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Philippians 3:13-14

May 8, 2016: My grandpa died.

May 16, 2016: I attended the funeral of someone I loved for the first time.

My grandpa and I talked regularly to catch up on our lives, or that’s what he led me to believe– he really just wanted to check in on his granddaughter.

On that Monday, I checked in with him one last time with a group of strangers I call family.  One by one we reflected on what he had done for each of us and, as these strangers expressed their grief in his passing and joy in knowing him, we bonded over his memory. Tears were shed, but you could feel the love he had imparted on his community and family during his lifetime. I couldn’t help but wonder if my death would bring the same reaction. It was evident that in his church, marriage and overall life he worked to make an impact on each person he came in contact with– even if it was just through a smile or “how are you?” I know I try to be as nice as possible and I’m almost always respectful, but would it matter if I left today? So as his niece, my cousin, expressed how wonderful he and his siblings were, I decided to make a genuine effort to leave my best, positive impact on this world.

I resolved to be kinder and more loving, to walk like a real Christian and read my Bible as often as possible because there wasn’t a day when my grandpa wasn’t enjoying the Word. They say people change people, and if ever there was a man who could do it it was Jesus, but my grandpa was His servant so I guess he could too. He sure changed me. My grandpa showed me that even when you’re sick and can’t do what you use to, you can still do what you can do. And, if he can be that example, I can do what I can do now without waiting.

My grandpa always encouraged me to go after my dreams. If there was an opportunity, he wanted me to take it and make the most of it. He taught me that you have to work for what you want, and that while you’re working– if you work hard enough– something extra may come through. My grandpa’s mission wasn’t to be the example he was, but his work led him to be just that.

Peace, love and fairy dust,

His Privy Princess

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Posted by on May 28, 2016 in Be Encouraged

 

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Society’s fork

Eating is the foundation of civilization– well it’s the foundation of my civilization– and the fork is the cornerstone.

The fork allows us to indulge in foods like spaghetti, salads, pastas, pizzas ( for those who prefer not to get their hands dirty) and a number of other family dinner specialties. But is that the only thing we use our forks for? Stories show that pitchforks have also been commonly used in the history of the human species. They were used as weapons by individuals who weren’t wealthy enough to afford better forms of defense, grasped by Satan in cartoon images and held high by mobs rallying to go burn a witch or other unwanted individual. And it seems we still haven’t put our pitchforks to rest.

The National Center for Educational Statistics states that, in 2015, 22% of students reported being bullied during the school year. Now we know the stories of a group of adolescents teasing and torturing one of their classmates out of boredom or hatred only for it to result in a tragic loss of some kind. However, what we don’t know are the stories that veer off the traditional name calling path. These stories are created through memes and other such posts, and are the societal pitchforks we call humor. They seem innocent and harmless, but behind them is a source of humiliation unknown to its audience.

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I ran across this photo the other day. At first glance, it may seem humorous, but ever considered who the person was? Or what they might feel when they saw the photo? Maybe even placed yourself in their shoes? I mean saying “we need to find it and kill it” is pretty strong language. This photo appeared in a Twitter post on June 2014 and ran across my Instagram feed May 2016. If this kid had dreams of stardom, I’m sure this wasn’t his idea of rising to the top.

With an increased population, larger communities and fast-paced lifestyle it’s easy to forget to “love thy neighbor”– let alone defend them– so viral bullying seems like a logical result. But with an increase in all those things, a lack of sympathy for a fellow human doesn’t seem to go along with the scenario. But apparently not everyone thinks the same, as one young lady chose to take it a step further and find the source of the ridicule and share it with friends.

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These kind of photos are passed around daily by teens,preteens and adults without the slightest regard for human emotions. The likes, lols (laugh out louds), omgs (oh my goshs) and emojis encourage their distribution in an effort to gain likes, followers, and advance one’s status by belittling someone else. We can’t allow this to happen. That lol comes at the price of someone’s parent, cousin, sibling and child. You wouldn’t lmbo (laugh my butt off) if it was you, so don’t lol because it’s not. By reporting these kind of derogatory posts, we can begin to eliminate them from our social media and put down our pitchforks.

Peace, love and fairy dust,

Privy Princess

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2016 in Be Encouraged, Be Pensive

 

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Where Cosmo got it wrong…2015 Trends that need to R.I.P

Where Cosmo got it wrong…2015 Trends that need to R.I.P

Twitter has erupted with the new discovery of Cosmopolitan’s “21 Beauty Trends That Need to Die in 2015”  due to the fact that all the black women included in the article are featured in the “R.I.P.” category or  trends that need to go.  Such categorization has some publicly encouraging the boycotting of the magazine, while others have taken to the social media site with hashtags like #whatitsliketobeablackgirl. Yet my problem isn’t with the topic of categorization but why it exists to begin with, so in response to Cosmopolitan and all those crying wolf over this “problem” here’s my list of Attitudes That Need to Die in 2015.

