You’re Invited. Again.

Hi there! I sent a note out weeks ago, but in case you missed it:

Seriously, what are you doing over here, when you’re missing all of the action over at cocostudio?

Subscribe to my new blog and get caught up on the latest posts like this one. All you have to do is type your email address and click that little brown box on the right hand side.

Come on! What are you waiting for?

New day, new space

So my birthday is tomorrow. And that is the official launch my newly updated digs on cocostudio.com.

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cocostudio is an old space that I revisit from time to time, and now is one of those times.

If you’ve enjoyed my writings over here, please go subscribe to my blog over there.

Although I have a few categories featured (love, sexual violence, education and a few others), I plan to write the same sorts of things over there as I did over here. In other words, a little of everything.

With the exception of the most recent post or two (coming soon), everything else is already there waiting on you!

See you on the other side!

 

Letters to my little sisters.

A week from today is my 40th birthday. *shimmies*

I’m very excited about this milestone. Aside from seeing Ailey, I’m not sure what else I’ll do to commemorate it. I want to go dancing. Salsa, like Ailey’s Revelations, is high on my list of favorite things.

As we were planning this week’s episode of Whiskey, Wine & Moonshine, Sojo realized this would be our 40th episode. We decided to call it 40 Before 40. It’s literal, in that it’s the 40th before I turn 40 (Ms. Smart and Sojo are a tad younger). But it’s also a play off bucket lists and things people want to accomplish before milestone birthdays.

I hadn’t created a 40 before 40 list, but I thought it might be enlightening if we discussed what we have accomplished thus far in life, what we have planned for the next phase, and what we would tell our teenaged selves if we could send some love to our past.

Sharing encouragement and life lessons with younger women is something I’ve long wanted to do. I have particular areas in mind, and some of my current planning is grounded in this work.

Our episode was an interesting one. Unfortunately, Sojo wasn’t able to join us (shout out to Kedar), and Queen Neen from the In Deep Show was there in her stead. We talked about body image, romantic relationships, sex, finances, health, and career.

For the seasoned readers among you, what have you learned that you would like to share with the younger generation? What do you have planned for the next phase of your life?

We Have Known Boys (But None Have Been Bullet-Proof).

Stacia L. Brown

Image Jordan Davis (1995-2012)

I have known black boys, known them in airless classrooms where the scent of their too-strong cologne worked overtime masking the cling of their sweat to skin and hormones. And I have known their scratching, grabbing, tugging at the belt loops of too-big pants, have involuntarily memorized the plaids and imprints on their boxers.

I have known boys like underripe fruit, a pit of eventual sweetness at the core of them, encased in a bitter pulp, toughening from too little tending or underexposure to light. I have watched them become principles in death when they were not finished learning what it would mean to be principled in life.

I have known them nursing dreams with slimming odds of realization, heard them reasoning with the wardens behind their private walls, scraping at the doors some white man’s stubborn shoulder intended to force closed.

Listen. You have heard them…

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Revelations

Every Valentine’s weekend, the magnificent dancers of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater command center stage at the fabulous Fox. I’ve gone perhaps once every five years or so since I was a little girl. I don’t remember much about my first show other than I was there with my mom and one of her friends, and I was quietly awed about what I’d seen.

Since then, each time I’ve returned, the beauty, power and magic of Revelations is what I most long to see. Years I don’t go, I pacify myself with YouTube.

When I’m lucky, I find older videos, sometimes 20 years old, and watch them alongside the newer ones. The dancers’ athleticism and grace, and the pictures they create on stage are awe-inspiring.

Last year I hadn’t moved back to Atlanta by the time AAADT came and went. Still, I was disappointed I didn’t go to a show. I missed them. It’s been too long, I told Blue. I’m turning 40 next February. I have to go see Ailey next year. An early birthday gift.

Fox AileyThis year, just in time for the second great thaw of 2014, we went! I have rotating list of favorite things, and Revelations has a permanent place in the top five. I’m not alone:

More people have seen Revelations than any other modern dance work, and it has been enjoyed by over 23 million people in 71 countries across six continents.

If you have the opportunity to experience Ailey in general and Revelations in particular, don’t miss it.

Fibroids and Mojo

So I’m getting my mojo back!

I woke up this morning and felt high on endorphins even though I had only a few hours of sleep and no exercise. Over the past few weeks, I’ve felt more and more myself.

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been seeing an acupuncturist as a first line of treatment for my fibroids. Dr. Liu is a trained medical doctor who learned Chinese medicine later. She aims to help the body achieve optimum health with the belief that it will then be able to dissolve the fibroids. She’s had a lot of success with patients, and although there are no guarantees, I can definitely say I’m feeling better than I have in months. That is a huge win.

In addition to my higher energy levels, my insides no longer feel twisty, and I can breathe normally (all month long) in everything from dresses to jeans to yoga pants. Blue says I look more “sleek,” and because I feel it, I walk it, too. #hotmama

Welcome back mojo! I missed you!

