My Black is Beautiful, a Proctor & Gamble owned brand has released an incredible ad touching on that most sensitive of topics. It highlights the first time Black children have to contend with their skin color being seen as problematic.

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A young girl opens the ad, clutching a blond doll while her mother does her hair. "Who said that??" her mother asks sharply "That is NOT a compliment". Black women everywhere already know, just based on tone, that this child had heard something, said by someone, who was not black, that had made the girl feel less than.

It's common in our world, as black women, to come across the same feelings this girl did, most times in our youth. We hear the micro aggressions, from friends, from co-workers, and most of the time, brush it off and keep it moving. We put on a face as we struggle to sort out our feelings about how your crush things "you're pretty for a black girl." the same backhanded compliment this young girl received. We laugh nervously, before retreating to our desks when we hear "I just don't find black women attractive" around the water cooler.

In our society, there comes a time, where every black parent has to talk to their child about the fact that the color of your skin will make other people see and treat you differently. My Black is Beautiful & P&G do an incredible job of highlighting these difficult conversations, both showcasing the identity crises these children have, and the steel resolve of their parents as they guide their kids through the harsh realities of the world. This ad is stark in its raw honesty. It's the kind of honesty black people don't often discuss in public spaces.

The brand does a great job of introducing the topic of "The Talk" to mainstream audiences, in an effort to get the conversation started about why there needs to be a conversation in the first place.The ad ends with a phrase

"Let's all talk about 'The Talk'"

Six words flashed across the screen in the last seconds of the ad. It's a simple enough invitation, but the implications of each word hold the weight of a society burdened by unfair judgment. Ours.

Their goal is simple. It's the very next sentence.

"So we can end the need to have it."

A hundred thousand kudos to My Black is Beautiful and P&G for this ad. It broke me down, all while building me up.



So ladies, let's talk. Have you ever had the talk? Who sat you down? Or have you ever had to give "the talk" to someone else? a family member or friend? Tell us about it in the comments.
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Alma Hill is a freelance journalist, actress, and mother living in Orlando, FL. A frequent contributor to online and print media publications, she believes that the words from our mouths will change the world. Born in Charlotte, NC, she's a millennial with an old soul who appreciates a good meme as much as a Miles Davis album. Brave souls can follow her on Twitter @_mynameissoul,but you have been warned. 

So if you follow me on Instagram (@kayleighjcouture if you're not already), you've probably seen me spamming my feed with photos from mine and my fiancé Matt's engagement party. They had so many lovely comments on them so I just wanted to thank you guys for all the love you've shown us - it means the world to me. I thought it'd be nice to share a few photos from the party and most importantly, the venue. When we first got engaged, we weren't sure if we wanted a small gathering at our house or if we wanted to go all out with a big party so it took us some time to get round to actually booking something. In the end we decided a big party was the way to go as there was so many people we wanted to celebrate with and you only get engaged once, so why not go all out?

Although we now live closer to Manchester, we're originally from the Lake District and as most of our family and friends live there, we decided that would be the best location to have the party. When thinking of venues I knew I wanted somewhere modern but also somewhere that has character and  nice accommodation for our guests travelling from away. With this being said, I knew Abbey House Hotel was the venue for us. Situated in the south lakes, it's a beautiful hotel that's recently been renovated meaning everything about it is perfect, for want of a better word. The hotels grounds are absolutely stunning and the wedding suites are insane (more on those in a separate post).


We went to meet with John, the manager at Abbey House for a chat so we could decide on a date and also give him more info on what we wanted in terms of decor, food, entertainment and the number of guests we'd have attending. He was so welcoming and couldn't do enough for us - he was happy to answer any questions we had and provided us with lots of suggestions for the party and what they could do that would really impress our guests. He also showed us their two function rooms - The Cavendish Suite and The Great Hall. Both rooms are stunning with The Cavendish Suite being the bigger and more modern option of the two. We had around 120 guests in total so we decided The Great Hall would be the best option for us as The Cavendish Suite held a lot more guests and we didn't want the room to look empty, despite John informing us they can dress the rooms to make them look smaller, which is always good to know. We also felt the The Cavendish Suite was more suited to a wedding so we thought it was best to save that for the big day. 


 After deciding on the room and Friday 30th June as our date, it was time for the fun stuff. I've never planned a party to this extent before so I didn't have a clue what was available but John told us all the options and we were honestly blown away by the different things we could do. Everything  from as selfie mirror to magicians and even a Jager station were on the list. We decided to go for all those things as we thought it'd get people talking and be a bit of extra fun for our guests. We also asked for a welcome drink to be served as it's always nice to be handed a free drink when you arrive a a party! Abbey house arranged prosecco for the ladies and beers for the guys, which went down a treat. We also decided on a hog roast with all the trimmings as the food option, alongside veggie kebabs for the vegetarian guests and cute cake pops for dessert.


