life curation

Embodying Gratitude

Happy Monday, friends! I’m making this brief, because this novel won’t write itself! I filmed a video about what I’m thankful for, and I hope that you take some time this week to count your blessings, too.

writing

Writers Wednesdays – NaNoWriMo Week 3

Hey everyone! I skipped the Monday and Tuesday post this week so I could concentrate more on my writing and filming (since I’m still adding content to my YouTube channel, as well). Whew, it’s been busy over here. But I’m loving it, and I’m excited to see how things go by the end of this month.

My word count isn’t where I want it to be . . . Yet. I know that I don’t have a lot of time left, but I have no issue writing huge chunks at a time, so I’ll leverage that skill and see what kind of progress I can make this week.

I did, however, want to post a quick update on what’s happening on my NaNoWriMo journey, so I filmed this video. As a bonus, I included a writing tip that may help you if you’re feeling stuck. Enjoy!

health

Fibro Fridays – Is It Possible to be “Cured”?

Happy Fibro Friday, friends! My apologies for the premature earlier posting: I was still typing when it posted LOL!

We made it through another week. Here in Virginia, we’ve enjoyed some warmer temperatures this week, and for that, I’m thankful! I hope you all are doing well and feeling great.

As I’ve been watching various fibromyalgia-related videos, I keep coming back to the question of whether this condition can be “cured”. It has been my goal, since I was first diagnosed, to be “cured” and completely free of the symptoms of fibromyalgia. As I understand it, a “cure” is not about managing the symptoms, but actually being completely rid of them.

Many of the experts I’ve watched have indicated that this is a lifelong, chronic condition. But I’ve also seen a handful of experts that believe fibromyalgia can be reversed, or cured. Here are some of the factors that contribute to whether an individual experincing fibro can reverse his or her symptoms?

  • The unshakable belief that fibro is a reversible condition.
  • A willingness to do a deep-dive into teh factors that created a fibromyalgia condition.
  • An openness to try a variety of treatments that go beyond simply using prescription medication.
  • The decision to live a life that supports continued wellness (no more self-sabotage)
  • An understanding that there may be a significant time investment involved

Anyone attempting to get close to a “cure” for this condition cannot delude themselves into thinking this will be easy or quick. Just as this condition can be rooted in a myriad of different factors, the solution can come from any number of adjustments or re-directions. If the solution was easy to figure out and implement, more people would do it, and there would be no need for me to analyze all these different protocols weekly, just to see if I can piece together a workable plan.

And even once you get a “cure”, there are often things that need to occur in order to maintain a state of wellness. So even the notion of a “cure” isn’t quite accurate: it’s a fix for a problem that can reappear if you aren’t careful. But, even a temporary “cure” is preferable to living with this condition daily.

In conclusion, “cure” is a bit of a misnomer, but the effects of a possible “cure” are worth the effort. It isn’t an easy path, but I’m committed to seeing it through.

That’s all for today, friends! I hope you all have a safe and comfortable weekend. I’ll talk to you all on Monday!

food · luxury · wine

More Low Cost Libations – Affordable Wine Review

As we embrace the upcoming holiday season, we may find ourselves in need of delicious wines to accompany our family dinners. One thing that I like to do is make sure that I have a mix of high/low cost wines to offer with meals. For those that choose to indulge, wine is a wonderful complement to a variety of meals, and can really enhance the flavor profile of all the foods that have been prepared.

The advantage to having wines in your home during the holidays is that you can use the wine in certain recipes, adding a rich and intensified flavor to certain dishes. I love cooking meat dishes with red wine, or crafting exquisite sauces or gravies with white wine. When cooking with wine, the alcohol cooks (or burns) off, leaving flavor with no traces of alcohol content left behind.

I realized that I’ve done several wine reviews over on my YouTube channel, but I hadn’t shared those reviews over here. So, here you go:

Also, if you want to keep track of the wines that you try, you can use what I use: the Wine Tasting Notes journal is perfect for capturing the details and your impressions of every wine that you taste. And for $5, it’s so affordable!

I’ll be adding more wine reviews in the months to come. Do you have a wine recommendation for me? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

**** This post contains affiliate links.

writing

Writers Wednesdays – NaNoWriMo Week 2 and Clarifications

Hello friends! It’s another Writers Wednesday and I’m excited to share my NaNoWriMo progress with you all! But first, I need to clarify something.

My blog is 100% my opinions, 100% of the time. I was recently harassed by a random visitor and attacked for my stance on Harry and Meghan. The insults in the response were vile and uncivilized, which is why you won’t find the comment anywhere on the blog: it was deleted and no response was offered. I wanted to state my stance on cyberbullying and digital violence for you all, but my good friend (thanks chica!) reminded me of the goal of this space and how to address this.

