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Laissez Le Bon Temps Rouler at USCA 2013

HIV/AIDS, KB's Journey

Good morning from beautiful (and humid) New Orleans! I’m down here for this year’s United States Conference on AIDS and am super geeked for two reasons. First, it is my first work trip. That’s right. I’ve managed to complete the “elusive” task of landing in a job that I’m passionate about. Second, the conference is in New Orleans and I LOVE NEW ORLEANS. The music, the food, the people, the culture… Sigh. I could go on and on. Not only do I plan to get married here but I also wouldn’t mind setting up a part-time residence here later in life.

Enough about my future plans for NOLA. Back to the now. During my time here, I’m looking forward to learning some very useful information that I can apply on the job and with my work with The Red Pump Project. In case you have been living in a bubble, HIV continues to affect people of color at devastating pace so any and all solutions are always needed.

When I’m not at the conference, please know that I will be doing my best to completely pig out on NOLA goodies. I am obsessed with New Orleans cuisine and can always find a Creole/Cajun restaurant no matter what city I’m in.

My first stop when I got in yesterday was Café du Monde for their world-famous beignets. Oh. My. Gawd. They were so so so so good and didn’t last more than seven minutes. All I want to do is stuff my face with them.

As far as my other plans, here’s my NOLA checklist.

  1. Have a cocktail in the courtyard of the W French Quarter. I mean, look at this place.
       2. Try a piece of alligator.
       3. Complete an early morning jog around the Garden District.
Anything else that I should do while I’m down here? Let me know! I’m taking any and all suggestions. Just leave me a note in the comments or shoot me a quick tweet!

A Labor of Love, Service, and Sacrifice

Cancer

I think about caregivers on a regular basis. I think about their strength, their sacrifice, their service, and their spirits. So, when my friends at the American Cancer Society asked if I would join in their 100 Caregivers Stories series, it was a no-brainer! I’ve never been shy about talking about my caregiving experiences with my mother and am currently working on a webinar series to address the unique needs of youth caregivers.

Although I have since transitioned out of that role, I’m still honored to be surrounded by so many amazing people who have stepped up to provide care to a loved one battling cancer or another disease.

I think of my bonus mom, Angie, who somehow is able to juggle her career with caring for her mother who is living with Alzheimer’s. I think about friends who recently lost parents to cancer after lovingly (and sometimes painfully) watching their superwoman succumb to the illness. And, I think about a young woman that I know who not only cared for her sister with cancer, but also stepped up to support her sister’s daughter.

Caregivers are so incredibly valuable for so many reasons. There are economic, societal, and health benefits to caregiving but, above all of that, caregivers remind each of us we are all connected. To every person who has ever been a caregiver or is one right now, here’s a short quote that will breath a little life into you on your worst days…

Patience and fortitude conquer all things. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Would you like to honor a caregiver? You can sign up here to share a blog post.

 

 

As a part of the American Cancer Society’s 100 Days/100 Stories series, the 100 Caregiver Stories series wants to shine a light on 100 amazing caregivers by the end of 2013. I am a member of the ACS’ Blogger Advisory Council. No financial compensation was received to publish this post.

Photo: Pinterest

Target Teams Up with FEED to Fight Hunger in America

Anti-hunger, Beauty & Style, Charitable Companies


Target has announced that it is teaming up with FEED for a capsule collection that will hit stores on June 30. The collection will include more than 50 stylish products to benefit Feeding America, the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity. The ultimate goal? Provide 10 million 10 million meals to Americans in need.

Co-designed by FEED Founder Lauren Bush Lauren, each piece ranges in price from $3 to $400, and will display the number of meals donated to Feeding America as a result of the purchase.

Want to learn more about the collection and even get a sneak peek? Check out the video below.

-kb

Monday Motivation: Keeping A 10K Promise

Anti-hunger, KB's Journey

Today’s post is actually more like a confession. You see, last year, I signed up to run the Run 10 Feed 10 challenge in Cincinnati in October. I was rocking and rolling on during my training for like 3 weeks, and then… BOOM. I fell off. Big time. So much so, that I *gulp* skipped the race.


