Archive of ‘KB’s Journey’ category

New Year Wishes and To-Dos

Happy New Year! I know that we are a few days into 2015, but this blog post kind of makes it official for me. I’ve been spending the past few days basking in the new energy that a new year brings, and making more impactful and actionable plans. I want to steer my energy into specific buckets to make sure that I am efficient, effective, and not wasting energy in areas that don’t matter – at least not in this particular season. For me, there are five themes in which I want to see a drastic improvement. I’ve categorized them as “wishes” and listed them below.

This year, I wish…

… to reconnect with friends and family and reestablish all the love and laughter that I missed in 2014.

… to strengthen my faith through service and giving.

… to be a better wife/stepmother and continue to build the best foundation for our family.

… to be fearless in the pursuit of new business and career opportunities.

… to find a way to impact youth in my community through mentorship and career exploration.

Everything that I want to do and everything that I want to be really connects back to the five core statements listed above. As I meditated on my wishes, I reminded myself of the importance of setting goals and making to-do lists. I need to visualize what success looks like and be intentional about achieving it. To help me get started, I decided to make my first monthly checklist and share with you all. I got this idea from a post on Mattieologie, and definitely think this is something that I need to make a habit of doing.

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Is this everything on my January to-do list? Ha! Absolutely not. Do they perfectly align with my themes? Not 100%. However, these are some of the key things that I want to get done this month. I still have my weekly to-do lists which I divide up into four categories (home, personal, career, and passion) where I really tackle the nitty gritty of my life. I’ll blog about that another time!

So, now that we are five days into the new year, what are you focusing your efforts on and how do you plan to turn your wishes into realities? Let’s keep each other motivated!

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Background Image: Pinterest

In Support of Caregiving Youth

I was going through some boxes the other day and stumbled across a page in an old college notebook where I jotted down the contact information and notes for several Chicago nursing homes. Just looking at my handwriting transported me back to 2005. I had just graduated from college and had just returned to Chicago to begin my career in advertising. I was also trying to work through my mother’s recent stroke or severe multiple sclerosis exacerbation (depends on who you ask). Part of this included researching nursing homes where she could go and live once she was released from her acute rehabilitation center.

Me cheesing it up with my mama :-)

Me cheesing it up with my mama 🙂

Being 22 and trying to juggle all of those decisions was difficult, but it was a lifestyle to which I had become accustomed. I played the role of caregiver for my mom for many years and made many decisions that affected her directly and indirectly. When I tell people my story, they tend to give me this sad look and offer comforting words. I accept and appreciate those words, but not for me. You see, my mother passed away in 2008, so I’m not a caregiver anymore. I accept these words on behalf of former and current caregiving youth.

November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time to honor and celebrate the selflessness of family caregivers (read: not paid) who provide support to elderly and/or disabled loved ones. While much of this time is spent reflecting on adult caregivers, I always think about the more than one million children and teens who provide this type of support to a family member. Having to face adolescence while also balancing that type of role and responsibility is not an easy feat. Yet, we do it did it because it needed to be done.

On Sunday, the American Association of Caregiving Youth is hosting its first Twitter chat from 4p – 5p ET. The hashtag is #caregivingyouth. If you are a former youth caregiver, work with children and teens who are, or just want to learn more about how you can support this community, I ask you to join us.

To learn more, please visit http://www.aacy.org.

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Volunteering in the ‘Burbs

Six months ago, I swapped my Chicago (proper) address for a suburban one (*sobs*) and have been adjusting to life ever since. There are many practical reasons why I chose to move to the suburbs, but the most important one was my husband’s declaration that he would never live in the city of Chicago. I begged and tried to sell him on the virtues of my hometown, but it was a no go. I get it.

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So, now I’m out here and am trying to substitute many of my favorite Chicago (proper) activities with acceptable suburban versions. I know where I can get jerk chicken (25 minutes away) and found a great nail spa in town. One of the things that I was really concerned about was finding volunteer opportunities out here. While there’s a tendency to think that the suburbs are perfect, the truth is that many people out here need assistance as well. So, how could I help in my new neighborhood?

Well, the first sign that I received was the sight of a food drop-off bucket for the Self Help Closet & Food Pantry of Des Plaines in a grocery store across the street from our house. This is probably my favorite way to give back because I can just buy extra staples or canned goods on sale and place them in the container. I found out that the Food Pantry has regular volunteer opportunities so I hope to help out there one day.

Another opportunity that I’m really excited about is the Breakfast for Baby activity hosted by my local Salvation Army chapter. On the second Saturday of the month, families with little ones under a year old can come out for breakfast and the opportunity to “shop” for diapers and other baby supplies.

