Tuesday, December 11, 2012

VIDEO: Iyanla Vanzant Tells Me How Black Women Can "Fix" Their Lives

Iyanla Vanzant has a thoughtful demeanor when she speaks, even though there is not much hesitation when you ask her a question. The host of "Iyanla: Fix My Life" on Oprah Winfrey's OWN network had a lot to say when I recently interviewed her at Spelman College [VIDEO]. She shared her thoughts on depression, how women can use technology to "fix" their lives, and how young black women can maintain their sense of self in a world that often seems bent on objectifying them. I enjoyed our enlightening conversation, and felt I gained more insight into her philosophy on "fixing" people's lives. 

Keep on Enjoyceinglife!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Best Tweets: 2nd Presidential Debate 2012

I love this photo from last night's second presidential debate. It is such a telling picture. Here are some tweets that made me laugh, scream, stand up on my sofa, and literally throw stuff at my computer. It was a riotous evening - and the best presidential debate I've ever seen. These tweets are a snapshot of the Storify I created from debate, which includes video clips of my favorite parts and some great photos. Enjoy! 

"I don't look at my pension. It's not as big as yours." POTUS. #debates

First time Romney didn't bully Candi: When #Obama told #Romney how he was diff than #Bush. Romney had not. one. thing. to. say. #debates

Equal pay for women is the single most powerful economic stimulus we could institute.- Gloria Steinem ow.ly/exd6H #FB #election2012

Cool infographic from @USAToday: We asked what you thought of the #debateinoneword and here are your responses: pic.twitter.com/seMhUi1W

Romney and Obama are circling each other onstage, looking like they're ready either for a fight or a debate dance-off. #debates

RT @MissKristilyn: "You don't turn national security into a political issue, certainly not right when it's happening." - Pres. Obama #fb

Libya: Obama To Romney On Rose Garden Remarks:  'Get The Transcript'

#Crowley#Obama & a #transcript having a fact-checking#Libya smackdown party! RT @harryallen: What was the best moment of the #debate?

#Obama couldn't have planned this better if he tried. #Romney saying he cares abt 100% of ppl opened door 4 Obama 2 close w 47%. #debates

Totally thinking the same thing! U KNOW they had 'the talk.' RT @VidaLov: Aw Michelle restored her man! Yes First Lady! #TeamBarack #debates


From me, a #singlemom: I'm freaking offended that Romney's answer to assault weapons is for me to get married! #RUCrazy or #DoUThinkImCrazy

Apparently, my being single is getting people shot. Someone get me a date before another life is lost.#debates

Yes! Saved from #AssaultWeapons! RT @jesseltaylor I remember when I put a ring on my bride's finger & she stopped doing drive-bys. #debates

More tweets, photos and videos in my Storify. Keep on Enjoyceinglife! JD

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Living Single With Faith, Hope & Purpose - Ebony Magazine

If you're free TONIGHT, Wednesday, Sept. 26, at 8 pm, please join me (@Enjoyceinglife) and @EbonyMag for their FIRST ever Twitter chat based on "Single Ladies," my article about the state of dating and relationships in the October issue of Ebony Magazine. 

Having a real conversation about the state of dating and relationships with six single African American women in Atlanta was not at all what I expected. While I never thought the discussion I was moderating for Ebony Magazine would be a male-bashing session, I did not expect it to be as empowering for me as it was.

I was dreading bringing up the unmarried statistics or unearthing the media's favorite dead horse: "Why can't black women find good black men?" But the ladies even had interesting perspectives on those tired aspects of the reality of their lives that, as a thorough journalist, I had to address. What was most encouraging, especially because I'm single, too, is the positive outlook that all of the women - ages 27 to 43 - had about their prospects for a satisfying relationship in their future.

Outside of my cousin Krystal Gambrell, and a new friend I met that evening, Alisa Benjamin, I'd known all of the women a year or so mostly through our professional relationships. But as sisters sometimes do, we had a little wine, cheese, fruit and desert in the comfort of my parents' home, and fell into an easy conversation about what can be a hard and painful topic. Their clear-eyed comments were refreshing. Some of my favorites had to do with dating as a single parent, which speaks to my experience:

"It's my job to make sure my son respects me and doesn't see different men in an out of the house. With most guys, it increases their respect for me because I guess it shows that I have values and standards." - Kia Smith

"Someone has more of an advantage when he has children, and I can really hone in on what type of father he is. Are you the father who sees his child once a month and that's OK with you? That's not a good sign that you want to be there for my children." - Tracy Nicole

We did talk about being approached by married men, online dating, the endless pressure to get married, and, of course, how quickly sex comes into play. But the most moving part of the discussion came when the ladies shared the importance of faith, hope and purpose:

