Archive of ‘KB’s Journey’ category

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.

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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.

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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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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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Introducing the 13:13 Series

13_13 I’ve been thinking a lot about love lately. Not just what it means on the surface, but what the bible has to say about the word. It’s no surprise that this search led me to one of my favorite scripture passages, 1 Corinthians 13, which is all about love. This passage is so rich with words that help us understand what it means to love deeply and it concludes with this seemingly simple statement…

 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Faith, hope, and love are three pillars that are absolutely necessary to have in order to live a fulfilled life. In honor of this verse and in the lead up to Valentine’s Day, I have taken on the challenge of writing 13 blog posts in 13 days that touch on faith, hope, and love. I’ve wanted to do something special on the blog for February for the past few years, so I’m excited. I guess love has that effect on me.

Links to the posts are below:

Keeping the Faith When Life Says “Nah”

These Beautiful Pillows Bring the Love Home

The Courage to Hope

{Giveaway} Faith, Hope and Love Prints

15 Valentine’s Day Gifts under $50

Monday Motivation: Focus on Real Love

10 Ways to Do Good with Your Boo

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Elevating My Style & Beauty Game

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While browsing one of my favorite blogs, The Style and Beauty Doctor, I came across Danielle’s post listing out her 2016 style and beauty resolutions. Reading her list made me think in detail about what I wanted to accomplish this year in those two areas. Looking back at pictures from years ago, I noticed that my interest in my outward appearance took a dip as I took a step back from the social scene. During my pregnancy, I practically fantasized about reinventing myself after giving birth. Post-North West Kim Kardashian West was/is my muse. She was everything when she re-emerged with the blonde hair. Don’t remember? See here.

Yet, with all of that fantasizing, I never thought about writing clear goals for my style and beauty game. After thinking carefully, here are my top five focus areas for the year.

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Monday Motivation: Encourage Someone

A couple of years ago, I wrote one of my favorite “Monday Motivation” posts about the power of encouraging yourself when you are going through one of life’s many tests. In that post, I shared:

A winning mindset is the key to prospering today, tomorrow, and years from now. So, how will you speak life into your dreams and goals today? Take some time to really think about the answer. It could be one of the most important thoughts that you have today.

When it comes to speaking life, it is just as important that we also do that for the people in our circle. You never know how far a few positive words can go with someone who feels like giving up or who needs a little extra oomph to power through their day. I love these Encouragement Postcards from Lara Casey because they make it easy (and beautiful) to give a quick pick-me-up to my friends.

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I received two of these cards with my Powersheets and put them in the mail this morning for a couple of my girlfriends. I wanted more so I just ordered a set! They are perfect for sending small doses of inspiration on a regular basis and that’s why I love them. The great thing is that a set of 20 postcards is only $8 and 10% of the profits will benefit Love One Another Project.

How will you encourage someone this week?

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Photo: LaraCasey.com

Five Tools That I’m Relying on For A Great Year

“Get your life together and keep it together.”

This is my mantra for the year. With so many moving parts in my life these days, I am being intentional about how I spend my time and my energy. As such, I knew that I couldn’t kick off 2016 without some helpful tools to keep me focused and on track. This is the first year where I have taken steps like this. It’s like they say… “If you want different results, then you have to do something different.”

Here are the five most important things that I am relying on to help me jumpstart this year and keep me focused on God, goals, and order.

5 Tools for 2016

  1. NIV Bible for Women ($23) – I already had a couple of Bibles, but I was looking for one that incorporated devotionals and lessons throughout. I learned about this Bible when a friend, Halleemah, shared the news that she was tapped to pen one of the devotionals. One of my goals is to spend at least 15 minutes each day with the Word, and this Bible is certainly helping me do so.
  2. Lara Casey’s Powersheets ($35) – I have been waiting to get my hands on these sheets for monthssss. In November, I finally snagged a six-month set and committed to using these to help guide my goal-setting for this year. What I love about them so far is just how thorough they are. This process has really challenged me to reflect on where I’ve been and what I want to change (and WHY). I’d love to dig deeper into how they are helping me, but think that it is best to save that for its own post.
  3. Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner ($58) – Planners are my friend. However, I’m pretty particular about what works for me. Last year, I went through three planners, including the Passion Planner, before settling on something that worked. For this year, I decided to up my planner game and find something that was cute, functional, and really addressed all my needs. Voila! My research lead me to this planner. I love it so far and really feel like I made the right decision.
  4. Colored Sharpies – You know how Pinterest can gas you up and think that you can do anything? Yeah, well, that is what happened to me when I thought that I could color-code everything in my planner without losing my mind. I color-coded ONE DAY of appointments and to-dos and was like, “Nah.” However, having colored Sharpies around is still incredibly beneficial. It has helped me highlight very important tasks and makes writing notes and thank you cards much more fun. They didn’t work out for my planner needs but I know that I am going to rely on them a lot this year.
  5. Podcasts – I am all about podcasts these days. Now that I’ve gotten the hang of things, I’ve decided to listen to them when I’m pumping or nursing. The two that I can’t do without are from Myleik Teele (Founder of curlBOX) and Mattie James of Mattieologie. Myleik has an incredible energy about her and she is a mentor-in-my-head. While she focuses a lot on business, she also delves into personal topics for a well-rounded batch of conversations. Mattie’s podcasts are dope because she focuses a lot on building your creative brand and blogging. As I dive back into blogging, I’m looking forward to using some of her tips.

How are you planning to make this your best year yet?

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Finding My Way Back

In case you missed the previous post, I stumbled back into blogging after a six month absence. For those of you who have kept up somewhat with this site, you know that tends to happen often with me. Something happens in life and I just find myself feeling a little uninspired or, in this case, too blue to really find anything interesting to say.

After learning that I was expecting in late-March, the world really shifted for me. I’m sure that every expecting mommy says that, but I really felt it… hard. I’m not going to get into the details in this post, but I’ve been working through pre-natal blues, insecurity, anxiety, and plenty of excitement (of course). Don’t ask me how all of these feelings have been co-existing in my body because I couldn’t tell you. But, when you combine those emotions with a busy work schedule and somewhat of a personal life, it leaves little room for blogging. I just wasn’t there… My heart wasn’t here. Hell, I didn’t even know that my site looked CRAY for the past few months because I wasn’t staying on top of theme and WordPress updates. When I’m checked out of something, I am CHECKED OUT.

So, what changed? Why am I back now?

Good question. In the past couple of months, I’ve been on this quest to connect with my most authentic self in an effort to usher a lot of fear out of my life. Fear of always saying the right thing. Fear of being perfect. Fear of not doing things the right way. I realized that I had packed myself into a box of my own doing as a protective measure but it no longer served me any good. As I move closer and closer to bringing this baby into the world and being on the other end of one of the purest and truest relationships in this world, I have been craving authentic connections.

I decided that I would eventually make my way back to the blog but not until I was ready to start keeping it incredibly real. So, what will The Fabulous Giver talk about now? Anything. Everything. Life and such.

Don’t worry. I still believe in brand voice/tone and content themes… As such, don’t expect to log on one day and find 600 words on why the Republicans’ view towards women’s health are incredibly dangerous. I’ll save that one for someplace else.

Just know that I’m finding my way back to this blog, to my voice, to the real me.

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