I will never entertain bullies that feel entitled to my attention. I will never allow hateful comments on my platform, nor will I engage anyone that leads with hate or violence. I will always protect my readers from comments that are mean-spirited and not constructive.

Further, I have chosen to ignore the bully and celebrate YOU ALL, my regular readers that have offered kind words and good energy for years. I am choosing to turn my focus to the good that surrounds me at all times. You all have made blogging worthwhile. The comments, private messages and overall goodness that you’ve brought to my blog is much appreciated.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Now, back to the topic at hand. NaNoWriMo kicked off last week, but it took me a week to pick out a book idea. That’s why I opted out of last week’s Writers Wednesday post: there was nothing to share with you all! I prefer not to do too much pre-planning for NaNoWriMo: I like to allow inspiration to guide me from the very beginning. But, since it took so long to find an idea, I’m behind on my writing schedule. I only have 1,500 of the 50,000 words I need to win NaNoWriMo (eek!) Fortunately for me, I have some time over the next few days that I can use for my writing. I’m thinking of setting up another writer’s retreat to give myself a block of time to work on my writing. And honestly, for someone that has been writing for just three days, I’m pleased that I still have so much momentum that I can leverage for the rest of the week and, hopefully, the entire month.

How is NaNoWriMo going for you all? I’d love to hear all about it!

life curation · luxury · style

Major Home Changes Ahead . . .

Hey friends! I hope you all are staying safe, warm, and happy. As you all know, this blog is more than just art, beauty, food, and creativity. I’m also committed to sharing other aspects of my life that matters to me and that I hope can help you all.

Recently, I came to the realization that some of the stagnation I’d experienced in certain areas of my life are a reflection of my physical space. Back in 2019, I purchased my dream home. I spent the majority of 2020, and a good portion of 2021, sharing my most sacred space with my grandmother and her sister which was a beautiful experience but also stressful for a multitude of reasons. After my beloved relatives returned to their home, I had to restore the sanctity of my space. The presence of other people, who have drastically different perspectives, opinions, and needs, can “contaminate” the energy of a home. So, I’ve been committed to bringing the energy back to what I prefer.

I thought this could be done with small, cosmetic things, like new furniture, or adding some wreaths to the doors. But a recent clogged pipe, significant water damage, and a denied insurance claim, clarified for me that my floor needed to be replaced and I’ll be responsible for paying for it myself. I looked at my once beautiful hardwood floor, and made peace with the fact that it would be different, but still beautiful, once the repairs are done.

This isn’t the way that I wanted it to happen, but I can see that this is leading me in the direction that I need to go. I started looking at the other things that need to be repaired, tweaked or changed completely. My home doesn’t feel sacred anymore, but I can change things to make sure that I have a sanctified space that reflects all of my aesthetic desires. I’ve got my work cut out for me, but I’m up for the challenge. I’ll keep you all posted as I make changes.

That’s it for today. I’ve interspersed some pictures of inspirational home decor that I’ve collected from here and there. Who knows: maybe I’ll recreate some of these looks in the months to come!

beauty · style

A Tale of Three Reds

As we transition from cool to cold weather, I’m often faced with decisions about how to bring liveliness back into my personal appearance. I find that the chilly gray days give the entire landscape a dull cast that I feel is inadvertently absorbed into my aura. So, I do a lot of things to try to make sure that I’m not visually dull or boring.

The best way for me to do this is through my clothing and makeup. One of my goals for this year was to find an inexpensive, wearable red that would be very appropriate for a variety of occasions. I knew that I was getting close to reaching this goal when I stumbled upon 3 Revlon lipsticks at the Dollar Tree.

As a woman of color/Black American woman (particularly one with dark skin), we’re often encouraged to avoid colors that are too bright: red definitely falls into that category. However, I wholeheartedly believe that there is a shade of red for everyone. I also believe in a little act of rebellion here and there, and defining beauty for myself is a big part of that. I tested my “red is for everyone” theory by trying the three following shades of red: Rosewine (shade 225), Wine with Everything (shade 525), and Revlon Red (shade 730). You may be able to find the colors at your local Dollar Tree or drugstore; alternatively, you can pick them up on Amazon (I’ve already inserted hyperlinks for your convenience).

But I went a step further and filmed the lipstick try-on for you all. I hope you enjoy!

