April 20th in Dumbo Brooklyn, a group of fine, glowing, beautiful, stylish and driven women met up, sipped and built. Aka another #NewYorkCoffeeTalk where you never know who’s showing up until the morning of. Even with tickets it’s still a treat of sorts because I met a lot of these women for the first time. This NYCT featured Nailah Ali who’s a graphic designer and director. Pedi’s and Lush products are cool, but these empowering and enlightening convos was like the ultimate and highest form of self care outside of prayer and solitude. To understand is to be there. We talked everything from raising families, manifestation and creating our own opportunities. Thank you ladies for your presence, light and energy.
Ever come to a stand still and don’t know what your next move is? *raises hand* This happens to be every once in a while. I’ll be on a roll and then BOOM! I become stuck dead in my tracks. Sometimes with warning and other times I go from being hella inspired to ……….crickets. I used to get frustrated when this happened and felt like I and or my overall brand is taking a leap back. I for one know we don’t have forever to use our gifts so I don’t be with the shits. With all things I try to look at the bigger picture and brighter side. So my last few times when I felt stuck I decided to do away with the frustration and dig a lil deeper for sanity’s sake. I practiced solitude, prayer , journaling and forgiveness.
The world is a noisy place and so is social media at times depending on how often and why you use it. Sometimes solitude includes not being a slave to your text messages and phone calls. I was telling my girlfriend Andrea a month or so ago how my new practice was to reply to messages at the level of priority they fit in. If the first few words weren’t urgent then I leave it on unread in order to remember to get back to it at a later date. If I was in the middle of doing something I no longer rushed to pick up a call if it wasn’t from immediate family members, local hospitals and kids school. Leave a message. I’ll get back. Not being accessible on demand allowed me to collect and have uninterrupted thoughts. Finishing a task was so much more easier. A little isolation allowed me to take control of my thoughts and time.
Taking the extra step and literally forcing myself to be still for at least five minutes has worked wonders. I have done stints with meditation before so it’s always easier to get back to each time I restart. I get up and feel like I literally decluttered my brain and rebooted my energy. Prayer this last year has worked wonders also and put so much things into perspective. In my room there is now a dedicated corner for meditating and praying and sometimes just sitting there after a long day. No thinking no nothing. Just away from every single body that lives in this house! It’s become the meditation aka “don’t talk to me till I’m up” corner. Honey it works! I swear one of my grays went back to black! LOL
Write it down
Get it out! often we keep good ideas along with a never ending to do list in our heads. We end up being like a laptop with fifty leven windows open with no particular focus. It becomes a little much. I always drag to write things down, but once I do it feels like I’m one step closer to acting on a plan instead of it just being an idea.
Nobody is harder on us than we are. It can be hard to move forward when we are full of regrets and shaming . Whatever it is that went wrong or you could have done better, learn and move on! Mistakes and lessons are to be learned from and not for self sabotaging, procrastinating and never ending pity parties. Yes we will have a good pity party and a cry every now and then (Crying is the bodies way of cleansing. I love a good cry!) but we must move on. It’s Mandatory. You can’t be fully invested in worrying or stressed while being productive. If you can master that- keep it to yourself because I just don’t wanna even do that to my brain.
Life is a one time audition. No do overs. I know that getting stuck is a part of life and it will happen again, however I won’t remain lathered up in that space. Lastly, being stuck reminds me that you have to sometimes take a few steps back in order to leap forward. Also that we don’t always have to be “busy” or “look busy” . It’s become a trend to look the part more than actually doing the good internal work that’s needed in order to truly win both behind the scenes and in the spotlight. What’s for you will not pass you by, so take your time to clean house then do the work.
Have you felt stuck? What are some things you do to push pass that?
Trifted vintage tip and jeans
Old Kate Spade heels
Baublebar earrings from TJmaxx
Allow me to reintroduce myself..my name is V.A to the N. A(fake Jay Z voice)
Ok let me stop, but hey there! It’s been a while. I’ve been living. Like more gratitude, living in the moment, a lot of quiet time and isolation when not working. Fully present in all that I’m doing and man do I feel rich. I went to Tokyo , Japan with my daughter to bring in the New Year and that was a an experience for the books. It was so peaceful, clean and orderly. A few days before that departure on wash day I decided that I was no longer going to deal with all this hair so I took my son’s school mini scissors and just chopped it off at the root. I went to the barbershop to get it trimmed and lined up and went about my business. This last year I’ve been truly living my best life. Big chances, big losses and most importantly holding myself accountable, making a decision and doing what I say I’m going to do. That’s a big deal to me and probably one of the biggest things after working on my faith.
