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"“It's really hard to walk in a single woman's shoes — that's why you sometimes need really special shoes!” ~ Sex in the City

The Inkwell. My Happy Place.

IMG_20130927_131645Many years ago, the Inkwell was the only beach on the island of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts where people of color (mostly Black servants) were allowed to enjoy the beauty of the sea, according to historians.  Since the color of ink is dark, this particular section of beach was dubbed the Inkwell.

“Yep, that’s pretty messed up, isn’t it?” I said to the half Black, half French owner of a store on the main street of Oak Bluffs, as I perused through the clothing attire with Inkwell blasted all over the fabric.

I guess for some people, it seemed like the area was full of “ink” with tons of black people enjoying the beach. Pretty ridiculous. But, on the other hand, I have to appreciate the history of my culture in the name. At least that was what the owner was trying to explain to me as I continued to look through his items in the store. “You have to appreciate it for what it is, our history,” he said. He made a valid point, I suppose.

ResizedImage_1380399160920Yesterday, my mother and I drove four hours to Massachusetts from New York and then took the ferry over to the picturesque neighborhood of Oak Bluffs in Martha’s Vineyard — off of the Woods Hole, Massachusetts dock. Just 30 minutes into the ride, you could tell we were about to arrive at our destination. A slew of people of all ages and ethnicities made their way out of the indoor section of the ferry to the exterior front of the boat to  capture the signature gingerbread houses covered in colors of Easter Sunday: bubble gum pink, lavender, sky blue, sunshine yellow, sea turquoise … happy colors, with each of the cottage houses staging its own features and taking its place along the great lawn — a little slice of heaven near the beach.

As we made our way to the dock, you could feel the anticipation. Parents stood by with their babies asleep in their strollers, young and older couples clench their hands together in a lovingly manner, and one middle-aged woman helped her elderly father to the front so that he can see the view. The breathtaking view.

This is my 4th annual trip to the island; previous years I came with girl friends. But, you know, there is something special about coming to a place like this with your mother. There’s no need to have much conversation, you give each other space, and you enjoy the environment in your own kind of way, while spending an unsaid type of quality time with one another. The sound of the waves hitting the sea shores, the geese yapping away, the wind blowing, the creaking from the old doors of the cottage houses swinging … it is my happy place.

September in Martha’s Vineyard (a time when the Vineyard isn’t too crowded) provides an illustration of contentment that allows you to appreciate God’s simple works of art and a chance for you to detox your brain … all right here in the Inkwell, where you will still find many Black people, but also other races of people collectively enjoying the beauty of peace.

I wish I could stay here forever.

Stay blessed

~H. Amber

September: Meditation, Reflection and Focus

Silence.

No television, no music, no lights. Nothing.  Just me and my brain [let's call her Anastasia] clearing my thoughts … okay, and maybe a glass [several glasses] of wine!meditation-room-purple

On most evenings during the week, after having a full day of work, I kick off my shoes, then set my bag, keys, junk mail and bills on the table at the doorway as soon as I walk through my apartment door. I slowly – yet with a rush of relief – make my way over to my living room couch, slopping down and gently lifting my legs and feet on my ottoman. Then, I take a deep breath like you see in the movie Waiting to Exhale.

What is wrong with me?! Weren’t all of those women in that movie older than me, and didn’t they all have man issues? One was sleeping with a married man, another divorced from a man who came out of the closet, another with a loser boyfriend, the list goes on and on. I don’t have those problems, so then I must be getting old … really old. Fabulous.

With this deep breath and need for solitude most days, you would think I had the world in my hands or I was President Obama having to make tough decisions on behalf of millions of people. I hear my friends and relatives who are married with children complaining that they don’t have enough “me” time in their lives because of the tons of responsibility they hold in their hands and everyone depending on them for something all of the time.

But, here I am, 33 years old, single, living alone – and yet I still need “me” time to clear my head and focus.

Sometimes that “me” time includes that 15-20 minute solitude in my living room, or a walk at the park by myself, reading scripture or a book, other times it is going to the spa, shopping, indulging in my favorite foods by myself, it’s time that I treat myself to understanding “me” and it is self-love. Usually, one would think, I can get that every time I come home since I live alone. But sometimes even being home stresses me out because I bring work home or people can reach me at home. I have even had to schedule in my calendar a day out of my week for “me” – a trick my mother taught me that I call “My Day” [shout out: good lookin' out mom!] And, it calls for some kind of escape.