"[When I was in my 20s] I thought that walking down the aisle, having a ring and a baby would complete me....But I hadn't found my purpose...Now that I am focused, I can't keep the guys away. When guys see you are a woman who is focused and driven, you don't have to worry about the numbers." - Erin Harper

"When I say I have hope, it's because of [my previous marriage]. I have hope that if [my first husband] found me, then somebody else is going to find me. I want to be open to the same type of integrity that he had and the trust that I had in him and not be guarded because of all the stuff that we do see. I know it's real, but that relationship was real, too." -  Cecilia Bailey

So if you see Gabrielle Union grinning at you from the newsstand over the next few weeks, check out my piece in the October issue of Ebony. Can't wait? Here's a pretty good excerpt. There's also a roundtable of single black men in Washington, D.C., in the same issue that is certainly eyebrow-raising. I'd love to hear your thoughts about their perspectives on dating and relationships as well.

Okay, so my 6-year-old daughter - on her birthday - records a video - through a patio window - of a photo shoot that is being done of a round table about dating and relationships I conducted for Ebony Magazine. My wonderful mother provided direction to the photographer, who was so gracious in his acceptance of her suggestions. I love how my baby handles an iPhone and how my mother always has my back! You just can't beat family.

I am so honored that Ebony's FIRST ever Twitter chat is based on my article!!! Hope to see you on Twitter TONIGHT, Wednesday, Sept. 28, at 8 pm, for @EbonyMag's chat about dating and relationships. I'll be tweeting from @Enjoyceinglife. I can't wait to hear your feedback!

Keep on Enjoyceinglife!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Love Inspired: Angela Davis & Toni Morrison

When I posted this photo of legends Angela Davis and Toni Morrison to my Facebook page this morning a friend made my heart melt with this comment:

My first treasured gift from [my husband] before we married was a first British edition of Davis' autobiography, which was nurtured and edited by Morrison. (that's when I knew this guy really gets me!)

Who doesn't want a love connection like that!?!? Okay well maybe shared respect and admiration for literature, creativity and activism isn't on everybody's potential partner list, but that sure speaks to me - loudly. 

When I first saw this photo, all I could wonder was, what must they be talking about? Political prisoners? Hair? Effective writing? I'd have trailed them for miles just to eavesdrop. 

Well now I get to discuss the power of Davis' years of activism, advocacy and academic discourse on women's rights, prison abolition, feminism and race. And you can, too! Please join me tomorrow, Wed, 9/12, noon-1pm on Twitter for a chat about Davis' impact on politics and justice. To participate or even just view, please follow @SpelmanCollege or @enjoyceinglife and use hashtag #InsideSpelman

If you're in Atlanta, Davis will be at Spelman College [for free] on Mon., 9/17, to discuss women, voting and citizenship. Timely, huh? Details in the September issue of Inside Spelman

Davis and superbad political science professor and MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry (coming in spring 2013) are guest lecturers at Spelman's inaugural Ida B. Wells-Barnett Lecture Series, which addresses contemporary issues impacting women. Named after the most inspiring journalist EVER and featuring powerful women of change, I just have to ask, does it get any better than this? I'm thoroughly amped!

Keep on Enjoyceinglife!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Gabrielle Douglas: Interviewing the Champ & Her Mother!

When I got the email asking me if I wanted to interview Olympian Gabrielle Douglas and her mother Natalie Hawkins for the cover of Jet magazine, I was beside myself. I had watched this young woman, this fierce athlete, inspire awe in the world throughout the London Games. And I'd tuned into the media and social media insanity - including my own - that erupted around her instant fame. I was more than amped. I was ready to have some good conversation with these women who at their core are about family and excellence.

They were ready for me, too. I asked the hard questions and they gave honest answers. I ended our interview feeling respect and admiration not just for what the 16-year-old had accomplished, but for the grace in which she handled herself under some unfathomable pressure and sometimes ugly spotlight. And as a mother, I was motivated by the warrior nature and ferocious love of her mother. 

I'd never written a cover story for Jet before and for Gabrielle Douglas to be my first was an awesome honor. I feel truly blessed to be a small part of history recording her record-breaking feats in a periodical that for more than 60 years has been one of the few committed to uplifting the triumphs of people of African descent. 

The September 3, 2012 issue of Jet will be on the newsstands for one more week. I'd love for you to pick it up and support Jet, Gabrielle and me! Please check out the article [sneak peak here] and let me know what you think. And keep Enjoyceinglife. It's a wonderful world out there!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Great Parenting Moment: Michelle Obama on President Obama's Smoking Challenge

Fantastic parenting conversation that Michelle Obama had with iVillage about how she and President Barack Obama talked to their children about the challenge of quitting smoking. There was serious insight into the care and strategy of their parenting. I'm so in love with how they honor their daughters' intelligence and curiosity. She's so at ease discussing the honesty they use as a foundation to their parenting - when Lord knows raising up girl children - any children - takes God, plus all the will and patience you can muster. This interview helped me as I navigate the wild world that I send my baby out into everyday. Thanks First Lady!