As you can see from the photos, The Great Hall is an amazing space - it has loads of character with panelled walls, high ceilings and a really great lay out. It has the main room where there's more than enough space for a dance floor, entertainment and seating, a small walkway which is great for serving the welcome drinks, the bar and a huge terrace leading out onto Abbey House's beautiful gardens. Perfect for a marquee! That was a big selling point for us - with it being Summer, we figured it would be lovely to give people the option to sit outside and for the children attending to have somewhere to run around and play. It's safe to say it didn't disappoint and most guests were outside until the sun went down and they were ready for a dance. We also had the food served on the terrace under a marquee which was a really nice touch. We were very lucky with the weather too which was a huge bonus as it allowed us to take advantage of the whole space.


The night began with guests arriving to a welcome drink out on the terrace followed by entertainment from magician Joel Dickinson which got everyone asking 'how on earth did he do that?' - he was crazy talented and I heard nothing but praise for him from our guests! Next up was the delicious hog roast and lots of dancing in the main room thanks to DJ John Norcotte and the Jager station. I think we may have gone through two whole bottles by the end of the night. Everyone loved it and it definitely got people up on that dance floor after a shot (or five). It was definitely worth the sore head the next morning. 

I loved that everyone was taking selfies at the selfie mirror throughout the night too as we got a copy of all the pictures that were taken put into an album with a message from our guests. I think this is such a lovely idea and it was amazing to look through the next morning. I'm definitely considering something similar for the wedding day. It was hilarious to see people's selfies get more and more silly as the night went on too - that's what all those Jager shots will do to you, haha.


During the night, Matt and I headed out into the Abbey House grounds to get some photos with our amazing photographer Erin Browne and I just have to share some of them as I'm so in love. I've been a massive fan of Erin's work for years now so when she offered to take photos at the party, I jumped at the chance. She's one of the most talented and creative photographers I've ever come across and she always thinks outside of the box whilst making you feel totally comfortable. She whisked us off into the woodland area a short walk away and got snapping. We had balloons for props and had so much fun - as you can see by the big smiles on our faces, which were totally natural and caught in the moment. As I said, I'm so in love with how the pictures turned out - they'll definitely be getting framed! If I'm this happy with the engagement photos, I can only imagine how she'll capture our actual wedding day - I'm already so so excited. If you're looking for a photographer for any kind of special occasion, be sure to get in touch with Erin and follow her on Instagram @eriinbrowne to see examples of her fantastic work!!


We had an absolutely fantastic night and couldn't have asked for anything better. Abbey House took all the stress away from us and organised everything to perfection so the night ran completely seamlessly. If you follow my social, you'll have seen that I had quite the surprise during the night when my dad turned up. He lives in Australia so I didn't think for one minute he'd be there as it's such a long way to travel for an engagement party. As you can imagine, I got the shock of my life when I walked outside to greet family and turned around to see him standing there - after he'd been hid behind a car, might I add. Sneaky! Thank goodness we had our amazing photographer Erin there to help capture the moment. As you can see from the photos, I think the look on my face followed by lots of tears says it all. It's a moment and a night I'll never forget!!



So there we have it guys, a little look inside our engagement party. I hope you enjoyed reading all about it - now it's time to start planning the wedding, arghhh! Thanks so much to Abbey House and all the suppliers for helping us celebrate our engagement in true style - we loved every minute of it! I've linked the venue and all the suppliers who helped make it a fantastic night below incase any of you are interested in contacting them for your own event.

Venue: Abbey House Hotel & Gardens
www.abbeyhousehotel.com
Photographer: Erin Browne
 https://eriinbrowne.pixieset.com
DJ: John Norcott from Ntertain
Photobooth: Photobooth Cumbria
Cakes: Angela Couture Cakes
Facebook: @Angelascouturecakes


Terri Lyne Carrington was just seven years old when she started playing drums. It was immediate love because it was something that she was good at. With practice she got even better, and by the time she turned 11 years old she had already lined up a full scholarship to Berklee College of Music, and was holding her own with jazz legends Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Fast-forward to her early 20’s and Terri cemented herself as a beast behind the drums when she became the house drummer for 80’s late-night talk show King, Arsenio Hall. From there she’d expand her skills to include musical director, composer, teacher (she’s currently a professor at Berklee College where she also holds an honorary doctorate degree), and record producer. She’s a three-time Grammy Award-winner, and the first female artist to win a grammy for Best Jazz Instrumental recording.

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“I never knew where it would take me when I started,” says the drummer, now in her early 50’s and considered one of the greatest female instrumentalists of all time. “But when I think of the life that it’s afforded me, I feel it’s my purpose to share my experience and encourage other young black girls to play an instrument.”

Now Terri doesn’t expect that every young girl who picks up an instrument will have the instant connection or the uber successful career that she’s had, however, there’s still plenty of reasons to play. Travel and exposure being at the top of Terri’s list!

“I have friends from all walks of life, all over the world. I’ve played for Heads Of States and for kids in orphanages in Kazakhstan as well as India, where they come in from off the street to take showers once a month. So there’s a pretty big range of experiences. Traveling through music widens your perspective of the world, and it’s very different from, say, traveling through the military.”

