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The Gift of Valentine’s Day

In my previous post – “Hello, Love” – I shared some tips on how to love yourself better, whether you’re single or spoken for. This is something I cannot stress enough, especially when messages of hate seem so recently commonplace. I wanted to wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day, and encourage you not to shrug it off or muddle through it just because it may not be how you pictured. If you are single, enjoy yourself today! You are worth celebrating. If you are with someone, and too busy or broke to do what may have liked, find as much happiness as you can in the sheer joy of each other’s brief company. Remember, your single friend might be happy to be broke with a good man like yours.

One of my best friends recently lost her uncle. I thought about her aunt, and how hard today might be for her. I hope that she might be somewhat comforted by the memories of good times they shared AND by knowing that to have had a love so true (as all of their family and friends acknowledged at his homegoing service) that she has been amongst a sacred and privileged minority. In this world of drive-thru divorces, to have shared a love like theirs is such a gift. Hold your loved ones close today for however long you can. Whether today is hard for you, or Sunday-morning easy, be present. The fact is that the real gift is actually today itself, and each day we are blessed to see.

Love,
– Alicia Brownell

Hello, Love

Yep, It’s February. Apart from being Black History Month, this month is most recognized for being the month of love. Valentine’s Day right smack in the middle of the month seems to take over the whole 28 days. Those of us who are currently in love with someone who reciprocates, share dinner plans and prepare our weekender bags for romantic getaways. Those of us who are not currently as involved tend to feel anywhere from a bit left out, to five-minutes-away from slapping the next happy couple who shares a kiss in public. It can be hard not to be angry or completely discouraged this month if you desire a loving relationship and find yourself without one this month.

Presently paired, or not, remembering to express our self-love is important this month and year round. It may sound a bit lame, but the way you feel about YOURSELF impacts all of your other relationships. Being your own biggest fan, as opposed to most often critic, can also help you achieve more since you’ll be more likely to take risks. It’s easy to start. Just look in the mirror and say “Hello, Love”.

Either Way, I dig me!

Whether you are having a minimal makeup, messy hair and glasses kinda day OR a berry lipped, manicured, agreeable curls winning spree . . . we have all got to practice loving who we are. It is not always easy in this world. The choice is one we make several times daily.

Here are a few things you can do to get in the habit of being your own honey:

  • Write yourself a love letter. Be sure to include your name and make it specific. Tell yourself what you love about you. If you have a particularly low day, you’ll know just where to go for a reminder of how great you are. (For me, this requires having spent time in my Bible recently. I tell myself what God thinks of me as a starting point.)
  • Buy yourself some flowers. Not everyone is into floral arrangements, true. If you are pick up a bouquet. Don’t skimp if you don’t have to. We all need some brightness on an emotionally cloudy day, BUT if you treat yourself to some beauty when things are fine you’ll feel extra special.

NOTE: These two habits (above) are particularly good for single ladies. If you treat yourself this well, you will not likely settle for a man who doesn’t at least do the same – if not better.

  • Affirmations. Some people choose to affirm themselves every morning in the mirror. Others pull out the self encouragement when they have a big day ahead of them. Whichever you choose, say it until you believe it and can see a difference.
  • Have a weekly dinner date with yourself. Prepare or order your favorite meal. Sit at the table. Music, candles, fancy napkins – woo you!

The benefit in exercises like these, besides enjoying your own company and positive thoughts, is that you will begin to feel worth it. That feeling of positive self worth should not be tied to whether you are in a relationship or not. The truth is, you’re awesome!

“Hello, Love”

Christmas (Fully) Present


A friend posted this list on her Instagram feed on Christmas Eve, and I so appreciated the sentiment. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle, bustle and POSTING of the holidays. 

It seems these days, that you can’t claim to have enjoyed your holiday if you don’t have the Facebook Live footage to back it up. So, this year I made a conscious decision to curtail what I felt I had to post in real time, in effort to be more present during happy holiday happenings. Now, full disclosure, there were a few moments I wanted to capture in video or photos – and I did. I sent some photos of my kids opening presents to relatives, and sent the video of my Two-year-old’s first Christmas speech to his Godparents who couldn’t be there to see it in person. Not having the pressure of getting the perfect shot to post to my IG feed later, though, really took some pressure off. I didn’t stage anything, wasn’t stressing my kids for the perfect pose. . . and while I certainly do both of those things on occasion I realized it’s not a prerequisite for a great memory. 

My biggest highlights of this Christmas break so far, were spending time with my husband while he was off from work; seeing the “Christmas Under the Bigtop” program with my Mom and the ladies from our church at Houston’s Second Baptist church; having a small family gathering at my cousin’s place complete with her brother who was visiting from Portland and two younger cousins I hadn’t seen in far too long; volunteering on Christmas Eve morning at the senior apartment community where my church members and I sung carols, served food and gave gifts; hanging with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law at their place on Christmas Eve night; hearing my oldest boy excitedly deliver his first Christmas speech at church on Christmas morning, and coming home to see my boys open gifts until they literally didn’t want to open any more. 

