Yellow Blooms

This is my first Mother’s Day as a mom (yay) and the ninth time that I am marking this occasion without my Katy. In the days leading up to today, I have spent a lot of time thinking about my mom.

What was her first Mother’s Day like? What did my Dad get her? How did she feel?

Among all of the thoughts was this story that she often told us about Mother’s Day growing up. Every year, her church would ask people upon entry if their mother has passed or if their mother was still alive. Based on your answer, they would give you either a red carnation (alive) or a white one (deceased). My maternal grandmother passed away when my mom was young, so she would get a white flower. And, while the flower was no doubt beautiful, it made her sad. She wanted that red flower. As an adult and as our mom, that painful memory always stuck with her.

And, now, it sticks with me.

Can you imagine? Mother’s Day is filled with so many triggers for those who have lost a loved one. Her carnation story has always filled me with such sadness but that isn’t what I want to think about today. So, I decided to buy myself a bouquet of yellow flowers. That was my mother’s favorite color and one that makes me think of her fondly. When I look down at my flowers today, I will feel happy as I reflect on the good times shared and not of the years lost.

No shade to white carnations, but I don’t want to see you. Not today. Not next Mother’s Day or the ones after that.

To me, yellow blooms bring the sunshine and who doesn’t love the sun?

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Yes, Flint Still Needs Our Help

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Earlier this year, we all found ourselves in shock as news of Flint’s water crisis hit the mainstream media. It was (and still is) hard to believe that residents of an American city were exposed to contaminated water while officials seemed to turn a blind eye. As the news broke, so many people mobilized and donated bottled water, money, and other items. While the media focus has shifted, help is still needed. Here are three easy ways that we can all show our continued support for Flint:

1. Help purchase water and water filters. The United Way of Genesee County established the Flint Water Fund to cover the purchase of bottled water, water filters, and provide emergency support services to those in need. To date, this fund has helped source more than 11,000 filters systems and 5,000 replacement filters, while providing bottled water to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan.

2. Break out your phone. Last month, AT&T launched a text-to-give campaign to benefit local children affected by the water crisis. Donations collected during the giving campaign will support the Flint Child Health and Development Fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint. The fund will provide early literacy programs, school health services, and nutrition education for local children. To get in on the action, all you have to do is text FLINT to 27722 to make a $10 donation to the fund.

3. Go see Beyoncé. No, seriously. When Queen Bey announced her Formation tour, she also committed to using the city stops to raise money to help provide long-term support for the children affected. While the specific details are still to be announced, we know that she is leading this effort through her #BeyGood initiative and we can keep an eye on that Twitter account for more info.

Aside from the above, you can still donate bottled water and can find those guidelines here. Let’s continue to keep the residents of Flint in our thoughts as we look for ways to support both now and in the future.

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Why HIV Testing Should be on Every Woman’s To-Do List

Last year, I had the opportunity to participate in a campaign shoot for #DoingIt, the CDC’s latest campaign promoting HIV testing along with Rae Lewis-Thornton and Charreah Jackson (ESSENCE Magazine). In support of the campaign and National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, I shared this post today on The Red Pump Project‘s blog.

If you are like me, then you know that life can be incredibly busy. From family to work and beyond, it seems like there are always more tasks than there is time. As a new mom who works full-time and helps lead The Red Pump Project‘s incredible mission, my life is hectic, fast, and overwhelming. With so many items that must get done and so few hours, it is VERY easy to push self-care to the bottom of my list. Taking care of my body and mind becomes a last priority. We are all guilty of it.

However, there’s no time like the present to change that for the better.

Today is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a day of education, empowerment, and action. We should also use this day to take a step back and think about our health and how we take care of ourselves. We only have one life. It is worth protecting and you must be the one to do so. The best defense is a good offense and HIV testing needs to be part of your strategy.

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HIV testing is free, fast, and confidential. And, almost everyone should be #DoingIt. In fact, the CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care and that people with certain risk factors get tested more often. If you aren’t 100% sure of your HIV status, then you need to add “get tested” to the top of your to-do list.

Write it down NOW. 

Always make time for HIV testing, girlfriends, and cake. In that order.

Always make time for HIV testing, girlfriends, and cake. In that order.

Getting tested is the first step to protecting your health. If your test reveals that you are living with HIV, it is important to get connected to a care team, which can include doctors, a case manager, peer supporters, and a specially-trained pharmacist. Available treatments are very effective; can prolong life; and may also reduce risk of transmission by reducing the amount of the virus in your body. If your test is negative, you can take action to continue to protect yourself and your status.

The great news is that new HIV diagnoses declined 40% among women from 2005 to 2014, with the greatest decline seen among African American women (42%). But, this doesn’t mean that our work is done. We must continue to talk about HIV with our loved ones and peers. If it is one thing that I have learned through my years leading Red Pump, it is to never underestimate the power of a conversation. Talking about HIV prevention, testing, and treatment is key to fighting stigma and ending this epidemic.

To find a testing site near you, call 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636); visit cdc.gov/DoingIt; or text your ZIP code to KNOW IT (566948).

Today’s to-do list: Know my status (check). Talk about the importance of HIV testing (check). #RocktheRedPump (check).

I know what I have to do today. Do you?

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Learning to Love Motherhood

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As I shared last week, I returned to work after almost three months on maternity leave. I am still settling into my new routine and lowkey struggling because it isn’t as easy of a transition as I hoped that it would be. Two things that I have discovered about myself during this past week? I hate rushing now and I am slowly starting to love motherhood.