Indecisiveness is such a bad habit and a big set back. You tell yourself “I don’t know”to keep from making a decision and remaining in your comfort zone, but no action is a decision in itself. Every single time. Then theres the Big A….Accountability. For example It’s so easy to complain about finance but not acknowledge the lack of effort towards making and meeting financial goals. Bad relationships, but not taking accountability for our contributive actions or enabling. Accountability is freedom. It’s addressing whatever “IT” is and deciding to take action. You can’t move on with a victims mentality. Just a never ending pity party that keeps you stuck.
Silence. Ive also learned that everything doesn’t need a reaction. Even when you’ve been wronged. My thought process used to be “Its my right to be upset” or “It’s my right to speak my mind and tell someone(usually off) how they wronged me”. That’s always a right , but often it keeps you invested in that icky feeling or situation and has control over you. When you want to react for everything ask yourself isn’t it also your right to be sane and as stress free as possible. This is coming from a fire sign so if it’s possible for me to practice this then anybody can do it. Theres so much power in silence.
All in all life is great. I’m creating, doing what a love, being bald headed and mighty fine with this cut if I do say so myself.
How you doing?! How you livin?
Charolette Rousse Bodysuit
Betsy Johnson shoes (Last year)
I love coffee. I really do. However, I don’t have time to be having coffee all the time with anyone and with no purpose. ” Let’s grab coffee!” is not what it used to mean prior to social media and DM’s. Years ago I was that woman that was saying yes to every meeting request all while having a monthly meet up #BostonCoffeeTalk. It became draining and a huge waste of my time. The moments in my car after pointless and energy sucking meetings made me approach coffee dates differently. I have had to accept the last two years that while it’s a nice gesture from some and others a way to avoid a consultation, I just can’t do it. Time is money and if we can email or text or jump on a call let’s do that instead.No there is no way to ever tell for sure what peoples intentions are(Your gut be right 95% of the time), but some things to think about when you get asked for a sit down is
- What are we meeting about?
- How can I be of service?
- Can I afford to meet with this person? (Time , Gas, etcSome of my friends/blogger gals who also get asked the same question have found it hard to say no with the fear of saying it the wrong way or hurting someones feeling. So how do you say no to a coffee date you ask? Ask questions! Regardless of what you think their intentions are ask anyways if you have the time. You can never be sure if you don’t ask. Typically for me an invite to meet via DM is a red flag if we don’t speak often or have never met. It’s actually very rude if I must say. Anyways, I ask “What would we be meeting about?” This forces them to speak their intentions outright and out loud. Sometimes people will ask without even asking themselves that question so ask instead of waiting to meet in order to find out. Once they tell me I then will be honest about my availability, a service that I offer in place of it or if it’s better to email I’ll recommend that. Truth is nobody likes a no, but those who take it personal was only in it for themselves anyways. Besides considering time and or a service, energy and accessibility is big for me. I am not as accessible as I once was for the sake of preserving my energy and maintaining my sanity. Unapologetically so. People will suck you dry if you let them. I have had people break their neck to get my time only to waste my time and then say they had it. Bruh. Nah.
When I have this discussion with my friends I always reference an interview I read that Oprah did with Inc. Magazine where she stated that she almost always turn down meetings and prefer email. You’re not alone and shouldn’t feel bad. The more discipline I become the more mindful I am of my time and how I want to spend it. While I am particular about it I have also learned to respect other peoples time and how I handle it once its given to me. All growth, nothing personal.
Do you struggle with turning down a dinner or coffee meeting?
Vintage coat, bustier and jeans
Sophia Webster shoes
Aldo earrings(current so go get em!
My tip to Paris was above and beyond anything I had ever experienced on a trip. It was bigger than the shows, features and the designer dresses I got to wear. It was the big little things and lessons that really changed me for the better.
Commitment – For years I’ve said Paris and this country or that country was on the to do list. After years of saying it I thought “Do it!”. It was time to commit. Like, Vanessa do what you say you’re going to do. PeriodT! Planning isn’t my strong point, but commitment requires that which ends up being less stressful. The same commitment to everyday tasks and goals has made life easier by being proactive earlier on.