1. Playing the victim: While racism in this world does still exist, it is important to know how to choose your battles. Sure there are 4 women in this article who are black, and all of them are in the “R.I.P.” category, but what about the remaining 17 who are either White or Hispanic who are also in this category? They aren’t taking to social media and hashtagging their lives away because it doesn’t matter. Sure as a community we have been dealt some dirty hands, but does this article really compare to the Trayvon Martins of this world? I think not. I mean sure Cosmopolitan has apologized, wonderful, but what about the apologies for all the deaths and injustice? Hmmm…crickets. So take a step back, reevaluate the seriousness of situations, and wonder why you’re worrying about the opinions of shrimp if you consider yourself a shark.

2. Discounting people because of race, features, etc.: One important thing I noticed about the Huffington Post article– which brought my attention to this outrage in the first place– is that they continually discount Nicole Richie’s inclusion in the Cosmo list because she is mixed. The same thing occurred when President Obama first took office as the world continually referred to his Hawaiian/White descent and began to discount him as a black man. However this isn’t just a problem in the media but also in our everyday lives. Just look on social media and you’ll see team light skins and team dark skins, team relaxed, natural, texlaxed, Hatian, Jamaican and everything in between. The constant segregation of our community from the inside needs to stop, and we need to learn to embrace and learn from each others strengths and weaknesses.

3. Instigating: Along with those who play the victim every time a horn sounds are those who add flame to the fire by supporting the ignorance whether knowledgeable or not. Take for instance all those who have retweeted others post on the Cosmo article, and of all those retweets all the incorrect information that was spread. Think of all the individuals who may not have taken the time to view the article themselves, but still tweeted about it just because it was trending.

4. Boxing: Now I don’t mean boxing as in self-defense. By all means if you feel the need to learn to protect yourself, as I feel we all should, do so and have fun while doing it. Feel empowered by doing it, but when you’re boxing people into a stereotype, look or any other aspect of someone’s life just because you think it’s not okay I have to stop you. The whole article is based on styles that some secluded group of people says is out of style. Changing my hair color from ombre to some fancy new dying trick should not be something I’m told needs to “R.I.P.” and it definitely shouldn’t be something I’m put down for. Last time I checked, my capability to shave one side of my head did not become more difficult just because a new year rolled around. Therefore I’d appreciate it if Cosmo and everyone other “fashion magazine” could learn that they have no right to tell me how to dress or do my hair. I understand that it’s all a part of the game, but if that’s the case then change the rules because you have a big enough audience to do so. If you refuse to change the rules, then stop acting like you’re trying to help empower women when every other season you’re telling them that they’re doing “it” wrong: from hair, to love, to smiling, to friending, to posting, to moisturizing, to sex, to family…how is you discounting my judgment suppose to empower me? It’s simply going to conform and destroy me.

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2015 in Be Pensive

 

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1 out of 100

1 out of 100

 

I’m a WOMAN! It’s something I’ve been waiting for since I was 15– you know that stage were you only have 3 years until you’re “grown”, you know everything, and bugs still make you squeal. Yep. I’d been waiting for it, and now that I’m turning 21 I’m ready to hit the pause button and embrace womanhood. Now with great titles come great responsibility, and I’ve taken them on willingly.

As a woman I have the right to pay bills, vote, be equally employed, laugh, shed tears, go crazy, go to war, stay at home, raise a family, get a degree, argue, and eat chocolate– my favorite. This new age of adulthood comes with a lot of rights, including the one to love myself and sometimes not even want to look at myself, and as a woman I’m accepting that more with each fleeting day.  And I find that as I accept I won’t always like what reflects in the mirror, my days get easier and my love grows stronger.

The CIA says there’s about 107 men to every 100 women. That means that seven lucky men are going to have to make that sacrifice and take on an extra wife– and I think my boyfriend got the luck of the draw. (Now I’m neither for or against polygamy… my stance is whatever makes you happy. Just don’t ask me to share. So I’m not saying he has a second girlfriend, but with my new found right he may feel like he does. )

From day to day I wake up thinking about who I want to be.  For as many faces and colors are in that photo, I wake up in the mood of each one. Some days I’m silly, others I’m philosophical. Some days I’m Aubrey, and others I’m Pink. (My boyfriend’s right is to figure out which I am from second to hour and act accordingly.)  I use to think there was a problem with my flip  in characters; like by some divine law I was restricted to one personality for the rest of my life– and some of that may have been because of the all the movies I watch. Aside from Miss Congeniality not many movies/shows I grew up with portrayed that a girl could be glamorous and adventurous. So when I found myself changing out of jeans and a tee with hopes of embracing the mascara and sandals the next day, I thought I just didn’t know who I was.

