When a man loves a woman

That love is powerful. I firmly believe that when a man fully commits to loving his significant other that love can move mountains. It’s hard to believe that it has been almost three months since the passing of my friend Jumaane. His wife, Michelle, recently posted this moving tribute to him on Essence.com. What a testament to the love they shared and created (with the birth of their two children). Rest in power Jumaane. 

Image via Essence.com

I'm that girl now what?

Random thoughts as I take selfies of my OOTD

Two years ago I wrote this post. It was a food for the soul piece and I stand behind every word of it. I had to preface this post by saying that because even though I firmly believe we are all THAT GIRL in our own unique ways compliments are pressure filled. . . .

It’s just me isn't it? I’m the only one that feels that compliments lead to severe stress? Okay, okay maybe severe is a bit extreme but expectations can be hard to manage. One should not have to manage another’s expectations of you but we’re human here so cut me some slack. At 38 I should not feel this way but I have not learned how to take a compliment well. I view this new post as the other side of the That Girl coin. The side that says "Well damn Mrs. Jones my co-worker just complimented me on my shoes today. Does that mean I need to rock a fierce pair of shoes every day now?" Or "Mrs. Johnson just complimented me on how well behaved the kiddies are what will I do once the melt downs start pre-lunch time and hunger sets in". You understand where I'm going? Compliments are nice and we need to own them but sometimes they lead to pressure. On the up side one can rise to that challenge. To put it into some context the more readers that comment and visit your site the more content you publish especially in the areas of most interest. Your storytelling gets better. You refine your voice. On the downside what if there are days when you have nothing to say? Your life is mundane? The outfits (for you fashionista’s) just don’t seem right. There is that pressure to constantly deliver on that status. I’m going to figure this out. I don’t have an answer right but I will have a solution soon. 

Brand You: My love affair with Coursera

I get on these "gotta improve myself" kicks every now and then and I thought it would be fun to let you guys in on the action. I call it my "brand me" moments. My motto is you have to promote brand you because no one else will do it better. 

I’m currently taking two classes via Coursera. If you are not familiar with Cousera they are an online educational source offering FREE classes taught by professors from major colleges and universities. And when I say major I mean respected and Ivy league organizations like Yale, Penn (University of), Columbia, Princeton, Brown, etc. I think I first heard about Coursera via an INC article. I bookmarked the site and finally made time to sign-up for some interesting-to-me courses.  I like the fact that I can log in when convenient and go at my own pace. The curriculum is well thought out and the material or lecture videos are broken up into weekly digestible segments. All designed so that you are not overwhelmed. There are assignments and quizzes at the end of each week but again not designed to be overwhelming.  

So what am I taking? From the University of Maryland I’m taking “Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies: The First Step in Entrepreneurship”.  I’m entering week 3 of 6. And today is day 1 of “An Introduction to Marketing” from Penn –  TheWharton School. I’m most excited about this class for a couple of reasons. My undergrad degree is in Marketing so I’m excited about continuing education within my original discipline. Secondly the course is being taught by Wharton professors. Hello WHARTON?!?!! A top 5 school for most MBA candidates. And lastly Coursera offers these signature track options for the courses you take. What that means is that you can earn a verifiable electronic certificate that serves as official recognition from the associated university. There is of course a fee associated with that track and you have to complete assignments on time (not at your leisure) but the fee is nominal ($49)and to me totally worth the investment for that type of recognition.   

Go me!

The Nude Issue: curlBOX September 2013 Mag Card Experience

Yes I'm late commenting but I've been following along with this process as two of my favorite b(v)loggers are included in the September issue of CurlBox.  I've said before that I'm a sucker for the creative process and Myleik Teele, founder and president, knocks it out of the park! I bow down as this ish is fantastic! 

Dear Life: Wear that edition

I’m a mom. A married mom. A married working mom who lives on a realistic budget. Real life ain’t always pretty ya’ll! However I am a woman. A NYC born and bred woman who likes to look good. One can’t buy style. And expensive does not by default equal stylish. Which is why I do cartwheels every time I wear my orange MNG by Mango dress that I scored for like $40 at JCPenney months ago. 