Be present– One of the first things I noticed in Paris was the engagement amongst the locals l.They are intentionally present even with a simple eye contact with other by passers. Here in America Boston and New York specifically we are always in a rush , not often friendly and don’t make eye contact if we don’t have to. All of the restaurants there had outdoor seating facing the street. At first I was annoyed cause it’s like “aint nobody trying to look at you while I eat!” After the first two days it was comfortable and inviting. Not once did I see someone on their phone while dinning. Mind you they’d be there talking for hours. Their engagement and state of being present reminded me of how much I was always on my phone and how offended my loved ones must be when I have it out at the dinner table. Since I’ve been back I noticed the change in my engagement with loved ones.Change of setting– Ever notice the minute you get to a travel destination you suddenly feel your burdens are lighter, less stressed or just better in general? I do. Yes this was a new country, but I didn’t do anything out of the norm. There was no sky diving, a huge hike or a great wall. However I felt lighter. I legit ate, slept, dressed up and took pics yet I was rich in spirit, setting and in mindset. All that from just committing to a trip, boarding a plane for 6 hours and daring to visit a new country. Traveling proved to be a teacher and medicine for the soul at the same damn time. Did all of my problems go away? Nope! Pulling away from my everyday gave me new perspective. It allowed me to have a front row seat at my life and time to reflect on where I am, where I want to be and how I will get there.
Mindset– The biggest lesson which some would say contradicts the last lesson before this is mindset. Can our mindset be the vacation and space we seek when we can’t physically be there? For me it had to be. I was sad after Paris. I created great content on the spot that was unrehearsed. Laughed and danced with strangers and had my third hangover ever in life and now it was back to regularly scheduled program of work and family hustle. So I made the decision that I would seek the spaces that gave me the vibe I’m looking for. I have been and will continue to find and hang out at the hidden treasures of Boston Like the popular Tatte Bakery in Beacon Hill which had little streets like the ones in Paris.
Overall, live now people. Wishing you all a warm and present Thanksgiving.
Hug tighter. Love and laugh harder.
Thrifted and tailored suit
People hear freelance and instantly they think you have this crazy amazing life filled with light cameras and “action”. There is that, but there is also waiting for checks and creating your own checks. We have crazy schedules. Some months I work a 2-3 week 10/12hr gigs while barely seeing my kids. Bags under my eyes that’s not by Chanel. Sometimes weight loss or bad weight gain from eating poorly. Other months I can have a whole two weeks off where I get to recoup and wait on my kids arrival from school with their favorite meals already plated with a smile. Keep in mind the week we don’t work there is currently no checks for that gap.You also have to keep in mind that invoices are sometimes late so it’s never a definite date for the upcoming checks.
Seeing my kids for a few days after long weeks is great, but after like three days I’m like aight y’all cute but this stay at home Mom shit isn’t for me! Unless you’re proactive and aggressively working, depression will be all up in your couch, comforters and sheets . The Fall/Winter are especially hard for me because who wants to go out in the cold if you can just stay in bed and just take the day off? The down side to this way of thinking is that one day can lead to two which leads to three. That’s when we have time to count all the wrongs and be hard on ourselves. So many days off yet you’re not making any money and you still have bills.
The last year and a half I’ve come down with a routine for my days off to keep from losing my flame and keeping money flowing. Below is my routine for surviving winter blues
Make a schedule
There is typically a sense of how many days you’ll have off. Instead of winging it make up a schedule of different ways you can be creative and stay active. I write down a to do list every night to get my mind ready to work. Making a list is accountably and putting it out in the universe that I am ready and willing to work.
Make Your Bed
If you’re like me, you can not work from home or bed on cold days. I will fall asleep or scroll down social media for way too long. Every morning after yelling at the kids to stop arguing and sending them off to school I make my bed. Once it’s made I am forced to follow through with my to do list and plans.
Plan your outfits
I personally don’t plan mine the night before. In the top shelf of my closet I already have my current Fall/Winter go to’s folded. Both tops and bottoms. They barely need ironing. For footwear I have the same set up. I do however think of what the temp will be like the coming day and what texture or color best compliments my mood. Consider pulling the full outfit the night before or having a filled rack for the week . Prep it every Sunday. If you look good you feel good and having your looks prepared saves you time and allows you to get to the paper quicker!
Leave Your House
So you have a list and an outfit planned. Cool. The hardest task is here. Leaving your house! I pick a different cafe or Starbucks to work out of to keep the routine of leaving the house. A little gas is worth my sanity. A great space and decor stimulates my brain and keeps me creative. Also something as simple as being around other working folks is fun and keeps me inspired. You never know who you can meet and what can come from this next encounter.
Don’t sit around waiting for a check. Get creative! This could be a blog post, an event or a test shoot with locals. Start that holiday project you’ve been putting off. Pitch to a brand you’ve always wanted to work with or stop by that local boutique/shop that you’ve been eyeing on your way to work.
The more consistent and intentional I am about my schedule, the more motivated and upbeat I remain.
What do you do on your days off? How do stay creative during the cold season?