Just because I don’t have a family of my own, doesn’t mean I do not get stressed out. Just like everyone else, there are stresses in my life – my career, the welfare of my close relatives, my financial goals, my entire future, my love life, etc. Ahhhhh! There is always something that is going to put pressure on us, whether we have a family of our own or not.

I say this all to explain how important it is to make time for yourself – no matter what stage in life you find yourself.

I have a very demanding job that is very busy and oftentimes I do not have time to think for myself. I have clients to worry about, I have deadlines, I have to write this press release, I have to pitch this topic to the media, I have to make phone calls, set up meetings, make sure I’m at an event at a particular time, pull my hair out of my head! Grrrr.

With all of that, in addition to other life struggles, sometimes it’s hard to find time to do a mental check and say, “You alright, girl?” But, it’s so necessary!

Be sure to take time out of your day to reflect on YOU. With all of the many things you do throughout the week, make sure you take a day to cater to yourself. Maybe, create a space in your home for meditation. Sit down and think to yourself: What makes me happy? What are my personal goals? What do I want to accomplish this month for myself? What is my purpose in life? What do I want to do before I die? [Okay, maybe that's a little morbid. Scratch that.]

Aside from my frequent meditations, I have decided to take a solo trip to Martha’s Vineyard at the end of this month. Initially, I was worried I would get bored. But, then I thought to myself, I’m an exciting person. I’m not boring! So, I’m going to take a leap of faith and looking forward to using the time to really clear my thoughts, refocus and understand myself. I hope to get some writing done with my book and to keep the conversation going with all of you through this blog with daily posts.

Focusing thoughts on yourself is key to having a fulfilling life. I’m learning … with baby steps. Watch one of my favorite movies Eat.Pray.Love. … it might give you a boost!

Stay blessed.

~H. Amber

Women’s History Month. Be Fearless.

I remember it like it was yesterday. May 2002.

There I was, in my crisply pressed black cap and gown, sitting under a big white tent with a few hundred young adults like myself. The heels of my brand-new fancy black fabric pumps from Nine West were slowly sinking into the muddy lawn – thanks to the previous night’s rain storm – as I sat there listening to the SUNY Purchase College graduation commencement.

“Wow,”  I thought. I had earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History, with a concentration in Journalism. At that very moment, I was the proudest that I had ever been of myself in my life. Following endless nights of studying the history of various cultures around the world; after several stories written for the school newspaper, The Dispatch (I wrote a story once about female students who were caught playing soccer topless. They thought it was unfair that their male peers could do this, but they couldn’t); and many black and white photographs later that I had developed in the darkroom during my photojournalism class, I was finally here. Graduating.

The pride that I felt the afternoon I was handed my college diploma followed me for a few years as I embarked on my career. Fear was not a word I was familiar with at that time of my life. I was eager, I was excited, I was passionate, and I was so happy.

FearlessFortunate enough to get my foot in the door at a small local newspaper in my county, the Women’s News, I was on my way to start my journalism career. I was an administrative assistant, which soon turned into an editorial assistant at the monthly newspaper that published stories about businesswomen in the area and other women in the community. The editor would be the first of many women in my life who would encourage me to pursue my passion for journalism.  She reiterated the foundation of skills in feature writing I had learned in college, taught me to think outside of the box, and continued to help me hone my talent. And, soon, I was writing stories daily – and the stories were getting better and better the more I wrote.

After the newspaper folded, I swiftly moved on to other newspapers in the area, a not-so-easy accomplishment in the competitive field.

I accepted a position at another local newspaper group, HomeTown Media Group, as an office manager, but instead of just doing my office duties, I was soon writing stories on election night for local political runs and had my nose into the editorial room most days out of the week, listening in to what reporters were bringing to the next edition of the weekly paper. Only after several months of working there, I was approached by a previous coworker to take on a reporter position at a business newspaper group he was working at, where I would solely be able to concentrate on reporting and photography. The publisher of Westfair Communications (another woman who took the time to encourage my journalism skills), gave me the opportunity be the reporter covering a city for a new edition of her newspaper group. Me. Hope Salley. The young girl who had itched her way into writing stories when her job was to mainly work on administrative duties. This was my chance.