MNG by Mango - purchased at JCPenney, currently sold out

When the weather finally warmed up I bust this beauty out of the closet and literally every. single. time. I wear this dress I get a compliment. Men, women and children all like the fit and the color. This slightly boxy sheath with POCKETS is a winner. I've dressed it up with heels and down with flat sandals. Worn it to work for presentations and to a concert to groove to some live music. Versatile and comfortable it just works. Sadly it’s sold out and now that Fall is upon us I must return her to my closet until next Spring and Summer (while the fabric is substantial I don’t want to elicit any pumpkin jokes). I’ll miss her. I wonder what will take her place and become my winter show stopper piece. I’m on the hunt for the perfect AFFORDABLE black jumpsuit. Have you seen her? 

Nouveau Heritage: Social Networking part 2

When I initially crafted my first post I didn't anticipate a part two but here I am again and so soon. This time the focus is on our mini’s. Have kids hand write, draw or craft notes and special tokens to grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and other loved ones. Thus making that social exchange more personal and more heartfelt that those brief moments over the phone or skype/face time. In my household we do this all the time. Handwritten thank you notes are a must. Especially to friends and classmates. It helps keep their skills sharp (particularly in those off months like summer vacation). Letter writing for my 9 year old helps with sentence structure, paragraphs and completing thoughts. My 5 year old benefits from letter recognition and penmanship. They really get into these projects. The grandparents love receiving these love notes and we find them proudly displayed on mantles and refrigerators when we go for visits.  Plus the grand’rents will reciprocate which sets off another round of letter writing. Email be damned!  

Mrs. Jones

First day of school

The kids went back to school yesterday. Sir Lil Jones started Kindergarten (milestone!) and Lady Jones is in the 4th grade. The summer went by way too fast and my babies are growing up with each blink of my eyes. I’m not sure how to keep up or hold on. Before long I’ll have to let go completely and watch them soar. For now I’ll cherish every moment. Like Sir Lil Jones confessing to his teachers that he was nervous the night before. What a sweetie! Lady Jones was just happy to see some of the friends she didn't get to see over summer break. I’m on vacation this week. Organizing, relaxing and just having some me time as I recharge before we begin our school, work, homework, activity fall/winter schedule. Fresh starts all around!

How cool is it that at my children’s school the first day starts off with a celebration?!?! The entire school parades around the neighborhood cheering and carrying balloons. It’s a great way to get the students excited for the new school year. 

Dear Life style: Wear that edition

I may be slightly obsessed with leather and because my style is more casual cool than rocker chic the below two outfit options make my heart sing. This JCrew Tweed-front sweater reminds me of a sweatshirt but more structured and dressed up. I think it will look hot paired with a leather bottom.  A slightly flared or pencil skirt will work with a classic heel for 9-to-5.  On the weekend kick off those heels and add some vegan leather leggings and your favorite pair of chucks. 

JCrew top, Patterson J. Kincaid skirt, All Saints Skirt, Zara heels, Sanctuary leggings, Converse sneakers

Nouveau Heritage: Social networking

Put social back into networking. Get ready to clutch your pearls: schedule coffee or lunch with a new colleague, prospective friend, or contact! Do this instead of emailing, FBing, Instagraming, Tweeting and whatever else for extended periods of time. Crazy I know but we are losing social skills fast and these face-to-face interactions should not be limited to just weekend play dates for the kids.  I received this advice from a respected colleague who has built his reputation and career around these types of community principles. Put it to the test and let me know how it goes.

I for one want my kids to benefit from this old school style of social interaction. Engage with your friends without needing a screen!

Mrs. Jones

Says the lady with a blog! HA! #Isntitironic

Phillip Lim for Target

I'm patiently awaiting September 15th and the release of the Phillip Lim for Target line. I've wanted his Pashli satchel for quite some time now so you know I did a happy dance when I saw that he was releasing a like product as part of the collection. Oh I know the quality will not compare but who cares! A Phillip Lim bag for $50 versus $825?? Yes, please! 

Now if only Chloe would take the hint and release an affordable to me version of the Marcie!