I won’t forget any of those moments even though they are not hosted online somewhere for the world to see. Sharing with the world is a GREAT function of social media and the internet in general, but knowing that I’m not obligated to do it helped me be more present this year. And that was a gift in itself. 

Thanks + Giving + A Giveaway

We are a few days into the week after Thanksgiving. Hopefully, your turkey coma is wearing off and you’ve made use of all your leftovers – finally. For me, the best part of Thanksgiving day was the opportunity to actually give, to a group of people who reminded me of what I have to be thankful for. I wasn’t as excited for the holiday this year. Kind of pouting since my sister couldn’t be in town. She’s in San Francisco giving to the community every day through her position at a missions based initiative which services that city’s drug and poverty heavy Tenderloin District. Since she’d be serving on Thanksgiving Day, I wanted to as well.

I was able to, through the outreach of my awesome church, to share some Thanksgiving festivity with seniors in a local senior facility. An awesome couple who attends our church, The Roberts’, are plugged into Volunteers of America. Through their dedication to the organization (and the community in general) they’ve been able to share so much with so many in need and provide an outlet for our church and others to expand our outreach in the community.

I didn’t know what to expect. I thought that maybe no one in the facility would be interested in attending a holiday get together with strangers. If they did come, it might be just for the food. Not only was I pleasantly surprised but truly rewarded by the investment of a few hours. The whole morning was greatly received by the residents. They thanked us for coming and were authentically grateful for our company. The festive decorations, inspiring  message (brought by my Dad, a military Vet and associate pastor at our church), wonderful full course feast, smiles and thoughtful service were regarded as an expensive gift. It dawned on me that I’ve never had a Thanksgiving were the company of some loved ones was not a given. Seeing how appreciative someone could be of the kindness of a complete stranger made me appreciate the family and friends I am surrounded by even more. I might have been the closest thing to family one of those gracious seniors got to see that day. What a humbling honor. And awesome reminder. In a fateful twist, my Dad and I found out later that one of the residents we’d spent the morning with was actually the father of a family friend, and fellow military family member we’d lived on an Air Force Base with in California! We had been able to brighten the holiday of our friend’s father, unknowingly. It was great getting to know the residents a little. I’m looking forward to going back on Christmas Eve.

GIVEAWAY (Entry period extended, see below)

In the spirit of giving and in honor of Giving Tuesday, I’d like to pay it forward a bit by gifting services to a cause. The drawing is open for any registered 501 (c)(3) organization OR cause focused event, so tag one you think should enter.

I’ll be giving away a free, 90-minute consultation to help with positioning, crafting compelling messages, and increasing engagement. The winner will also be able to pick my brain about the overall brand identity of their cause. All in all, the session is valued at over $300!

Any interested in the giveaway should email my business, SEIZE Worthy, through the contact page here. A winner will be randomly selected after entries close today  EXTENDED through this Saturday, the 3rd of December! Consultation can be virtual if winner is outside of the Houston area.

Actively Thankful 

We are halfway through November, the month most associated with giving thanks. I’m working to not only be thankful, but to permit that gratitude to move me to action. Here’s what that looks like for me – and why I’d encourage anyone to take this approach. 

Here is an example of active thankfulness. Someone close to me is battling a health issue. It’s caused me to count my blessings and consider something I usually take for granted. Through introspection, I am realizing that I am truly thankful for my health. That realization is prompting me to be more proactive as far as my own health is concerned. Taking better care of myself as a result is an expression of that thanks. This approach gives direct motivation from a place of gratitude, not obligation. 

With active thanks, being grateful for good friends will cause you to spend more time with them. Spending more time will strengthen your relationships. Adopting this point of view helps feed the positive things you focus on, giving you more to be thankful for. It sounds pretty simple, but purposing to add the action to your thanks takes you out of the ranks of those who acknowledge good things in thought only. Adding more thankful, positive vibes in your life can’t hurt. 

Having a sense of responsibility for the good things we have seems like a natural evolution of an actively thankful attitude. In today’s recently shaken up political climate, I’m hoping that more people will purpose – as I have – to be active in regard to the freedoms we have and would like to preserve. Certainly in these cases, typical passive thanks will no longer do. 

So, don’t be surprised if you see a shift in tone from me. Not to angry, but protective. Not reactionary, but responsible. If I am TRULY thankful for something today is the day to work to ensure I’ll be able to enjoy it tomorrow. If I am learning anything right now it is that I need to make more decisions that directly impact my life than are made despite me, behind closed doors. And not just my life. More so for my sons and godson, my nieces and my unborn nephew. For them action is a required responsibility of us all, not a luxurious burden for some. For that lesson, I am thankful. 

VOTE+PRAY+LOVE

📷 by me | working on my flat lays

Do your part and vote today. Pray also, and purpose to spread love. No matter who is elected we will need to continue to pray for our country and give love. Prayer is not just some passive inaction, but key for guidance, safety and healing. Love is not just a feeling, but a verb requiring action and humility. There are so many of us who feel splintered & at odds. If we could pray and love a bit more this country may start to come together. 