Between the above opportunities and the listings on the Hands On Suburban Chicago website, it makes me feel better to know where and how I can give back to my community. This isn’t to say that I won’t ever volunteer in Chicago (proper) again. I love my city too much to do that. Besides with my annual service challenge on the horizon, I need all of the service learning projects that I can find! More info on that to come. Until then…

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Image: Daily Herald

Monday Motivation: Encourage Yourself

Every day, I make it a point to find something to motivate me to be better, smarter, and more productive than the day before. Whether it’s the latest Harvard Business Review blogpost or an energizing sunrise, I always manage to find something to remind me that I’m walking into a great day. Well, last night while thinking of today’s post, I asked myself, “What would I focus on today?” Ten minutes later, the answer was simple. “You.” Well, not me…But, you. Each one of us has a story that has crafted us into the person that we are today. Only you know what you’ve had to fight through and that story should propel you into each day.

Every day that we wake up is another day…another chance to do something great. One of my favorite songs is called “Encourage Yourself,” and the premise is so simple yet powerful. We need to encourage ourselves and remind ourselves that

“Sometimes you have to encourage yourself/Sometimes you have to speak victory during the test…”

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.

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“Ain’t Nobody” Like Chaka Khan

Last week, I had the best week EVER. I hopped over to the West Coast for a work meeting with the Greater Than AIDS team, then went straight to Miami for the ColorComm Conference (recap here), returned to Chicago to participate in the 85th Annual Bud Billiken Parade with the Black McDonald’s Operators Association, AND *insert breath* watched the legendary Chaka Khan take the stage in support of my nonprofit organization, The Red Pump Project.

Is your head spinning yet? Mine certainly was by Saturday night. However, it was totally worth it. I mean, Chaka Khan?! She is every bit as fierce and fabulous as you would imagine her to be. Before the show, Luvvie and I had a chance to meet her backstage and thank her for agreeing to support our organization in this significant way. A few snaps are below.

Welcome to the Chicago Theatre!

Welcome to the Chicago Theatre!

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Red Pump posing with Chaka Khan and the Music is My 1st Love team

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Luvvie and I with the woman of the hour.

It was a night that I will definitely remember for many reasons. My favorite memory of the night? Singing “Sweet Thing” with my husband standing next to me. It doesn’t get any mushier than that, right? Don’t laugh.

We are so grateful to the Music is My 1st Love team for selecting us as recipients of their first benefit concert. They are doing incredible things and I’m looking forward to supporting their future shows.

To Ms. Chaka Khan, there are no words! From one Chicago gal to another, you are a powerhouse. Thank you for rocking the red pump with us.

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Recharging my Life at ColorComm #C2Miami

Last week, I attended the inaugural ColorComm Conference in Miami and it COMPLETELY recharged my life. The high-quality sessions and sisterhood among the attendees were perfectly framed against the beautiful backdrop of the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne. If you’re not familiar with ColorComm, it is an organization devoted to women of color in communications. The members of the organization are found in fields such as advertising, public relations, journalism, marketing and more. I’ve been involved with the Chicago group since last year and have met many great women as a result.

Highlights from #C2Miami

 

The conference kicked off with an awards dinner and keynote from Soledad O’Brien and just kept getting better. There were sessions about personal finance, the future of digital communities, mentorship, and integrated marketing communications. I loved the holistic aspect of the sessions and that the topics were designed to make sure that we are well-rounded communications professionals. During the closing luncheon, we heard from Johnson Publishing CEO Desiree Rogers and she shared five tips for us to always keep in mind. I listed them out below because they were too important not to share.

  1.  Carry yourself with confidence.
  2. Don’t be afraid to go with your gut.
  3. Opportunities to create change can be the most rewarding but also the most challenging. (Amen and amen.)
  4. Seek an opportunity that speaks not only to your intellect but to your heart.
  5. Savor every thing, every experience, every relationship.

I left Miami feeling recharged and renewed in my focus on creating and delivering impactful messages. If you are a woman in communications who is looking for a great (and growing) organization to get involved with, then I highly recommend ColorComm. You can learn more here. Also, for other highlights from the event, feel free to check out the #C2Miami tag on Twitter.

 

I Need a Bigger Bookcase

A more appropriate title for this post would be, “I need a bookcase.” We moved into our new place in May and are sadly without any bookcases. This wouldn’t be a problem if I didn’t have at least six boxes of my books stuffed in our yet-to-be-furnished home office. You would think that my lack of storage would stop me from buying books, but I can tell you that it hasn’t.