I spent days and nights hunting the city for stories. After all, it was my responsibility to get stories – damn good stories – in the paper each week. This was the opportunity I was given and I was going to show them! I created a relationship with strangers I’d meet on the streets, politicians, business owners, parents of children in the school district, and even the homeless. My eyes had opened into a whole new world. And, I loved it, the interaction with people with different stories, different opinions and different expectations. They relied on me to get their stories in print. I soon began writing stories about businesspeople and their passions and taking their photographs for other publications under the news group. And, my eagerness to tell peoples’ stories followed me as I went on to become a reporter a the county’s main daily newspaper, The Journal News, thanks to my career mentor who recommended me – yes, another female role model. Angels leading me the way.

I spent many nights at planning board, zoning board, and town hall meetings. I wrote stories about art exhibits, including one highlighting the late great photographer Gordon Parks, who exhibited his work at a local town’s art gallery before his death. I talked to exchange students from France who expressed their new experiences of America to me. I shared stories with the community about a young teenager, Nick, who struggled with cancer, yet never expressed sadness over his impending death. I later wrote his obituary as a feature story, at the request of his mother.

I loved journalism. It was rewarding.

But, after three years of writing and reporting, my career took a turn. I had maintained my position at The Journal News as a part-time reporter, while others had been laid off. Seeking full-time work and wanting to continue to challenged myself. I entered public relations.

For almost seven years, I wrote press releases, managed accounts and suggested editorial calendars for communication professionals at high-level companies throughout the country. It was a corporate position, I sat behind a desk all day – and I learned. I learned alot about the public relations and news distribution industry, and soon I also learned other positions at the company and helped out in other departments. I was growing. But, a little part inside of me still wanted more … more excitement.

And, here I am today.

I am about to start a new job at a local public relations agency in just a few days that will allow me the opportunity to further enhance my writing skills, PR account management skills, and interview skills. A job that will allow me to be out in the field in the community, attending events and getting the stories out there, and taking photographs – the type of work I feel I’m meant to do.

I’m thrilled. I’m excited. I’m nervous. I’m anxious. The passion is there and because of that I know that I will be fearless on that first day I enter the agency to work on their accounts. I’m dedicated – not to do a good job – but to do an outstanding job.

I have been lucky. I have been fortunate. I have been BLESSED when it has come to my career. Each position that I obtained was not due to the fact of being fired or laid off. I’d like to think that each employer recognized my hard work and skills that I put in each role that I played, and that I was an asset to each organization. I’m certainly not patting myself on the back. It has not been perfect. I have, OF COURSE, had my share of ups and downs in my career just like everyone else. But, I recognize my blessings and thank God daily for them.

As I prepare to take on a new adventure in my career, in my life, I will stay fearless and keep the warm words of encouragement that the many women in my life, past and present, professional and personal, have played in my heart. Along with the many women I have encountered face to face, I also think of one historical pioneer, Ida B. Wells, an African American woman who became a strong figure in black history, women’s history, and journalism. She was certainly fearless. Read here about her: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ida_B._Wells

130301_womenshist_toutI’d like to take this time to wish you all a very happy Women’s History Month. I encourage you, too, to take the time to reflect on how women have made a positive impact on your life, and take a look in the past for some very significant women in our history. Be inspired.

T-minus two days until I start my new adventure. I’m writing my own history. Here I go!

Stay blessed.

~H. Amber

Self-Love

Self-love. We’ve all heard this term and I’m sure many of us tell ourselves that we could use more of it on a daily basis as we deal with the trials and tribulations of life. But, I’d like to share with you all a wonderful piece of written work that a fellow blogger and friend has shared with me based off of this very simple, yet powerful, word. I have decided to use it as a guest blog post – the start of many to come – for Let’s Chat. It has inspired me SO MUCH and I hope it inspires you just the same! Enjoy.

Pssst! Please follow Wendy’s blog at http://coralsinspirations.wordpress.com/.

Stay blessed.

~H. Amber

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When Hope asked me to write a post for her blog (aside from saying a resounding yes!) my immediate reaction was to wonder what I should write about. At first I thought I’d write about something fashion related since that is the theme of my blog, Coral’s Inspirations. However, being that her blog is about just chatting about any topic that comes to mind, like you would when you’re chatting with a guy/girlfriend, then I thought I’d write about a topic that has recently changed my life; self-love.

                I know, that must sound so dramatic, but the truth is that so many of us do not experience self-love. The way I have been able to identify lacking self-love is, feeling a big void inside that you just can’t seem to fill. No amount of money, success, friends, lovers, etc… fills this void. You feel like you are in constant search for something and don’t ever feel satisfied with what you have. You are unable to acknowledge yourself for your accomplishments. You might even experience feelings of depression or anxiety. Finally at the (tender) age of 32, I have come to understand that the only way to fill this void is to love yourself, and what that looks like.