Now six years later… I see that I always have, and that a lot of people like it. Gone are the days where I look to my glamour girls and sigh because their makeup is intrusive and I’m not even sure what it’s called. Gone are the days where the dawn of a new school year brings about the decision to either be girly or athletic. I’m going to be comfortable! And that’s the only decision that truly matters. As long as you’re comfortable in what you wear, look presentable, and use all hygienic measures you’re good to go.

I can’t pinpoint when I made this realization. I know being in a sorority where there are a variety of girly athletes and glamour girls has helped, but most of it I would say was accepting and maturing. Accepting that maybe  Whitney was on to something when she sang “I’m Every Woman”, and maturing into my own skin without over comparing myself to my peers. My mom tells everyone I love wearing pants– but that doesn’t mean I can’t own a couple hundred dresses.

Caitlin Moran said it best:

“When a woman says, ‘I have nothing to wear!’, what she really means is, ‘There’s nothing here for who I’m supposed to be today.”

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2014 in Be Yourself

 

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Back in my day

Going from the city to the “country” was exactly what I needed for my college life. Being use to Miami meant endless parties to go to (not that I ever went, too noisy), but being use to the hood meant endless sirens, drama, and “sick and tired.”  Now nothing’s changed since I left and came back, and that’s what gets me.

All I hear about is how many clubs use to line the streets of Hallandale, Fl. How many big shots like James Brown would play at those clubs, and how lively the neighbor use to be. But when I look around all I see is a big “What happened?” lining every square foot of the 5+ vacant, weed ran, trash decorated lots that serve as patchwork for our neighborhood. And lining those lots are rundown sky blue and cotton candy pink apartments. My neighbors are rowdy and rude– but when don’t those two go together? It’s as if their lives have become the norm. Guys fill the cheap apartments selling the only commodity they’ve grown to know. Women walk the streets complaining about the lives they refuse to leave, and just like that generations upon generations stay in the same neighborhood doing the same thing.

The old park has been torn down and rebuilt. Concrete paths line the palm trees that line the playground, basketball court and, the newest addition, a pool. Yet, even with all it’s grandeur I wonder what it’ll be by  the time I come back to visit.

Just a few years back Foster Park was added along with a recreational center featuring a gym, a dance room and a new drug booth. Rain or shine the commodity dealers make the sale.

I would hope that a new park may call for a higher way of living; but even if you bring the horse to the water, you can’t make ’em drink.

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2014 in Be Pensive

 

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I knew I could

I work out twice a year: once for Thanksgiving and once for Christmas— unless you count catching the Black Friday sales as a workout. I’m a girlie-girl. I love pink, shopping, dating, and hanging out with my girlfriends— but that’s not the extent of who I am. Like every other human being I’m complex, but my father didn’t see it that way. As a misogynist—a person who hates, mistrusts, or mistreats women— my father made it clear that I had only one role in life. To do whatever a man tells me.

If it didn’t involve getting married, preparing for marriage, or doing what he wanted there was no point in the activity. So when I stated that I wanted to learn how to ice skate at the age of six his reply was simple. “You’re not ready. You’re not mentally disciplined.” In layman’s terms “You’re not smart enough.”

I saw athletes as superior beings. They were pretty, strong, accomplished, they were above the influence of others, and I wanted to be one of them. However once my dad left his ideas stayed with me through freshmen year of college, so I never asked to play a sport again. But I stayed adventurous and goal-oriented, so when a women’s rugby player invited me to practice I agreed.

Arriving in boot cut jeans, a V-neck pink shirt and a black purse I walked towards where the team was gathered. (I must mention that my Big, my big sister in my sorority, had come along for safety reasons—she thought I’d get crushed or something.) I had no intentions of playing that night. I simply wanted to see what rugby was, and go from there. The player who invited me was happy to see me, but having to practice left me in the hands of an injured player, Alyssa, who attempted to explain what was happening on the field. When I finally began to understand the simple things, like throwing and running, she went a bit deeper. “Do you have running shorts?” she asked. “I have yoga shorts. I can run in those, right?” She showed a bit of amusement— I took that as a no. Here I was a girl who had never even touched cleats, and preferred yoga shorts over running shorts because they had that cute fold over band. I wanted to break free of the stereotypes shared by sorority and girlie-girls, but I hadn’t even broke free from the influence of my father.

I arrived to the following practice in Nike Air sneakers, a pair of sky blue running shorts, zebra spanks and an old middle school shirt. My whole ensemble, minus the shirt, belonged to my friends.

We began stretching and the team chatted for a bit before getting into practice. Once the stretches were over the coached walked towards me and we exchanged some military-like banter.

“What’s your name?”

“Hannah.”

“What sports have you played?”