I know, I know, I know… You see. I figured that if no one asked me about it, then it didn’t matter. Especially since I’d already paid the registration fee, which helped provide 10 meals. But, deep down, I know better. So, I am getting my act together and keeping my promise to run 10 kilometers to fight hunger.

To make it count, I am doing the following:

  1. Using Charity Miles to not only help me keep track of my training miles, but to also raise funds for Feeding America. For every mile that I run, $0.25 is donated to the cause. If you’re looking for an incredible way to support a cause, this is a great one that will keep your body moving.
  2. For every training mile that log, I will donate $2 to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

So, there you have it. It’s time to make good on a promise that I made to myself and to fight hunger in the United States.

What goals have you backtracked on? How are you planning to get back on track?

-kb

 

It’s Not Glamorous but Let’s Talk Flu Season…

Health Issues, KB's Journey

Not only am I passionate about causes, but I also care about improving health outcomes. Every now and then, I will talk about a timely health issue. Learn and enjoy.

It’s that time of year, ladies and gents. You know, when your co-workers, family members, and Facebook friends ALL start talking about “the flu.” Even typing those words makes me shutter. I think that I’ve only had the flu maybe twice in my adult life and *knocks on wood* I’m hoping that it stays that way for the foreseeable future. But, you never know what germs are lurking around the corner. And, that is essentially the premise behind the CDC’s National Influenza Vaccination Week (December 2-8, 2012).

Have you gotten your flu vaccine? It's not too late! It's National Influenza Vaccination Week.

If you’re like me, you might be wondering why the CDC picked this week. Well, it turns out that once the holiday season arrives, Americans become so busy shopping for gifts that we forget to go and get vaccinated. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but it is true that that influenza vaccination activity drops quickly after the end of November. So, I was sort of right.

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older be vaccinated as the most important step in protecting against the flu. I know that there are various beliefs about flu vaccinations, but I won’t get into those here because I’m not an expert. But, I do know that there are certain folks who have a higher risk for developing flu-related complications (i.e. people over age 65, those with chronic illnesses). And, those in that group should definitely consider vaccinations to help build up their systems.

If you have questions about the flu and approved vaccinations, head on over to the CDC’s website. And, once you have the information, please share with family and friends.

If you are currently battling the flu, you have my prayers and following words of advice.*

1. A hot toddy can be your friend (don’t mix whiskey with meds though).

2. Download “Homeland” on iTunes.

3. Go all out and splurge on the Kleenex with Aloe. It will make a huge difference.

What are your personal flu remedies? I’d love to have in my back pocket. You know, just in case…

~kb

*Obviously, you should go see your doctor. I assumed that was a given.

Monday Motivation: How Far Will You Go for Change?

Health Issues, TFG Spotlight, World Issues

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to attend a luncheon hosted by the team behind the incredible MAKERS series. For those of you unfamiliar with it, the MAKERS’ site includes videos of women who have done and are doing incredible things. These women have blazed and are blazing trails in industries ranging from politics to education to health and they are all HUGELY impressive.

With Dr. Amy Lehman

At this luncheon, we had the opportunity to meet Dr. Amy Lehman and to hear her story. She is the founder of the Lake Tanganyika Floating Health Clinic, which provides health care access to millions of Central African people who live in the isolated Lake Tanganyika Basin. Let’s stop here.

Can you please take a moment and soak in the awesomeness of that sentence? A floating hospital that provides invaluable medical services to those who might otherwise go without. Okay. Let’s continue.

As Dr. Lehman talked, I had a thought: What would’ve happened if she hadn’t accepted her mission to serve this community? As a surgeon trained at the University of Chicago, I’m pretty sure that she could’ve found a posh practice to show off her skills. But, she didn’t. Which leads me to this question: How far are you willing to go to make an impact?

 

Dr. Lehman’s incredible tattoo of the Lake Tanganyika region

When we discuss making an impact, we often limit ourselves to the communities around us. And, I don’t always mean community as a physical location. Community can be your affinity group (i.e. Catholic, African-American, or disabled), a specific neighborhood, or a specific cause. Like many things that we do, there is a tendency to stay within our comfort zone when it comes to assisting those in need.

As we close out 2012 and look ahead to a new year, let’s resolve to go one step further to make a difference. If Dr. Lehman can execute her purpose on another continent, then there’s no reason why we can’t execute ours across town.