Slowly.

I love being Caleb’s mom, but I haven’t been as open about “motherhood.” It may seem strange to some people but there is a difference. Trust me. It has been hard to embrace certain elements like the sacrificial nature of this whole thing or the fact that the definition of “success” as a mom is pretty ambiguous. Being back at work has reminded me just how much I love SMART goals and having a clear picture of—and path to — success. Motherhood comes with no such blueprints, but I’m slowly starting to become comfortable with that.

Slowly.

When I get confused or frustrated about what to do next, I remind myself that, quite simply, motherhood is love. Love is an action so as long as I give my heart to Caleb, I have won half of the battle.

love is patient

Last night while washing bottles, I focused on the wall art above our counter that sums up 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. As I let the words sink into my soul, I started replacing the word “love” with “motherhood” and it began to calm my stressed out spirit.

I won’t always get it right or know it all but as long as I am patient, kind, protectful, trusting, and hopeful, I know that I can’t fail. I can do this. I will survive motherhood because it is love in action and I love my little Caleb with all of my heart.

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Midweek Check-In

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Please pass the coffee!

Hi, y’all! Things have been somewhat hectic on my end because the last ball to juggle (for now) has finally been tossed into the air.

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First day at daycare!

Today is my first day back to work and Caleb’s second day at daycare. This past week, I have been completely overwhelmed with creating a new routine for us and preparing for this big week. This post about Sunday night prep from Katie at Live Half Full has been incredibly helpful. Gone are the days where I could just figure out my life each morning. No, I need to have the majority of that done WELL in advance so I can just be on auto-pilot when I wake up.

In other news… Due to the fact that I have been SO focused on my return to work, I wasn’t “planful” in getting the rest of my 13:13 series blog posts up before my self-imposed February 13th deadline. So, I am going to share the remaining content out between now and the end of the month, including a (now late) post about DIY Valentine’s Day mason jar gift ideas. HA! I’ll repurpose that one somehow. I was so excited about starting that content series that I have to see it through. After all, it is one of my February goals so I have to get it done.

Last update before I go and get Caleb dressed for the day… Red Pump launched our eighth #RocktheRedPump campaign yesterday! I can’t believe that Luvvie and I started this journey in 2009. It is incredible to see how far we have come with our particular style and message around HIV/AIDS education. For the details on the campaign, head over to this dedicated page on our website.

Rock the Red Pump 2016

I’m off to get this day started… Wish me luck! I was promoted while on maternity leave so I’m just hoping that there is somewhat of a grace period to get me back up-to-speed. We shall see.

 

Xo.

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10 Ways to Do Good with Your Boo

A couple that gives back together stays together. While that may not be 100% true, there is something great to be said about couples who share mutual interests and activities. Giving back has a positive effect on us individually, so I imagine that doing good with your boo must double the benefits.

I’m not ashamed to admit that my husband and I haven’t had a date night in several months. However, that is something that I hope we turn around soon. While thinking of some outings for us, I started thinking of a few that have a charitable twist. If you are looking for some different date night ideas, I hope this list gives you some inspiration.

Date Night Ideas

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Monday Motivation: Focus on Real Love

Yesterday in church, my pastor started a new series focused on marriage and parenting. During the message, he walked us through several key points about marriage and shared scriptures related to love. One of those scripture passages was 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 
5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I love this scripture because it is a blueprint for how to demonstrate love through actions. As it was read in church though, all I kept hearing was “love does not keep score.” Argh. Guilty. I don’t mean to do it but I am no stranger to keeping a running list of who did what in my head. But, hearing that this isn’t love is so hard. I spent the rest of yesterday wrestling with this concept that you can’t keep score! What if the wrong was a big one? What if no one ever apologizes for the wrong? You just let it go? Argh.

To be honest, I’m still digesting this scripture. However, it made me realize that I need to ground myself more in what the Bible has to say about love and how we should be loving each other.

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15 Valentine’s Day Gifts Under $50

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Ah, Saturday. A day made for brunch, naps, and some (online) shopping. If Valentine’s Day is your jam and you are still shopping for gifts, let me help you out. I’ve rounded up 15 fab gifts under $50 to help you spread the love to the special peeps in your life.

Happy shopping!

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{Giveaway} Faith, Hope, and Love Prints

Happy Friday! Sorry that this post is getting up pretty late in the day, but Caleb just wouldn’t let me be great. Now that he has simmered down a bit, I felt like this was a good time to whip out my laptop.

In Tuesday’s post, I talked about why I love visual reminders to help me keep the faith when life gets challenging. I’ve never been big on prints and that was mainly because I didn’t get the point of them.

“So, I just frame paper?” Hmm.

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The Courage to Hope

Years ago, I clipped a powerful quote out of Essence and pinned it to a cork board in my apartment. The quote read,

The three pillars of deep spirituality are faith, hope, and love—yet it is courage that enables all three.

Listen, man. That quote blew my mind at the time. When I decided to focus on 1 Corinthians 13:13, I made my way back to those words and decided to really spend some time thinking about what the writer was trying to convey.

“Hope” is defined as “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” It is a word that we often use lightly like, “I hope they have this dress in my size” or “I hope Rihanna hurries up with her album.” Yet, to hope deeply for something requires an immense amount of courage. One has to really believe that it can happen and that can be scary. At least, it can be for me. There are so many projects and businesses that I have always wanted to launch but I haven’t because of fear. I’m talking the kind of fear that holds me back and keeps me from feeling hopeful about the future.

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