                Now, you may feel like you have heard this over and over again, the only way to love others is to love yourself first; but the truth is that if you are not aware and clear about your reality then it’s kind of hard to realize whether you in fact do or do not practice self-love. In my own experience, self-love was not even part of my vernacular. I was so closed in, always analyzing and criticizing everything I did internally that I had no room for self-awareness. I was ambitious to no end, but ambition is not the same as self-love. Ambition is a wonderful tool in helping you accomplish your goals by keeping you motivated; but if you then turn around and do nothing but criticize yourself, without acknowledging and being grateful for your accomplishments along the way then you can in fact end up hurting yourself.

                It took a break down, and a subsequent breakthrough, for me to take off the proverbial blind and realize the reason why no matter how much I accomplished in life I was never satisfied and could never fill the void. It was because I was not practicing self-love. I was not enjoying the journey and being grateful to myself for working hard and for all the small victories along the way. I have become aware, and hence clear about my reality. I now see clearly the things that I have allowed to dictate who I am, who I strive to be and how I have felt about myself. I searched and I searched for that love elsewhere but failed to find it, and that is because I should have been looking within all along. Today I feel free! I can whole heartedly say that I love myself, and that the void no longer exists. I am not saying that I will never experience hardships again, but I am saying that I now feel like I am prepared to deal with them in a much more loving and intentional way that will help me through those times with much more ease.

Going through this life-change has opened me up in other important ways too. It allowed me to focus on my spirituality which I had not focused on in so long. It opened me up to seek the assistance I needed to move on from paralyzing fear to seek the path that will be most fulfilling to me by working with a Life Coach. So all this to say that if you feel like you’re falling down a rabbit hole, lost and with no idea how to get out; if you feel like you have a void that just can’t be filled; the answer might just reside within yourself. The assistance you need to get on your right path may be an arm’s length away. Don’t feel ashamed or beat yourself up for not doing the right thing, or not doing something sooner. But take heed from my story; heal you and get on the right path.

My 1st Year “Natural Hair Transition” Anniversary

Twist outs. Braid outs. Bantu knots. Wash and go. Big chop. The LOC Method. TWA.

The terms and acronyms go on and on.

These are just some of the words I have learned along the way as I have tried to understand my kinky curly coily locs during my transition from chemically relaxed hair to natural hair. I started this process of change a year ago this month. And, I’m still on the long (sometimes frustrating) journey towards getting to my 100% natural LONG hair goal – and being comfortable with it!

I’m sure many of my sistah friends out there who are going through this same change can relate when I say that the road to natural hair is both liberating and annoying – all at the same damn time. Smh. But, one thing is for sure, since the beginning, I told myself that I would embrace my curls (frizz , zig zags and all) and appreciate them for what they are, no longer with an asserted effort to make my hair straight.

Although, many people loved my shoulder length, straight, healthy hair that I maintained for years, I decided to stop chemically relaxing my hair due to a dry scalp condition – dermatitis. My hair wasn’t breaking off or thinning at all; my scalp was just irritated. So I thought to myself – my sister, mother, and grandmother were all natural; I can do it too! I wanted to do this while my hair was still healthy.

I opted to transition to natural hair instead of doing the “big chop” and I was on my way!

Fortunate for me, I have had a routine over the last year that has helped me stay consistent with the process thus far. Braiding my hair every night allows me to maintain a defined wavy and curly hairstyle. It works for me. Don’t get me wrong, the weather still takes a toll on my hair – when the humidity is high, when it rains or snows – resulting in a hot mess. But, hey, I’ve learned that it’s OK. It happens. And, when I’ve wanted breaks from having to do my hair, I tried “protective hair styles” with braid extensions.

Side Note: This natural hair transitioning process really helps you develop a better appreciation of yourself and not worry about what other people think of your hair. You have to make yourself happy and accept yourself for who you are. Beautiful – just the way you are.

So, as one who has gone through transitioning, here are some tips for those going through the struggle:

  • BE PATIENT. It’s a long process that will lead to fabulous results.
  • If you are transitioning your hair, get regular trims.
  • Condition, condition, condition your hair! It screams for hydration.
  • Forget about all that talk about using only natural hair products. Use what works for your hair!
  • Love and embrace your hair – in all of its stages.