One key difference, says Terri, is that it’s a lot of fun.

“It’s wonderful to make a living creating something from nothing in front of a group of people; and it feels great when people come up to you after a show and tell you how much you inspired them.”

If that weren’t enough, there’s the added benefit of getting paid for it.

“Some people choose to play as a side hobby at weddings or clubs on the weekend, but there are also career options such as engineering, composing, teaching, and music therapy. It’s been proven that music helps to heal Alzheimer’s and dementia, and is great therapy for cognitive, motor and social skills for Down's Syndrome and stroke patients. In general, you can get back as much as you put in with a career in music,” Terri explains.

It also builds confidence.

“I really urge parents to encourage their young girls to stand strong in front of their male counterparts. Music is a great example. If you can hold your own in band, you’ll be more confident in other male-dominated environments, whether it’s in the office or another profession,” Terri says, adding that in the last 20 -30 years we’ve seen advancements in the number of female doctors and CEO’s, but we’re still lagging in terms of female instrumentalists.

It’s beyond time for change. But how do we make it happen? Especially, when arts programs are the first to get cut?

“Parents definitely have to do their due diligence and seek out programs outside of school,” says Terri. “Find churches and community-based organizations that support music.”

There’s also the issue of challenge. It’s not easy to learn to play an instrument. Even pop icon Alicia Keys will tell you that she spent more time learning to play the keyboards than hanging out with friends.

“Allow yourself more time when you feel like you can’t do something or want to quit just to see what happens if you don’t. We also have to look at our personality traits to see if we are the type of person to persevere when it gets tough or if we like to give up,” Terri says. “For women, we may be accustomed to certain ways of being socially, and playing music may not always fit into the existing roles or stereotype we see of ourselves. So we have to step up to the door, and through the door, to make change.”

Ultimately, who is to say if playing an instrument will be the end-all-be-all for our young girls. However, just knowing the opportunities that exist in this world could mean the difference between buying yet another Disney Princess doll or video game, or perhaps picking up a second-hand guitar, keyboard, bass or flute. It’s worth a try!


To find out more about Terri Lyne Carrington visit www.terrilynecarrington.com
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Erickka Sy Savané is a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in Essence.comEbony.com, Madamenoire.com and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter and Instagram or ErickkaSySavane.com
Over the weekend, I checked out some house/apartment tour videos on Youtube.  One video, in particular, featured a loft style apartment with a modern aesthetic and killer views.  I loved the minimalist decor and monochromatic design.   Everything about his apartment was intentional and perfect.

There was one moment in the video that caused me to pause and reflect.  As he showed us his bedroom, the points the camera out towards the amazing city view.  He then informs us that when laying down on his bed, he has a clear view of the city skyline.  This, he says, was one of his biggest life goals (to wake up every morning to amazing views).  What he said next is what inspired me to write this post.

This exclusive city view, according to the blogger is, "what motivates me to get up in the morning and to do the most."
I let his words marinate in my brain for a few minutes.  This guy, like most of us, dreamed of waking up in a place that's inspiring and representative of achieving a certain level of success.  This "life goal" was such an obsession of his that he worked on his brand until it finally became a reality.

Now that he's arrived, he enjoys the fruit of his hard work.   Even though he's achieved his dream, he's still motivated to keep pushing to reach greater levels.  I'm certain that he wakes up most mornings filled with clear intention.  So I asked myself, "Is there anything I can do to create that level of inspiration when I first wake up every day?

Ideally, motivation should come from the inside out.  But I'm also aware of how our external environment can affect our internal state.  Although I'm certain of this fact, I haven't leveraged it much to my benefit.  One day I too hope to wake up every day in a room with majestic views.  Until then, I can still take steps to create an environment that inspires me into massive action each and every day.

Instead of focusing on my bedroom, I think my efforts would be better utilized by elevating my office.  Currently, I have inspiring images posted on the wall but I can do so much more.  And since the office is where I do all of my work, it makes sense to place all of my attention there.

I realize that I don't have any of the things I love in my current office space.  There are no live plants, no scented candles, no fresh cut flowers, no updated images of future goals.   Nothing that represents where I want to be. Visually, there's not much in my office to stimulate my creativity.  No wonder I sometimes start the day feeling unmotivated.

Back when I wanted to start a multi-six figure business, I was very intentional about my personal space.   I invested heavily in high-quality candles, bought fresh flowers on a weekly basis, and I'd strategically display my designer items in a certain way.  The primary focus was in creating a feeling of abundance since I would soon quit my job causing my income to change drastically.  It was part of my well planned out feel good routine.  Every time I walked into a room, I felt a surge of inspiration. It was a joy to work on building my dream.

Let's never forget the incredible power of our environment.  If you're feeling uninspired, a simple change in our space will immediately alter your mood and outlook and will motivate you to the absolute most.