***This post contains affiliate links.

health

Fibro Fridays – Things I Wish I Knew (After Diagnosis)

I’m taking a little break from protocols (again) to talk about some other things I discovered on my fibromyalgia journey.

Did you all know that getting a diagnosis is just the beginning of the journey? Fibromyalgia is unique in the fact that diagnosis doesn’t automatically result in a clear-cut recovery path. Most of us that have been diagnosed find that there are many things that we still don’t understand about the condition, and most medical professionals are woefully under-exposed/unknowledgeable about fibro. So even after getting a diagnosis, there are a ton of things that we don’t know, and we have to search just to get close to having some answers.

I made a video of the top five things I wish I knew after my fibromyalgia diagnosis. To sum it up briefly, I wish I knew that:

  • Most medicines are largely ineffective.
  • Lifestyle is the key to managing symptoms.
  • This is a problem within the nervous system, not the musculoskeletal system.
  • It may be more beneficial to work with a neurologist than a rheumatologist.
  • Working with a psychologist as soon as you’re diagnosed can be tremendously helpful.

Here’s the video, where I explain these points more in depth:

Is there anything you all wish you knew when you were first diagnosed with fibro? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Have a great weekend, and I’ll talk to you all next week!

art · culture · relaxation

Flowers At The Museum

Hi friends! I know that I missed the Writers Wednesday post yesterday, but since it’s the first couple of days of NaNoWriMo, I don’t have much to say. I’m still figuring out exactly what I want to write, so an entire update post was sort of unnecessary. I figured this paragraph would be more than enough to explain what’s going on. Now, back to the topic at hand …

Recently, I went to Virginia Museum of Fine Art (VMFA) with a group of brand new friends. After enjoying tea in the museum’s garden, we checked out the Fine Art and Flowers exhibition. This was a 5-day long exhibition that featured fresh flower arrangements inspired by some of the museum’s current art installations.

I only wish I had more time to see all of the arrangements (it would take at least two visits to make sure that I saw all of the flowers). But what I saw, I enjoyed immensely. Here are some pictures from the exhibition:

Display in the atrium
Close up of the atrium display
Arrangement influenced by Dragon-Shaped Pendant (artist unknown) by Laura Brooks and Lisa Vawter of the Garden Club of Middle Peninsula, King William County, VA
Arrangement inspired by Deer in Landscapes of Summer and Winter (Mori Kansai) by Helena Arouca and Julie Madden of Ikebana of Richmond, Sangetsu School, Waynesboro VA
Arrangement inspired by Queen Anne of Denmark, Wife of James I (Workshop of Marcus Gheeraerts) by Diane Burgess, River Road Garden Club, Crozier, Richmond Designers’ Guild
Arrangement inspired by Piazza San Marco (Francesco Guardi) by Gladys Lewis and June Hambrick, Leesburg Garden Club, Leesburg VA
Another angle of the arrangement inspired by Piazza San Marco

I saw a few more arrangements but didn’t have the chance to photograph them. The flowers were such a bright, welcome addition to the museum. I didn’t bother getting the map of the locations of all of the arrangements: I preferred to discover them on my own. I loved how it was almost like a scavenger hunt to locate the arrangements! If this year is any indication, then I can comfortably say that the creativity of the floral artists will wow us for years to come. I can’t wait to see the floral arrangements next year!

style

A New Style System to Explore: The Four Essence System

You all already know that I have studied and applied the style principles as explained by David Kibbe (my latest Kibbe-related posts include some more recent realizations as regards my style ID). I don’t limit myself to Kibbe’s philosophy, but I use it as the basis for understanding the technical aspects of dressing my body. However, I’m excited to share that I found another style system that works harmoniously with the Kibbe system but takes into account your personal energy, or essence, and how this impacts your presentation.

The system was developed by Rita, whose website, Style Thoughts by Rita, shares a different approach to style typing. Instead of strictly looking at the bone structure and how weight is distributed, Rita’s system considers essence and the overall impression of an individual. For our convenience, Rita has also created a YouTube channel chronicling her style revelations and experiments. I find her system to be wonderfully complementary to the Kibbe approach.

I determined that my essence is Right-Up, and I found quite a few confirmed and unofficial Soft Classics in this quadrant. I used their presence in the quadrant to confirm what I suspected. Rita created a video that explains the hallmarks of each essence, and each essence has its own “deep-dive” video. Here’s the explanation of the Four Essence System for women (the system also addresses men’s style essence in a separate video).

Seh goes further, and discusses the logic behind dressing using the Four Essence System. I found this video tremendously helpful, too.

Are any of you familiar with the system? I’d love to hear your thoughts on Rita’s ideas below!