2 piece suit- Bobby From Boston
When I was packing for Paris I thought “You have to bring that vintage dress!”. The one I snagged from a thrift shop like 6-7 years ago just because. I’ve never been to Paris and who knows when I’ll be back so when In Paris do the most! I brought the biggest suitcase on wheels and was determined to fit 10 days( only was staying 7) worth of clothes and this big ass wedding dress in there. To make enough space, I had an additional carry on for all 10 pairs of shoes because options people options.
Before even booking my hotel I envisioned wearing this dress on a perfectly designed balcony overlooking the city. My room at Hotel Bienvenue was perfect. My view didn’t overlook the city, but the view to a greenery filled outdoor terrace was just as good for this over the top adult. On this particular morning I woke up with what felt like a U-Hual parked on the left side of my brain. The kids of today call it a hangover. The drinks and extra shots the night before with Rose and our new friends “Laurie”and “Tom” from New York was one of the best nights in Paris. A night filled with laughter and unrehearsed dope chemistry. I ruled out shooting this dress and made peace that it was a no go because there was no way Rose was going to make it for our 9:00am rendezvous to shoot on my last day here. I was wrong. Rose came through and I had to pull it together. While putting on my dress and Rose getting B-role I felt some tears filling in my eyes. “Oh my goodness Rose I’m emotional sorry…I never had a wedding” . Writing this now I’m tearing up. I got married 9 years ago on a cold Tuesday in November. We went to city hall did the damn thing then went to work. That was it. I wore a royal blue with big green polka dot 80’s dress. Having a mini ceremony wasn’t priority with a constantly wheezing and asthmatic 9 month old while we both were still adjusting to two kids and me in college full time. Plus if I was going to have a ceremony it had to be right and not rushed. I’ve been doing things my way for so long that a ceremony became a thing way down the to do list. As the years passed it stayed at the bottom of to do’s and most times not even a thought. This day however I became emotional and I still can’t pinpoint why. At that moment it hit me that this felt like the wedding I never had. I can say that putting on this dress made me feel like a princess, a beautiful moment in my adulthood and after talking it out with Rose- a reminder of how important a marriage to myself is. As a Mother and a wife I’m split into a billion pieces over the years and daily looking to keep things sane, run a household and raise children. The well seems to come close to running dry at times. They need me, but if I’m not well then my supply of love and support of all sorts is low. I had to fill adult shoes since 16 and have poured into a relationship since then. This day reminded me that no marriage is good enough if we don’t pull through on commitments to ourselves, mental health and goals. We ask people all the time “How’s marriage?” or “When’s the wedding?” , but not enough “How are you doing?” or “How’s your goals and mental health?”. I want to teach my daughter that marriage and a wedding is cool and all, but you can’t give what you don’t have, darling. It is so easy to lose ourselves and sometimes it takes a vintage dress in a black and white photoshoot in Paris to realize your perspective has changed and evolution is on the rise.
Cheers Vanessa! To the beginning of the most important marriage and new season.
vintage wedding dress
Lingerie from Marshalls
Earrings from TJMAXX
Song : The Carters “Heard About US”
Mood: Pulls In Paris/ Keys to the city
Guys!!!!! Where do I begin?
Paris was a dream. I’m typically a wordy person, but the last fews days when I think about Paris and asked about my trip all I can do is smile and yell out “ahmazzzzing!” The 7 year old me and the 33 year old me became one. Being able to do designer pulls and shoot in the dresses was out of this world. Typically fashion week for me the last few years means crazy lines, delayed runway shows, packed presentations and rude PR encounters. This first time Paris fashion week was a totally different experience. I had one runway show and the rest was show room visits. I got to meet the designers, get to know them over water, coffee and the finest chocolate while getting ins on how the collection came about.
It was at an appointment preview that I met Sandra Mansour. Monroe had seen her collection in Paris years ago and requested again while on route somewhere in an Uber. This turned out to be a fave visit. Sandra was so passionate while describing the making of her garments. It was refreshing to see the passion in her eyes and voice. The Lebanese Switzerland raised designer shared how she is naturally a painter and how the two worlds become one when working on the collections. This engagement made the pieces that much more memorable because each piece has a unique creative process and a story. After viewing the SS19 collection the showroom manager took me to see the current Autumn- Winter 2018 collection . My eye balls jumped out of my head from all the luxurious textures , colors and prints which is what I always naturally gravitate to. After pulling and flirting with some dope floor length top coats my soul was snatched by this beautiful purple gown. It was the dress that kept on giving. First the purple, then the patches of velvet shapes topped off with tiered voluminous sleeves. Wait for it….then the sheerness of the dress peeked through with the mini velvet polka dots. I mean talk about icing on the cake. like I mean. I’m writing this in Starbuck right now and doing the most hand gestures because even a million miles away I can feel it and see this masterpiece. The perfect ending would have been a Prince picking me up in a Lamborghini, but clearly he didn’t get the memo that a Princess was in town. Tuh! The nerve of his Parisian ass!