This summer alone, I have purchased seven books and checked out “Gone Girl” from the library. Don’t I seem smart? Well, I would feel even smarter if I took the time to actually finish an entire book instead of hopping from title to title like a frantic bibliophile. So, how do I prioritize?

First up will be “Gone Girl.” Everyone swears that this book is amazing and I have to return it to the library in three weeks. After that? No idea but these four books will definitely be next.

 

1. “Instinct,” T.D. Jakes | 2. “Daring Greatly,” Brene Brown | 3. “No Greatness Without Goodness,” Randy Lewis |4. “My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife,” Sara Horn

 

What books are you planning to read before the end of summer? It’s never too early to start building my September reading list.

Monday Motivation: Finish What You Start

I came across the above image on Instagram awhile back and it challenged me to think about all of the projects/tasks that I have left unfinished (gulp). You see, I never have a shortage of ideas. I have an issue with completing them. As much as I would like to say that this is a recent phenemon driven by lots of life changes, that’s not true. When thinking about unfinished projects, I thought back a few years when I came across a notebook with business plans and book proposal ideas jotted down over the course of years.

*hangs head*

Thinking about my unfinished projects and tasks makes me incredibly uncomfortable. I mean, am I a quitter? What is really up with this? While trying to figure this out, I had to work hard not to let myself enter a downward spiral. So, I decided to just do like the words say and just finish things that I started.

A few things on my immediate list:

  1. Finish my July editorial calendar and posts for this blog and Real Women Give. Remember RWG? Blast from the past… I know. Sigh.
  2. Get back on track with my fitness training programs. I fell off the wagon HARD and my clothes don’t fit as well as they did two weeks ago. Besides, I have a vacation in seven weeks and a 10K in three months.
  3. Finish planning a summer outreach event for the women’s ministry at my church. This task “haunts” me the most. I’m really excited about the event, but have also overwhelmed myself trying to do it alone.
  4. Finally send out wedding announcements. It’s been two months since the big day and I’m procrastinating on this items. Don’t even ask me when I’ll get around to changing my name.

There are many reasons why I tend to leave projects unfinished, but the main ones are probably boredom and lack of discipline. SIGH. Typing that is hard but it is a necessary realization if I am going to correct this situation. I really want to be someone who follows through and completes every single thing that I put into the universe. Simply put… I gotta get my life right and now is the PERFECT time to do so.

Say a prayer for me, y’all.

On One Accord with the Soweto Gospel Choir

On Wednesday night, I went to go see the Soweto Gospel Choir with one of my favorite gals, DeeDee (The Sassy Peach). I was first introduced to the choir a year ago and since then, I’ve been in awe of their voices, their spirits, and (of course) their awesome performances. As they weaved their way through African spirituals, Black spirituals, and contemporary songs in Symphony Hall, I just felt happy. I felt blessed to be connected to such a beautiful culture.

The performance was beautiful. Even though I didn’t know the words to 90% of the songs, it didn’t matter at all. Everyone in the hall was captivated by each note and each word. It reminded me that music is a true common denominator. It has the power to connect people from different walks of life in an authentic way. A certain commercial previously ruined Sarah McLaughlin’s “Arms of an Angel,” but the choir restored my love of this song. The video is below is them singing the song at a different performance. SO GOOD.

The Soweto Gospel Choir is an amazing group both on and off the stage. While browsing the program booklet, I learned that they launched Nkosi’s Haven Vukani, a foundation to support HIV/AIDS orphans in South Africa. As they travel the world with their performances, it is clear that they not only carry a connection to their home country, but also a responsibility to it. There were several tributes to Nelson Mandela, summed up with a touching rendition of South Africa’s national anthem.

As we ended the night clapping and singing “Amen,” it was the perfect end to a great show. I definitely filed it away in my memory bank. I wish them much success on the rest of their North American tour and hope to catch another show in the future!

Oprah Spoke To My Soul with This Quote

I’ve blogged about the AOL and PBS Makers series before and expressed my genuine appreciation of the videos. Last night, I was digging around in the vault looking for a little inspiration when I came across the following quote from Lady O.

I say, determine for yourself how you are going to serve. And, then lean into that. Lean into that with your whole heart – to serve something greater than yourself.

In the video, Oprah discusses how you can find your significance in the world and the paradigm shift required to make that transition happen. Key takeaway: Determine how you can be significant through service. That, ladies and gentlemen, is why Oprah is Oprah. I can relate to that quote and feel like it speaks directly to my soul!

Watch it for yourself here.

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