Monday, August 13, 2012

What Angie Told Me About Idris....

Who wouldn't want to be the object of Idris Elba's affection? Angie Stone spilled the goods to me about her tight relationship with Idris in the current issue of Jet Magazine (the one with boxer-turned-thespian Mike Tyson on the cover).

"We are so close," said Angie about Idris, who was more than memorable as the delivery man in her video for "I Wanna Thank Ya." But their relationship is not what you think, ladies. Check out my interview with her and, even better, the new music from her latest soul-filled funky album, Rich Girl, which is exactly how she described it when I caught up with her in Atlanta at the video shoot for her single "Do What You Gotta Do."  She looked so lovely and was extremely down to earth.

I love a classy lady. And I enjoyed this interview. I can't wait to share with you who I interviewed last night for Jet. Keep reading Enjoyceinglife. I keep it popping here!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Gabby Does It Big as the U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team Takes the Gold!

I am so amped about this win by the superfantastically fabulous Gabby Douglas and her talented teammates on the U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team. In another life, I'd certainly be a gymnast! 

From the New York Times: United States Women Take Gold in Team Gymnastics All-Around Competition
"The United States women have decisively won their first women’s team gold since 1996, ultimately cruising to victory with a five-point cushion over the second-place Russians.
The team of Gabby Douglas, Kyla Ross, Jordyn Wieber, McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman avoided major errors throughout, becoming the only the second American team to win gold in the Games."

"With gold in sight, Gabby Douglas gave the United States a strong opening in the floor with a 15.066.  The crowd, clapping along to the music, has engaged with a team besides the British for practically the first time all week."

"Americans did not flinch on the most daunting event, the balance beam. Kyla Ross led off with a 15.133, and Gabby Douglas did her one (tenth) better with a 15.233. Beam is traditionally Douglas’ weakest event, so passing through with a score that strong will be a major relief."

"The last American to perform [on the uneven bars], Gabby Douglas, was best of all, employing the soaring releases and clean catches that earned her the “Flying Squirrel” nickname."

"The American vault specialist McKayla Maroney delivered as promised, scoring a massive 16.233. Her teammates Wieber and Douglas turned in strong scores as well, identical marks of 15.933. These high scores on the most points-heavy apparatus should all but guarantee the Americans first place after the first rotation."

All photos credited to the New York Times. Be inspired by all of their Olympics photos

Keep Enjoyceinglife - just like the beautiful, talented and gold medal-winning Gabby Douglas!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Letting Loose to Hot Lunch Jam

I can't wait until my daughter is old enough to see Fame (1980). It's on Ovation right now. I heard the tsk tsk tsk beginnings of the riotous "Hot Lunch Jam" and had a straight personal party in front of my TV - dancing like tomorrow wasn't coming.

Nobody ever tells you that at some point in your life - unless you're one of those octogenarian athletes - you won't be able to move like you did in your youth. But I certainly tried. I may have to pop an Advil or two. But it was worth it.

If this song doesn't make you get up and move something, honestly, I think something is very wrong with you.

The whole Academy Award-winning soundtrack was fantastic and front and in heavy rotation when I was a kid, sandwiched between Whitney Houston's first album and Donna Summer's On The Radio on the shelf under my record player. The breakdown in "Never Alone," spoke to my church choir singing. Our entire seventh grade sang "Out Here On My Own" at our promotion ceremony - a bit somber, but memorable.

The film left an indelible imprint on my life. I'd been taking dance for at least five years before I saw it. From age 4 until my early teens, I took ballet, tap, jazz, modern, and more. I traveled with dance companies all the way to New York's Alvin Ailey studios. I even had a stint as a mime while selling ice cream at a Carvel cart during one summer at Six Flags. Imagine me. As a mime. Thank goodness there was no Facebook or YouTube back then.

More thanks to God and my parents that my childhood was filled with creative exposure - dancing, singing in the school chorus, and my mother continuously taking me to see movies like Fame, productions like the one woman show Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, and musicals like The Wiz with Stephanie Mills and Your Arms Too Short to Box With God with Jennifer Holliday.

Fame is a classic. Even at 10 years old, I knew I was destined to live in New York City after being captivated by the scene where the performing arts school recesses to the streets and hundreds of dancers literally stop traffic devouring taxicabs with grand jetes and pirouettes to the movie's title track. And the celebratory ending "I Sing the Body Electric" was just euphoria.