I am looking forward to more show room appointments next season . So was I being dramatic for no reason or is this dress not poppin?!
Dress and shoes courtesy of Sandra Mansour
Photographer: The ridiculous talented Rose L.
“Can’t believe we made it!”(Beyoncé voice)
To Paris that is. For years I’ve been saying how I have to go to Paris and this country and that country. I got tired of wishing and hoping. Twas bout damn time I started doing what I said I would. After resting, eating and getting some rest, we took day 2 by storm and like true creatives went to shoot some looks.
Monroe has been to Paris at least 4 to 5 times already so I didn’t do too much of a to do list of things I wanted to do or places I want to eat. We are both foodies and I trust her taste. I’m not a tourist-y type of traveler. I like to go where the wind takes me and just explore and chill. After passing by the Eiffel tower Monroe suggested we visit Jardin du Palais-Royal and if you can’t tell….it was lit. This vintage Valentino dress fit me like a glove and I felt like a regal baddie walking through my palace of opportunities .
Strolling through here reminded me that life is for the living. Too often some of us wait for the “right time” “right people” “right opportunity” to take a leap or start on a project and the truth is time waits for no-one ever. There is never going to be an option of re-doing yesterday. Have the nerve to show up and the nerve to do what you say you’re going to do. Period!
Today on day 4 of my time in Paris I will be wondering the streets, people watching, reading and having mimosas
Keep up with my Paris shows and adventures in my Insta Stories
Dress: Vintage Valentino Bobby From Boston
Earrings: TJ Maxx
Photography: Rose Lazard
When it’s too hot to wear real clothes you throw on your beach wear. I know, I know. “But it’s a bathing suit” , but baby rules were made to be broken. Okrrrrrrt?!(Cardi B voice)Wearing bathing suits with jeans is nothing new under the sun, but making it classy and a lewk isn’t something I see often. When I purchase bathing suits I not only think about how it will look on the beach, but I also pick pieces that will look great with my signature summer a line skirt looks. I want my one pieces to be a lewk with some wide leg pants and scrappy sandals. One that is so good that you won’t know its not a bodysuit unless I tell you. I purchased this bra from Target 2 years ago to go to Puerto Rico with my family. The print got may attention so I grabbed it despite the fact that it was one size too small. That’s how I get my fake Double D boobs because truth is Momma’s breast been the same size since high school I think. My mother buys my bras so I’ll have to double check those facts, but I can guarantee they didn’t grow a full cup since then. You’ve been picking out your beachwear all wrong baby. Here’s how you do it to ensure you are double dipping on that purchase and getting your pennies worth. Below are the types of pieces to shop for in your stash or on Asos and target(only places I’ve purchasedShopping separates
Look for fun prints and color. If the colors and prints are too intimidating then make sure there’s intricate details like straps, cut outs and sheer for some flava. You don’t want to look like you are wearing a basic ass bathing suit top. You reveal that on your time, not the bathing suit. I personally don’t buy the matching bottom if it’s not exciting. Life is too short to be matching your separates every Summer.
Not every one piece is cut the same so try them on to make sure it’s flattering. The ones with the high cut sides(like the Bay Watch girl lifeguards) cinches the waist and gives an hour glass frame. They look flattering with high waisted jeans and skirts. Stay away from ruffles or tiered styles past the navel. You will end up with a confused look trying to stuff additional fabric into your bottoms. Fabric quality is also very important because there is no break on the eyes like a two piece. If it looks cheap there is no finessing it. If it looks like a mess and falling apart on the hanger then skip it. Lastly make sure you are comfortable with the support it gives to the bust, because an exposed bra isn’t ladylike .In April I wore this same top to walk around Miami Beach. A blazer and some heels took it from beach to roof top dining.My two recent bathing suit purchases are this red one piece and this white one
Check out this page of one piece bathing suit from Asos which pretty much sums up all the ones that transition into outfits except for the three “Frankies Bikinis ” ones which has crocheted too much going on! Happy shopping and feel free to ask additional questions below-I got you playa.
Thrifted silk vintage blazer($2.00 at Salvation Army 🙋🏾♀️😜)
Cinq á Sept skirt via TjMaxx store
Windsor Store heels
Target bathing suit bra( 2 years old)