One Night Only

Thursday I wrote about National Wear Red Day, an initiative to raise awareness for American Heart Month. Later that evening, the American Heart Association’s hosted the annual Heart Truth Red Dress Collection fashion show.

Held in conjunction with national sponsor Macy’s, the event promised a star-studded catwalk. Celebs would include Gina Torres, Kat Graham, Alicia Quarles, and Anika Noni Rose. Anika asked me to tune in if I could. I did, so I did.

The fashion show, streamed online, began fashionably late. The women sported gorgeous designer gowns, some of them strutting, dancing, and bouncing down the runway.

Although the online stream played some strange techno mix, I later discovered the live audience was treated to upbeat songs. Anika shimmied and sashayed to Dreamgirls hit One Night Only. I’ll admit bias, but she was my favorite with Bella Thorne not too far behind.

As some of the women appeared on the catwalk, messages projected behind them. The sayings included their names, their featured designer, and why they walk. I walk to empower women, for instance. Later on in the evening, Anika shared why she walks:

That was very sweet, and completely unexpected. Sending love to my mother, to Anika, and to everyone impacted by heart disease.

 

Go Red For Women

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 4.43.53 PMOctober is Breast Cancer Awareness month and it’s all pink all the time. Everything from your favorite football player to your favorite Yoplait can be spotted with a splash of pink.

Despite the importance of cancer awareness initiatives, it’s worth noting that heart disease is the number one killer of women. My mother is in that number. Over 10 years ago, she went to the emergency room complaining of chest pains and never made it home.

The official cause of death was a brain hemorrhage, which was an unfortunate complication of her heart attack. Although she’d been slowly working to reclaim her fitness, lower her cholesterol and free herself of nicotine, time wasn’t on her side. She died a few months before her 60th birthday.

February is best known for Valentine’s Day, but it’s also American Heart Month. February 7, 2014 is National Wear Red Day. Are you and your loved ones doing what you can to get heart healthy or stay that way?

Who wears the pants?

For most of my adult life, I felt my best wearing jeans. Baggy jeans, fitted jeans, funky jeans. I loved them all. Once I entered the working world and jeans were only okay on Fridays, I still wore pants the majority of the time. From khakis to pants suits, I looked and felt great in pants.

Even when I dressed up, I often wore pants.
Even when I dressed up, I often wore pants.

But one summer, I went to Paris. In preparation, I bought lots of clothes I felt would be comfortable for traveling to and fro and walking the city streets. There wasn’t a dress in the bunch.

It was a family trip – the girl cousins on my dad’s side went. We each brought a large suitcase for the week-long affair. Well, six of us did. The seventh managed to pack everything for the trip in a single carry-on!

We eyed the bag suspiciously, wondering what she brought or what kind of magic rolling she did with her gear. But as the days wore on, it was apparent she brought plenty of clothes, including multiple changes per day.

What was her secret, we wondered.

Dresses!

I took note, and filed it away. Unbeknownst to anyone else, I returned to Georgia and promptly went shopping. Two months later when we gathered again – this time for a family reunion – I traveled a lot lighter. I had dresses! Cousin Big Sister had come to the same revelation, and she also dressed and packed accordingly. Cool, comfortable, flattering, dresses. I loved them, and I loved me in them. I felt free. Sexy.

How did I waste so much time in pants?

Me and one of my newly discovered cousins at the family reunion.
Me at the family reunion wearing a dress! (Hi cousin Shaunda!)

That was 2009. Fast forward to 2014. I’m experiencing my first real winter in years and I don’t have the dresses to match! As the temperatures began to drop, I returned to my trousers. I’ve been wearing jeans and pants the past few weeks and they feel foreign on my body.

Just yesterday I wore slacks – formerly my favorite pair – and the whole day I felt a little off.

I think it’s time to do a little shopping. My birthday is just around the corner…

Beauty treatment

Take time to stop and smell the roses.

It’s an old sentiment, but one I’m thinking about as I fly home. I’m above the clouds now, and over my shoulder I spy the warming tones of the setting sun.

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The sight made me want for Florida at first. But on second thought, what I’m missing is beauty. Winter’s cloudy, chilly mornings have kept me indoors on days I’d rather run.

Running outdoors is my meditation. My journal. It’s high fives to the rabbits who line the greenway, and smiles to the rising sun. It’s awe with flowers blooming in spring, leaves turning in autumn. It’s deep breaths in time with my feet – percussion behind a chorus of birds.

It’s been a while.

Sometimes my entire work day is spent in the bowels of a school. Cinder blocks obstruct the sun and the evergreens right along with cell service. “I’m in a bunker today,” I tell Blue.

The moments left before sunset are spent navigating Atlanta’s traffic. If you wait too late to hit 400 from 285, you might as well stay put another hour or two.

Despite an uncooperative schedule, it’s easy enough to experience beauty.

Seek and ye shall find.