To learn more about Dr. Lehman’s work, visit her website at FloatingClinic.org.

To learn more about the other women recognized by MAKERS, visit their website at Makers.com.

-kb

7 Ways to Make a Difference on World AIDS Day

HIV/AIDS, Shop for A Cause

Today marks the 24th anniversary of World AIDS Day. Each one of us has the power to end the epidemic. Below are a few ways that you can educate yourselves while also contributing to the greater cause.

Educate:

    • Have you been tested in the past six months? If not, today is as good as day as any to go find out your status. Visit this site to find a testing location near you.
    • Join Alicia Keys, presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee for a Twitter chat about AIDS in America at noon ET TODAY.
    • Tonight, MTV will air “I’m Positive,” a documentary that follows the daily lives of three young people who are living with HIV. The hour long special airs at 7p ET/6p CT. Young people between the ages of 13 and 24 make up 24 percent of new HIV infections in the US.

Shop:

  • Dance (Red) – Download this high-energy dance album produced by global DJ Tiesto. All proceeds from the sale of the album will be donated to the Global Fund.

  • Starbucks – For every handcrafted beverage, Starbucks will donate five cents to The Global Fund. (It’s easy to scoff at five cents until you think about how many drinks Starbucks moves on a daily basis.)
  • MAC Cosmetics – TODAY only, MAC will double the donation of your online Viva Glam purchase. View the collection here.

Serve:

  • Identify community organizations in your area that provide HIV services and/or resources and get involved. That can be doing anything from passing out condoms, volunteering at a health fair, or even answering the phones at a clinic.

Today, I’ll be preparing lunch for women attending a support group at the Chicago Women’s AIDS Project before going to support my church’s Community Health Fair. Every action counts.

How will you honor World AIDS Day today and moving forward?

Decadence and Delight: World of Chocolate 2012

HIV/AIDS, KB's Journey

Last night, I had the time of my life at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago’s 11th Annual “World of Chocolate” event. I’d heard all types of rave reviews from people who practically overdosed on cocoa goodness and KNEW that I was going to be in trouble.

While I felt like a winner, I also felt like a loser. There was so much chocolate in the place that I tapped out… EARLY. I only visited like 35% of the stations and seriously reconsidered my life’s purpose. Why didn’t I try more items? I suppose that there’s always next year.

So, what did I try? The short list is below…

  • A bacon chocolate martini (YUM!)
  • Mashed potatoes drizzled with chocolate (An interesting combo that kind of worked.)
  • A date stuffed with Belgium dark chocolate and wrapped in bacon (I wasn’t ready for this one.)
  • Chocolate covered pretzels
  • Chocolate-covered grapes with Riesling (Omg. Delish.)
  • Fudge truffles

But, when I tell you that they had all types of chocolate there, I really mean it. There were stations with salads drizzled in chocolate vinaigrette, cocoa chile wild boar sliders, chocolate shrimp and grits, and WAY more. Ah. SUCH a magical place and all for a fantastic cause! Funds raised through World of Chocolate support AFC’s grant-making, policy and public education programs. I will definitely return next year and this time I will be ready. Ready for the fun and ready for some wild cocoa treats.

What’s the craziest chocolate dish that you have ever tried?

Do They Have EBONY in Heaven?

Featured, HIV/AIDS, KB's Journey

A couple of weeks ago, I looked up to the clouds and asked my mother this question. With the opening of one magazine, I’d experienced one of those full circle moments where everything just falls into place. Wondering what I’m talking about? See the picture below.

Yep, that’s Luvvie and I discussing the importance of getting tested for HIV/AIDS in the October issue of EBONY. “Get tested” is one of 100 tips, thoughts, and ideas designed to help Black women jump start their lives. Since we wrote the blurb and provided the picture, we obviously knew that we would be in this issue. But, there’s nothing like seeing it for yourself. When I opened that magazine and saw the words in print, I felt my life shift. I had just walked into my season. Many years ago, my Dad told me, “I think that God has already established your territory. You just need to know when to walk into your season.”

Well, I’m here. I’m in my new season and I hope that there are newsstands in heaven because I have a feeling that my Mommy will need to purchase many more magazines and newspapers in the future.

-kb