Also, here are some of my favorite websites that I frequently visit to get advice:

And, here are some of my favorite hair products (I’m still experimenting with others):

  • As I Am Coconut CoWash
  • TRESemmé Naturals Vibrantly Smooth Conditioner
  • Shea Moisture Organic Curl Enhancing Smoothie
  • Cantu Shea Butter Moisturizing Twist and Lock Gel

Oh, yes, and Olive Oil EcoStyler Gel!

And, lastly, here is a glossary of natural hair terms: http://thirstyroots.com/natural-hair-glossary.html

For my first “natural hair” anniversary, I’ve decided to share with you some photographs from my journey. Fist pumps to everyone out there in the movement. You can do it!

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Stay Blessed.

~H. Amber

A Little of My Own Black History …

In honor of Black History Month this February, I decided that I would share with you all a little of my own family’s history and my memory of a special person. As some of you already know, I am in the process of writing a historical fiction book based on my family – specifically my great grandmother, Buena Vista Rogers, and her seven children, who grew up in Alabama. Below is a small excerpt of the book. Happy Black History Month! Enjoy and please share your thoughts …

Stay blessed.

~ H. Amber

The sweet chirps of birds near the opened window of my great-grandmother’s room were the only sounds whispering in my ears before I slowly cracked my eyes open to greet the early morning light. Hues of daylight crept through the sheer curtains of the bedroom as I awoke. I cautiously opened my eye lids, as to not let the sandman’s residue scratch the insides of my eyes and lay there for a few minutes, staring at the ceiling trying to remember where I was sleeping.

There was a quiet, yet distinct, movement coming from in the kitchen that gave my answer: Tuskegee Alabama. That was BV, short for Buena (pronounced Bu-wee-na) Vista, in there. I turned over and mom lay next to me – with her hair wrapped in a royal blue and sky blue satin night scarf. She was in a sweet slumber that was apparent by her soft snores, so I quietly turned towards the right side of the bed as to not disturb her.

The coldness of the floor from the air conditioning against the bottom of my feet was a drastic contrast to the warm aroma of coffee brewing in the kitchen. BV was an early morning “waker-upper” as I’d call it. But, so was I. We were the only ones who woke up early when mom and I came to visit during the summer. Around 7 a.m. each day, I’d crawl out of the bed my mother used to sleep in as a child and find BV alone in the kitchen. One might assume that she had a Latin background due to her name being the Spanish translation of “Good Morning,” but, no. Her father simply adored the name because of the way it sounded and named as such. I’m glad he did.

Lifting myself quietly from the queen-sized bed, I slowly stepped down the short hallway, barefoot and still in the white and pink cotton nightgown with lace trimmings that mom bought special for this trip. I stood there, my hair braided in corn row designs and lavender barrettes and bows.

It was dark in the hallway. I didn’t want BV to see me.

I thought of a great idea. I would play like it was a game of hide-and-seek and peek at what she was doing before she could detect me. “She’d think that was funny,” I whispered to myself. So, I stood there, at the corner of the hallway where the opening doorway of the kitchen hid. “I wonder if she could hear me awake and walking,” I thought, wondering what she was doing in there. Strategically, I placed my back against the wall so that she wouldn’t detect my shadow coming from the light of the sun shining through the opened blinds in the kitchen towards the shaded hallway.

It was like an episode of the popular ‘80s series MacGyver, my nine-year old self imagined, except there were no objects around that could help disguise or protect me so I could devise my plan. “I got it!” I thought. I’d first see where she was positioned. Then, that’s when I could figure out what I’d do next. Carefully maneuvering and sliding my body against the wall like I was a spy, and taking short walking movements and crawls, I decided I’d turn my head slightly towards the doorway to see where she was in the kitchen. I cautiously poked my head around to the corner of the wall, only showing one of my eyes, because surely two eyes would reveal my identity. BV, who was now in her early 70s, was standing in front of the stove, still in her light pink cotton nightgown, too, with her noticeably soft white hair in her signature low bun. Perfect! Her back was to me, I thought. I’d stay in this position until I could see what she was doing in there. If she turned around, I could swiftly get back into my original position. I was so smart; she wouldn’t even notice I was here! I immediately was overwhelmed by a rush of excitement thinking about how clever I was at this very moment.

Just as I was about to watch her next move, it was if it was my imagination had kicked in, but it wasn’t my imagination.

“Good morning, my sweet Hopie,” she softly whispered my nickname in her subtle southern accent, without even turning around. My mouth dropped. How did she always know when I was there? She turned around and smiled at me with that humble, yet warm and contagious smile of hers. I couldn’t help but to grin. Her smile always made me get what felt like warm butterflies fluttering in my tummy.

