t let anyone close to me speak about themselves like that, but that’s the fun part about internal dialogue. No one knows how I was ripping myself down but me.

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When I got home and got a good look at things, though? I won’t tell y’all I did a 360 on my thoughts. I didn’t. But I can say what I love about myself. I can say I looked amazing. I can say that, when it’s genuine and I’m truly amused, I have a nice smile. When I showed some folks the pictures, I was surprised that the ones I didn’t think were the most flattering were the most popular.

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Like this one of me smiling. Cause with these braces, I don’t. I’m still very self conscious about both them and my teeth. Stephenie, my photographer, said “Okay. Let’s get one of you smiling.” Me: *stare* *skeptic look* Her: “I know, I know. But come on, smile.” I gave her the most half-assed smile I could come up with. She took the pic, and it looked just as tortured as could be. I hate smiling on purpose, I really do. A few minutes later, however, I’m cracking up at something Stephenie said. She seized the moment and snapped.

C says: “Your smile is radiant!”

J, my coworker, goes “That is just a genuine smile! You look so good!”

My coworker looks at the pic and goes, “Your niece has your smile. That’s so cool!”

My niece does have my smile. She’s just adorable.

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Maybe I’m pretty cute, too. I’m getting there. Slowly, but surely.

Outfit details: I’m wearing a really, really old (6-7 years?)Lane Bryant sweater (here’s something similar), Lane Bryant Genius Fit Trouser Jeans, and Nike Sneaker Wedges (on sale!)

Photo Credits: Stephenie Valentino’

Makeup Looks Positivity Stories

Liberation

2015 was a year of major changes for me. Outside of finally getting my septum pierced (a thing I’d been dreaming of for years!), I finally got my first tattoo.

I also decided to finally live life as queer. I don’t think I’ve ever shared that with y’all before, but there it is.

I still tingle when I write that. When I say that. Because it is and continues to be so affirming to live freely.

New Year’s eve, I decided to do one more modification. Something I had never done because I’d gotten so much push back. So much: “OMG, but whyyyyyyyy?!” Or “Maybe you should braid it instead to get a different look!”

I heard every reason known to humankind as to why I shouldn’t cut my hair, but I only needed one reason to go for it.

Cause I’m grown and I do what I want. 😀

Honestly, my hair has been such a source of contention when it came to professional life (“You have to be marketable to future employers and make sure to adhere to a non-threatening look for work!”) and personal life (see damn near everyone I’ve ever dated that has been more attached to my hair than I am). Even when I transitioned my hair to natural, instead of doing the big chop like I wanted I just transitioned my hair. My boyfriend at the time loved my hair. And I loved him. So I kept it.

Fast forward to December 22, 2015. I’m catching up with a good friend of mine, C. She sends me a pic of her hair, shaved on one side, and I think it’s so beautiful. I didn’t think I would ever be brave enough to rock that. I mean, everyone loves my hair, so I should keep it, right? Then C shocked me.

“As much as I love your hair, this haircut has changed my life. I bet it will change yours too.”

Hmm.

She gave me the info of her barber and I made an appointment the same night. I didn’t know if I would go through with it. I didn’t really tell folks I was cutting it, either. I did warn my coworkers the day before, and my friends S and C knew.  I just didn’t want anyone to try and talk me out of it.

December 31, 2015: I did it.

I cut my hair.

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I went from this….

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To this!

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Design and all!

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Close up of the swirls. Haircut by Khane at Camera Ready Kutz.

If you would have told me I’d cut my hair (into a Mohawk, no less!) I’d have thought you’d lost your mind. When I tell you I feel free, though? As she buzzed my head every expectation attached to my hair fell away. I feel lighter.

Liberated.

Not just from what people expect when they look at a Black woman’s natural hair but from society’s rules. Yeah, it’s a bit cliche, but I look like the cool, queer, aunt. I happen to BE a cool, queer aunt. It’s awesome to be able to show outwardly the freedom I feel within.

Liberated.

Happy New Year.

Hair Makeup Looks Positivity

Want To Help Me Do Something Great?

Then I’d love it if y’all would donate to my fundraising campaign for the AIDS Walk!

It’s taking place in NYC on May 17th. I’ll be walking a 5K (!!!!!) to help support multiple organizations that help people affected by AIDS all over the world.

I’ll be walking with a team, and we’re looking to raise $1000. We’re at $450 now, and my personal goal is $300. Think how far that money could go!

Want to help? Click here for my personal fundraising page, and leave a donation. Signal boosting would also be a huge help–feel free to share this post (and that link) on all of your social media.

Thanks so much for any help you’re able to give. Here are two happy dogs who are excited too:

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Positivity

So, I Was Part Of A Thing…

And now I finally get to share it!

So, a while back I shared these looks on my Facebook:

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And I told y’all that I was working on a really cool project? Well, part one of that project is done, and I’m so happy to share this with y’all!

So, this project I was part of is all about natural hair and beauty, and I was so happy to participate. Most images of natural hair pretty much stick to the uniform corkscrew curls. Now, don’t get me wrong—those curls are gorgeous. But it also tends to edge out those who have fluffier, less defined curls (mine) or those with dreadlocks or those with puffs, and so on and so on.

Further, when we look at natural hair in mainstream media…well, you don’t see it. Not in all of its forms; not in all of its glory. Think about it: the last time you saw a music video, did any of the women have natural hair? Hear any songs praising those kinky curls?

Well, this video has all of that, and I got to be in it. 🙂

Without further ado, I present to you: Natural Love: A Vignette.

The song was written and produced by the same guy that directed this piece, Civil Justus. You can see his other work on his channel here, and read up on his other projects here. This is just the first part; the next part is interviews about our hair.

I had an amazing time working on this,and am so honored to be a part of it! I can’t wait to share the next part with you. 🙂

Hair Positivity YouTube