“None.”

“What team?” She hadn’t heard me.

“Never.”

“Perfect.”

She turned away and walked back to the field of uncertainty. If I was nervous before, I was very well peeing my friend’s spanks now. Was she being sarcastic? Did she like the fact that I was fresh from the concrete? Was I in over my head?

She called for the girls to gather round and gave instructions for a drill. I began to follow the slimmer girls to their designated area— “You stand over there with Alyssa,” coach says.

She’s scared for me to.

Over the course of the next few weeks I asks questions during practices and try to get to know the girls— who giggle and chat during breaks but will knock you to the grown on the field. They try to be as helpful as they can—the coach still isn’t letting me play—but I decide that I can do this.

Now that I’ve decided to completely join the team, my first—and most important—order of business is to get my outfit together for practice. My cleats, gym bag, and shorts have to be perfect. I start my online search by opening tabs for Target, Walmart, Dick’s and Amazon. After a few hours of browsing I order my cleats and rugby shorts and am pretty satisfied with how little I spent. However I still don’t have a gym bag, so I take to the magazines. I look at the best styles and brands to see what I like, and I settle for a bright pink and gray Champion Gym bag—which I also got for a steal. I even brought a flavored mouth guard. (Fruit Punch— they were out of bubble gum.) When my cleats and shorts arrived I was beyond excited—well not so much for the shorts. They had an elastic waistband with a drawstring—a big no-no for fashion.

When the day finally arrived, I laced up my cleats for practice. I imagined learning how to run in them would be like learning how to walk in pumps, so I didn’t want to wait until my first game. I was finally allowed to join the ranks and go through some drills. We did some passing of the ball. I tried to focus more on getting it to the other girl than making it spin—the other girls had no problem doing both. The coach wouldn’t let me participate in tackle drills because I hadn’t taken my concussion test, so I passed the ball back and forth for several weeks.

Then the glorious day arrived. I wasn’t sure how to tackle correctly, and although I knew I could pack a punch the girls on the team were a lot bigger and meaner than me—and I had begun to feel like some had a strong dislike for me.

“If I have to explain it to you one more time I’m gonna slap you.” Suddenly this 100 pound girl—whose hair was kept in a long-flowing ponytail and whose voice sounded as sweet and harmless as can be—became a menacing tiger because I wasn’t sure where to go on the field.

To top it all off, in the course of my month worth of practices three girls had been injured—for a girl whose never broken a bone the thought of doing so was terrifying—I hadn’t told my mother I was on the team, and I had no insurance. Yet when the time came for myself and another player to tango I was more than ready.

I wanted to show them what this girlie-girl could do.

So when the whistle blew, signaling for us to start, I sprinted to the goal watching my opponent charge toward me with every intention of taking me down. Her hair was pulled back, sweat dripped down her face— but she didn’t bother to wipe it away—she wore Under Armor tops and bottoms to every practice—the stuff made for the best of athletes—she was dedicated, and she was strong. She had been on the team for about a year and was known to have a passion for the sport, but in my head she was just another player. She grabbed me around the waist and tried to pull me down. I did my best to keep moving, but after a few steps I was pulled to the grass. It was amazing. I got back up and got in line to do it again.

Once practice had ended, and we were all ready to go home I couldn’t help but smile. I had walked the forbidden fields of freedom, and— although I hadn’t completely overcome my dad’s voice in the background— I had managed to survive it.

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in Be Encouraged

 

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Lessons in Immersion

Frustration shows you’re learning. Confusion is just confusing.
When writing a news story a reporter has to research his or her topic and fact check more than they breathe. They don’t pass go and they certainly don’t provide their opinion. In short reporters don’t exist.
You carry that rule with you from your first news story to your grave— remaining objective, but effective. After a while it becomes second nature. You omit the “I’s”, refrain from the “we’s” and you don’t dare say “in my opinion—“unless you’re Nancy Grace. So when I was told to write an immersion piece I was taken by surprise.

An immersion piece uses the writer to take the reader to a certain place and time. The reader’s senses depend solely on those of the writer making them [the writer] a vital part of the story.
Therefore, when I began writing I had no idea where to start. Being overwhelmed with the power of “I” it was hard to narrow down my experiences to those that were important and those that were not. I assumed that since I was entering a different realm of writing my previous knowledge was irrelevant. However I found that just as you have to be careful about what you put in a news article, you have to also be selective about what you put in an immersion piece. William Zinsser said it best, “ … you must keep a tight rein on your subjective self … and keep an objective eye on the reader.”
With this in mind I weed out all the unimportant details- like how sweaty I was after a workout- and include those that provide a new vantage point for the reader. I’m learning to combine this new form of writing with my journalistic style, and in turn I’m becoming a better journalist.

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2014 in Be Professional

 

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