Still grinning, I let out a heavy sigh and dragged my feet over to the rectangular kitchen table. Ugh, she had caught me again. How? Could she be some kind of disguised super hero with magical powers?

Maybe she had invisible eyes on the back of her head. After all, mom told me some pretty telling stories of her childhood when she said BV would stare at her with piercing gray eyes whenever she got into trouble. Just the thought made shivers go down my spine. I think I had seen something like that on a television show once. Anyway, these aliens would come to Earth with a mission, but because no one could find out about their secret mission, they’d come disguised as normal people. If this was true, my great-grandmother BV was one of the nicest aliens I knew. Secretly, I didn’t think she would want to go back to alien land when she completed whatever mission she was here for on Earth. I think I made her that way, actually. She would always look at me with such love and tenderness. I don’t know any alien that is like that. Plus, I never got those piercing gray eyes mom talked about. “Yup, she just loved me too much to go back to alien land,” I convinced myself.

BV finished what she was doing at the stove, which was pouring a cup of coffee for me in my special cup, and walked over towards me. She kissed me on my forehead and placed the mug adorned with yellow daisies on the table in front of me. Yellow was my favorite color, she knew that.

In loving memory of Buena Vista Rogers

Buena Vista Rogers

Buena Vista Rogers

 

BV and me

BV and me

 

Fashion 101: The Shop Your Closet Challenge

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If you are anything like me, you have spent many nights, before hitting the town with friends or going on hot date, in a frustrated wardrobe frenzy. You swing open your closet door and optimistically start trying on clothes, matching tops and bottoms in different variations, then trying on dresses, and finally – as a last resort – adding scarves and jewelry to try to copy some glammed up look you saw a celebrity achieve on the red carpet or in front of paparazzi.

End result – you realize you look a hot mess.

By the time you come to the conclusion that your attempt was a failure, you’re in a hot sweat and your bedroom looks like a tornado ran its course through it. I feel your pain, ladies. That is why when my friend and fellow blogger, Wendy, hit me up about doing a guest blog post for her page (Coral’s Inspirations) all about finding better ways to shop your own closet for trending looks, I took on the adventure. She does an amazing job finding inspiration from high fashion looks and shopping through her own clothes to find a similar look. Why spend money, when you likely have something amazing right in your own wardrobe?! It makes sense to me, lots of sense.

So, Wendy and I thought it would be a great idea to use me to help YOU find slammin’ outfits for your hot Valentine’s Day date. On a recent Friday night, since I didn’t have any plans to go out, I decided to embark on this adventure head first! I hit up the internet and typed in “current fashion runway trends” and searched through some cute looks that models strutted on the runway in Italy, London and right here in the United States. I was immediately appealed to looks introduced by Sass & Bide in this year’s London Fashion Week and a few looks from Rachel Zoe’s collection from New York Fashion Week last year.

Rachel Zoe Collection - 2012 Fall New York Fashion Week Runway Show

Rachel Zoe Collection – 2012 Fall New York Fashion Week Runway Show

Sass & Bide - 2013 London Fashion Week

Sass & Bide – 2013 London Fashion Week

I loved how the dresses and coats from Rachel Zoe’s collection provided movement, and the layering of clothing with multiple pieces, and pop of blue and fuchsia just did it for me. I also noticed how she put interesting textures together, like lace, fur, silk and suede. I have to admit; looking at high-end fashion can be intimidating – at least for me it is. I have yet been able to put multiple items together like models do and look somewhat presentable to walk out the door without looking like a fool. But, these outfits from Rachel Zoe’s collection give me hope.

Now, the images from Sass & Bide’s collection is more on the sophisticated side, offering a little sleek, a little sexy and lots of sass. Similar to Rachel Zoe’s collection, I was pleased to see the flow of movement provided by feathered and sheer skirts. Black is and will forever be classy in my eyes, but the silver and white accented intricate designs gave the look lots of personality.

After analyzing these looks, I walked to my closet a little more confident than I usually do, and came up with this look (Photo Credit: Kineisha Beckford).

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Since I enjoyed the colors incorporated in Rachel Zoe’s collection so much, I grabbed a silk bat wing jacket I bought from Forever 21 a while back, that had similar colors, and I pulled out my black mini dress that I purchased from H&M over the summer, to get that sleek look from Sass & Bide. I threw on some black tights – because it’s hella cold outside – and added some suede beige shoes that I bought last winter during a DSW shoe sale, to mix in a little texture. Then, you know I had to incorporate a little Valentine’s Day, so I chose red lips for my make-up and added simple red earrings my mother made for me to bring it all together – and voila!