Mrs. Jones says: what I learned from my friend

Monday was hard ya'll. Not as hard I anticipated but still hard. My friends service was a beautiful testament to his life. Standing room only with overflow in the hall and people literally sitting on the floor in the aisle just to be connected and engaged. Whenever Bob Marley and Special Ed songs are played at your funeral you know you've lived quite a life. It is amazing how many lives were touched. I wanted to pay tribute with this special edition of thoughts. These are all the gems I learned from my 21 year friendship. I didn't realize the lessons as the time that they were happening but in hindsight he was quite the teacher.

In memoriam

All my talk about getting old seems so trivial now. On July 30 a great man died. A dear friend of mine from my college days passed away at the age of 39 leaving behind a wife, a toddler age son and a 4 month old daughter.

He died from a heart attack.

He died at the age of 39.

He left behind a wife, a toddler age son and a 4 month old daughter.

I had to marinate on all of that for several hours.

When I received the phone call shortly after his passing I was stunned speechless and immediately rendered numb. I mean Jumaane? Dead? How is that even possible? Yes the intellectual side is fully aware of how it is possible. It’s a birth right. One day we will all die. But that less logical side, the emotional side, the part of me that detaches from reality and lives by the creed forever young, that side right there is confused. I did my part and reached out to my girls to share the news. It was hard to deliver. I mean we were tight back in the day. He was my people. He came to my wedding. We shared thoughts on life. We exchanged advice on everything from careers to relationships. Less than 3 short years ago we talked about his excitement and apprehension on becoming a father for the first time while his wife was pregnant. He worried about being an “old Pops”. He worried that maybe it was time to move out of Brooklyn. He was now looking around his house and wondering if it was enough. He wondered if he should stop working for himself and rejoin an established firm. He worried about being a good provider. Typical thoughts of a first time parent. I know I felt and faced all of my self-perceived inadequacies when I found out was pregnant. We all want to give our children the best. I did my best to calm his nerves. Prior to that he worried about finding the one and getting married. Again he didn’t want to be the “old uncle” up in the club at 50. Single and talking about “watch out there now”. I did my best to calm his nerves. He had a baby. He got married. He had another baby. This time the girl he always wanted. He loved his family.

This dude passed away? Nah! Something is not right. But it’s true. The outpouring of love and adoration has been amazing. I mean post after post, text after text, pictures, thoughts. Watching it all unfold has been mind-blowing. My friend touched the lives of so many. He was a husband, father, son, brother, friend, confidant, mentor, teacher, entrepreneur, activist, leader. Active in his community. He subscribed to theory of giving back. To whom much is given much is expected. And he stepped up. This dude passed away? My heart is heavy.

It took a long time for me to thaw and to finally cry that day. I don’t recall meeting him for the first time I just recall always knowing him. 22 years of friendship. The way he said my name with that Brooklyn twang that would always transport me back to home. His slang terms like “sus” and “antics” and his love and pride of his Caribbean roots. Jumaane Stewart was a solid guy. One of the coolest cats I’ve ever had the honor of meeting. I love him deep. I love him like family. I have to attend his funeral. It does not seem real.

I don’t question why because there is a larger power at play and He does not make mistakes. I do question how because I’m selfish and would like one more chance to talk to my friend, twirl a loc and give him a hug. And that is the only part that makes me sad. I grieve for his family no doubt. I can’t imagine what they are going through right now. I have nothing but good memories of our times together. Even when the situations were deep. I still hold those memories near and dear. So I smile when I think of him and I’m comforted by those thoughts. I pray that I’m living a life where those who know me will have more good memories of me than bad. His passing makes me want to be a better person.

Brooklyn Massive my friend! You are loved. 

Nom Nom

I've been on a juicing kick for the last couple of months. From a full-on 3 day fast to starting my day with a green juice. I find that I feel so much better when I forgo a traditional breakfast for a nice tall glass of green goodness. Not only that but my skin benefits tremendously. My juicing obsession has now morphed into a fruit and veggie smoothie feast. I can't seem to get enough.

Last Thursday I worked from home and I found myself whipping up this bit of love.

Coconut Milk
When I'm feeling fancy I add spinach and/or kale to my smoothies. So good! Nom nom!