#VOTE

#PRAY

#LOVE

Pumpkin Brothers Memories

One of the coolest things about having two kids close in age is that they get to experience “firsts” together. Now, this also poses QUITE the challenge since having a 2 1/2 yr old and a 1 yr old at the same time means being in charge of a tiny dysfunctional army. Packing them & all of their stuff in the car every time we need to go somewhere can take a lot of energy, and more patience than I typically have. As I was initially typing this, my oldest jumped on me and prematurely published this blog post before I was finished writing it. It’s not easy having two so small, but it does make for some pretty sweet memories.


This past weekend we made some of those sweet memories when we took the boys to their first pumpkin patch. In Houston, most of the pumpkin patches you see featured on the news are pretty far outside of the city proper. So, I was glad to find one only twenty minutes away from home. Houston On The Cheap has a great list of pumpkin patches & other fall activities in Houston and surrounding areas. Thanks to their list, I was able to find a pumpkin patch located at a ranch operated by Halter Inc. Halter Inc. is a charity organization that supports families of children with special needs or medical difficulties. They host their annual pumpkin patch as a fundraiser. It’s run by volunteers.


Since I’m a sucker for being prepared, I took a few essentials with me. A bit of a momma-preparedness kit, if you will. In case we had down time while the kids were occupied, I brought along my word search book. I found this chic one at Half Price Books at the top of the year and bought a few to keep on hand. Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Lip Gloss in Autumn Haze, is a must this time of year. Protecting your lips from the elements and keeping them hydrated when the weather changes is important. This is especially true for me since my lips can be dry easily if I don’t stay on top of it. My Monster POWERCARD Ultra Thin Charger was so helpful to have on hand. I typically don’t have a lot of room to spare when I have my stuff plus the kids stuff in tow. The thin design fits in a pocket, or almost anywhere you can stick a credit card. Having the backup power helped me be able to take so many pics, which, is the only way to get a halfway decent shot of a fast moving young human. My Brookside Crunchy Clusters are my go-to on-the-go snack. With a pair of cute shades . . .  I was ready for whatever.

We had a great time overall. The weather was perfect. We went with my husband’s brother & sister-in-law, and their best friends who are more like family. Both of the other couples have little girls; so we ended up with a nice sized group. Since it’s a live ranch there was a good amount of horsey poop around. Once we got used to being on the look out, it wasn’t too bad. The kids all loved the pumpkins and the playground – which had a cool sensory wall. My oldest fed some animals at the petting zoo, and tried his hand at a horse stick race. All of the kids, except for my one yr old, rode on the ponies. I think that was the favorite activity. There was supposed to be a trackless train (some carts pulled by tractor) but some volunteers told us the tractor wasn’t working on that day. The carts looked like they’d been stationary for a while. That was a disappointment, as I’m sure everyone would have enjoyed the ride.


I’m glad we were able to make the memories we did. It was great hanging with our nieces (not a lot of little girl energy in our male dominated clan). And anytime parents of young kids can ban together is always a plus. I’m looking forward to more group family fun. And, since our two boys are a dynamic duo I’m sure we will be experiencing many other memorable firsts in the near future. Loving family means loving every bit; from crazy everyday car-loading chaos to special seasonal pumpkin patch firsts.

TIP: 

HOUSTON ON THE CHEAP is a great resource that is curated with care. Check them out for family fun, holiday festivities, or generally cool things to do on your own. Their website keeps you in the know all year long.

Carefree in the Face of Chaos

Okay, so obviously. . . not too many people are feeling truly carefree right now. There is a lot going on. Since the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, the horrible shootings of the Dallas Police officers, news of the attack in Nice, and whatever the heck happened yesterday in Baton Rouge – there is no shortage of things to worry about.

We should be safe, vigilant and work toward figuring out how we can heal the troubles here in the United States and the world. While we do, it is important to remember WHO & WHAT we are being safe and healing for in the first place. Plus, we could ALL use a bit of a break. That’s why I love the hashtag #CarefreeBlackKids2k16

If you haven’t yet, stop and check out the hashtags feed on your favorite social media platform.

The hashtag was started by Heben Nigatu, co-host for BuzzFeed’s Another Round podcast and writer for The Daily Show with Stephen Colbert. The short clips of gleeful black children have provided a respite for many Twitter users, who have expressed gratitude for a bit of good in their timelines.

From Mashable.com

These images are an especially welcomed interjection of fun for the black community, who have had to deal with several images of violence against those that look like us. THANKFULLY, you don’t have to be black to enjoy these cute kids and their genuine reminder to smile, sing, and dance it out if you have to. I decided to pitch in. Here’s my two year old son enjoying one of his favorite songs, Happy by Pharrel

Casting Several Projects – AT ONCE

Having an opportunity to help make things that many people will see, to shape large messages, has always been exciting for me. 

That’s part of why I enjoy my role at OsagePhoenix Productions so much. We’ve recently been moving forward with several of our projects which, for me, means casting several projects simultaneously. It’s been a lesson in the many types of personalities there are, a test of my organizational skills, a grateful glance into the human condition, and a fun adventure . . . all at once. 

What adventures are you currently embarking on?