Now, let’s not forget to mention my hair style achieved by yours truly. This is a style that I copied from a YouTube video I saw recently for us naturalistas. All I have to say is, Marley hair can make your hair go from simple to sassy! Do a Google search!

So, what do you all think? Did I rock it out, or what?

Comments are welcomed and please feel free to share your Valentine’s Day looks.

Stay blessed.

~ H. Amber

Allow Me to Re-Introduce Myself …

Hey there, gorgeous! Long time no see. How have you been girl?! You look great! What have you done with yourself? Have you lost weight? Do you have a new hair style? Girrrrl, do you have a new boo? MmmHmm. Whatever it is, YOU ARE FABULOUS. hey-girl-you-are-awesome

Yes, it has been quite some time since I last posted on this page. In fact, it was August of 2012, to be exact. And, if you have taken the time to read through my past posts, you will notice I initially started this blog as a canvas to write about my experiences being a single woman in her 30s. Then, as I grew in my own personal endeavors, the blog page evolved into being geared more towards various thoughts and experiences – positive and negative – that I dealt with outside of relationships. Although, I’m not entirely sure what this New Year will hold for the content of my blog, I’m happy to be back and glad you’re here to take the ride with me!

For all of you beautiful people who are not familiar with me or my blog, my name is Hope. Friends and family members call me Hopie (pronounced “hopeeee”), others call me May May (a salute to my birth month), and my mother, well, she especially likes to call me Sweetie Girl, or she refers to me by my middle name, Amber. Feel free to use any of the above and say “hey” every now and again. Welcome to Let’s Chat! And, your name is …?

For everyone else, I suppose an update is long overdue. Welp! I am doing outstanding! And, I am still single and independent. All the single ladies, put your hands up! Woot woot! I am too blessed to be stressed, people. Hey, Obama is still President. FOUR MORE YEARS!

Over the past several months, I have made some fantastic new friends (female friends and male friends … *wink *wink) and have had to break up with some friends, too. I have started a natural hair transition (side note for people who do not know what I’m talking about: no more chemical relaxing treatments to straighten my hair – NO MORE CREAMY CRACK!). I am definitely going all na-tu-raaaal and embracing it 100%. AND, I have also made great progress with the book I’m writing about my family. After long months of frustration, I decided to take a writing class last Fall that gave me the boost I needed to get through my writers’ block. Now, my book has a title – Mama: Let’s Talk About the Rogers.

All in all, I am doing well and looking forward to what 2013 has in store for me and for YOU.

Here are some of the topics I’d like to cover this year through Let’s Chat!

  • Guest blogs from a friend who just started venturing into photography!
  • Posts about my trip to New Orleans for my birthday in May!
  • Homage to my family’s hometown: Tuskegee, Alabama!
  • Continued progress through my natural hair journey!
  • Posts about my trip to Martha’s Vineyard this year – my favorite place!
  • Guest blogs from a friend who gives great fashion advice!
  • Relationship talk!

I’d like to ask you to join me in using this blog as a resource to talk about things that we feel great about and even things that aren’t so great to talk about. Let me know what you want to talk about! Communication is therapeutic and brings healing. We all need to uplift ourselves through whatever journey we are taking in this life that God has blessed us with. Let’s do this, ladies! (Men, you can join us, too) Leggoooo!

Stay blessed.

~H. Amber

 

So, about having kids…

As a single woman in her early 30s, I have heard time and time again: When are you going to have children?!? (Yes, with the exclamation points and whining to go along with it) Now, Imageto say that this is annoying to hear … yeah that would be an understatement. No, really, it’s getting tired. Stop asking me!

Us women are put under the spotlight and given so much pressure to have children and to get married. Ok, maybe not in that order, but, why? Is this the “top of the top” that society wants us to accomplish in life? Why not ask, when will you become the next president? Or, when will you break the world record?

Now, don’t get me wrong. Bringing a child into this world is a blessing, and I would be honored to bear that responsibility if it is God’s will. I love children. They are so cute and adorably innocent, especially babies and toddlers. When they get older and need discipline – that’s another story! But, right now, honestly, I’m good. The only thing that really entices me to have a kid is that it would be cool to have a mini-me. Honestly, I’d just be interested in seeing if it came out looking like me!