The whole Fame movement was glorious. Every time I see the film or hear a song from the soundtrack, I fall in love with creativity again. Stay connected to the things that inspire you. They help in Enjoyceinglife!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Wordsmiths: Get Ready to Salivate

When I saw the post on Twitter about this image from Ragan.com, I nearly twisted my fingers up clicking the link. If this magazine idea from the wonderfully witty Grammar Girl ever materialized into the real thing, I'd curl up with it every month like a long lost lover. Please, please, please, please, oh literary gods, oh divine word beings, bring this mag to life. I'm having a prayer session. Right now. Join me, wordsmiths. For the love of correct grammar, send your prayers up!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Flashback: My BET Awards Interviews Revive My Contribution to Their AIDS Awareness Campaign

The first book to which I ever really contributed was One Hand in My Pocket, a 2001 anthology of inspirational short stories by several of my co-workers at BET about people living positively with HIV/AIDS. The book was a part of BET's Rap-It-Up campaign that paired celebrities with activists and health professionals to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS. This topic, seminal to my short story "Decisions, Decisions, Decisions," was a difficult subject for me to tackle - especially as my first published fiction work. Despite the horrible title I chose, my story turned out well and I felt that I was contributing to the understanding of this pervasive illness that was wreaking havoc on many communities, especially those of color.

But there were others who had been on the front lines of the awareness campaign about HIV/AIDS since 1998. One of the most committed was Denise Stokes, the lead spokesperson for Rap-It-Up who'd been infected with HIV at age 13. When I interviewed Stokes for the 2012 BET Awards Viewers Guide (page 34), her passion for raising awareness about HIV/AIDS was moving:

"During one Rap-It-Up forum, a young student stood up in front of her entire school and acknowledged that her mother was living with HIV," said Stokes, who transformed a life of homelessness, and emotional, physical and substance abuse into such activism that she became one of the youngest members of President Clinton's HIV/AIDS advisory council. "She said she was encouraged by my story and the Rap-It-Up message and you could just feel the sincerity in her heart and the relief just to say it. The students embraced her with so much love and understanding and we, the panel members, sat there in tears, so happy for her."

Former CNN anchor TJ Holmes told me that a lot of his focus will be about what it means to be a young Black man in America as she steps into his new multi-platform role at BET. Thanks to the BET Awards Viewers Guide (page 38), I also had the opportunity to sit down with the host of "Don't Sleep!, " a late night show debuting on BET in the fall. 

"Unfortunately people have preconceived notions about young black men," said Holmes, who speaks Kikongo, the tribal language of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where his wife was born. "We have absolutely failed in the media to drive this message home. We are losing an entire generation."

I learned a great deal from the interviews I did in preparation for the BET Awards. The glitz and the glam will definitely be on front street Sunday, July 1, when the high profile hit the stage - led by Samuel Jackson, one of the baaaaadest brothers on screen. While I'll certainly be checking out the red carpet, I'll also be reflecting on how refreshing it was to connect with these individuals who showcase how celebrity can play an important role in raising awareness about issues that affect us all. 

Keep on Enjoyceinglife!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

VIDEO: When I Asked Roland Martin Three Questions About Social Media....

Roland S. Martin is a fearless, off-the-cuff commentator. He's always adding in a few Roland-isms to his political analysis and social commentary on CNN, the "Tom Joyner Morning Show," and his own vehicle, "Washington Watch" on TV One. The syndicated columnist is also quite the social media enthusiast, often using humor in his posts on Twitter and Facebook.

My Spelman College co-worker Terrilyn Simmons and I put Roland Martin on the spot. Of course he rose to the occasion, clowning me for using an iPad and not a "real" camera to capture his thoughts on social media. 

Not too long ago, a comment Roland made on Twitter landed him a month-long suspension from CNN. But it didn't seem to turn him off to the digital world. As he says, he's a "keep it moving" type of guy. After Roland moderated a great social media panel at the Spelman College Leadership and Women of Color Conference, he shared his perspective in this video about mixing personal and professional brands online.


During the conference, it was so fantastic to catch up with media guru James Andrews and to finally meet Digital Sisterhood's Ananda Leeke, who also shared great tips on the social media panel. 

The next day we toasted Ananda as she was honored for her digital prowess with a key to Digital Sisterhood at the fun and frenetic Digitini Social Happy Hour, produced the ladies of Everywhere. Check out the photo gallery

I was nearly overstimulated posting comments and photos to Twitter and Facebook and dining on tasty Digitinis and yummy OMG Cup & Cakes, all while connecting with numerous social media folks I'd followed but never met. Shout out to Execumama, BrothaTech, SojournerRuth, JackieHWrites, HeyHeyLBJ and LisaCWrites. Great time!

Keep Enjoyceinglife!

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