Dear Life style: Wear that edition

Once upon a time I posted that I purchased these pants. Yeah well, for me? Not so much. Had to send them back. Fast forward a few months and I found these beauties. 

Joe Fresh Pyjama pant

Can you say work horse? I've worn them with a simple white tee. (Currently obsessed with the fit of the women's U-Neck from Everlane.) And a pair of neutral heels. (Currently obsessed with these simple pumps from Nine West). I've also paired them with a dressed up black button down and a pair of flat sandals. I'm next planning on rocking them with a denim shirt and my white converse. I mean no matter what you can't go wrong.  Joe Fresh I love you!

The age of old

At what age do you start to feel old? And at what age are you officially old?  I know for me the closer I get to a certain age bracket the more I view that bracket as still very much young. For example I'm still a couple of decades away but I view 60 as still very young!

My friend Li sent this group text to a bunch of us college homies:

She then attached 3 pics of herself all looking very fly. I was ready to fight her and told her so in my reply but then I had to really stop and think about it. We are all entering our 39th year (well they have. I still have 5 months to go!) and juggling careers and kids and relationships. That kind of load can weigh you down. Combined with the moments Li describes above and its easy to feel old. I know I do to a certain extent. I mean I still feel like an early 20 something but then I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and I'm reminded that I'm not. I don't look my age (thanks gene pool!) but I also can't pass for a baby faced 21 year old. Not that I want to mind you but you get where I'm going. . . I hope. I'm in that weird contradictory space of appreciating my grown woman status but not wanting to look like a woman of a certain age. Does that make sense? All I know is that ma'am would definitely set me off too!

I believe in the power of love.  And the power of good news. And the power of chubby baby cheeks. And a laundry list of feel good moments, things, and people.
This week I believe in the power of starting over. Of letting go and letting God. Yes I believe in a higher power.

This story, which has been all over the interwebs these last few weeks, is new to me as of last week thanks to six degrees of separation. Facebook tells me that the bride and I have 2 mutual friends, my girl Li and one of the kindest souls I know Tracy! It was Li who posted this and almost had me bawling at my desk in the middle of the day. This is the love story of Jordan Rice and Jessica Moreland-Rice.

In sharing the back story with Mr. Jones over the weekend he said that he was always so scared when I had to go to the ER or to a doctor’s visit due to my heart (more on that one day in the future).  I knew he was concerned but I never knew how much it scared him until this past weekend when he his eyes became watery while he was telling me.  I love me some him!

Dear Life style: wear that edition

My co-worker K wore a very simple black maxi with Birkenstocks looking oh so chic. The perfect hot weather outfit to combat this recent heat wave we've been experiencing.

On the left is K’s version and on the right is my interpretation of her style.  Cube life fashion.   

Oasis v-neck drape maxi, Organic by John Patrick tank, Birkenstock

Dear Life style: wear that edition

I work for a major publisher within the tech field in a geographic area not exactly known for fashion. I mean the techies here are not your stereotypical hipsters rocking the latest and greatest but instead the techies of yesteryear who wear t-shirts, cargo shorts, knee socks and sandals/loafers/sneakers. I kid you not. Good people but fashion mavens they are not. Which is why any nod to fashion, and to be fair we do have our fair share, stands out and is quickly noticed.

With that said this is my ode to cube life fashion. The other day my co-worker rocked a green and white striped long-sleeve polo, with a cream pleated satin mini, electric blue mary-janes, a messy top-knot and geek chic glasses. She killed it!

I can’t recreate her outfit instead this is my contribution to her jam (old school hip-hop flash back) or better yet this would be my rendition of her style. Beat bitter! 

Joe Fresh silk tank, Tibi Eniko faux leather skirt, Zara heels

Mrs. Jones Says

Sound advice I'm passing on to Lady and Sir Jones. It took some time for me march to my own beat. Lady Jones is at that age where she is easily influenced by what others have, say, do, wear, want. I'm teaching them that what works for their friends does not necessarily work for them. To be an individual and give me and Mr. Jones THEIR thoughts on why they need [insert whatever is hot with the 10 and under set here] and not just because "everyone" has one!