Ha! Yeah, that would be cool.Image

C’mon, there’s a lot of work involved with having children. Not only is it another person to take care of, but you have to take care of this person FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. This responsibility doesn’t turn off when the kid turns 18; you don’t just give up your parenthood when the child becomes an adult. Once you have a child, forget about doing things with only yourself in mind. Everything changes; your life revolves around doing things that are in the best interest of your child, that is if you’re a good parent.

Puhleeeease, I’m too selfish right now. I want to explore, travel, spend lots of money, do things that are all about me, me, me! I have so much still that I’d like to accomplish in life. And, I should, while I’m single, right?

The main reason why I haven’t bore another being is because I haven’t fallen in love and met the person I’m going to be with for the rest of my life. Many people follow the same thought: once someone falls in love, they want to reproduce something that was created by that love – and that’s a beautiful notion. I also take “having children” very seriously. It’s not a subject that should be taken lightly. Society reminds me each and every day – with examples – on why I need to make sure I have children with the right person.

The only thing that’s hanging over my head is that it becomes harder for women to have children as they get older. Why can’t this same rule apply with men? That’s SO not fair.Image

But, I’ve accepted the fact that maybe I’m not meant to have children in this life. And, you know what? That’s fine by me. No, really it is.

It takes a lot of maturity to accept the fact that you may not have children – not because you don’t want to or that you can’t have children, it just may not be in God’s plans. And, that’s cool. My feelings about it could change tomorrow. Ha! But, right now … at this very minute of the day, I can dig it.

I have a beautiful godson (shout out to little “L”) and a goddaughter on the way. That’s all the children I need for today. And, you know what, that works for me.

Stay blessed.

~ H. Amber

Afternoon Tea … Daaaaahrling.

I’m a girly girl. So, what?!

Anyone who knows me KNOWS that I love feminine things: fresh-cut flowers, pink fingernail polishes, bed sheets covered with small teeny weeny garden rose patterns, fun make-up kits, colorful dresses, a room scented with lavender and vanilla – you name it, and I like it! So, it was no surprise that I took my friend up on her offer to go to Afternoon Tea at The Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.

Of course, I would have to dress for the occasion! Besides the fact that I love to dress in theme whenever possible (true story), I am a southern belle at heart. So what if I live in New York. I love dainty, pretty things and getting dolled up for an event was right up my alley. This was my opportunity to do it all up. So, as soon as my friend offered the invite, I took a mental picture of my clothing wardrobe and began scanning through my dresses, skirts and blouses, determined to have the perfect ensemble for the afternoon.

After much contemplating – days and days and days of contemplating, actually, and online “Google-ing” for afternoon tea dress code – I opted for a mustard yellow pencil skirt, black and white floral blouse, patent leather black heels, and the perfect sun hat to match, with a huge white flower on the front side. I completely ignored the fact that the website for The Plaza said “business casual attire recommended.” Business casual? Umm; hello!? This is The Plaza, … daaahhrling. And, my friend made an excellent note, “You make the occasion what you want, right?”

Now, I know that we’re not in England, but we just have to look like royalty going to Afternoon Tea, right? Yes, that is what we decided. After all, I was a virgin to this Afternoon Tea hoopla, so I had to fit in. When else would I have the opportunity to do this – this is $75 per person for a couple of tiny sandwich pieces and pastries, people!

So, there I was. In front of the grand Plaza Hotel, I stepped out of the yellow taxi cab that transported me there from Grand Central. I tilted my head up high – you know, like how those snobby, rich people do – and gracefully walked up the front stairs and inside the hotel. The entrance door was opened for me by the door attendant and as soon as I walked through to the front foyer, I was met with eyes glancing at me.

I was the only one with a hat on! I thought to myself, “Was this a bad idea?” But, just as I took a seat in the lobby area to wait for my friend, thinking that I might look like an idiot, one of the waiters walked by and said how beautiful I was in my hat. That brought me back to my happy place. Even a couple of people visiting from Texas stopped and said how great I looked. Soon after, my friend came inside with her hat and dress ensemble and as we walked to our table for tea. We looked great!

We had a lovely afternoon, just as I imagined, as we sat there eating our cavier and cucumber tea sandwiches, sipping on our champagne and drinking our floral-scented hot tea. It was almost as if we had left New York and were transported to London. This is what life is about, I thought to myself. The entire experience taught me a very important lesson. Don’t worry about what others think – do what makes you happy.

I encourage you to try it sometime.

Stay blessed.

~H. Amber

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